“I moved because life in Israel simply became intolerable in my opinion.” – http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4455145,00.html

One the many stories in my family’s lore was the time my grandparents first came to Israel in 1952. My father was an impressionable six year old who often recounts getting off the plane, turning around, and see his father kiss the ground and burst into tears. “Mummy,” asked my father, “Why is Daddy crying?”

“Because his parents so dreamed of coming here,” replied my grandmother (My great-grandparents having perished in the Holocaust.)

My maternal grandmother is from Beirut, though she currently lives in Switzerland. Without fail, during our Erev Shabbat conversation, after asking how things are in Israel, she declares, “without Israel, we are nothing!”

The common thread that runs through these anecdotes is that they are seen by people who remember what it was to live in a world without a State of Israel. They remember what it was to be a stranger in a foreign land. At one point or another, they had to flee their homes. Most of all, they felt the connection that exists between all Jews transcending time and space. It seems to me that we need to renew and infuse this feeling into Israeli society as a way of reversing this trend of yeridah.

I use the term yeridah deliberately. I read Naor Krokeano’s article (http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4455145,00.html)  with sadness. Sadness because the argument on which he justified his departure is based on a dissonance and contradiction which we all need to confront and resolve.

On one hand, there is the multifaceted comparison of how London is “better, cheaper and more organised” than Israel, and on the other hand, there is the self-justification of “All I did was to relocate to a different country just like millions of other people all over the world.” Unfortunately, this self-serving argument is becoming more and more common.

People will accuse me of being prejudicial, of unfairly judging other people. Both sets of my grandparents were refugees, and two generations later, I have been incredibly fortunate to be born into a well-off family where all sorts of opportunities have been open to me. I have travelled extensively, been provided with a varied and sophisticated education and am secure in the knowledge that I do not have to stave off financial ruin.

Having said that, I currently earn minimal salary, live frugally, yet I am incredibly fulfilled with all the different projects I am involved in.

I have no trouble believing that Naor Krekoano is having a wonderful life in London. I lived in London for twenty four years. People are indeed polite, they do say “please” and “thank you”. People in the UK drive inordinately better. It is true that there is no immediate military threat (maybe something to do with the geography). There are a thousand reasons why life in the UK is tolerable, pleasant and wonderful.

Tangentially, if Naor thinks politicians in the UK (or anywhere else) are angels, he really has not been paying attention.

And yet, all the above is irrelevant.

Our country is only sixty five years old. It is a work in progress. It needs every single Jew to give of themselves to the national project. Not in a socialistic, let’s all hold hands, new age way, but in a way that allows for all the diversity, complexity and refinement that we are capable of.

It needs every artist and engineer, every doctor and accountant, teacher and investor possible.

Naor, It doesn’t bother me that you live in London, because you found it to be more pleasant. It bothers me that you gave up on our shared project. It bothers me that you are not bothered enough with the rest of Israeli society enough to do something to change it.

Imagine you had ‘worked and invested’ the same effort in Israel as you did in securing EU citizenship?

Ultimately, it’s not about you or me. Rather, it is about the potential ‘us’, which does not just consist of you and me, but the national ‘us’.

How without you, we are lacking.