RINA LANKRY 311.
(photo credit: Danielle Carrick)
NEW YORK – Rina Lankry can easily sympathize with the protest movement
demonstrating against the high cost of living in Israel. Born in Israel but
raised in New York, last year she was temporarily living in Jerusalem and making
plans to move there for good when the economic hardships of living in the Jewish
State made her change her mind.
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“I felt like if you want to live in
Israel you have to be set,” she said. “I started [the process of] making aliya,
everything was fine, when I just saw so many people from America who are
struggling. At a certain point the ideological bubble bursts and you realize
living in Israel is hard.”
Lankry shared her story on Wednesday at a
social gathering in a bar in Chelsea organized by Dor Chadash, an
Israeli-American social group.
“We bridge the gap between Israeli and
American Jews and create meaningful relations between both people,” said Yoni
Frankel, Dor Chadash’s new executive director. “We have here tonight American
Jews, Israelis and people in the middle like myself, whose parents are Israeli
but they feel they are connected to both places.”
Like Lankry, many
people at the event could identify with the protest movement in Israel which has
shaken the nation of late.
Yael Beckerman, an American whose parents are
Israeli, had just returned from Tel Aviv where she attended several of the
rallies and visited Rothschild Boulevard, which has been transformed into a huge
tent city. She offered a sympathetic view of the struggle but said she believed
it was unlikely to affect change.
“I don’t think it’ll come to much,”
said Beckerman. “They want everything to be fair and equal. I have a cousin in
[the Tel Aviv neighborhood of] Florentin and he said that his rent had doubled
in the past couple of years. There’s no fairness.”
Lenny Roth, one of
founders of Dor Chadash and a columnist for the financial newspaper Globes
the housing protests were paradoxically a manifestation of Israel’s economic
“You have a growing gap between the haves and have nots and
there’s a realization that the people left out of the party are reading about
the celebration and not participating in it,” he said.
Roth, who was born
in Israel but has lived most his life in the US, said most Jews in America were
unaware of the housing protest in Israel and were more concerned with their own
“Jewish-Americans... read mostly about Israel’s economic
success whether it’s [2009 book] Startup Nation
, [its partnership with American
electric car company] Better Place or the growing GDP. When you talk about the
structural economic fundamentals, Israel today paradoxically is healthier than
the US. You need to trickle down several levels to appreciate what’s agitating
the protesters outside the prime minister’s office.”
He added that the
economic situation in Israel when compared with that in the US at the moment was
in many ways enviable.
“It’s a blip on the radar screen next to so much
more obvious highlights of Israel’s economic success. Israel did not get stung
by the mortgage crisis. Israel’s debt to GDI ratio is going down while America’s
is going up. Israel’s unemployment rate is much lower than the US. We wish we
could be like in Israel.”
Still, for many Israeli-Americans, finding a
job in the US even during a time of economic uncertainty is still much easier
than in Israel.
Zev Barnoy, an investment banker who was born in America
but whose parents are Israeli, said he took a job at Chase Morgan Bank only
after he couldn’t find a position in Israel. He said that during his search he
even flew to Israel for an interview with a local bank but was turned
“What upset me was that a guy with lots of experience comes to
Israel for an interview and the country rejects him,” he said in fluent Hebrew.
“So I came here instead.”
Barnoy said that he hasn’t given up on his
dream of living in Israel and that “unless something drastic happens” he intends
to try moving there again in the future.