The state of Israel in 5758.

This is the time of year when the State of Israel has a chance to really look deep into the heart of herself and understand what condition she’s in. It’s the post-Pessach triangle of introspection: yesterday was Yom HaShoah (Holocaust Remembrance Day) and next week are Yom HaZicaron (Memorial Day) and Yom Haatzmaut (Independence Day).

When I was younger, and full of the enthusiasm and energy of Herzl’s Zionism, this triangle was one of my favorite times of the year. Yom HaShoah was the day to remember why we need a state; Yom HaZicaron was the day to remember how we’ve managed to defend the state; Yom Haatzmaut was the day to celebrate how we will continue to flourish in this state.

That was, of course, before I lived in Israel.

The state of the Jewish State is bleak. Actually, it’s quite depressing. I’m tired of hearing all those wonderful accomplishments and inventions done by Israelis; It’s not moving me anymore to see pictures of young European Jews building the kibbutzim. Those are still wonderful things, to be sure. And I do get still get teary-eyed when I sing the words to Hatikvah. But pardon me if I think there are other things we need to go back to focusing on.

On Yom HaShoah I read that Holocaust survivors’ situation is worsening. I wonder why the elderly who starved under German torture are starving under the Israeli government? How are we going to continue keeping our kids’ interested in this piece of Jewish history when we can be so nonchalant towards our grandparents, who are all nearly dead? How are we going to survive ourselves?

On Yom HaZicaron I wonder what our 18-year-old soldiers are really getting killed for. Do the sirens move Ehud Omert? When he is standing with his arms behind his back, eyes low, is he thinking about the soldiers ‘ blood or border security? Is he thinking about how embarrassing it is for us to have him as a prime minister? What is the long-term plan here? How are we going to manage to stay here in Israel? Who will fight our wars in the next 20 years?

And, finally, Yom Haatzmaut this year: turning 60. I’m having a hard time understanding why this number is worth going into debt, pouring millions and millions of shekels into frivolous parties instead of working on social programs in the State’s honor to show off the good soul of the Jewish State. I’m wondering why the government is busy making sure that no one uses the Israel 60th birthday logo without permission instead of worrying over the fact that most non-immigrant Israelis I speak to are completely disenchanted with Independence Day this year. Why celebrate a lie? Why celebrate debt?

Why celebrate the state of the State of Israel this year?


5 responses to “The state of Israel in 5758.”

  1. Jonparker Avatar

    Does this mean you regret moving here, or is it just that you expected more from Israel than from somewhere else? If the latter, is that really fair?

  2. […] Israel-at-60 logo don’t bother me. As I mentioned briefly in my last post, the Jerusalem Post is reporting that the Israel at 60 logo is a no-go for some: Want to use […]

  3. Marni Avatar


    So as a longtime reader it appears from your blog that obviously, at this point in the aliyah game, the rose colored glasses are off. And it isn’t just you, but I get that from other people’s blogs, and speaking with friends in Israel, etc.

    My question is, do you think that because you are ultimately an immigrant living in Israel, that the problems with the country are more magnified for you? It makes sense to expect more from Israel, because as Americans we move to Israel predominantly for ideological purposes, And I guess as an American living in America, I know there are issues here too- an equally inept President, huge debt, security issues – but maybe as an American born woman, with a strong love for another country, these things just don’t offend me as muchin America, or maybe I just don’t notice, or sadly enough don’t care.

    Are the Israel youth disillusioned and jaded because they are used to the problems and have low expectations because unless they have lived somewhere else for a lengthy amount of time, this is the only Israel they know? And immigrants, maybe even particularly Anglos, who are used to a government that, for all intents and purposes, gets the job done, come to Israel in hopes of some kind of Jewish utopia, only to slowly realize that Israel is a democracy, and with democracy comes the knowledge that Israel has yet to be the Jewish state that we make aliyah for? My friend who made aliyah after growing up in Brooklyn told me that eventually, living in Israel becomes just like living in another country, with all the same highs and same lows, and although every once in awhile she has to remind herself that the daily grind is worth it and she is there because she wanted to be in the only Jewish country, ultimately she is happy there but mostly because that is where her family is.

    Although I have never lived in Israel for more than 4 months, I have been there 7 times, and have spoken with friends who have gone and stayed or returned and I feel I somewhat know enough that my rose colored glasses are off before I even board the Nefesh B’Nefesh plane. But despite it all, I still want to give it a shot :)

  4. eliesheva Avatar

    Well… The rose coloured glasses weren’t that rosy when I got here; I already had Israelis telling me about life and warning me, and I did believe that life would not be easy. I think because I’ve had such a realistic point of view in the beginning, it’s been easier for me to feel happy here because things were going up from my low expectations instead of down from high ones.

    I’m no longer living in the States, yet the problems there still piss me off with the same vigor (in fact they affirm my commitment to not reside there). I think that I get frustrated with the government here because I am a tax-paying, law-abiding citizen, and like any other country in the world, government will be government. But here, yes, I hold people to a higher standard, though I do that knowing that we are all just human. I hold Jews up to a higher standard out of love; there are guidelines and I care enough about the family to criticize, get disappointed, etc.

    Everyone here (ok, generalizing) is disillusioned and frustrated, whatever you social status, wealth, occupation, religious level, etc. You can feel it in the newspapers, you can feel it in water cooler conversations, in taxi cabs, everywhere. The difference is that while people are disillusioned, there love of Israel and the knowledge of how important it is is still apparent and existent. Patriotism is still strong when it matters.

    I would never discourage someone from making aliyah if they feel confident and open minded about it… As I’ve written time and again, it’s just important not to be over-confident because life here is not easy and not smooth for so many. So many people make it, and I still feel encouraged when I see older Israeli Anglos speaking fluent Hebrew, with Israeli children, always immigrants but always Israeli, too.

  5. eliesheva Avatar

    Jonparker – sorry your comments always end up in my spam thing. Hello, comment gods! He’s not canned pork!

    Anyway, I have no regrets whatsoever. The state of Israel has nothing to do with my continuing to live here. I really like my life here. I’ve been meaning to post about this, but for now: at this point, more than ever, it’s a lifestyle choice.

    As far as expectations, yes, I expect more. I expect more out of love, out of necessity, out of tradition. I don’t see anything wrong with that. The same way my mother “expects more” from me as her kid; she doesn’t care what the other kids are doing. We can only live up to the standards we set ourselves; no one else is going to care.

Whadya got: