Fed up with life in Israel
Op-ed: Liad Magen explains why he sees no future in Israel, wants to return to the Diaspora
My name is Liad. I work as a programmer and make a decent salary. I try to live my life tranquilly in Tel Aviv, which for me is the only real city in Israel. I’m 32-years-old, and almost half of my life is behind me. Yes, I look at the glass half empty, because I’m not such an optimist. As of late I’m even quite pessimistic and completely despaired over what is going on around me in the State of Israel.
It starts with the prices at the supermarket. Compared to other enlightened nations, this is clearly a robbery. It continues with the housing prices, which rose dramatically and affected rent prices. Then there’s of course the financial elements of the fees on our eroding pensions, not to mention insurance companies who acquired pension funds and abuse the elderly and weak. Then we have the high fees charged by the banking cartel. Everything is disproportionate to our salaries, which refuse to adapt themselves to the state of the economy.
The public sectors suffer too. Medical residents and social workers hit the streets, while on the other side of the ledger we have parties who pull the strings and receive huge wages at our ports and railway company. The state of public transportation is grim as well: Employees of the Israel Railway, which doesn’t function properly as it is, hold strikes or go on “sick leaves” whenever they feel like it. The bus reform achieved nothing with the exception of a substantial rise in the cost of traveling. No solutions are on the horizon.
The global recession and the crisis in Europe threaten all of us, yet while in other enlightened states – in the US and Europe – the cost of living adapts itself to the economic situation, here it appears that everyone tries to benefit at everyone else’s expense.
And I haven’t said a word about the security situation, the constant existential threat we cope with here, and our violent and bloody recent history. Yet this isn’t really new – it was never easy to live here. Even when my mother moved to Israel, as a young, idealist woman, my grandmother attempted to dissuade her: “It’s hard for Jews to live with other Jews, because everyone tries to gain at the expense of the rest,” she said some 30 years ago, and was right. This is exactly the feeling here. Everyone tries to gain at everyone else’s expense.
The solution of returning to the Diaspora and living overseas always captivated us, the wondering Jews; we always heard those amazing stories about the uncle from America, who of course achieved success easily. Especially in my field, as a computer engineer, relocation is not a dirty word. Many of my friends are overseas, in Europe, Australia and the United States. Even friends who served in the army with me, and completed a full combat service, left for the US and opened successful companies there. All of them are doing well.
On the other hand, there are quite a few drawbacks to such move. If you put aside the surging anti-Semitism, the most prominent drawback for me is the fact that my family and friends are here. Based on my past experience, it’s hard to be alone in a foreign country. Beyond the need to cope with the language and culture, there is also a need to build a new social life.
As opposed to Tel Aviv, where everyone meets everyone at coffee shop, without planning it, midday Friday, people overseas coordinate meetings weeks in advance sometimes. Hence, I decided to initiate my own quiet protest. I did not go to the Knesset to protest for social justice and proper public transportation solutions for the periphery. I chose a simple, quiet, private protest. I updated my social networks status to the following:
For a long time now, I’ve been despaired over all the processes taking place in the country. It starts with the housing prices, and rent that grows disproportionately more expensive every year for neglected apartments built before the State’s inception; food prices at the supermarket are much more expensive compared to other states; the horrific public transportation system that prompts everyone to only live in central Israel, purchase a vehicle with 100% tax and contribute to traffic jams; the salaries of medical residents and social workers who don’t get what they deserve; the Bar Association, which is above the law, and deliberately prevents freedom of occupation from the students who try to be accepted; the Light Railway works that prompted contractors to give up and run away from here, and so on and so forth.
For a long time now, I’ve been considering the option of moving to another country; I haven’t decided where yet. I want to move to a place where it will be easier for me to live; a place where I can grow old with dignity and not below the poverty line, while everyone bites into my pension. Yet I know that I don’t want to move alone. Hence, I’m openly asking here: Which one of you, friends and family, is interested in joining me?
The idea is to create an immigration group together, decide where to go, and implement the move with everyone supporting everyone along the way, and especially over there, ranging from language studies to help in finding a job. I know that almost every country today boasts developed Israeli communities, yet it’s always easier to start such move with more people rather than alone.
This status drew quite a few responses. Some of them sympathetic, others sad because of my desire to leave, and yet others trying to dissuade me from doing so, because “this is our country.” Views were divided on our destination as well, yet I believe that ultimately I’ll be able to find the potential partners for a move to a location where one can live well in terms of cost of living, comfort, and peace of mind.
At the end of the day, it’s a bit like looking for a partner for a trip to India or South America, yet this time around we are choosing a destination that is a little more modern, for a period longer than a few months. Much longer.