Israel is always your home
Op-ed: Tal Raphael responds to Israeli who wrote that he is fed up with life here
This op-ed is a response to Liad Magen's article, "Fed up with life in Israel
I do not intend to write the kind of response you expect and know by heart. I will not write you that even when the going gets tough, one does not run away, and that the real challenge is to stay and change the country from the inside. I'm not going to write this response to you because you've heard it before, and I assume you will hear it again quite often in the wake of your new immigration initiative.
You indeed sound despaired. If you ask me, there are graver reasons for despair than pension funds and food prices (and certainly graver than the Light Railway,) but to each his own, and those are the last straws that broke your back. Yes, the same back you feel everyone tries to ride at your expense. By the way, I'm not sure you will be rid of this classic Jewish trait so quickly. You will apparently feel like a sucker in Toronto's markets too, just like you felt at the Middle Eastern Bazaar.
I'm not going to write that you have a short memory span, and that our silver platter is made up of so much blood, sweat and tears. I'm also not going to remind you that we did not bury more than 20,000 fatalities in vain. You already heard all this at school ceremonies. I'm also not going to tell you how good things are around here. It's both good and bad here, and the two people who look at both halves of the glass are right. This is not an argument about facts; it's an argument about conclusions.
Israel is a country of contradictions, tensions and vigilance. If you stop running here, this country will slip through your fingers. So we run, see the ones who retire along the way, and ask ourselves whether it's even worthwhile to keep running. Most of us make a different decision than yours. Most of us choose to join forces instead giving up, or at least to try.
At times we rejoice, other times we rest, and most of the time we complain, get angry, yell, whine and stomp our feet – yet we continue. Not because this is always the most convenient choice and not because we got used to it, but because deep in our subconscious we know that regardless of what we choose, this home already chose us.
Like many talkbackers, I too feel like writing that you should go ahead and leave, and who needs you anyway, and don't come back; that we'll continue to run here without you. Yet at this point in time it's important for me to say something else to you: It's important for me to promise you that this home will always welcome you.
Perhaps you will succeed in the new country, and just like your friends you'll establish huge companies and do well for yourself. But maybe, in 60 years or so, you'll have a grandchild. This grandchild will apparently not be called Liad, but rather, James, or Jimmy, or something else. I don't really know. Jimmy will be born in Los Angeles, or in any other city, and live his life with ease and without concerns, until one day he will want to make Aliyah to Israel.
Why would he want to do this, you ask? Maybe because someone will call him "Jew-boy" on the street, or maybe he'll open the Bible, or learn a little history, or seek meaning. Maybe he'll hear that the falafel around here is the best. I don't know when and why, but it will happen, and if not to Jimmy it shall happen to his grandson, or great grandson.
The archaic story of the Jew who moved here from Germany, or from Morocco, or from Russia, or from Iraq, will become your grandson's story. He will not reinvent the wheel, of course. Amazingly enough, it's been happening for many generations. One may leave home, but one always returns home, even if it takes a little while. I have no decisive answer for why this happens, but I have 2,000 years of experience.
To anyone who does not take up your tempting offer and chooses to stay here I will say that we shall have beautiful periods ahead here, but also tough times. All of us will consider an escape from this country, some of us will retire midway, but sooner or later all of us will want to return. All of us. Including your grandson, Liad.
So just know that we shall welcome him warmly.
Tal Rafael is an attorney and a Master of Laws student