"Bunch of wimps," "Traitors," "They'll be back when their child reaches first grade" — all these affronts were hurled throughout the years at the hundreds of thousands of Israelis who chose, whether for a fixed amount of time or for much longer, to emigrate. The word "yerida" ("descent") was switched with "relocation," and the criticism ceded to an ideology of Zionism on the ground.
"Israelis living abroad are no longer 'traitors,' but are rather a kind of 'ambassadors of goodwill' who contribute daily to Israel's image, character and existence," said Ayelet Mamo-Shay, businesswoman and author of "Relocation, Darling, Relocation!" and initiator of "Israeli-Abroad Relocation Day." "I believe the discourse about the Israeli diaspora has changed over the years and will change even more in the future."
"The goal is to show that 'relocation' is no longer a dirty word," she explained. "(Israelis abroad contribute to the nation) with fundraising for Israeli organizations and for IDF soldiers, the spreading and maintaining of Hebrew in the diaspora, public relations, and continuing Jewish traditions and heritage."
She also describes Israelis "as offering a warm house to many Israeli tourists and spreading Israeli innovation, which puts Israel on the map."
House rule: Hebrew onlyThe day's organizers are targeting "Israelis everywhere — both in the State of Israel and those living outside its borders." Israelis abroad are called upon to get the younger generation involved, "so that that Israel always has a place in their hearts, regardless of where they reside in the world. The common goal is to do good deeds for Israel."
The day's activities are very diverse, "starting with the adoption of soldiers through the organization Nefesh B'Nefesh, and sending parcels of treats to IDF soldiers," lists Mamo-Shay, "and ending with the donation of a 19th century tefillin case to Israel's Beit Hatfutsot-Museum of the Jewish People. There are, of course, also public relation activities in Spain, the UK, and Sweden, Hebrew classes, story time for Israeli children in Amsterdam, the opening of an Israeli library in Australia hosting artists from Israel among other activites."
Mamo-Shay dreams of a relationship of support, openness and understanding with residents of Israel — and she wants to stay Israeli abroad. "My children grew up most of their lives abroad, and speaking Hebrew at home is a strict rule," she said.
"Israeli-Abroad Relocation Day will tie children and youth to Israel. They should always know and remember that we have to be proud of being Jews and Israelis and that our real home will always be Israel," Mamo-Shay concluded.