Don’t you forget about me (what it’s like to not hear from you during Israel crises)

I’m hurting. And frustrated. I don’t want to put anyone down. I’m not trying to guilt anyone into feeling anything. I just have an honest question to ask.

Why is that I feel… forgotten, or isolated by peeps from abroad?

I guess by ‘I’ I’m actually referring to people who live in Israel. People. Not government.

I’m having trouble clearly expressing it, as I’ve been attempting to discern my issues on Twitter for the last half hour. Here’s a breakdown:

Things I know:

  • Many diaspora Jews have a complicated relationship with Israel.
  • Many diaspora Jews have no relationship with Israel.
  • Many people in general have no relationship with world news.
  • Most people tend to veer on the side of blissfully ignorant, not interested in news, fatigued by Middle East crap, unable to commit to siding with Israel, frustrated by Israeli hell-raising, and most of all – just plain busy with their own lives.
  • Every one has their own set of priorities worked out. There’s only room for so much.
  • [UPDATED] The crises are simply… not reported by mainstream media abroad.

Things I feel:

  • Up until now, I’ve managed my expectations where they are pretty low when it comes to people abroad and how they relate to Israel, and to me in Israel.
  • Something spurred a new set of feelings in the last week of Gaza rocket attacks, which have been going on for 12 years. I think that ‘something’ is related to how utterly devastated I felt when Hurricane Sandy hit my hometown, home state, mother country. How helpless and frustrated I felt, how disconnected and painful it was.
  • Maybe now I’ve finally come around; if that was so hard for me, isn’t the pain and anguish going on here at all – a fraction – meaningful to people I’m connected to abroad?
  • And I’m learning the answer is a resounding no… like I said above, people are busy, fatigued, blissfully ignorant, uninterested.
  • And is this something we should/need to change?
  • [UPDATED] I feel bad making it sound like I need love and support, but… it’s not easy living here. And if some of us didn’t come across the bridge, what would be left for the people who never will?

I think, bottom  line, my issue is that people I know, have known, people I love don’t seem in the know enough or concerned enough to reach out to friends in Israel. Personally. As an interested friend. I understand feeling complicated by Israel, feeling uncomfortable with the default connection between Jew -> Israel, feeling uneasy or angry about the violence – but it’s that personal touch between people that has disappeared… or become lacking… or something.

The personal connection many olim feel, straddling two countries, is fading, perhaps. Are folks back in the old country deep down angry I live here? Unable to break down what it means to have a friend live, and somehow default-support this complicated situation?

Anyone else feel this way? Disagree with me? Think I’m just whining and should go back to living my own hectic Israeli life?

14 thoughts on “Don’t you forget about me (what it’s like to not hear from you during Israel crises)

  1. I hear you. I think most of it is the fatigue, and that it’s become normal. Staten Island getting crushed by a hurricane was fascinating because it was new and exciting. If it started happening every year people would lose interest. And when things get consistently depressing people just stop following. Too painful when the problem seems permanent.

    • Yep, it’s all logical. I think for so long I’ve been writing it off and now woke up to it more having it reversed on me. I was i denial the first two days after Sandy. It’s not even really comparable because I grew up where Sandy happened, and most Jews abroad did not grow up in Israel, however many trips taken.

      • Raining warning flyers just does not do the same for a headline, only Israel would send a warning to get away, Hamas hit a building on the street where my kids used to live, totally unprotected and unusually high number of pregnant women as many young families there. But the UN Human Rights Council with Sudan and other bastions of human rights will not pay any attention to Hamas war crimes against civilians.

      • I was thinking/feeling the same thing. We got tons of calls/emails/messages from our friends in Israel, but only one from friends from back home (not including my mom, of course)… It makes me a little sad…

  2. Liz- You don’t know me, but I am Aviva and Simon’s sister in law. I apologize in advance if this comes out as rambling.

    I find your post (and the subsequent replies) frustrating. It is one thing to complain about and feel that the media is not covering the situation properly or that the “world” does not care. I cannot speak to that claim. But I think that it is unfair to claim that “Jews Abroad” don’t care, are fatigued, or somehow upset to be associated with Israel.

    I have tons of friends who have been posting non-stop on facebook about their support of Israel, I work at a yeshiva high school that is talking about it and davening for the protection of our people and soldiers. I obviously do not know your friends and can only guess why they have not reached out to you. Part of it is that people don’t know what to do. This is not specific to Jews living abroad in their relationship to Israel. In general, people do not know what to do when they are far away or removed from a crisis. And they assume that if there is nothing they can “do” to help, then they shouldn’t do anything.

    I recently experienced this on a personal level. My son has been sick and was in the hospital for 3 weeks. Things are still up in the air in terms of his health. There are several friends and family who called, e-mailed, or texted every day that he was in the hospital. And yet there were others who did not. It would be foolish and unwise of me assume that all of those friends and family who did not reach out constantly, just don’t care. I could logically make those conclusions, but I think it would be unfair. Those friends probably didn’t know what to do. They probably felt that if they can’t help my son or offer any advice or practical support, that it would be futile for them to reach out. Or maybe they just felt uncomfortable not knowing what to say. Either way, I don’t think it means that they don’t care.

    People don’t know what to do or what to say. I also think it might be different if you lived in the south of Israel. If you did, I am sure your friends would all reach out to you. But it is hard for people to know what to do and what to say, especially if from their perspective, you are not directly effected.

    Did you reach out to all of your friends who live on the East Coast, even those who were not directly hit by hurricane Sandy?

    I am not saying that friends and family should not reach out. I just think it is unfair to assume that if people don’t reach out it is because they don’t care.

    • Hi Shoshana, nice to e-meet you. Thanks for giving your perspective and making some great points. Especially about how people in general tend to react to crises, personal or public. Very very true, as I’ve learned on both ends of that type of scenario over the years.

      If I can dig deep for a second, I can remember how hard we used to work as Israel advocates in the States in the horrible years of the early 2000s, and how it really pushed me to get where I am today (literally). So thanks for reminding me to do that once in a while, and to remember there are others doing it too, constantly. Yes, I’ve seen plenty of friends sharing the info on Facebook, twitter, etc, and it’s huge and important work…

      Yes, I reached out during Sandy in multiple ways but not to every single person I know on the East Coast. The more I consider it though, they are two very different situations with very different expectations/mindsets/effects (and I wrote about it early on when Sandy had just happened and people were comparing).

      And I agree, I don’t think it’s a matter of flat-out not caring. I don’t think not having Israel in your top 5 priorities = not caring. I don’t think being very busy or not wanting to read local stories = not caring. And even staying ignorant doesn’t = not caring.

      Again, it’s been hard to vocalize this feeling of isolation, or I’m not sure. At the end of it, I recognize it’s my own personal issue that I’ve heard others here express as well, so I’m trying to explore it. I’m not looking to make anyone wrong.

      Thanks again for adding a voice from abroad!

      • After hesitating for a couple of days, I am adding to this conversation – and your post has heavily influenced a post that I am pushing live on Monday, I’ll share a link when it is up.

        I’m torn. I’m a yored. I left. I don’t know if the feelings I have right now are fair or right. I’m the selfish one that doesn’t have to go through this right now – and I wish I knew how to reach out to my friends in Israel without feeling like an ass.

        I can identify with your comments about being fatigued and you’re not wrong to say it. You made me realize that I was being an ass, you woke me up. I also fee that my fatigue is not a result of leaving Israel, but one of the reasons I left. That’s just me.

        We are worried. I just don’t know how to express it.

        • Thanks for adding. Not much to say… I don’t think being fatigued or feeling helpless makes anyone a bad person… the relationship with Jews outside is complicated and I def understand fatigue. We even have it here when the rockets were minimal at points throughout the 12 years.

  3. I’ve been thinking about this for the last few days, and it’s always good to think before you speak ( or write!) After reading the NY Times (the REAL newspaper) and Yahoo News reports, I realized that it sounds a lot like WE have attacked Gaza. It seems that Israel is the aggressor with air strikes and that everything is just calm and happy here for us civilians, except for a few people in Beersheba, Ashkelon and the Eshkol region. I don’t think anyone that I know in the States knows anyone in the south,nor do I. that seems to me to be the reason that no one has written to me- or to LIz.
    What I feel here is a very strong connection to the Israelis in the south that I don’t know, the ones who have to keep running to the shelter, and of course a very strong connection to all the sons of all my friends who might be going to war. No one in America knows what small country this is, and how connected we all feel to everyone.
    To put things into a pessimistic perspective, I had the same feeling that you expressed during the Second Lebanon war – there were rocket attacks every day on my home in the Galilee, and the newspapers only reported that WE were attacking innocent civilians in Lebanon.
    In my opinion, Liz , you are doing the best thing that we can do right now – reaching out into cyberspace and spreading the word about what it really feels like to live in a small country surrounded by terrorists armed with long range missiles.It IS hard for people in the States to understand, but we’ve got to keep telling them!

    • Definitely agree with you on speaking out… first I was concerned I’d be annoying to friends by sharing so much but then I realized they have no idea otherwise… and it turns out, it’s helped at least a few realize what’s going on behind the scenes and reach out to others.

      We have, in general, a complicated relationship (as we all know) and I’m not sure how it will be ‘fixed’ but it definitely evolves over time… so let’s grab on to that and do our best.

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