Amir Hetsroni

I am not a Zionist, but I am not a provocateur

A report published here of my recent departure from Israel described me as “the long-haired overly opinionated academic Israelis love to hate” and added that I am a well-known “provocateur”. I certainly concur with the physical description (at age 46 I still have head full of hair).

I accept regretfully that several Israelis like me less than they adore the popular minister of defense Bogie Ya’alon (who outside Israel may be considered a war criminal for his responsibility for the destruction of Gaza during the last war), and that even controversial politicians such as Arye Deri (the incoming minister of economy and a convicted white-collar criminal) have more supporters than I do. Yet, I do not see what makes me a provocateur.

My political views are probably not the most well-liked. Specifically, I object to the “Law of Return”; I support giving up as much territory as needed in order to make Israel an official EU member (and believe that generous territorial concessions may do the trick); I oppose nearly any welfare payment and am particularly set against offering Kindergeld (because I want to encourage parents to have fewer children and through that way route reduce population density). These views of mine do not conform to any form of Zionism and betray the essence of patriotism and social benevolence. More generally speaking, I am somewhat libertarian and highly anarchistic, but while this leaning may not be the bread and butter of Moshe Cohen from East Netanya or the teacup of Yaffa Levy from West Rishon-LeZion, there is nothing provocative about it.

Why am I eliciting so much anger? Possibly, because those who act out of emotions find it difficult to handle a person who makes rational arguments. Let’s face it: There is nothing rational about Zionism (or any other grand ideology). When I point out, for instance, that to believe that Ethiopian Jews are our brothers is as genetically logical as suggesting that Sudanese foreign workers are our cousins people get mad. The truth is annoying.

Yet, I did not leave Israel because a few Israelis hate me. I learned how to live with hatred. I was trained in using pepper gas and in avoiding dangerous situations like a crowded market with a high representation of right-wing Jews of Middle-Eastern origin who cannot stand the fact that in my view their immigration to Israel was beneficial for them but not for me. I left Israel because I am discriminated against in this country for my political views. Labor law forbids such discrimination, but de-facto nobody is enforcing this law. Thus, despite the fact that my scientific record is more impressive than that of most of my peers – no university or college was willing to take the risk that some hot-blooded student would not like to see me standing on the podium; Even though I am a ratings bombshell — no broadcaster was brave enough to allow me to host a program and risk a battle with a regulator. Surely, I could drive a taxi or open a small snack bar – but this is not why I studied for a doctorate and later was awarded professorship. Luckily, overseas my achievements are recognized and so I left. However, the fact that Israel is vomiting me out is evidence of this country’s level of tolerance.

As hard as it may sound to some ears – a country where a person who holds certain views cannot work in his profession, where people born to different religions cannot get married, where immigration is based solely on religious affiliation, and where some two million people have their movements closely scrutinized by a foreign army is not a democracy in the common western sense of the word.

About the Author
Amir Hetsroni was a faculty member at Ariel University in the West Bank. He is emigrating from Israel in order to miss the next war, earn higher wages, enjoy cooler summers, and obtain a living package that is cost-effective. He has three passports and does not feel particularly worried about anti-Semitism.
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