Sunday, 2 December 2007

The Real Reason We Don't Live in Israel

Littletree has been asking to go visit her grandparents and cousins in Israel. Sometimes she gets a bit homesick and wants to go back there.
She started asking why we don't stay in Israel, especially when she overheard Purple and I discussing the Osem debacle, I wrote about recently.

Well, there's lots of reasons;

I really need to live somewhere there's a lot of lush green, forests, water, trees. Now, there are some forests in Israel, but what they call "forest" in Israel, I'd call a "grove" or "stand of trees" or "pine plantation". Its a bit like sucking on old teabags when what you need is a strong coffee.

Also, I find the general attitude of the people to be infuriating at best. Now, don't get me wrong, there are many great Israelis, heck, I'm married to one, my daughter is one, I am one... and I'm generalising wildly, but there is a very prevalent attitude of "Klum lo kara" - nothing happened. There could be a suicide bomber just outside my home, killing six people, but the general response is 'nothing happened'. It's no big deal. Don't make a fuss.

And the attitude of "Ain mah laasot" nothing to do. Basically, the bureaucracy is nightmarish, one gets ripped off left, right and centre, taxi drivers are required by law to be homicidal (I have to assume), and oh so many annoying day-to-day little things. And the Israeli's answer: 'nothing you can do about it'. I can go into a supermarket, take an item that is marked 2 shekels, get to the checkout, be charged 3 sheckles. This should be no big deal; I should be able to say to the cashier, 'sorry, that's the wrong amount', and she'll say sorry and correct it, end of story. But no! She will first ignore me. Then argue with me about it. If I'm feeling strong, I can argue back. If I argue long enough, I might get the honour of arguing with the manager. If I argue with the manager long enough, I might be humoured in dragging the manager over to the service counter and debating it there, and maybe, eventually getting the item for the marked price. Israelis say "Ain mah laasot" and shrug.

I could go on for hours about the crappiness of living in Israel (relative to myself, of course; many fine people really love Israel).

But mostly, the REAL reason:

I personally can't handle living in a war zone. and not just any old war zone; one where the people are in total denial that there is a war going on. There are at least 27 armed soldiers on any street corner at any given time, there are pretty much constant conflicts, constant shelling and missiles, constant oppression, anger and bloodshed. And the Israelis just shrug.

They try to convince me that I'm more likely to be run over by a car than killed by a bomb. er, the terrible traffic is another reason not to live in Israel, but why stay somewhere that its likely at all?
They say "oh, there's bombs in other places! There was a terrorist attack in New York, one in London, in Madrid!" er, those were one-offs. they are rare and the whole nation, even the whole world was in shock afterward. In Israel, such things are daily occurences.
I say, they can never ever understand how it feels when one hasn't grown up being desensitised to that, and I would be deeply sad to think I had raised my daughter to be desensitised to war.

The final straw was this image which I saw in the news. I saw this and broke down.
I simply could not go on raising my daughter in a country where children are writing messages on missiles, to be sent to kill other children.
A country that doesn't have a problem with allowing children to be anywhere near missiles in the first place.

I can't do it. I can't live in a place where I can hear bombs going off from my own living room, where most of our nearest neighbours are vocally hating us and plotting to kill us all; to rain nuclear weapons down on us, where there is a sickening "fence" cutting the city, supposedly to keep people to "their own side", yet there are massive holes in it, so it's clearly just a tool of oppression, where almost every child goes into the army and learns to use a gun, a place where people are raised to hate.


  1. Dear Forestfairy***even though I've seen this photo before, it gave me cold gooseskin again. Besides, I wish so much for Purple to find all the fulfillment and beauty and love one needs there in the Forest by You and Sequoia. It must be unbearably harsh to have ones own roots and family in a warzone... Living and letting my child grow up there if there's a alternative to it wouldn't be an option for me either. I miss You!:)Love&light*Barbara

  2. I do not blame you. You must think of what is best for your child and family. I would not want to live in a place like that either.
    You should try the mountains in North Carolina in the U.S. They are very beautiful. I could email you photos if you like.

  3. Well, mountains in NC sounds mighty sweet, but we're living in a sub-tropical rainforest in the hippie region of Australia now :D

    The really hard part is that Purple just doesn't understand how I feel. Not really. and for him, being near family is more important.

  4. I can understand how you feel.

    I believe some of the things you wrote are exaggerated because of your anger, but I won't go on arguing.

    I can definitely understand your feeling about living in a war zone. I live here now cause this is where I was born, and all my family is here. This is what makes it called home, isn't it?. With this in mind, we try to make the good out of it, fixing what's broken, enjoying what isn't.

    I hope you'll find the right way to live which makes both of you happy, and will fulfill your need for your 'old' family and friends..

    On a last note, just to correct one thing - children should not go around missiles, that's true. Children should not write slogans on missiles, that's true (btw, kids that age don't tend to write English slogans). However, the missiles are *not* targetted to other children, as opposed to the missiles we get. I am sure you know that.

  5. [quote="yhager"]However, the missiles are *not* targetted to other children, as opposed to the missiles we get. I am sure you know that.

    I'm sure you believe that, because I've yet to meet any Israeli who questions the news that they see. Israelis who read news from more unbiased sources, and from sources biased in the opposite direction are very rare.

    When I first lived in Israel, I used to read the Israeli news, the Lebanese news, CNN, BBC and the Australian news. I would get at least 4 quite contradictory accounts of the same incidents. Who can you believe?
    none of them. the truth is some hazy place in the middle.

    I'm sure the IDF has a public policy of not targetting innocents. but it surely does happen. I'm quite sure that the Palestinean news and the Lebanese news report things quite differently. I'm quite sure that these people believe very different things than Israelis; mostly because they are exposed to very different information.

    Most of all, you can not begin to understand how I feel. If you really understood how I feel, living in Israel would be intolerable for you. I know that I can not truly understand how you feel. I can never begin to understand how most Israelis feel, as I have not grown up in a place where war is a normal part of life, albeit an unfortunate one. Just as Israelis can not understand the perspective of one who has not had this experience.

  6. Yeah, that's just more than I could wrap my gentle brain around. I'll keep it that way. I want nothing to do with violence.

  7. Thanks for this post. It's a very interesting perspective and one that I've rarely heard voiced. I'm an American half-Jew, and I've encountered many American Jews who seem to idolize Israel. They send their kids there with Jewish youth groups - it's a rite of passage. But I've always had a problem reconciling their attitudes my own vision of Israel as a very troubled, dangerous and scary place. Not a place I'd ever voluntarily send my child. Maybe they share the sentiment that you mentioned of so many Israelis, "Klum lo kara." But also know plenty of American Jews who do not support Israel and some who have gone there to work with peace activist groups.

  8. Yes, I'm also half-Jewish (the wrong half). I made Aliyah (Jewish immigration) and lived in Israel for 2.5 years.

    It isa troubled, dangerous and scary place. But it feels normal. Because the trains are still running and the streets are clean. Because the images we see on the news of war in far-off places doesn't look like the hustle and bustle of life in Israel. Of course, we don't talk about people living in the Kibbutzim next to Gaza, who live under constant shelling.

    Folk who live in Rio de Janeiro dont think of living in a dangerous and scarey place; they just go about their lives, yet foreigners are afraid to go there.

  9. We have an old saying that goes something like 'you cannot judge a person till you are in his place'. Which by definition mean that I can never fully understand how you feel. I can try though..

    I've spent quite a lot of time thinking why I live in this "war zone". I've been wondering what made people leave their convenient life 60-100 years ago and come into this verge-of-desert..

    What I'm left with are many reasons for and many reasons against.. one crucial reason stand for living here, and it's the fact that I all my family is here. Add to that the trauma of WWII, and you get yourself an explanation.

    Of course, these do no apply to you, so I can only hope you will find your way in the world which will make all three of you happy and live a reasonable and happy life!

  10. I luv being killed by cute girls...


  11. Hey MF,

    I think we haven't met, but I know Purple from Israel, and we have a lot of common friends. here's my tiny prespective...

    Mostly, you are right that this is a problematic piece of land. it's got too much historical and theistic importance to too many fighting factions, and me as an atheist - I sometimes look at it and think it's a crazy place to live in indeed. the idea of a Jewish state seems to me contradicting with a democracy, I don't like the way my governments are not promoting peace enough, I don't like how we are not leading the international campaign against the current holocaust in Darfour nor did we lift a finger in too many other cases... it's true that this country is a problematic mixture of political and theist mess. I was shocked and appaled that anyone would also teach his children such hate messages are normal and good. I am suprised the IDF allowed that. the whole thing seems very very odd and un-IDF-i.

    HOWEVER, it's easy to disqualify a country over some of its traits and ignore others. I can easely see why the media (especially the BBC) would show you only thin slices of truthes. none of them are complete, and the only way is to stitch the details in the right mix from 4 sources or more like you did.

    Now I have to agree that Israel is not what it's what I hoped it would be as a young boy. we are still fighting a solution-less war with people who sem to be happy with nothing but total anihilation of our country. The problem is that there was some hope 20-25 years ago, but now we are a generation later and kids grew up in this horrible situation and they don't know any better. they were never tought any different. Sadly there's also nobody that will teach them different because the Hammas are broadcasting educational TV shows for kids about how important it is to be a Shahid.

    My points, in summary:
    * Like Purple, I'd have a hard time leaving because of the family and friends.
    * I can totally understand your not wanting to live here.
    * I just don't think the images you brought are really representative of Israeli youth. I know it's a minority of people out there that actually teach such blind hate to their children but I'd like to believe it's a small minority.
    * I'm surprised at the IDF for allowing children near such weapons or condoning what is pictured, which makes me think this may be somehow fabricated by some far-right people somehow (though for the life of me I can't guess where they got the ammo to write on :-( )

  12. " "Klum lo kara" - nothing happened.... It's no big deal. Don't make a fuss."

    Sounds about like the "Mai pen ray"... it doesn't matter concept in Thailand.

    Can't imagine living in a war zone like that. Thanks for sharing your insights!


Thanks for your lovely words, witty banter and entertaining discussion :)