I made aliyah because I was bored. More important, I suspect most of my fellow American Olim did so as well.
Lest I be accused of being overly cynical, I would admit that I identify with Zionism’s core tenets and I dare suggest my aliyah peers do too. Some of us would categorize Palestinian life as unjust and occupation as corroding the Israeli soul. All of us wish an end to the conflict, no matter how different our versions are.
But it was stultifying apathy and the excitement of Israel that pushed us to move. Any rational materialist would end the search for a home as soon as modern American life was investigated. Separation between church and state and peaceful relations with neighboring countries (or the entire Western hemisphere for that matter) are universal to its citizens. If you are willing to compete, as every American is educated, expect the best universities, decent wages and comfortable living space.
Yawn, I thought. Where is the struggle? The revolution? The moral imperatives that keep you awake at night? Where are the ethical questions that callously torture our untested value systems? The American system is one that prioritizes careerism and consumerism above meaning and purpose.
Zionism was the quixotic answer to my ennui. Lionized and despised historical figures of peace and war presided over the general consciousness of this place. Add to that international obsession and the constant threat (or search) of war and danger and the appeal of aliyah inevitably washed away the remaining sentiments in my mind to stay in the U.S.
Life in Israel gives us purpose, interconnectedness and interesting conversation. It occupies enough of our political discourse that we put up with the circus order that we often encounter here. But this sentiment is fleeting.
I romanticized IDF service until I experienced its grinding minutiae and overbearing army bureaucracy. I have lived here for over three years and my time is spent more on worrying about finances than befriending Palestinians. Many other olim I know do the same.
Most of us wish an end to this conflict, however one sees it, though few actually believe one is possible. However there have been brief moments providing us a glimpse. For many, that day was 18 October 2011, when Gilad Shalit was welcomed back home and we were reminded of the ostensible reason we choose to live here. Intractable conflict allows for stirring dreams and achievements of the utmost humanity and historical importance. But alas, they are just moments and nothing more.
People leave Israel every year because the excitement was replaced with the mundane, the sense of wonder with the ordinary. They came seeking adventure and left due to finances.
Conflict has a way of creating communities under the pretext of shared plight. What do we do when it is relegated to an afterthought (or hopefully soon as a collective memory) and we are left with boredom?