With the Jewish support for Democrat candidate Bernie Sanders being gauged and taking flak from Jewish Republicans and many Zionists even from the Democrat Party, some editorialists are wondering why the relative silence challenging the Jewish support. Many believe, whether backed by fact or not, that Hillary Clinton would be better for Israel of the two Democrat hopefuls challenging to represent the party in November. There is an easy answer to this quandary by simply looking at the voting record of Jewish voters in the last two Presidential elections where in the United States close to 80% of American Jews supported President Obama while over 80% of Jewish Americans residing in Israel voted against President Obama. This provides the answer that the vast majority of Zionists have already realized their dream and made their move to Israel and those who remain as Jews residing in American have drifted away from concerns about Israel and aligned with leftist politics over concerns for support of Israel.
We realized this when we were preparing to realize our dream and make Aliyah to Israel and the reactions of the congregation in Oklahoma. Where the Rabbi was very supportive and the few Republican conservatives were also supportive the majority had one simple question, why were we going to Israel and what was our problem with living in America, was that not good enough for us? To many of these Jews moving to Israel was not a realization of the Jewish dream of returning to our ancient home as much as it was performing an act of hatred and loss of faith in the United States. The reality was that the decision which brought us to Israel was made by one of us around fifty years earlier as a youth who realized very early that the pull to return to the Jewish homeland has grabbed them and had decided that once all the parents were cared for the time to realize the dream would be addressed. Where that obligation was met in a way unanticipated, we came when it had been satisfied or at least started the paperwork. It is remarkable how difficult it can be to document an entire life to the satisfaction of governments, any government. After many, many months we had completed our documentation and realized we had had full lives, or at least almost a book’s worth of documentable life between us. We still want the best for the United States and will vote and even continue to vote for our former Representative though we will not likely vote on the individual questions which dot every election ballot but as we still have friends and a son residing in our former district we still want the best for them and will likely consult to make sure we grasp the choices for the different candidates.
Yes we participate and vote here in Israel and are beginning to understand the parliamentary system of voting for party and their lists and realize its shortcomings which have granted us a greater appreciation for the direct election for the American President as against getting whoever the party that makes the governing coalition decides should be Prime Minister. In order to vote for the person you want to be Prime Minister you need to accept the slate of party ministers listed and hope the ones farthest down the list, the ones you know virtually nothing about, and neither do most others you talk with, are in the government as you need the party of the desired Prime Minister get the most seats. So, everywhere has its appeal and its not so appealing which makes sense on some level and thus wherever one goes there are those benefits and deficits and the sums often are quite surprisingly near identical. So, for those friends who wondered why we would leave America and who claimed we would regret the move we have some good news and some bad news. The good news is that there are things where the United States has great advantages over life in Israel and then there are some things so much greater in Israel. The straightforwardness of politics in the United States and the variety of products available in the stores and malls in the United States have no equal we have found thus far and we are comparing places of relative same size populations except we have yet to spend a week in Tel Aviv (which we have sort of renamed Los Angeles) which might have everything materialistically while the quality and social life here is beyond imagination as the people are by in large very much more accommodating and friendly and it is so much more natural to just be Jewish, no surprise there.
The reality is the Jews remaining in the United States are wholly Americanized Jews with almost none if any Zionists remaining in any congregation. The American Zionists are here in Israel with some exercising dual citizenship and others having completely transited and are Israeli only. A small number reside in both nations as they have business interests in the United States which require their presence so they make regular visits, business trips, to the United States. Many of the Jews from the United States and the Anglosphere are retired and some still make trips back to their native country as they have family and this means grandchildren, weddings, Bar Mitzvahs and other events which they choose to attend. Some of us have insufficient funds for such luxuries and making such a visit would take a concerted amount of savings to make such a trip so any such trip would be extensive as we would desire to visit family and friends which lie spread across the United States.
There is one last advantage in Israel, the climate. With no snow or ice along the coast and residing a mere five blocks from the Mediterranean Sea one could claim to have retired to the Riviera of Israel as the weather here resembles San Diego more than anywhere else in the United States, especially Michigan, Oklahoma or the Washington D.C. area where winters can be more disasters caused by serious snowstorms. We would like to say we miss these wintery mixes, well; actually no we don’t miss such wintery blustery weather. We will take the mildly chilly and wet winter weather which makes a serious winter bluster for as long as six to ten weeks where it actually can get into the low 40o F which when it is also raining means hunkering down in place and waiting it out until it at least stops raining. Here in Israel there are those who don their winter coats while others wear their shorts and sandals no matter the weather, even the most blustery of days. Guess which group are Sabras, local Israelis. For those who do not know, a Sabra is both a native born Israeli and a cactus and both are said to have a prickly outer layer but a soft, gushy and sweet inside which in the cactus is edible and in native Israelis comes out as soon as you make a connection with them. The majority of Israelis speak English and many speak Russian as well as Hebrew. There is said that there will be an influx of French speakers we just do not know where they may settle.
The one misconception we encountered from our American friends is that due to terrorism living in Israel is unsafe and outright dangerous. We have gotten a handle on the reality and after some research found some unexpected realities. Crime in the United States has a greater possibility of striking one’s life than crime and terror combined in Israel. The similarity is that as long as you avoid known places where such threats are more likely one can mitigate almost completely any threat from anything untoward. So, all things considered, at least for us, Israel has a better quality of life though some things a very different. Instead of living outside of town and relying completely on a vehicle to get around we live right next door to City Hall and can walk nearly everywhere we need to get to in town. When we need to go elsewhere such as for medical appointments the Israeli trains are clean, comfortable, affordable and convenient. For places the trains do not have tracks there are options such as busses or shared taxis which hold eight to twelve people and are very reasonably priced and will drop one near or at where one needs to go. The only drawback is they pick up at set locations so one might need to walk almost a whole kilometer to get to the pickup points. Basically, a car is a luxury and one which is not really necessary. Will we get a car some day, perhaps but such is not a priority. Meanwhile life is good and the Zionists do appear to almost all reside here. The Jews remaining in the United States, as everywhere where Jews are largely assimilated; well, should they continue to have an easy acceptance, they will assimilate and likely cease to be practicing Jews and within two generations be completely secularized and not identify as Jews. Then again, the situation could turn ugly slowly across the entirety of the Western World even including the United States and these assimilated Jews who thought they were completely secularized and not actually Jews would find themselves treated as being very Jewish and if they are fortunate they will be able to get to Israel where whatever the drawbacks, at least being a Jew is not one of them.
Beyond the Cusp