In modern times, when Israel was being pioneered by European immigrants, they brought with them an image of the land of their dreams. This image, like the Renaissance paintings of the Holy Land, seemed to be a verdant copy of central Europe. They laboured in the dry heat of the desert, but this image never wavered. They cleared the stones, ploughed the land, planted and watered their newly marked fields, and in many places pushed through a revolution which did begin to approach their dreams.
However, there is a natural limitation to dreams: with time, the physical reality of the earth, climate and water in the area in which they laboured led to a new understanding of what is possible, and even of what is desirable in such an area. That deeper understanding is leading to a change, of course, a redefinition of the vision of an “ideal” landscape for lsrael.
Many countries in arid and semi-arid climates are now facing the harsh reality of burgeoning populations that place enormous stress on the environment. The ability of technology to meet every need still has its limits, however. There may be plenty of light and stone, and one day a technological solution that will provide unlimited power and water to people in arid lands may well appear. But perhaps there is not enough time to develop these remedies before scarcity and habitat destruction result in even more serious problems. It is currently debatable which is growing faster, our needs or our capabilities. An imbalance between these two things might bring about severe social and political struggle.