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Israelis are tired of it. They're tired of turning on the news and learning that more soldiers have been lost in South Lebanon. They're tired of sacrificing three years of their lives to the army 1. And they're tired of having to keep gas masks in their homes.

Zionism, the guiding ideology behind the formation of the state, and a sustaining force through four wars, no longer resonates in the hearts and minds of the people as it once did. Instead, today's Israeli, fueled by glamorous images of western culture (cable TV only arrived in Israel in the 80's), and the unprecedented economic growth of the early 90's (a product of the peace process and large scale immigration from the former Soviet republics), aspires, more than ever before, to the trappings of a normal life 2.

Footnote 1- (Israeli men serve three years in the army and do one month of reserve duty annually until age 49. All women serve two years in the army but are not required to do reserve duty.)

Footnote 2 - (800,000 Jews from the former Soviet Union immigrated to Israel between 1990-97. Israel's population before the influx was 5,000,000. This was an unprecedented immigration, on a scale comparable to the United States incorporating the entire population of France.)

The American dream is a much sought after commodity here. Even the kibbutzim (farming collectives), perhaps the ultimate expression of back to the land Zionism, have expanded into the manufacturing and high tech sectors hoping to reverse long term declines in membership and profitability.

High tech success has proven to be a fast track to the promised land for many Israelis. Utilizing near unmatched technological skill (usually acquired in the military), high levels of education, and entrepreneurial verve, Israelis have managed to create a virtual Silicone Valley east here. Alan Meckler, publisher of Internet World Magazine, estimates that 15 percent of all Internet developments originate in Israel.

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