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Seth Eisenberg
Freedom matters

Ready to Flee Israel? Consider Moving to Miami

For Israelis ready to flee, Miami can be a terrific destination (courtesy Eisenthesky Productions).

For those ready to flee Israel because a majority of the recently elected Knesset is seeking to reduce the influence of an activist Supreme Court, Miami should be on your list of potential destinations. Many of the estimated 100,000 Israelis already living in the US consider Miami one of the hottest places to live. We even have a basketball team that makes that point: The Miami Heat.

While I know departing Israelis have many great choices, I want to encourage you to think about South Florida.

Keep in mind that Miami has become a much more conservative place to live recently. Governor Ron DeSantis, a darling of the right who has to be hoping against odds Donald Trump (another Floridian who lives pretty close to Miami and quite a popular guy in Israel too) won’t make the election. Our governor handily won the Miami vote not long ago. While there are still a few bastions of liberalism sprinkled throughout the state, no one is calling Florida blue or purple anymore; it’s solidly red and a typically great friend of Israel.

Now it’s another thing if you’re expecting a lot of understanding here for why you fled the planet’s only Jewish state, which vast numbers of Floridians hold in the highest regard. Few of Florida’s conservatives will quite understand fleeing because a democratically government that reflects the will of the majority does not want to be undermined by a self-perpetuating court. Or, for that matter, why patriotic (a bit ironic that seems) masses are spending days and nights marching and chanting “D-E-M-O-C-R-A-C-Y” in a nation that even if the entire judicial reform was enacted, would remain one of the world’s most vibrant — certainly when compared to America. On the other hand, President Biden will understand. Joe is a very understanding guy.

There are plenty of jobs available in Florida, even though AI is increasingly prevalent, but you don’t find many Israelis here taking orders at local fast food joints so that’s not likely to be a consideration. It should still be a few years before the new tech replaces drivers, so there are still many opportunities in the transportation field.

It will be interesting to see if the Israelis who move here become politically active in American politics. While the brutal murder of George Floyd and too many other black Americans helped inspire millions to support the Black Lives Matter movement, you don’t find a lot of activism around the kinds of issues that have led so many Israelis to the streets. After a century, we still haven’t solved the challenge of equal representation for Puerto Rico (they don’t even have a US Senator representing them), so that could be an issue to get involved with.

It will probably be a good idea to make sure your family and loved ones come with you, since the flight of so many Israelis will certainly leave the country more vulnerable to bloody assaults by Hamas, Hezbollah, Islamic Jihad, and other Iranian proxies (perhaps even Iran itself) who likely intend to expand the battle more broadly in the West once Israel is defeated. So while you may not be able to forget about those bad actors forever, you could get a least a little breather.

It’s also good to keep in mind there are quite a few things you take for granted in Israel that you won’t find here, including the idea that you live in your own country (although Jews have gotten pretty used to that before the last 75 years; exodus and exile seems to be in our DNA to some extent at least).

When it comes to politics, America is a winner take all democracy. We don’t have anything like the Israeli system where even the smallest constituencies can elect representatives in a parliamentary system where they actually have influence. When it comes to politics in America, if you want to get involved, you basically have to choose between Democrat, Republican, or Independent (although you won’t find too many Independents with significant influence).

You should also be aware of the high cost of health care. One crisis can lead to financial ruin without good insurance, but insurance can be expensive so it’s important to be prepared for that.

The cost of housing is still on the uptick with many Floridians spending 50 to 80 percent of their monthly income just to keep a roof over their heads. Thousands more Israelis moving here will likely drive housing prices up even further. There are already many thousands of homeless people without shelter in Florida.

Except for the heat and occasional floods and hurricanes, the weather is pretty decent, even if the humidity is much harsher than Israel and many of the beaches aren’t quite as good.

There are plenty of synagogues in the Miami area, especially Chabad. All denominations will find it easy to locate a community that practices as you do and many that don’t practice at all. Whatever your values, you’ll find a place to fit in.

Just be sure you come with plenty of enthusiasm, a good bit of money, a body and mind in as good shape as possible to limit health costs, a much lower expectation of government and democracy, no longing for home, and enjoy your life!

About the Author
Seth Eisenberg is President of the PAIRS Foundation, a former At-Large chair of the National Writers Union, elected labor leader, and pro-Israel activist. He is an author of Instructions for Intimacy, The Laundry List of Relationship Mishaps, Knots and Double Binds, PAIRS Essentials, Warrior to Soul Mate, PAIRS for PEERS, and the SHALOM Workshop. He can be reached via LinkedIn at linkedin.com/in/setheisenberg/.
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