Just Like Riding A Bicycle

Anyone with any cycling experience knows that the faster you go, the better. And the more focused you are on your destination, the safer.

Batya Medad,

OpEds לבן ריק
לבן ריק
Arutz 7
It's said that bicycle riding is one of those skills that one never really forgets. I can't vouch for it, since I haven't been on a real mobile bike (exercise ones don't count) for decades. Admittedly, fear is the reason. If skating skills have a similarly permanent position in the brain, then it is true, because towards the end of my career as a gym (sports) teacher I skated, and I skated well.

The big difference for me was confidence. I felt very confident in the skates and impressed my peers and even those a decade younger with my rusty skills. Israelis raised in the 1950s and 1960s rarely had the opportunity to skate with a full pair. If there were skates in the family, they were to be shared among all the siblings, so they were used mainly as mini-scooters, one skate per person.

It is very disturbing that our politicians are insisting that we're incapable of functioning as an independent country. In the early years of the state, Israelis lived very frugally and developed a modern and very technologically sophisticated country much faster than any expert would have predicted.

I suddenly pictured our nation and independence as someone riding a bicycle.

Bicycle riding is a complex skill, involving strength, speed, balance and most importantly, confidence. Anyone who has observed people riding bicycles for the first time will tell you that, with very few exceptions, once the rider picks up speed and rides straight and well, outpaces the "trainer", he then suddenly panics, slows down and looses balance.

That's where the State of Israel is today. After a great first burst of speed - when we settled Jewish refugees from all over the world, developed innovative agriculture and technology, were victorious in wars - suddenly, the guy in the kova tembel looked around, saw the scenery speeding by and panicked. Right now, we're wobbling. Like a schizophrenic, some of us are saying: "Great ride, keep it up, go faster," and others are crying: "Whoa, watch out, you're too young and inexperienced to go so quickly. We want someone to hold us steady."

Anyone with any cycling experience knows that the faster you go, the better. And the more focused you are on your destination, the safer. Here's what the experts say:

"It is essential that you develop a smooth, straight form while riding. Cyclists who weave all over the road are dangerous to themselves and to others." (http://visitmt.com/virtualvisitor/biking/techniques.html)

"One of the most basic skills of cycling is the ability to ride straight, without wobbling from side to side. It is not possible for most cyclists to do this until they reach a certain minimum speed." (http://www.sheldonbrown.com/starting.html)

Oh, yes, we need to maintain a "minimum speed," but this is impossible if we're always looking back over our shoulder to check for approval and instructions. A bicycle rider needs to take responsibility for himself. If he keeps looking around, he'll crash. If he's attached by a leash to someone off of the bike, he'll crash. This isn't water-skiing, which at best lasts for a few seconds before the skier falls into the water.

The same goes for a country. Those in charge must remain independent of other countries. A leader's priority should be what's best for one's own country, not pleasing foreigners. Just like riding a tricycle is not the same as riding a bicycle, when a prime minister takes orders and instructions from foreign powers, he is not a true leader. He endangers his country.

Not everyone can ride a bicycle. Some people have an innate fear, and they have to stick to a tricycle or keep those training wheels on, but if that's the case, they have no chance to race Lance Armstrong. And if Israeli politicians keep looking for the approval of foreign powers, they must resign.

I don't now how many of you remember the month leading up to the 1967 Six Day War.

"The Six Day War broke out on June 5, 1967, following three weeks of tension which began on May 15, 1967, when it became known that Egypt had concentrated large-scale forces in the Sinai peninsula. Egypt's force buildup in the Sinai was accompanied by other serious steps: the United Nations Emergency Force stationed on the border between Egypt and Israel and Sharm el-Sheikh in 1957 and which had provided an actual separation between the countries was evacuated on May 19 upon the demands of the Egyptian president at the time, Gamal Abdel-Nasser." (From the IDF Spokesperson's Office website)

The offensive that took shape in Arab minds and began to emerge in May 1967 was the climax - indeed, the grand finale - of eighteen years of hostilities against Israel on every front except the direct confrontation of the military battlefield. During those eighteen years, the various hostile acts of the Arab states broke every relevant paragraph in the Armistice Agreements of 1949, which all the states had negotiated and signed and which theoretically governed their relations with Israel. (See http://www.eretzyisroel.org/~samuel/beforesixdaywar.html)

In 1967, Israel defeated the Arab armies without any human help. No country sent soldiers to fight alongside Israel. The United Nations withdrew its peace-keeping forces. According to all the experts, there was no way we should have survived, but we did. And that's the proof that we don't need anybody's approval or help. We don't need training wheels and we don't need a guiding hand on the back of the bike.

We can ride our bicycle all by ourselves. We're a strong, independent country.


Copyright©2005BatyaMedad Contact me for publication permission; private distribution encouraged.