Dear friends who made aliyah,
We know it probably wasn’t easy. We really admire the million nights you probably spent pondering whether it was the right decision, whether you would be brave enough to simply jump on a plane and start a new life in our Holy Land, not knowing in advance if it would be for you. We have heard so many times about your difficult beginnings: the excruciating frustration of having to learn a new language, often from scratch, often when you feel you´re too old for it and were used to the luxury of sounding witty and articulate with much less effort. The sometimes unbearable heartache of missing your relatives at home. Of wondering whether this überadventure is really worth it when you hardly know your new nephews and nieces, when you can´t accompanying your elderly parents to the doctor´s.
We also hear about your financial challenges, about how exasperating and boring a moshav can be when you were used to living downtown, and how you miss being invited to Friday night dinners although you love Tel Aviv . We hear and feel you when you tell us about your roller coaster ride to get used to, and feel part of, a new society.
We want to keep listening because we really admire you, all of you who made it. We mean it. Many of us really wish we would find the strength and bravery to join you one day. Our hearts swell when you tell us that you found a job so quickly, and that you love it. That you finally found a place and that – huge or tiny – we are welcome to visit. We love reading your Facebook posts in Hebrew, even if we don´t understand them. We are thrilled to see that you made so many friends, maybe even married the wonderful Jewish soulmate you probably wouldn´t have met in Madrid, Tucumán or Dallas. How great it is to see you and share a small piece of your adventure when we come to visit in the Land of Milk and Honey. We feel proud of your achievements, and we cry with you when things go wrong.
Would we feel the same way had you moved to France, Australia, Sweden or anywhere else? The answer has to be no. We would love you all the same, but the answer has to be no. Because you are in Israel, you are making Israel, and you are Israel.
But here´s the thing: so are we. Please, remember that not long ago you were like us. You didn´t live in Israel, yet you didn´t love it any less. We are constantly tuned in, and this summer – as always – we have been worried. For you, for Israel. Sad about what happened in Duma and in the Jerusalem Parade. But also very sad for the numerous times when Arabs threw Molotov cocktails at Israeli vehicles and attacked our soldiers and policemen.
However, I must say, dear friends who made aliyah, too many times I have seen promising, stimulating discussions being cut short. End of the story. It´s easy to say that from your comfortable armchair in California. We can talk when you leave everything behind and move to Sderot. Yeah, but you won´t be sending your children to war, will you? If only you knew what it is like to live surrounded by black hats you wouldn´t like rabbis so much. You have no idea – at least one of us is living here.
(It gets even sadder when some immigrants who arrived 20 years ago feel more rightful than the ones who made aliyah “only” 7 years ago.)
You disagree with us? Talk to us. Let´s keep the conversation going. You are there and we are here, but we are all in it. Talk about the bigger context, share your experience with us. But don´t dismiss us, please don´t ignore us. Please don´t make us feel like we don´t have a say. Even if we don´t live there, we are also Israel.
My brave cousin who suddenly became very unpopular at work after some stupid colleague questioned Israel´s right to exist and she fiercely defended our Land and our People. My brother who saw a “Boikot Israel” graffiti on our street and immediately planned to have it erased. Rebecca who while working like a madwoman shortly before submitting her PhD thesis spent an average of 3 hours a day exposing the lies that the Spanish media kept saying about Israel during Operation Cast Lead . Joseph, who hijacks every Islamist demonstration in London – believe me, I would S*** my pants – to try and give people a more balanced view of what goes on in the Middle East and fight antisemitism. Those who instead stay home, feeling scared and frustrated when the whole High Street is taken by thousands of people shouting that from the land to the sea Palestine will be free. And what is scarier I don´t know, the viciousness and hatred, or the fact that you would see so many familiar faces if only you went downstairs. Those of us who donated more money than what we could possibly afford towards appropriate gear for IDF soldiers during Operation Protective Edge.
Some of you, dear friends who made aliyah – because this hardly comes from those who were born in Israel – it would seem that you feel the need to constantly remind us that these actions are not the same as living there. Seeing with your own eyes how the Iron Dome intercepts a rocket. Having to run into a shelter in the middle of the night.
I´ll tell you what: we know it. Don´t think for a moment that we do not realise that living in Sderot, and making the daily commitment to stay despite the fact that your poor children are starting to show PTSD courtesy of Hamas can possibly compare to taking part in a Siren Flash Mob in Trafalgar Square, then dusting yourself off, then going for a pint in Covent Garden. I promise you we know it. And let me say it again: we really admire you.
Just please remember that Israel does not only designate a country, but also the Jewish nation. We might not be there – yet – in person, but we are there in heart, in spirit. When we are plugged to the news, when we long to be there, always. We are here, you are there, but we are in this together. We want, need to hear what you have to say. Just please let us be part of the conversation.