On the desktop of my computer, tucked safely into my “Home” folder, is the most important endeavor I have taken on in my lifetime. Three months of hard work culminating in a folder called “Saving Our Home,” filled with close to 100 files. Inside lies the platform for a strategic oleh-by-choice lobby.
Its goal is to forward oleh rights, through a unique group of citizens who have made the common choice to come home to Israel, not through persecution or for a better financial future, but to realize a dream.
This folder is “gathering dust,” which is quite a shame. But that’s the price of mass complacency.
Rewind to February 2012.
Following yet another month of electricity hikes and losing an entire salary to Bituach Leumi (National Insurance), due to their lack of ability to stay organized, I broke down and decided that either something must be done or it was time for me to leave. I chose the first option. And I chose the objective closest to my heart: oleh rights.
A few posts on Facebook brought close to 200 responses insisting that something needed to be done to change the status quo. I was given a resounding green light to create a strategic platform.
I wrote an open letter to the prime minister and the Knesset, and received feedback from a few individuals. This became the basis for our full-blown initiative to advocate for oleh rights, which by default affects both Jewish peoplehood and world Jewry at large.
(As a side note: the main idea was to push this as an initiative for, and by, olim by choice. It turns out, we have a very strategic and untapped lobby that does not yet exist here in Israel. We, I quickly learned, are respected for coming by choice and not out of necessity. That said, this is intended to directly and indirectly affect all olim and world Jewry.)
Much happened over the months: MK Einat Wilf is supporting our effort, Yisrael Beitenu is behind us, and given more time, I would have reached out to other MKs and parties. We have been offered media support through a variety of outlets, are receiving strategic support, and have been offered funding for the initiative.
A close friend and I put together a strategic plan, which includes a petition, viral videos, an open letter to the prime minister, task forces, lobbying, and the formulation of policy solutions.
We have been told on quite a few occasions that we can win this, and that many of these issues are already out on the table and just need a push. We just need to persevere.
However, I have learned the hard way that complacency seems to be the name of the game. Though all of the cards are stacked in our favor, we have been doomed to failure by the single entity we are working to benefit. From the hundreds of individuals I know personally who are unhappy with the current status quo, I managed to round up nine individuals to be involved in actively pushing this forward. Out of those nine, only three have actually been willing and able to do so.
What happened to all of those individuals who are so desperate for a better future for themselves and their children? As the gap between Israel and the Jewish world continues to grow, we have chosen to passively watch on the sidelines, and to kvetch.
Many olim and Jews worldwide are not considered Jewish by the Rabbinate of the State of Israel, but as we fatalistically repeat, what can be done about it? As we work to integrate ourselves into a system very different from that to which we are accustomed, we often prefer to leave, rather than work toward better absorption policies. Navigating the bureaucracy here? Fifteen years later, I still have not figured it out. Good luck to you new olim with insufficient resources to work your way around them.
I read an article not long ago that stated that Anglo olim possess a sense of entitlement. I did my time in the IDF, I love my home, I birthed a Sabra, and not a day goes by that I do not appreciate the existence of our one and only Israel. Whether as our biblical homeland or as the modern Jewish State, Israel is all we have.
I do not feel entitled. I expect what we deserve, and what our future generations deserve. The difficulties we experience can be fixed. This is not mission impossible. This gap between Israel and the Jewish world is absolutely unnecessary. It is our duty to fight a rotting system. We owe it to ourselves. We owe it to our children.
Our country needs action, not complacency. Yet I, and the few like me, fighting for the sake of the entire Jewish people, are often forced to fight alone. This is not a one-man job, this must be a concerted effort.
Though one person can certainly affect the world, one full-time mom and wife, full-time business owner, part-time bookkeeper, and administrator for her husband’s business, has a bit more difficult time doing so.
Somehow, I was able to make the time for the issues that have physically and emotionally harmed me, and in the future my children. But most of us are not.
I, and my army of three, cannot do it alone. Are you willing to suffer the consequences of your complacency as we continue down our fatalistic path towards an unforgiving and irrevocable future?
Alone, I have lost this, as I am sure have many other amazing initiatives before this. Together, we win. The outcome is entirely in our hands.