Yoni Leviatan
How to be Jewish: Be good. The end.

Dual Loyalty

I love my mother and father very much but I don’t love them equally. Not the least bit. No, I love them uniquely.

How could I ever love them, or any two people, equally?

Luckily I’ve never had to choose because it’s not just an impossible choice; it’s an impossible concept to fathom, at least for me. Even though they’ve been divorced since I was six, this never affected their relationship with me and my sister. We were very blessed in that they never let any problems between them affect us, our upbringing or our relationships with either one of them. I’m proud to say that both played their respective roles in our lives outstandingly.

Tomorrow, May 26, 2014, is my five-year “Aliyahversary”. Five years living in Israel! Unbelievable how quickly the time has flown by. The experience has far surpassed any expectations I had (which were none) and all the “wait until you’ve been here more than a year” I heard from the cynics notwithstanding, I still walk around overflowing with love and appreciation for this country as each day has been better than the last.

But I don’t want to write about why it’s so wonderful here. There’s enough of that out there – rightfully so – and maybe I’ll go into more detail about my perspective on it in another article. (I’ve actually got a lot of good advice for how to succeed in this not-so-easy-to-succeed country.)

However, what I really want to express right now is how much I love the United States. I miss you America, even as I watch the news every day and see all the many problems you’re dealing with. When I come home to visit (I still refer to it as home even though I also call Israel home), I feel like I did when I was a seven-year-old running to my father as fast as I can and jumping into his arms after not seeing him all week.

Although I’ve made some amazing friends in Israel that I’m so grateful to have met, I still terribly miss my life-long friends from high school, college and music. My niece was born three weeks before I moved and I’m missing all her birthday parties, many firsts and other unrecoverable moments in her childhood. And of course I miss my family along with lots of other things like Gator games, parking right in front of the place you want to be and Publix supermarkets – quite possibly the place I miss most!

So why am I here in Tel Aviv, Israel? Why not go back? Again, that’s for another article. It’s time to get to the point of this one.

It is entirely, absolutely possible to love and be loyal to more than one country. Really, it is.

From the age of two and a half until thirty-one I lived and grew up in the United States of America (I was born in the UK – I love it there but sorry, don’t feel any loyalty). Just like any good father, America instilled in me the proper values and beliefs, taught me right from wrong, gave me sports teams to root for and quietly chuckled when I had one (or eight) too many beers. I look up to America with wonder and amazement. When I see all the other countries in the world I think to myself “my dad’s the best”!

But when it all comes down to it I have to admit the truth – I’m a mama’s boy. Israel represents all the love and nurturing that a mother gives her child. Israel gave birth to my parents and my people. Israel will protect me with a ferocity that only a mother can. In her eyes I can do no wrong and in her arms I feel safe and secure in a way that’s unlike anything else in this world. It’s unique.

And so is my love for America, especially as my “Aliyahversary” coincides with this year’s Memorial Day.

Among all the many accusations anti-Semites love to throw at Jews living in the Diaspora, I think their favorite one is that they are more loyal to Israel than the country they’re living in, which is usually the country they were been born in, raised in and the only place they have ever called home. It’s their favorite one because there is so much damning evidence. Jews don’t deny loving Israel. They support it with all their might, as naturally as a child would defend his mother against nasty name-calling.

What’s interesting is that the Pope arrived in Israel today and I can’t remember one time in my entire life that I’ve ever heard or read of someone questioning whether Catholics are more loyal to the Vatican than they are to their home country. Throughout history we’ve seen people faint, cry out and literally go crazy in the presence of this great, great figure, yet no one seems to wonder if Catholics just might have a little more love in their heart for the Vatican than they do their home flag. No, it seems that this demand for singular allegiance is only made of Jews, an all-too-familiar scenario.

So as Canada is considering stripping dual-citizens of their Canadian citizenship, and as Europe is once again becoming awash with the momentum to put Jews in their place (which we all know is out of sight, out of mind or six-feet-under), let me say loud and clear that when you demand Jews choose between Israel and the country they live in, you are demanding they choose between their mother and their father.

Assuming you’ve got two loving parents, is that a choice you’re able to make? If not, yet you still expect Jews to make it – and no one else – maybe you should ask yourself why. You may not know the answer, but I think the rest of us do.

About the Author
Yoni Leviatan is a British-born, American-raised, Israeli-blooded musician, content producer, brand strategist, presenter and political analyst who loves to think out loud. Especially about Israel. Originally from Coral Springs, Florida, Yoni has been living in Tel Aviv since 2009, returning to the land of his parents and grandparents and ancestors before them. He has a BA in Criminology from the University of Florida and an MA in Political Science & Political Communication from Tel Aviv University. Click to watch his videos. Click to hear his music.