Israel’s continued airport closure is a gross injustice that disproportionately affects Anglo and Western Olim. While discrimination against Anglo Olim is not surprising to me, the fact that we have gotten to this point is shocking. I understand there is a global pandemic and public health and safety need to be taken seriously, however, clear, just and logical policies need to be made. Many of us are fully vaccinated, Pfizer has said its vaccine is effective against the new strains, and every oleh I have spoken to is willing to be tested and complete a full home quarantine. None of this is being taken into account, since ultimately the decision to close the airport is one of an assertion of power, to try to swing the vote in an election.
Our government funnels millions of dollars into organizations to bring Anglo olim to Israel; it does almost nothing to support us after aliyah. Instead, we are mocked for our wealth (note: most of us are not wealthy), our culture, our accent, and our frequent trips abroad. Yet the fact is is that Anglo Olim are the ones who came to this country by choice. We were not escaping persecution; life in our old homes was comfortable; we did not have to come. But we did. We came purely out of a love for Israel, out of a desire to contribute to the Jewish homeland, out of a belief that the Jewish future was here. Many of us came without our families.
I made aliyah in 2012. My decision to do so did not surprise anyone, since I had spent the previous year volunteering for national service, as I believe wholeheartedly that every Jew should contribute in some way to our Homeland. In all the hardships I have experienced here (along with the many highs), I have never questioned, doubted, or regretted my decision to establish my life in Israel. That has now changed. This latest extension of the airport closure has broken me, and I know I am not the only one. For the first time in my life in Israel, I looked at my husband and said “maybe we shouldn’t live here, maybe we should go back to America”. The fact that I even had that thought, let alone uttered those words, shatters my heart into millions of pieces and has my soul aching. I love this country so much it hurts. But I need to see my parents. I need to be able to tell my children when they can see their grandparents and great-grandparents. I need to feel like the country I gave up so much for cares even the slightest bit about my needs, my mental health, and our community’s struggles.
Throughout the pandemic, the government has been entirely inconsistent with its corona policies across the board. In the beginning, we could blame the new and unknown virus that was quickly spreading through our world. At this point, the fact that we are in this situation is gross incompetence, and once again, it is the “friar” oleh who suffers. We screamed from the sidelines as cases rose, many ignored restrictions, and the government did nothing. We watched as the government outright encouraged people to travel to Dubai, without quarantine or Covid test, a decision that is partially responsible for causing this third wave, and 2,000 more deaths. We saw hundreds of unvaccinated Judo players fly into Israel for sport. We’re bombarded with news of movie theaters and malls opening. While all Israelis were alone for the Pesach Seder, we have been alone this entire year. We don’t get to hire our parents as “babysitters” during the lockdown, we don’t get to wave to our grandparents through a mirpeset window, we don’t get to sneak away to our siblings for Shabbat. We are alone. Our mental health is suffering.
Government officials can talk all day about going back to “normal life”. Meanwhile, we sit here, trapped, unable to see our families, with no end in sight. The government could change this while maintaining the safety of its citizens. There is a way it can be done, if only our needs were a concern. Anglo Olim have given up so much to be here, and contribute immensely to Israeli society. Please, for the sake of the hundreds of thousands of olim who came home, let us visit our homes.