Speaking Out In Spite Of Doubt

In a more vulnerable post, I would like to share my feelings about speaking out.  Because this doesn’t come easy and with each word I feel more doubt. After all, what’s really the point? Do I really think something will change? I guess not.  But after marinating in my frustration and anger for several years, I need a dialogue.

When I sometimes open up about Aliyah being a difficult process, sometimes traumatic, there are several camps of responses.  Depending on whom I am speaking with of course. Take another Oleh for example, someone who is also from the West.  You can break this category down further.  How long has this person lived in Israel? (There are of course some other, more detailed factors, but let’s go with time) If you will speak with someone fresh “off the boat”, more likely than not this person is still seeing Israel as a sunny and happy “home”.  I agree, there is a certain magic in arriving at a place where finally you aren’t the only Jew in the room.   So for a newcomer, it’s close to impossible to grasp a reality where Israelis aren’t just Sabras who look thorny but are sweet inside, those thorns will prick and sometimes make you bleed.   Other Olim, who’ve been here longer than a few years, more likely than not will nod at each shared word of frustration.

In the past, I wouldn’t dare speak a word of dissatisfaction to an Israeli.  I wanted to show my loyalty and fervor for “our” country.  But after hearing the typical Israeli response to having made Aliyah from the States for the umpteenth time (something along the lines of “Why?!”) not indicating an impartial “Why” but rather one of an opposed tone I started to wonder the same myself.  With time and more experience, I also found myself asking newcomers “Why?!” in the same bewildered voice.  And of course, after this, it was just a domino effect of doubts knocking down more of any standing reasons for being in Israel.  So I started to speak with more Israelis about the state of the country, the injustice in many areas of life, the ugly side of the revered and world famous “chutzpa”, etc… And I what I started to meet is a new response camp.  The camp of “You don’t like it here? Then leave.”  This response left me hurt of course and I felt misunderstood. I know some people reading these words will feel angry at my criticisms of Israel, but I don’t write these words to hurt.  I want to understand.  I want to speak honestly, I want to be understood, and I want to see a brighter future for Israel.  For myself, I wouldn’t mind having a vision of staying and believing that it’s not a far fetched idea of my future generation to be Israeli and succeed as a nation.

It’s human to shut down when another is seemingly attacking you.  I don’t pretend to have another reaction, but I learned that I have to try and overcome this auto pilot response.  There is always a reason another person might want to criticize me.  It’s because I am not perfect and because I do not live in a vacuum and I affect others around me.  So I have to learn to pay attention to reactions I draw from others.  The same is true for nations and countries. I hope a dialogue can start, especially with those that have allergic reactions to criticism of Israel.  Because I hope you can show me things I am missing out on due to my own frustrations and I hope I can show something of use to you as well.  I hope we can see each other’s reflections in ourselves and come closer to being self-aware.

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