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Welcome to the good life: Snores, chores, bores and much mores

April 27, 2011 – 9:24 pm23 Comments

By Kovi Rose

Its 3:00am and I am woken by the sound of my roommate from Minnesota snoring like a disgruntled boar. He has said to me in the past that I should wake him up if he snores, but I never have the heart to do it; so instead I simply hurl whatever small belongings I have at him to try and shift him into a position where his sinuses are less clogged (later he will ask me why his bed was covered in my books, shoes and toiletries when he woke up). It’s alright for him, he goes back to sleep, wakes up for morning prayers at 6:15am, has breakfast and heads to work after that. For me however, I have to be up by 5:30am ready to work in the organic fields at 6:00am, so I really wish he would stop snoring and let me get some rest.

I turn my pillow over, pull the sheets over my head and try to salvage a few more moments of sleep. While doing this I find my mind wandering back to my arrival in Israel, walking out of the Ben-Gurion Airport gate to the baggage claim past a wall-mounted row of old Zionist posters; the sort that encouraged idealistic young Jews from around the world to move to Israel by depicting two fit and attractive teenagers smiling as they work the land. Before I came to this kibbutz, this was the sort of propaganda that had spurred me on, filled my heart with Zionism, and several other clichés. But now, as I sit here in bed with bronchitis writing, I wonder where that passion went, and why is it that I find myself becoming lazy and unmotivated.

On a weekly basis I have ulpan classes on every first day (8am – 3pm) and every other day,  I work in the fields, kitchen, spice-factory, bio-bee farm and dining hall (6am – 4pm).  The ulpan classes are generally not too bad and often involve translating Israeli music to practice our Hebrew;  the only problem being that the program is run on an English/Hebrew basis, so the Italian kid who doesn’t speak English at all, has trouble learning any Hebrew.

The work is a different story, spending several hours at a time moving boxes of dried parsley flakes into a shipping container, or pouring bee food into hundreds of tiny cups, or pulling onions out of the ground, or weeds out of the vineyard, things tend to become sort of stultifying and boring. The other day in the vineyard we were attempting to cut down weeds with a dull, rusted hacksaw, and I turned to the Oleh next me and asked her whether this was making her feel more Zionist. She answered sarcastically in the affirmative, brushed a spider of her shoulder, and continued the fruitless weeding.

Other than the mundane routine here, the lifestyle is actually pretty good. The food in the dining hall satisfies. The people here are nice. The location makes sure that even the hottest day is accompanied by a cool breeze.  And after the day’s work is done, we sit in the hammocks and talk about our families back home, or politics, or what we are planning to do on the next free weekend.

In fact, the only thing that I don’t like here is how apathetic I am sometimes. Perhaps this complacency is the reason I’ve come down with bronchitis, or maybe the opposite is true – It may be fate that I got sick now in order to give myself time for self-reflection.

In either case, I plan to come out of my hiatus with clear eyes and a full heart. According to some, the month of Nisan included the creation of the universe, and as such I feel as if it is the perfect time for rebirth and re-evaluation of attitudes and work ethics.

I will push myself mentally to push myself physically.

Kovi Rose is a Mount Scopus graduate who made aliyah in March 2011. This is the second entry of his aliyah journal that he is writing for Galus Australis.

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23 Comments »

  • lombard says:

    So are you saying you are having reflective thoughts about w.o.r.k.? Or Zionism in general?

  • mother says:

    Should mother worry?? Is the boychick eating well, taking vitamins, anti-biotics, does he need chicken soup?(rhetorical question…who doesnt when sick in bed for days on end….). Oi my Boy!!

    Is someone looking after him? Hope so because it aint me any more kid!! Your decision has been made. Guess who can not avail themselves of Mama’s panderings any more! Or can he? Will he?

    I’m coming darling!!!

  • Eli says:

    Interesting about the Hebrew classes. Back in ’89 (gulp that long ago)
    the classes were all in Hebrew. they taught what was called ‘the mother tongue method”. eg: the teacher pointed to a cup and put the word into a sentence highlighting the word and the object in this case. Much like like children learn.No translation, so it didn’t matter what your native language was, you understood it because it was obvious.

    Don’t get despondent kovi, you will look back and see this as the best time in your life.

  • Kovi Rose says:

    Lombard – i was just saying that i had a period of slothfulness wherein i lost my ability to motivate myself to work through my Zionism.

    Eli – The classes here are still all in hebrew, but the teachers know a little bit of english for when they need to translate something.

    Thanks though, i am really enjoying it

  • Shawn Ferguson says:

    Thank you Kovi Rose
    Mazal tov on your Aliyah.
    You have presented the opportunity for discussion regarding an important concern.
    There is a problem with beginning Aliyah in this way. It leads an Oleh to believe that life in Israel is far easier than it truly is.
    Have you considered that once all the nurturing of Israeli soil and of your self has come to an end, all the serious stuff starts?
    Nowadays many people, especially young people like yourself, driven by a stirring in their heart towards their homeland, journey to Israel and start off like you, without realising how difficult the real stuff is going to be.
    I’ve seen those posters in the grand corridor at Ben Gurion airport (great picture by the way) and they have stirred my heart too – granted because they are designed in that traditional propaganda illustration style.
    But I have many friends who have made Aliyah the hard way, the sink-or-swim way. They are substantially older than you, which probably made it harder, but they always tell me that had they have known how difficult life is in Israel they would not have done it.
    There was no working the land nor lazy afternoons to reflect on the meaning of life.
    The reality is balancing part time Ulpan with working long hours, 6 days a week and prohibitive costs on cars, housing or rent, not to mention the difficulty with trying to do all this with imperfect Hebrew which makes getting a job much harder.
    I am told the culture shock is usually quite significant too. People assume they will be in a kind of Jewish theme park not dissimilar to the Jewish community they’ve just come from. Or better. But there is stuff that Israel and Israelis just don’t put up with and westerners get a bit of a shock when that happens.
    Maybe it is worth thinking about the idea that you might not be experiencing the real Israel just yet. Even though it does sound like you are experiencing the old pioneer Israel – just like in those inspiring posters. (i.e. like the one with the young people digging in a field.)

  • Kovi Rose to Shawn says:

    Thanks Shawn, i appreciate the advice and i do recognize the relatively easier nature of the way in which i made aliyah.
    However please know that the Israeli culture and attitudes are second only to Zionism when it comes to my reasons behind making aliyah. In fact i perceive it to be part of my Zionism itself; i.e. my love for Israel comes in part from my love for Israeli’s and their way of living.

  • food for thought says:

    it takes guts and i would never do this but good on you!!!

    there is always a romanticised view of any country and great to see a scopus student do this..

    enjoy the journey.

  • “every first day … every other day”, and hence the six day work week. Now that is one thing I don’t miss about life in Israel!

  • Ari Silbermann says:

    Just in a response to some of what’s been said here:

    The favourite past time of many Olim is complaining about some of the things in this country that seem to be completely irrational and illogical. I myself, am no stranger to this past time. But the fact of the matter is, is that living in Israel gives most of us so many benefits, apart from the stirring heart, that we would never dream of leaving permanently – and that even in comparison to other Western countries Israel does pretty well in some areas where other countries do not do so well.(For instance, I have heard older olim from England express wonder at the cost of health care and level of service compared to their peers in England – and my mother(someone who works in the field of special education) express amazement at the amount of government funded programmes for special needs students in state schools.) Obviously there are things that can be fixed but sometimes, in complete negation of Jewish tradition, it is necessary to discuss the positives of things.
    The amount of Jewish intellectual and cultural activities of every shape and form, the number of great restaraunts, the music, the warmth of the people, the cost of university, the standard of universities, the weather, the bbq at the end of miluim with your mates, the quality of the roads(except for the signage overkill), the concern for water,(the recycling facilities in my area), and many other things are some of the non-heart stirring reasons that I value living in this country.(don’t get me started on the heart-stirring things).

    The fact of the matter is that many of us only come to Israel on holiday or perhaps on a year long programme after school – all of which are not really living in the country. I remember when I realised that in Israel people have normal lives – when a group of us were out for dinner in Jerusalem and a friend said he had to leave early because he had a uni exam the next day. That’s real life in Israel – as is arguing with the banks, pulling thorns out of your garden, trying to find a job, developing hebrew skills, walking passed the old city and barely paying attention because you’re late for an appointment and listening to Shlomo Artzi – just because it’s on the radio.

    And despite what the posters look like – those good old zionists of the old UIA posters also had moments of boredom and sickness and probably also asked one another if pulling thorns out of their hands was making them feel more Zionistic. It was those little things and the miniscule contributions of many people in a million different ways which together built this country that I am honoured to live in.
    Yashar Koach Kovi for taking the plunge, and in a way which seems to work for you. No one said it has to be completely hard and impossible to be considered real Zionism.

  • Ron says:

    Maybe you’ll remember the Ulpan days for the good, but when you get to the real life in Israel, out of the Ulpan “bubble” – you may regret the moment, and look up for a one-way ticket to Australia.

    Impossible cost of living – low salaries and high prices; jungle-like and unaffordable housing market, much more than Sydney or Melbourne; endless traffic jams and horrible driving culture; lack of “fair play” culture in any aspect of life; tradies and merchants that rip you off at the moment their hear your Anglo-saxon accent; inefficient and large bureaucracy; extremely rude, vocal and sometimes aggressive people; lack of enforcement of any law (the Israeli police does not function at all); bitter, non-bridgeable political, religious and social gaps, what results in a full-of-hatred atmosphere; and I did not mention the permanent security tension.

    63 years (exactly today) after declaring independence, Israel is a totally unattractive place to live. Every year, thousands of young Israelis vote with their suitcases and choose another, better place. Many (if not most) people like you, who grew up in first-world countries and make Aliyyah full of Zionism, are shocked and go back to their home countries.

    Believe me, I know what I am talking about – I was born there and lived there most of my life. I migrated to the promised land down under 3.5 years ago, and do not think at all of going back.

  • Ari Silbermann says:

    Ron,

    As I said sometimes one needs to break out of the tradition of Jewish criticism of everything and look at the positives.

    I also noted that not everything is as good as it can be in Israel(even though I disagree with some of the things you mentioned). What I did not write is that, being our country, it is important we do all we can to help and change things for the better. Especially given the fact that if it were not for the existence of the Jewish state the life many Jews around the world currently enjoy may not be the same as it is today – in so many different ways.

    And just to point out:
    Israelis were just ranked 7th most content in the world(David Horowitz editorial in the Jpost: http://warsclerotic.wordpress.com/2011/05/07/out-of-the-ashes-to-the-height-of-self-sufficiency/)

    Given that it’s Yom Haatzmaut, lets try and look on the bright side.

    Yom Haatzmaut Sameach!!

  • Ron says:

    Hi Ari,

    1. You claim that Israel is “our” country. Well, it may be yours, but it is not mine any more. I disagree with the perception that any Jew should consider Israel as his/her own country; being a prioud Jew does not mean that you should also be a Zionist. There are other ways – and in my view, better ones – of Jewish exstence in the 21st century. By the way, you cannot be sure any more that Israel will be the “State of the Jewish People” forever – read, for example, the views that are common in ‘Haaretz’ – but this is for another discussion.

    2. Re self-sufficiency… well, this is a bad joke. Israel recives billions of dollars every year from the American tax payer and from Jews across the world, who still believe that a country with a GDP-per-capita of 30,000$ a year (about the level of New Zealand) is entitled to donations. Actually, no other country in the world, defintely among OECD coutries, has received – and still receives – so much funds as donations. Israel has made some impressive economical achievements, but it is defintely not self-sufficient.

    Regards, Ron

  • Kovi Rose says:

    Ron, i am actually shocked, offended and disgusted to hear you say that “Israel is a totally unattractive place to live”.
    I resent that comment not only as a new immigrant to Israel, but as a human being with a soul!
    Israel has some of the most attractive forests, mountains, rivers, springs and areas that i have ever seen (and i have been to many countries).
    In terms of livability, you need only look at the seven and a half million people who are still living here, mostly happily.
    The life expectancy rates are the same here as they are in Australia, England and America; but more importantly i feel that the lives here are more meaningful.
    I have never experienced a stronger continuous sense of comradery in any group i have ever been a part of – Israel truly is one big family.
    Additionally Ron, people do not frequently give money to Israel because they have to or it will spontaneously combust. Jewish people around the world feel love and compassion for a state and a land which they feel connected to, this is why they give charity to Israel.
    I do not judge you because i do not know you, however it does not shock me at all (given your obvious apathy towards israel) that you left the country.

  • Ari Silbermann says:

    Ron,

    in response to 1. Yawn – followed by a possible tooth blunting.

    in response to 2. (Being Israeli yourself I am not surprised that you respond to a point that was not discussed at all) Perhaps with a high-GDP but a high defense budget Jews around the world understand the need to donate money to help the country that gives them so much. Perhaps this argument in and of itself adds to many reasons why Israel is such a good country, currently, and why it will be an even better country once we sort out this conflict mess. Given its age, security situation – its global impact and reach is astounding.

    Oh – and I always forget to add the fact that it is one of the few economies in the world that so far has managed to dodge the world financial crisis.

    Ron, in many ways you remind me of someone I met at Bakum(army induction center) on the day of my induction. After receiving our uniforms and waiting the familiar IDF waiting game(During my army service I came to learn that the miracle of the 6 day war was not that she was victorious over her enemies but that the IDF managed to move a pluga of soldiers in the vague direction of the battle in under 6 days.) I sat next to a young kid and asked if he had found out where he was going and whether it was to Kravi. He answered that the only place he was going was home. That there had been a mistake and that he had told them earlier that he did not want to be drafted into a fighting unit and that since he had been his father was on his way to pick him up. Smiling to myself how much Jews are the same the world over(Just like scopus parents but in a realm that is deadly serious) I explained to him that I was 22 and had volunteered to serve in a combat unit – He looked at me as though I had fallen on my head out of a tree. Perhaps after a few years in Chutz laaretz you will come to understand what I and many other Jews the world over understand about the importance and specialness of the State of Israel.

    I was also trying to work out your age – you seem to complain like an older person but an older person, growing up in a world without a State would never complain the way you do.

  • Kovi Rose to Ari says:

    Thank you Ari, i wish there were a way to *like* Galus posts.

  • Ron says:

    Hi Kovi and Ari,

    Kovi:
    Nothing in my criticism about life in Israel is against you, so don’t take it personally. There are may discussions about Israel here in Galus Australis, which lack one thing – Israelis, people for whom Israel is the place where they grew up, and they know for the good – and yes, for the bad as well. I think the Israeli point of view is important.

    Re the sense of comradery – this is some kind of a double-edged sword, since it means that the border between private and public is blurred, and people tend to push their noses into your life etc.

    Re the donations, it seems that much of these result from an image of Israel as a poor country, which must spend most of its budget on defense, and needs donations for education, health etc. Well, these used to be true, but not any more: Israel’s annual GDP per capita is around 30,000$, and defense expected comprise only 19% of the budget. Maybe time has come that the donations should better go to Jewish institutions in Australia? Why, for example, should Australian Jews donate to educational projects in Israel, when here a Jewish day school is unaffordable for so many Jewish families, what – at least potentially – results in a higher assimilation rate?
    I must say that when I lived in Israel, I felt embarrassed for receiving these donations for two reasons: First, many Israelis refer to them as the gifts from the old uncle, that we dislike and despise, but we have to be polite to him so he continues to give us those gifts. Second, in many cases these donations go to institutions that are run very badly, and if they were run better, the donations were not needed at all. So, it comes out the Jews from Australia and USA sponsor the inefficiency and redundant fats of Israeli institutions…:-(

    Ari:

    Since you commented about the self-sufficiency of Israel, you opened this subject for discussion. See my comment to Kovi regarding the donations. Also, if Israel is such a great place to live, why do so many young Israelis come to Australia to work (illegally, for most of them) in dirty jobs for low wages, as if they came from a third-world country?

    The guy whom you met at the Bakum does not surprise me, actually more and more young Israelis are like him (when I was 18 they were rare), and as a result the IDF suffers from manpower problems. Did he tell you why he wanted to dodge the service? Maybe if he did (no, I do not justify him) you could understand why Israeli born people, or “Zionist against their will” are critical of their homeland.

    When it comes to me, the years here make me understand less and less why most Australian Jews are so keen and enthusiastic about Israel. Maybe they do not know the whole truth because they are not exposed to the Hebrew-speaking Israeli media? Or because Israel that they have in their minds is a “Jewish theme park”, in the words of Shawn?

    The Age of The (newbie) Australian: I am in my early 40s.

    Regards, Ron

  • Sam says:

    Ron

    You wrote:

    “I must say that when I lived in Israel, I felt embarrassed for receiving these donations for two reasons: First, many Israelis refer to them as the gifts from the old uncle, that we dislike and despise, but we have to be polite to him so he continues to give us those gifts.”

    As someone who supports Israel financially, this is a very discomforting attitude to hear from an ex Israeli citizen. If this was a view that is also held by Israeli leadership, then why is there significant efforts made by UIA and JNF just to name two major organisations to raise funds from diaspora jews? Furthermore their efforts to fund raise have not abated over the years.
    Are you saying to us that this is a cynical exercise by those organisations to take funds from donors that they don’t really need, as they have enough potentially from GDP? If true, even worse is the fact that if the funds were not needed there, and if they were diverted in their entirety to local jewish charities and jewish education, then many (in Australia and elsewhere) would benefit significantly, people that deserve this money more.
    I am about to go Israel and travel around the country, and it will be interesting to test your claims when speaking to locals there.
    You epitomise one of those dissaffected Israelis that can’t make a strong identification with the jewish homeland, and I have met some here, and in fact you said:

    “Actually, Israeli elites nowadays aim at de-Zionisation of Israel, and even disengagement of the Jewish people and creating an “Israeli” identity, which will replace the Jewish one.”

    Such statements, tend to dismiss a large part of our history living in exile, and more often than not oppressed, and the wish of our people over many generations to return to eretz Israel, as fairly unimportant, when compared to contemporary issues of living in Israel. I for one would think twice about going that far for a holiday, if it was just another country that had some historic sites, and Italy is probably a lot better in that regard.
    I suspect that there is a view held by a minority as you have made in a few postings on Galus, but if widespread in Israel I had better get ready for some major disappointments.

  • Ron says:

    Hi Sam,

    Thanks for your details response.
    1. Funds: The JNF and UIA, as any organisation on Earth, have to justify their existence, so they will continue with raise funds and find the projects for using them, whether required or not, whether can be sponsored by state budget or not. The main point here: If a relatively rich state collects funds proactively (whether directly or using semi-NGOs like the JNF) claiming that it is poor and needs these funds, then these funds are used for covering up a problem. Would you give a dollar to a beggar who is wearing an Armani suit, claiming he has no money for food, and in addition laughs at you behind your back?
    As an ex-Israeli, who still reads the Hebrew online media daily, I can tell you that if Israel were managed well, it would not need these funds and they could have been used where they originate, or where they are really needed. So, maybe the time has come to clarify Israel, that its poor management cannot be sponsored by the hard work of overseas Jews for long.
    If I were you, I’d divert my planned donations to Israel to a fund, that grants scholarships to Jewish kids, whom parents cannot afford a Jewish school.

    2. My identity: I must say that since I moved to Australia, I feel much more Jew and much less Israeli. The view that gains popularity among the Israeli elites is not my view, and actually I object it, and I fully agree with you about their back-turning to the long Jewish history. True, the people who hold this view are a minority, but have a large potential for growth, due to their almost-absolute dominance in the academy, media and the Arts in Israel.
    Here is a link to an article written by an Israeli right-wing academic about this issue. I do not agree with his political views and the host he chose for publishing this article is quite dodgy, but I think that he analyses the post-Jewish and post/anti-Zionists trends in Israel correctly:
    http://www.sullivan-county.com/news/mine/ti6.htm

    Regards, Ron

  • Sam says:

    Ron
    Thank you for your response and interesting info. A lot of UIA funds go to absorbtion of olim who are usually almost destitute. This must be expensive as initially the new arrivals have no housing, no job, usually no skills, and no language. They are helped a lot and this takes money. Maybe Israel could manage this from internal revenue and maybe not. This is the charity we support the most. I would like to think that most of the money is used well. This is very different to giving to a beggar that owns an armani suit. That example you gave is a bit extreme!
    As far as Israel being badly managed financially, I could give some great examples of horrendous financial waste in Australia, the USA and every other country as well. This is a given for any government.
    Israel might be better than us for instance with how we handle asylum seekers and refugees. Each one (in Aust), probably costs the taxpayer a half million and usually the current ones do not integrate well, and contribute a great deal back.

    As far as jewish identity goes, it seems that in Israel there are the very religious and a majority who are almost completely secular, with not a large number in the middle. The secular are not too interested in religion and have weaker emotional ties to their jewish heritage. That is OK and we expect that, in a jewish country.
    The link you provided made very interesting and disturbing reading. But! how much credibility has a jewish writer publishing on a “Jews for Jesus” website? Is that his choice, or could he not get his material onto some other forum that would give his article “more respect”? We can only hope that the minority he describes remains a small number, as if those attitudes spread and grow, then that will be the beginning of the end for Israel as a jewish state.

  • Ron says:

    Hi Sam,

    Most of the funds that Israel receives are not used for the unique task of absorption of Olim, but for infrastructure, education, health, culture etc. – tasks that should be sponsored locally, either by the government or by the private sector. If Israel cries for donations for these, with its plenty of full shopping malls and roads jammed with new cars, then it is really like “a beggar wearing Armani”. Israel is abusing the common belief that most of its budget is spent on defence, what is totally untrue. South Korea, with a similar GDP per capita and geo-political problems as well, does not cry for donations from overseas Koreans.

    Re refugees, I am glad that Australia does not handle them as Israel does. In Israel, thousands of African work migrants enter Israel illegally via the Egyptian border, only a minority of whom are really refugees. Due to the media’s pressure and ultra-emotional campaigns of far-left organisations (who hold the views that Dr. Plaut described and condemned in his article), the government cannot send operate the migration police and send them back to their countries. Australia decided to stand on protecting its borders and sovereignty, in spite of the costs; Israel gave theses up, like no other country did.

    Regards, Ron

  • Ari says:

    Dear Sam,

    I did not read Ron’s link and I don’t know if it is relevant but I direct you to this interesting poll which will hopefully dispell notions of Israel being almost completely secular.
    http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3382080,00.html

    In terms of some of Ron’s statements it is worthwhile to look at this website showing some percentages of GDP spent on Defense
    Israel, according to Ron’s unverified estimate of 19% spends much more on Defense than many other countries
    http://www.visualeconomics.com/how-countries-spend-their-money/
    and certainly much more than New Zealand who we are told by Ron has a comparable GDP.
    Meaning that the average New Zealander earns 30,000USD and spends some 900USD out of that on defence whereas Israelis who we are told earn the same amount spend almost 6000USD of that on Defence.

    Although I also don’t like the ‘young country’ argument it is important to realise that in addition to all of these things Israel has had less time than many other Western countries to build up infrastructure(even if you include the British Mandate period) – This together with the fact that Israel has absorbed milliions of Olim, many without means.

    To my mind, these are just some of the reasons to help the country that gives so much to Jews everywhere, whether it is the refuseniks, the Ethiopians, the French(yes unfortunately there are French Jews) and even the Australians.

    And Ron, though I am no expert, I am not sure that Australian Jewish institutions are corporate enterprises without wasting a cent.
    Please spare us all your long-winded self-righteous justifications which help you ease your conscience for leaving the only place Jews around the world can really call home. Let’s talk in 10 years time once you’ve experienced a little home grown Australian anti-semitism and after you’ve realised that the semi-hollow smiles and have-a-nice-days of the check-out chicks at safeway are no substitute for a country of our own, where Jewish culture can flourish, which nurtures the rest of the Jewish world and is a place we can all be truly free.

  • Sam says:

    Ron

    You must have had some very bad experiences when you were once an Israeli, as you cannot make even one favourable comment, regarding Israel’s governance and charitable institutions.
    And that in my opinion, is an unrealistic viewpoint, and reduces the credibility of all your comments. As far as Israel spending only 19% of their budget on defence, and that is not such a burden, I will refer to a passage from Haaretz.com of todays date to clarify the financial position:

    “The defense budget stands at NIS 48.6 billion for 2009 and NIS 53.2 billion for 2010 – the highest amount in Israel’s history.

    The figure constitutes 6.3% of expected gross domestic product next year and 15.1% of the overall budget – even before the planned NIS 1.5 billion addition. Israel is the biggest defense spender per GDP and as a percentage of the budget of all developed countries”.

    And that is as per my expectations.

    Ari

    Thanks for your posting which gives a different perspective on some of the issues being discussed. From my limited experience what you have said makes more sense than Ron’s comments which are uniformly negative. I now look forward to spending some time travelling in Israel, and experiencing that special feeling of being in the Jewish homeland.

  • Ron says:

    Hi to both of you,

    Well, I may be negative, to balance the positive. People usually comment about what they disagree with, not about what they agree with.

    And what I disagree with is the idealistic-romantic view of Israel, as it is expressed in phrases like “special feeling of being in the Jewish homeland” or “country that gives so much to Jews everywhere” (can you explain what exactly?), said by people who had not lived there for a long period.

    After 114 years of Zionism and 63 years of Israeli independence, the time has come to a more sober view of Israel, and asking critical questions, for example:
    Does Israel serves the interests of the Jews in the diaspora?
    Does Israel fulfill the expectations and aims for which it was established and fought for?
    Did Zionism create more severe problems that those it intended to solve?
    Is Zionism a solution for the Jewish existence problem that reflects and solves the problem of the early 20th century, but ignores the changes that have taken place in the world since then, especially in the countries where most Jews live?

    I am not asking this question considering the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, but from the viewpoint of the Jewish people’s favor only.

    Ideological Zionists will answer undoubted answers to such questions, but reality may challenge their answers. For example, one of the aims of Zionism was providing physical protection for the Jews; but In 2011, Israel is the only country where a large Jewish population is under physical threat, and possibly threatened by a second holocaust in case Iran reaches nuclear weapons. Israel lost 25,000 people in wars and terror since 1948. How many Jews around the world were killed because of their being Jews during that period?

    Israel is also not free of Antisemitism; see http://www.pogrom.org.il/eng_index.php, not to mention anti-Jewish attitudes among some secular Israelis, which would be considered elsewhere as Antisemitic, and in Israel are considered as progressive.

    Such facts should be taken into account when referring to Israel as “The only place Jews around the world can really call home”. I took them into account. For me, Israel is not the only ‘home’ any more.

    Regards, Ron

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