I read with dismay two recent blog posts by Noga Martin on Anglos’ inferiority complex and their failure to speak Hebrew with a Hebrew accent. My question to the author is, so what? Why are these issues worth writing about? I’m not even addressing the ridiculousness of the content. I’m specifically referring to the concept of the articles: How is it that with such current juicy topics as Haredim joining the army, Edmund Levy’s report that “settlements” are legal under international law, and even Arafat’s body being found with polonium (or not — who knows?), the lack of Hebrew accents among Anglo immigrants was what caught the author’s ear?
Martin claimed in her second piece that the comments on the first article were filled with vitriol. Quick reality check: Your article, not the comments, was filled with vitriol. In any other Western country, Martin’s article would’ve been condemned as racist. Imagine writing an article in the USA about the Hispanic accents of the Latin American immigrants. Or even closer to home: Imagine the response from this country’s foreign minister in reaction to an article about the Russian-accented Hebrew of immigrants from the Former Soviet Union. How about if this vitriol had been written concerning the Ethiopians and their accents? So why is it OK when it comes to Anglos?
And the icing on the cake? Martin is an Anglo immigrant herself. She used to be an editor at The Jerusalem Post, now translates for Ynetnews, and blogs here, on The Times of Israel — all English media sources! What’s the gain? To bring hatred upon yourself? I can hardly see any Anglo Israeli reading the article, saying “she’s right,” and going to learn how to fake an accent for the rest of their life. So, really, what’s the gain? It isn’t going to change anything (and who says anything should even be changed to begin with?).
I maintain that Martin belongs to a group of Anglo immigrants who have forgotten their roots. Noga, It’s great that you aspire to be as Israeli as possible. I give you all the blessing in the world. But don’t forget your roots. Don’t forget the Anglo countries where we come from, which gave us rights, unprecedented in Jewish history, and freedom and democracy. Anglos move to Israel out of desire — not fear — which cannot necessarily be said of olim from other countries. So, yes, you must learn Hebrew, and learn about Israel. But anything extra is up to you. If you try to be as Israeli as possible, great. But don’t start foisting your beliefs on me and blaming my “inferiority complex” when I don’t live up to your expectations. I, too, grew up a Zionist Anglo. I moved to Israel. I served in the IDF. I go to an Israeli university. I love Israel and don’t plan on leaving. And when I speak passionately about Israel in my American accent, please shut up and listen.
One more thing: Until Rabin, every Israeli prime minister had an accent, as do the current president, foreign minister, immigrant absorption minister, tourism minister, information and diaspora minister, Jewish Agency chairman, and many MKs. So please, Noga, have a little respect for the accented club.