Israelis flock to Berlin– some for ‘multicultural vibe’

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“Israelis flock to Berlin for better life” — Al Jazeera’s reports on the braindrain out of Israel, and says 15,000-30,000 Israelis have moved to the former epicenter of Nazism (the Israeli government estimate is the low end). The piece says that 70 percent of Israelis still cannot forgive Germany the crimes of the Holocaust, but the Jewish past is still evident in Berlin, and one of the young Israelis says, “Come on, it’s behind us.” 

Reporter Victoria Schneider also mentions the occupation as a motivator, and says that some have come to Berlin for the “multicultural vibe.” Gee, who’d have thought that a multicultural society in which everyone has equal rights is a goal, and not an ethnocracy?

When they arrived in Germany in early December, their flat was waiting for them. Noa Golan, a slim 29-year-old with dark hair, had found the ground floor flat in an old building in one of Berlin’s hippest quarters, Neukölln, which is known for its tatty and multicultural vibe….

Lev, who worked as a human rights lawyer for Yesh Din, an Israeli NGO that files petitions against illegal construction by settlers on privately owned Palestinian land, says: “It came to a point where I just felt I had to leave. It’s the way people in Israel treat you; some called me a traitor.” The 35-year-old says he was worried he might be followed or photographed. “If you oppose, the society pushes you aside.”

Berlin has the space to breathe. “I felt Israel was very narrow,” says Maayan Iungman. The actress, model and director moved from Tel Aviv just before her 30th birthday, less than a year ago.

Being abroad made her realise many things: “People here don’t have this stress like we do. Israel is not bad – that’s not what I am saying. But the reality is hard, in a quiet way. It’s hard to make a living. There’s the occupation, the army, the religion. The society teaches you that this is the only place for you and you’re not welcome in other places. It’s a country that is occupying another country and it makes its own people crazy. And I am not even talking about the Palestinian people.”

There are an estimated 700,000 Israelis now living abroad (and, of course, many vocal American Zionists, including Peter Beinart and Jeffrey Goldberg, choose not to live in the Jewish state, I imagine because they like the multicultural vibe here, and because they’d prefer to unfold their career ambitions here; well, doesn’t that tell you something?).

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