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Jerusalem, Zion, the resting place of the Divine Presence, has for 3,000 years represented the core of Jewish identity, the place in this physical world which transcends the physical world, the site of our national rendezvous with God.

Abdicating Jerusalem, especially the Temple Mount, means abdicating the essence of what it means to be a Jew. He was recently awarded the "Humanitarian Award for the Arts" by the organization Free Arts for Abused Children.

The Western media relishes depictions of young Israeli soldiers as callous, mean, and macho.

A new study of Israeli eleventh and twelfth graders -- those who are about to become the next batch of soldiers-reveals a very different profile. Mina Tzemach, Israel's pre-eminent pollster, was published in the Hebrew weekly Jerusalem.

Forty-six percent are not sure their country will even exist fifty years down the road.

And 95% expect to remain in a state of war with the Arabs for most of their adult lives.

While I spent my youth in a land prone to occasional societal earthquakes, young Israelis perceive themselves as building their lives on quicksand.

(Army regulations require soldiers to carry their weapons at all times, including when they are off duty and when they go to sleep.) Yet the number of armed robberies and other crimes committed with these guns is minuscule.The pollsters' comment in comparing the above two results was: "Even though most Israeli high school students are prepared to serve in a combat unit, even so they don't want to be far from their mothers." Question: What profession do you want to practice in the future?Reading this poll, I was struck by the contrast with my own youth in suburban New Jersey.As high school students, our biggest worry was getting admitted to a top college.These Israeli teenagers worry that if they go out for a pizza, they could lose their hands -- or their lives.Facing this grim scenario, one might expect most young Israelis to opt out, to want to seek a safer, more "normal" life in Los Angeles or Houston.Yet 84% of those polled choose to stay in Israel -- at whatever cost. Although the poll included no religious nor philosophical queries, perhaps the answer lies in a result which reveals more unanimity than any of the political questions: 77% of Israeli teens oppose the division of Jerusalem -- even for "true peace" with the Arabs.Death pertained to my parents' generation, as irrelevant to us as gray hair and paying taxes.As a teenager, I did not know a single young person who died of any cause.The America of my youth was racked by periodic race riots, the seismic rumblings of the Civil Rights Movement, and, later, the upheavals of the War in Vietnam.But these societal convulsions affected me only as much as I allowed.


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