Will Jews do 'reverse aliyah' and leave Israel for other lands? - opinion

One of the areas in which we certainly excel is kvetching. We are world-class kvetchers and complainers – about anything and everything.

 ‘HOW CAN you possibly teach a dog to speak?’ (photo credit: MIRIAM ALSTER/FLASH90)
‘HOW CAN you possibly teach a dog to speak?’
(photo credit: MIRIAM ALSTER/FLASH90)

I don’t think so!

Although we didn’t qualify for the World Cup – maybe someday! – we Israelis certainly shared in the excitement, either by going to Qatar or glued to our screens. After all, we love our sports and are highly competitive, perhaps even to a fault. 

One of the areas in which we certainly excel is kvetching. We are world-class kvetchers and complainers – about anything and everything. I even know one hotel manager who has a shirt that reads “Did I do ANYTHING right?!”

The latest complaint I’ve been hearing incessantly is that the new government coming to power is going to draft so many draconian, disastrous rules and regulations that it will be impossible to stay here. All kinds of doomsday scenarios are being predicted, from forced observance of all 613 commandments to national bankruptcy to the demise of the IDF. There is a lot of talk about masses of disgruntled citizens leaving the country; there was, as I suspect you’ve heard, even talk of creating a “reverse aliyah”; that is, the emigration of Israeli Jews to other lands, where they can build new communities.

 Kibbutz Plan B: A place for Israelis to move to in New Jersey looking for a better life. (credit: Moti Kahana) Kibbutz Plan B: A place for Israelis to move to in New Jersey looking for a better life. (credit: Moti Kahana)

To this I say, “Nonsense!”

I accept that segments of our population are highly dissatisfied with the Netanyahu coalition, and I agree that we must vigilantly protect our individual liberties and the welfare of our economy, our army and our national institutions. We cannot have a nation where all men and women are created equal but some are more equal than others. If there is excessive favoritism toward one segment of the country over the others, then that surely will breed widespread disenchantment, vigorous protests and even civil disobedience. 

Israelis have never been known to be shrinking violets when their rights are summarily violated; they will rise up in righteous indignation if the pendulum swings too far.

But get up and leave en masse?! No way is that going to happen.

First of all, where would they go? To America?! The US is experiencing a wave of antisemitism not seen since the 1930s. The lion’s share of hate crimes, a high-ranking NYPD official tells me, is directed against Jews, and very little is being done to stop it. Despite the claims of various elected officials, it is rare that perpetrators of attacks against Jews are arrested; and if they are, they are set free without bail and invariably avoid prosecution. 

At the same time, American college campuses are rampant with violent antisemitism – feebly masquerading as anti-Zionism – and Jewish students are either drawn into the enemy camp or too frightened to stand up against it.

What will happen when these chickens come home to roost, when the students brainwashed into believing that Israel – and by extension, all Jews – are the root of all evil, graduate into the leaders of their respective communities? 

Despite the valiant efforts of pro-Israel groups such as StandWithUs, countering the heavily funded pro-Palestinian activists is a steep, uphill battle that will become even more difficult when the inevitable next war occurs.

Will the disenchanted go to Europe? To France, perhaps, where until recently every Jewish institution had machine gun-toting soldiers guarding the entrances, and where synagogue-goers had to show proof of identity? Or to the British Isles, where antisemitism is also spiking, from Dover to Dublin? And if the destination is Germany, do we seriously want to pull up roots and replant in Deutschland?

We cannot and should not overreact. We have to calm ourselves a bit, take a deep breath and adopt the long view. We have faced crises before – much worse than this – and we overcame them. 

The whole world expected us to be massacred in 1948, and we won our independence. Parks were being converted into possible graveyards in 1967, but we shocked the experts and scored an amazing victory in less than a week. In our short but tumultuous history, we experienced periods of hyperinflation, waves of terrorism and even the threat of a nuclear attack, but we never panicked. We faced every adversity, and we persevered. And we shall do so again. We did not miraculously return to and build this amazing nation only to see it implode before our eyes.

A Jewish fable tells of an audacious king who was determined that his dog would learn to talk. So he gathered his wise men together and said that whoever could not teach the dog to talk would be executed. One by one, the wise men shrugged their shoulders; they told the king that his request was impossible, that there was no use in even trying, and so they suffered their fate.

But when it came to the rabbi’s turn, he surprised everyone when he told the king that he could, indeed, teach the royal dog to speak. But, he said, it was not something that could easily be done; he would need to visit the dog on a daily basis, and it would take five years to accomplish. The king gladly complied and gave the rabbi full access to the palace.

When the king departed, the rabbi’s followers approached him in amazement. “How can you possibly teach a dog to speak?!” they asked him. The rabbi smiled. “In five years,” he told them, “a lot could happen. The king could die. The dog could die. Or perhaps God will perform a miracle for me and I will indeed succeed in teaching the dog to talk. But during all of that time, I will be able to live my life. I may see a child married, welcome a new grandchild and celebrate many holidays and happy occasions. In the end, it will all work out, I am sure, but I will take life as it comes – for where there is life, there is hope.”

A lot can happen in the months and years ahead. The incoming coalition may prove to be upright and fair and perform effectively, much to our satisfaction. They may face a crisis they cannot overcome, or overstep their bounds, and the government may fall. Or, as so often blessedly occurs, the Almighty will come to our rescue and make it all turn out right.

In the meantime, let us hope for – and work for – the best, with faith that this wondrous enterprise we have brought forth, to the wonderment of all, will continue to grow, prosper and persevere. Here we are, and here we are to stay. ■

The writer is director of the Jewish Outreach Center of Ra’anana. [email protected]