Asaf Shimoni
Asaf Shimoni

Israel’s Left-Right divide is a PR disaster and discourages aliyah

For reasons unknown to anyone but HaShem Baruch Hu many Israeli politicians are still fighting the October Revolution and implementing policies which nobody agrees with, not even they themselves.

People tend to think in terms of good and bad, black and white, left and right. So while Israeli politicians of the ‘Right’ attack media who are purportedly from the ‘Left’ the vast majority of Jews in the West (not to mention most other people) are gaining the distinct impression that Israel embraces anti-progressive policies.

Hasbara should use images to portray Israelis and Jews as sympathetic

Why not use music, images and creative films and other productions to portray Israelis and Jews in a sympathetic light? The media is all-too-often viewed as a ‘Left-wing’ threat so this seems to be out of the question.

Why aren’t pro-Israel lobby groups distributing millions of copies of Tuvia Tenenbom’s book ‘Catch the Jew!’ to journalists and activists to show how Arab groups blatantly manipulate the media? Are jobs and money the sole basis of Israeli hasbara?

On the one hand Israel is the most idealistic, innovative and challenging country in the world. On the other, while many of the 7 million Jews in the West are involved in tikkun olam and are seeking a purpose in life, precious few are making aliyah.

The main impediments are bureaucratic restrictions, politics and the financing of immigration.

Most Israel programs have age limits

As a result of bureaucratic restrictions current immigration policies tend to favor Western immigrants and returning residents who are young and wealthy. (Many immigrants from poorer countries are non-Jews and their immigration is often funded by Christian organisations.)

Nearly all Israel programs are geared to people who are young numerically, to the detriment of those who are young in mind, idealistic and have much to contribute. The situation is so ludicrous that many current policies are not even supported by the people who implemented them in the first place.

Why can’t people over 40 have children?

The main argument, particularly as far as housing is concerned, is demographic, the idea being that young people have children and that focusing solely on “young families” will guarantee the growth of communities. However this fails to take into consideration the fact that there are a growing number of people in their forties, fifties, sixties and beyond who would like to study and work and given the opportunity also have children.

Sarah was over 30 when she gave birth

There are many couples and singles beyond the age of 40 who want children and Israel is a leader in fertilization technologies. Why not attract olim from the West by offering couples and singles over the age of 40 the opportunity to “be fruitful and multiply”? If I remember my bar mitzvah passage correctly, Abraham was 99 (over 30!) when he was circumcized. Sarah (who was also over 30) gave birth to Isaac, without the aid of modern medicine.

Invest in immigration without enforcing age limits

Israel should invest in encouraging Jews of all ages and marital statuses to move to Israel and have children. However a Cold War relic, the Israeli battle between the ‘Right’ and the ‘Left’, again, impedes immigration. Finding a balance between working together and competing is an eternal struggle. Turning this into an ongoing political battle only benefits a few politicians, not the country as a whole.

Hundreds of communities accept almost exclusively the young and wealthy

Current government policies dictate to kibbutzim, moshavim and other communities what kind of responsibilities they have for those who reside therein. Authorities are also responsible for taxes and approving new housing. While the ideals of the kibbutzim and moshavim are alive politicians continue to fight tooth and nail against them. When politicians bridge the ‘Left-Right’ gap – which to most people is just nonsense – Israel’s image will improve and aliyah will increase dramatically.

About the Author
Asaf Shimoni is an author, journalist and translator who returned to Israel in 2016 after spending 40 years abroad, most of them in the Netherlands. He grew up near Boston, made aliyah while living on a kibbutz (from 1973 to 1976), and graduated from Syracuse University in 1978. He also lived some 5 years in Sicily. He is currently in Amsterdam to sort our affairs. He believes that the media should be as critical and truthful as possible.
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