“I like you. You’re not like other Jews.”
That is the ultimate backhanded compliment thrown around in places outside of Israel. I heard it for the first time when I went to university. And what exactly is the answer? “Oh … thanks, while you subtly roll your eyes?” Or, do you ask “exactly how many Jews do you know?” Or a more recent snappy comeback: “Compared to who?” If that person then lists all the sleazy Jews who have ended up in jail or ostracized by their communities, then I guess it maybe is a compliment.
Were you shocked into silence when you heard it? Did you think to yourself “what the heck does that mean?” Lucky you. You stumbled upon a Jew-hater who actually found a Jew they thought they could tolerate. How magnanimous of them.
Ironically, the same can be said of Israelis. “I like you. You Israelis aren’t like other Jews.” Except in this case it is probably true. Israelis, in the most general terms, definitely aren’t like other Jews.
Israeli kids grow up with a lot more independence than other Jewish kids. They are already aware of their mid- and long-term destinies by the 4th grade. Israelis are comfortable in their own skin because being Jewish is only one of the adjectives used to describe them. Israeli 21-year-olds are completely different people than non-Israeli Jewish 21-year-olds. Almost three years in the army will do that.
Most important, Israeli Jews live on the frontline of the future of the Jewish people every day. It’s most likely their lives that will be impacted before any other Jews. They are typically the canaries in the proverbial Jewish coal mine. They can’t hide or stick their heads in the sand. And that’s why Jews living outside of Israel have to take a backseat to the Israelis when discussing issues such as whether or not to accept a cease fire. If you really love Israel then understand that there are very good, sound logic behind these decisions. In the meantime, tow the line. We can discuss your issues later.
We appreciate your support. We really do. We also think that if you want a real say in what’s going on, then you should pack your bags and join us. Leave your antisemitic colleges and universities, quit your fancy jobs, pack up your aging parents. We have excellent universities here and if you want to be at the forefront of medical research or hi-tech innovation, you can do that from here. Plus, if you can’t live without some product, then you can always order it on Amazon.
Your parents will enjoy the socialized medicine system that is still functioning. Oh, did I mention the beaches, the mountains, the history? All available here, without a side-order of hate.
It’s not going to be perfect – you still have to deal with officialdom and a lot of very, very, very opinionated people – but you will definitely have more control over your own destiny. The only thing you are going to miss is the fear of antisemitism actualized.
Then, and only then you will have your say. The future of the Jewish people will also be in your hands. All you have to do is get on a plane and pick up your M16 at the airport (joking) when you arrive. Enlist in the army or have your children enlist. If you arrive during a war, then you can also take up stress eating, smoking, yoga or pacing in your driveway.
Then, and only then, will you be able to respond to the stupid people who think they just met their first tolerable Jew. But you won’t care anymore because no one here is going to say that to you.