Israeliness alive in Berlin

Op-ed: Should we deny Israelis from fulfilling employment opportunities in German capital just because of Holocaust?

As I do frequently, I landed once again at Ben-Gurion Airport, from Berlin of course, the new center of the deserting and ungrateful Israelis, as we have been described again recently in the Israeli media. From one report to another, from one opinion piece to another, it seems another conflict is developing between Israelis and their brothers in the Diaspora, presenting us, those who emigrated to Berlin, as people who will throw the Israeli ideology in the garbage just because milk is too expensive in Israel.


The truth is that not all of us left for reasons of stinginess and disloyalty. Many of us had logical reasons to relocate our young life elsewhere, and it's not at all certain that it's for good.


I didn't leave Israel because of the three shekels separating one type of cheese from another or because of the rent. I lived in Tel Aviv, but I got a fantastic job offer from a Berlin-based international company, and in life one must know how to take advantage of opportunities, especially it involves great business development and a corresponding salary.


The decision was not made for reasons of indulgence, but out of rationality, a desire to develop a career and mature reflections about saving for the future. A simple comparison between here and there, the duties and the rights, the earning ability and an opportunity for independence.


Many of those who immigrate to Berlin have a second citizenship, without which they wouldn't have been able to immigrate legally. The owners of a German passport in particular should research the other culture they come from, instead of just sticking to the culture represented in their Israeli passport.


Shouldn't we support the desire of Israeli citizens, whose family history includes Germany as well, to experience their family's past in this country when they have an employment opportunity allowing them to do so? Or should we beg them to stay in Israel because of the Holocaust?


And in general, the Holocaust is mentioned and Berlin immediately becomes a taboo. Anyone who ever visited Berlin knows that this city is like one big monument commemorating the Holocaust. Like high school students' visit to Poland to experience the horror, life in memory-filled Berlin creates a strong national experience among Israelis. Being in Berlin educates Israelis about the Holocaust and reminds them what Jewish identity is all about.


Israel's ambassadors abroad

Jewishness and Israeliness, therefore, are alive in Berlin too, and that's a good thing. Berlin offers not only the memory of the Holocaust but also a modern life: Restaurants and institutions established by Israelis, a Facebook group with 7,000 members who help each other work out the German bureaucracy, and the creation of friendships and important future relationships between Israelis and Germans.


The Israelis in Berlin are our ambassadors abroad, and so far they seem to be doing quite a good job. In a city where the majority of immigrants, the Turks, isolate themselves from the German nationality and live in a sort of ghetto, the Israelis "assimilate," push their way into the city life, and most of them contribute to the German society.


Ask young Berliners today what they think about Israel, and I promise that you'll hear the following sentence many times: "We have Israeli friends in Berlin and we are dying to visit Tel Aviv."


In addition, the number of requests I have been getting lately from Berliners for language exchanges – "Tandem" (I practice my German and they practice the Hebrew they've learned) is only growing, showing that young Germans are increasingly interested in Hebrew, in Judaism and in Israel.


So perhaps we should not blame and isolate this new crowd, but accept this fact and find ways to use these people for needs which will actually benefit the State of Israel, and I am convinced that we will then realize very quickly that Israelis are also needed in Berlin.


Please don’t portray all Israelis in Berlin as ungrateful people or as Israel haters. At the end of the day, I am always happy to spend the money I save in Berlin on a plane ticket to visit Israel or shopping at the local Tel Avivian designer stores.


And speaking of the cost of living, the cost of arriving in Tel Aviv from Berlin in the summer, in the form of a €600 plane ticket, is a bit deterring every time I consider catching some Israeli sun rays.


Lish Lee Avner, 27, a high-tech worker, has been living in Berlin for about two years. This is her second round in the city after the first time five years ago.



פרסום ראשון: 10.17.13, 20:37
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