Asaf Shimoni
Asaf Shimoni

Passover 2017: Freedom and ethics = to live in Israel

Since arriving in Israel just over nine months ago (as a returning oleh) I have found that Israel is the freest, most ethical and most exciting place in the world despite its problems.

Since my return I have been warmly received by everyone in Israel, with the exception of those who purportedly welcome new immigrants.

I have also realized that the problems I have encountered are the same that face most Israeli citizens and potential immigrants.

Politicians should do as people wish instead of engaging in polemics

The people of Israel are free. So why does the government not do as they wish? Why is the government still undermining communal lifestyles? Why impose age restrictions in a culture which stimulates contact between people of all ages? Why not invest more in healthcare? How about bringing Western immigrants of all ages and economic statuses to Israel?

People long for communal lifestyle

Israel is full of returning residents, immigrants, former and present members of kibbutzim and moshavim, students, families and singles who yearn for the lifestyle of the non-privatized kibbutz. Hundreds of thousands of Israelis and potential olim desire this lifestyle, but they are discouraged by government regulations and a co-opted minority on the kibbutzim.

Following the 1973 Yom Kippur War Israel and the kibbutzim were faced by numerous economic, political and moral crises. The worldwide economic crisis and hyperinflation in Israel combined by the rise to power of ‘right-wing’ parties (with the help of Israel’s poorer Sephardic and Eastern communities) had disastrous consequences for the kibbutzim.

Why did those who produce the most get so little?

Although two percent of the population were producing nearly ten percent of the GNP and defending the country’s borders they were powerless against a parliament controlled by the former opposition. During the period of hyperinflation kibbutzim which grew by ten percent a year had to pay banks 20 percent interest and also pay taxes to a hostile government which controlled the flow of money.

This was augmented by a demographic decline since few of those born on a kibbutz wanted to spend the rest of their lives in a small paradise discussing five-year plans; most left to explore the world beyond. Moreover the general mood in Israel in the late 1970s and the 1980s was less optimistic than it is today.

Israel strong democracy because it was allied with the West

Nearly three decades following these crises Israel is a strong and vibrant democracy – thanks in large part to a government which was allied to the West during the Cold War. However in an age when most Americans have to google Bolshevism the ‘Left’ and the ‘Right’ in Israel are still at each other’s throats.

Of course the country’s citizens could care less about battles based on terminology, but who cares about them?

Political parties obsessed by polemics

In real life the lifestyle of the religous and settlers in Judea and Samaria (all of whom receive massive government funding) is no less ‘left-wing’ than that of the former and present communal kibbutzim, but the government sees it as its duty to thwart the ‘Bolshevist peril’ at every turn. This makes no sense at all, but battles based on former and hypothetical situations rarely do.

Another illogical policy is betting that the present US government will be re-elected in less than four years. What if a large part of the US population, including many Jews, turn against Israel?

Present government policies deter aliyah

While Israel spends a fortune importing hundreds of thousands of foreign workers, many policies deter returning residents and new and potential immigrants. Returning residents are denied medical service for six months unless they pay 10,000 shekels to see a doctor, while economic immigrants and draft evaders from poor countries pay 16 shekels.

Does the end justify the means?

Why not point out to the world that Israel has accepted more than 400,000 non-Jews from the Former Soviet Union, where millions died following the collapse of the health and pension system? Or did the end justify the means?

The battles between the Bolshevists, capitalists and those in between was a hundred years ago. How about living in the present?

Invest in all Western Jews who want to return to their homeland

How about investing in bringing Western Jews to come to Israel to help Holocaust survivors and other elderly or disabled? Why not create and invest in new and present communal settlements and help Western Jews and Israelis who want to live there?

Invest in unity

Why have people waste hundreds of millions of hours a year waiting in lines? Prevention costs less than cures. Cutting health costs and physical and psychological neglect lead to greater costs. Attempting to create schisms between age groups, the religious and the so-called secular and the various ethnic communities doesn’t work anymore. People don’t buy it. Invest in the unity of the people of Israel.

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.
Related Topics
Related Posts