Get out of there
Idan Ben-Barak, who lives in Australia, tells fellow Israelis it's time to leave Jewish State
Published: 04.25.07, 19:40 / Israel Opinion
They say that if you put a frog in a pot of lukewarm water and slowly heat up the water, the frog would not feel the gradual heating and be cooked without even attempting to jump out. For 60 years now we've been so scared of the Arabs – actually, why 60, 100 at least – that it's the only thing we see. All the rest is marginal.
Corruption? Road accidents? Pollution? Poverty? Who cares about this nonsense? Two Qassam rockets just landed in Sderot and Ahmadinejad again made some belligerent statements. We've got action. Who has the energy to deal with the small stuff? And meanwhile, the country is crumbling in our fingers. Slowly but surely.
We already got used to it: There's no minister who isn't facing a police investigation. Every police chief comes with a scandal and every IDF chief of staff is a failure. The universities are suffocating, while colleges are flourishing. Everyone is studying law and business management in order to learn about how to move money.
Anyone who's worth anything in science and technology goes abroad to pursue a career, because there are no research budgets in Israel. And let's say we're able to give rise to and even keep two or three brilliant minds here, what exactly are we going to do with all those ultra-Orthodox guys who study Torah instead of serving in the army or working? Who will keep Israel afloat in 15 years?
We tried to build a country that would be a safe place for the Jewish people and that will allow us to live there in peace. It didn't work out. It turns out we can't have it all. Perhaps it's something about the Jewish character, or perhaps it's the fact that we got stuck in the Middle East of all places, and maybe it's just bad luck.
Does anyone still believe in the IDF?
For a decade or two it seemed like it could work, but then we were proven wrong. Somewhere between the West Bank settlement of Shavei Shomron, Bnei Braq, the security zone in Southern Lebanon, Shenkin St. in Tel Aviv, and upscale Caesarea, we lost our direction and the bastards took over. Now we no longer have the energy to change anything, we don't believe anyone; we're already tired.
Apparently, at the end they won't be taking over us with tanks. In two or three decades there will be no need for that apparently. And if they do attack, with ballistic missiles from Iran and Syrian Scud missiles, does anyone still believe that the IDF can handle it? After all, this is the same IDF that was unable to organize decent backpacks for every reservist in a war that we initiated on our own. The exact same IDF that has bee pulverizing Hamas and Hizbullah for 20 years now – and look how nicely pulverized they are.
The Palestinians are not playing ball either. We tried a nice approach? We got terror attacks. We hit them hard? We got terror attacks. We occupied? Terror attacks. Evacuated? Terror attacks. Once upon a time we thought we might be able to finalize some kind of a deal with them so that the buses stop exploding, but today we understand it will be like this forever.
Defeatist? Maybe. But any good poker player knows that a point comes where we need to give up, put the cards on the table, and say goodbye. A really good player knows how to do it when he still has money left for another round on another day. A not-so-good player will find himself going home after losing his pants, if he makes it home even. So do yourself a favor. Look closely at your cards, and think about how this round will be ending in your opinion.
Some readers may wonder whether I'm some kind of leftist, Arab-loving traitor who is unconcerned about making his contribution to the country. Have no worries, I already contributed, and not at the office. I did my military service in a combat unit, I was a career officer for a while, I did reserve service, I carried loads, I was stationed at roadblocks, I guarded, I screened, I navigated, I greased, I planted landmines, I patrolled, I ambushed, and I was fired at. I know Tul Karem and Hebron better than I know Hadera and Ramat Gan.
Second-hand Israeli in good condition
And by the way, they say that thing about the frog, but they're wrong. If you try to slyly cook a real frog, at some point it will feel that it's too hot and jump out much before you reach boiling point. I wish for all of us the kind of healthy instincts a frog has.
You need to jump out of the pot. Move abroad, while it's still possible. True, for Israelis "abroad" equals "America," but you may be surprised to hear that it's not the only option. There are several countries in this world that would be very glad to get a second-hand Israeli in good condition. Canada is one of them. So is New Zealand. There are many others.
At the end of the day, gloomy prophecies and unflattering comparisons to other countries is not what will get you to board a plane. After you debate, look into it, consult, examine the details, and do the numbers, you'll be left with one question: Do I have the guts to do it?
Leaving Israel is a risky business. Not because of the departure itself, as after all we can always go back, and many people indeed to that – but rather, because it forces you to deal with yourself. It's a process of the most in-depth self-examination, whether you like it or not.
Many people who plan to emigrate say that they're scared they will end up missing their relatives, the scenery, soccer games on Friday afternoon. In many cases, they're actually scared they'll end up not missing all that. Because without it, who are you in fact? And that's what you'll find out when you go.
And no, those six months you spent in the Far East don't count, because back then you knew you'll be back and that the room at your parents' house is still waiting for you. Now, it's like you're throwing yourself into space. Bungee jumping without the rope.
Those who left and never came back apparently know why they didn't. There are about a million Israelis like that in the world today. Those who left and did return two or three years later know a few things: They know who they are and what they are. They know what they love in Israel and what they'd like to change. They know why they're staying and they know this is the country they choose to live in, for the time being at least. But those who never tried, even though they were able to, are simply chickening out.
Listen, I don't know what will happen in the future. Maybe any moment now the people of Israel will realize how close they are to the edge and wake up. Maybe we'll even be able to come up with some kind of a semi-stable arrangement with our annoying neighbors, reformulate an agenda, and elect leaders for the Zionist enterprise who don't smoke cigars or are closely associated with various millionaires and functionaries. Maybe then we'll be able to live in a normal country. And maybe not.