It’s a cold, windy day in January. Gidon and I are taking a break from working on the book and have gone to Mini-Israel, a kitschy theme park that boasts a walkable map of the country of Israel in miniature. I love kitsch and have wanted to come here for a long time. By the look of the empty parking lot, we are not in for a treat.
We troop through the byways and paths, peering at mini Haifa, mini Acre, and mini Jerusalem. The kibbutz section is pretty big; probably the most developed, with tiny orange orchards and barns with mooing cows and little people dancing the hora. There are motion sensors so that music or other sound effects suddenly blast out of the bushes; the tolling of bells, folk music, the call of the muezzin, even the plonk plonk of matkot on the “beach” in “Tel Aviv”.
Wearing his batman hoodie, Gidon is some distance behind me, peering like Gulliver down upon the country of his dreams, now rendered in chipped painted plastic and carved Styrofoam. Suddenly I think – how insensitive of me to have brought him here! To view the country that Gidon fought so hard to live and be in, after all he’s gone through made into a roadside attraction! Then I think – how awful, wonderful and weird this whole book must be for Gidon, to be walked back through his life like it’s a theme park, the “Holocaust” area, the “Kibbutz time”, the “Prague”, the “Brooklyn”. What’s it like to be his age, looking backward like this? Would I want to do it? I’m not sure.
It all feels ironic and uncomfortable. Especially on this day, when headlines blare out all around us that there has been an escalation between the United States and Iran; a political target has been killed and Israel braces itself for possible retaliation. This whole Mini-Israel might go kablooey and us with it. I go to Gidon and take his arm. It’s too cold, let’s get going, I say. He looks at me brightly, his nose red with cold. “I am just amazed by this!” He points to the teeny model of Masada. “Look at that detail!”