It’s an old trend– Jewish Israelis leaving Israel, there are said to be hundreds of thousands of them — but it was in the news twice this week.
The Forward’s Emily Hauser (who got out 16 years ago for the USA) reported on this tune by the band Shmemel:
The video features Israeli after Israeli in various international locales singing and dancing with signs in their hands:
“I left for Amsterdam.”
“I left for New York.”
“I left for Tokyo.”
“I left for Berlin.”
Rogel Alpher wrote in Haaretz last week— headline “Israel is my home, but I can no longer live here”– that Israel is too dangerous and he’s a secular person in an increasingly intolerant fundamentalist society:
I need to leave the country. My Israeliness and my Jewishness are not essential to my identity. I hold a foreign passport, not just technically, but psychologically. Israel is my home but it is not correct to say I have no other….
If you identify with me you will certainly admit that you will encourage your children to seek their future elsewhere in the world, for the sake of their personal security, psychological and economic wellbeing. Israel is not worth the price it is exacting from us. There is a nationalist-religious-ultra-Orthodox majority, and our lifestyle will not survive in our homeland. We have a much better chance of maintaining it elsewhere. That’s the truth.
I cannot justify to my children continuing to live here. Israel is a dangerous place, which takes much more than it gives, for reasons that I do not accept. From my perspective, what goes for Tel Aviv goes for the communities on the Gaza border: You cannot live a good life here. You can die here, you can take shelter or you can simply leave.
I wonder when the New York Times is going to cover this trend. And when American media are going to show us the intolerant Israel that Max Blumenthal revealed in Goliath.
And when American Jews will at last be forced to declare how important Israelness is to their lived identities, as opposed to being a mythical ideal that summons their political support.
For all the horrifying depredations of ISIS’s Islamic state, what is the destiny of a Jewish state? Says Alpher:
I am trying to be realistic, like Pensioner Affairs Minister Uri Orbach. He claims that we must concede that in our lifetime and that of our children, every few years we will have to wage a war in which civilians will be killed too. He is right. These are the facts of our lives. Missiles will continue to fall on us, because of settlers like him and because of extremist Arab groups like Hamas, Hezbollah and the Islamic State.
My fate and the fate of my children will be determined here by people who have a God whom they talk to and in whose name they act. I think they are crazy.
Orbach’s is precisely the vision of my mother’s best friend in Jerusalem, who years ago told me there would be one war after another “till the Arabs accept us.” Is that vision of a future really worth the idea/ideal/golem of a Jewish state?
Is Jonah Shepp’s American-Jewish-Zionist declaration (at Sullivan’s site yesterday) true?
Diaspora Jews of my [youthful] generation may be much less attached to Israel than our parents and grandparents, but when push comes to shove, we’d rather it exist than not, because we know that our permission to live freely and safely in any other country can be withdrawn at any moment. In our history as a people, we have seen it happen time and time again with devastating consequences. With a well-armed territorial state to our name, we no longer have to fear those consequences.
And what about when push comes to shove for Palestinians? Does that count in American Jewish moral reckoning? Oh well, I see this post has ended in a very different place than where it began. I’ll stop now.
Thanks to Terry Weber.