An old joke tells of the Israeli returning to Tel Aviv after some years living in New York. A friend asks him how it was in New York. “Oh, I can’t complain,” he replies.
“How was the food?” “Can’t complain.”
“And the prices?’ “Can’t complain.”
“And the weather?’ “Can’t complain.”
“So why did you come back to Israel?” asks his puzzled friend.
“Because here I can complain.”
I was reminded of this joke when glancing at the newspaper.
“Priced out: 41pc think they will never get on the housing ladder”
“…. more young adults are living with their parents for longer, the Office for National Statistics said.” Further reading showed that there is a major housing crisis.
“Experts agree that 300,000 new homes are needed each year to have any impact on the affordability of housing. Currently, housing starts are running at around 150,000 per year.”
As I’m sure you have guessed, these headlines and statistics are not from Israel; they are from Great Britain. As a comparison, housing starts in Israel are around 40,000 per year. On the basis of population size, in Israel we have more than twice the number of starts than the UK.
A useful website provides comparative prices (per Square Meter) to buy an apartment in the city centre. Comparing Tel Aviv (43,500 ₪) to London (63,500 ₪) shows that we don’t have a lot to complain about. And, if you are prepared to live a 30 minute comfortable train ride from Tel Aviv, Rehovot comes in at just 18,800 ₪. Nothing to complain about there.
But, here in Israel everyone complains. We complain, as is our right, about the difficulties of living in Israel and how easy life is somewhere else, anywhere else. “Everything free in America” goes the song from the 1957 Broadway musical, West Side Story. “Everything better in Chutz la’Aretz” (abroad) goes the refrain frequently heard around the crowded tables in Tel Aviv’s many restaurants and bars.
While we are complaining, let’s look at your chances of getting home after leaving the restaurant. For safely walking alone at night, Tel Aviv gets ‘High 65’, London manages ‘Moderate 43’. (0 means safety is very low, 100 means safety is very high.)
If you don’t want to walk and you really want something to complain about, look at these typical taxi fares:
Tel Aviv Taxi Start 11.50 ₪ 1 km 3.45 ₪
London Taxi Start 18.96 ₪ 1 km 23.56 ₪
But too much complaining can be bad for your health. If you do end up in hospital, make sure that it’s in Tel Aviv not London.
Overall Health Care Index: Tel Aviv – 74.09 London – 67.69
Skill and competency of medical staff: Tel Aviv – Very High 82 London – High 65
Of course, these comparisons are misleading. Israeli’s main cause for complaint is the security situation. We have Hamas, Hezbolla, ISIS and the Islamic Jihad on our borders, to say nothing of the many “lone wolf” attacks in the midst of our population centers. We should all make our way to peace and safety in America.
In America you don’t need to complain, you can shoot someone – in the US there are 101 guns per 100 residents, in Israel only 7. And in America they know how to use their guns; there are some 3.6 murders per 100,000 people but only 1.04 in Israel.
And if your complaints go unanswered you can shoot yourself – in the US there are 6.3 suicides per 100 residents, in Israel only 0.67. That’s only to be expected, Israel is ranked #11 in the UN 2018 World Happiness Report, the US is #18. According to the report, Americans have much to complain about: they suffer from major epidemics of obesity, substance abuse and depression. These epidemics contribute to a public health crisis.
So, it looks as if we Israelis can complain that we have nothing worth complaining about – for Israel, that’s nothing to complain about!