Photo: Shutterstock
'Israelis may be leaving with their body, but are insisting on leaving their tormented soul behind'
Photo: Shutterstock
Photo: Shiri Hadar
Raanan Shaked
Photo: Shiri Hadar

You've left Israel, now leave us alone

Op-ed: Why are emigrants unable to move on with their lives without looking back in anger?

Tell me, dear emigrants, what are you really interested in? Starting a new life, or giving the old life the finger? Turning over a new leaf or angrily crumpling the old leaf? Leaving Israel for a better future, or in order to wallow in a past which will always look – from the top of your cheap shopping cart in Berlin – worse?



Because really, the most amazing thing in the current phenomenon of leaving Israel is the emigrants' inability to leave, to actually leave. To move on without looking back in anger.


The Israelis who are leaving now may be leaving with their body, but they are insisting on leaving their tormented soul behind. They are angry and they are throwing it at us. Waving their cheaper invoice from Berlin. Starting a website from London calling on Israelis to leave. Tweeting Israeli politics from Maine and from Silicon Valley. Unable to really disengage, to emigrate in the full sense of the word: To become foreigners. To make a final decision and start over.


So really guys, will you just stop? You're already there. You say things are better for you there. You left this expensive, conflicted, violent, futureless place, which is becoming increasingly religious – feel free to add additional descriptions here – and you moved on. For the future of your children. For your present soul. And it's acceptable, understandable and legitimate. We have no complaints.


But why won't you leave us alone? Why can't you forget about us and move on? Why must you keep on pressing the wound which you have allegedly managed to heal, or at least to cover up well enough?


Come on, allow yourselves to recover from Israel. Let the load of pain, the sack of bitterness, the waterfall of resentment die. Rest a little. There is no need to wave goodbye at us over and over.


But I am actually familiar with this masochism. I sunk into it myself during my three years in New York. Finally detached from the Israeli gravity, I found myself drawn into it against and again, almost against my will. Raging, scanning headlines, commenting, sending angry messages back to the old homeland. Come off it, I said to myself over and over. Let them rot. But I didn't. In the end I came back.


It seems that you can take the Israeli out of Israel, but the opposite is not always true. The Israelis who leave this place angrily are not taking into consideration the fact that upon leaving, they are cutting off the emotional branch they are screaming on: The rage. If you've already left, why are you still raging?


They apparently feel that if they simply leave without saying a word, without speaking bluntly, without accusing, without preaching, without calling on others to follow in their footsteps and prove again and again – allegedly to us, but mainly to themselves – that they made the right decision, they are nothing more than a tree which fell in the woods without anyone hearing.


And they want us to hear. It's suspiciously important to them. Suspicious in a way that reveals who they really are: Those who left but were unable to bid farewell. Those who hold on to their battered Israeliness – which is defined by the right to see everyone else as a complete sucker – and refuse to let go.


Guys, let's conclude that we all envy you. You managed to escape. Your chocolate pudding is cheaper than ours, okay? Now will you leave us alone and move on with your new life? Don't worry about us; we'll start a new life in our graves.


פרסום ראשון: 10.12.14, 23:25
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