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It’s easier to be a Zionist if you don’t live there

Israel/PalestineUS Politics
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What is the difference between American Jews and Israeli Jews? Here’s one. Recently Richard Cohen, a columnist for the Washington Post, wrote an article with the headline, "Israel has its faults, but apartheid isn’t one of them." I read the column a couple times. I don’t see one fault in there.

Bradley Burston is a columnist for the Israeli newspaper Haaretz who grew up in California and emigrated to Israel many years ago. He loves Israel, is a true Zionist. But recently he wrote a piece honestly describing the desperate crisis that Israel is in, due to racism, militarism, the closing-down of Israeli society.

Well Burston got a ton of hate mail, he now reports. And a lot of it was–surprise– from overseas, surely from the States– from Zionists who don’t have to live in the Jewish state, and are presumably getting a lot of their information from the likes of Richard Cohen:

Of the hundreds of responses – most of them negative, many of them unprintable, some of them threatening – an astounding percentage, nearly one in every five, sounded the same theme:

"If you find it so necessary to criticize Israel, you should just pack up and leave, and the sooner the better."

Nearly all of those who wrote in this vein, it turns out, live not in Israel but overseas.

You have to envy them. No mandatory conscription, no kids in danger and under arms, no occupation of the neighbors, no decades of compulsory military reserve duty, no unending need to take to the streets in protest.

Over there, they have lower taxes, cheaper cars, better schools, better separation of church and state, better politicians, less McCarthyism, less ethnic and religious discrimination – and, if that were not enough, they now get to decide who should stay in Israel and who should go.

What can you conclude about Jews overseas who declare that they love Israel with all their hearts, but who want to see Jews who live in Israel – the ones with whom they disagree – clear the hell out?

You want the truth? Here it is: Living in Israel is both vastly more rewarding and vastly uglier than we paint it here in Haaretz.

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