Dear Mr. Netanyahu,
I left Israel for Vancouver nearly 10 years ago, after serving six years in the IDF's information technology unit. I always hoped to return home one day. It's not that life in Vancouver isn’t good. It is. And it is also comfortable. But I grew up in Israel, and my extended family is still there, as are some of my friends who would certainly be welcomed with open arms by other countries because, like me, they work in the high-tech field. I visit Israel at least twice a year, and I am always sad to leave.
Why am I sad to leave? First of all, I miss my family and friends, but it is the other reason for this sadness that I wanted to share with you: With each visit to Israel it becomes more and more clear to me that the likelihood of ever going back for good is nearing zero.
Obviously there is no comparison between the quality of life in western Canada to the quality of life in Israel, and any attempt at such a comparison would be a waste of time. I am not writing this letter out of arrogance, but out of a deep sense of frustration and missed opportunity.
So why shouldn't I return home? I'm glad you asked. The answer is simple, Mr. Netanyahu: Because there is nowhere to go back to. Your government is simply destroying my home.
I would gladly give up some of the advantages of living in the best city in the world, but unfortunately, Mr. Netanyahu, for people such as myself (and there are many), returning to Israel is not just about giving up on a few advantages anymore; it has become a matter of principle, perhaps even a matter of survival. In my case, it is not just about my own survival, but the survival of my family as well.
Tell me honestly, Mr. Netanyahu: If you were in my shoes, would you go back to a country where income tax surpasses 50% and is used to pay political parties that encourage non-productivity? Yes, I know that in Norway some citizens pay 60%, but the Norwegians get much more in return for the income tax they pay.
Tell me Mr. Netanyahu, would you return to a country where, in a few years' time, about half of the first graders will belong to the non-productive sectors that live at the taxpayer's expense and still have the audacity to complain that that they have it rough? If you were me, would you go back to a country where the involvement of religious institutions in the state's affairs is at a third-world level? Would you have given up the freedom to be who you are and return to a country where you do not exist unless you are connected or aggressive (and, in the near future, religious)?
Would you have given up the opportunity to start a family in comfort and security (I'm single, but I hope my time will come) to go back to a country where, potentially, starting a family could mean living the rest your life according to the whims of ayatollah's, tycoons and politicians? I want to return to Israel Mr. Netanyahu, but how can I?
By the way, I grew up in a poor neighborhood in Ramat-Gan. My extended family is active in your party. In fact, some members of my extended family are politicians who work closely with you. They have always voted Likud. They are the kind that will vote Likud because they don't mind getting constantly screwed as long as somewhere there is an Arab who is getting screwed even more.
Because apparently, this is what it means to be Israeli: Never be a sucker individually, but be the biggest sucker as part of a group.
Isaac Shabtay, 34, is a software engineer and blogger. He lives in Vancouver, Canada