MONTCLAIR, NJ — We land at Ben Gurion Airport in the heat of winter, on the first day of Chanukah. At 11 a.m. Dec. 2, already it is 82 degrees in Tel Aviv — unusual weather for the rainy season in Israel. And it will get hotter. Much hotter.
Moments before our wheels touch down, a brush fire breaks out in the Carmel Valley, near Haifa. By the time we make it to our taxi it is a news item on the radio. You don’t need to be a fluent Hebrew speaker to know that something is happening. The cab drivers are clustered, standing by their cars with the news blaring on the radio, smoking, not talking. They are listening intently.