August 22: Readers react to arguments for and against making aliya

When I announced in 1977 that I had agreed with my husband to make aliya despite the known problems this involved, they told me I was crazy.

Letters 370 (photo credit: REUTERS/Handout )
Letters 370
(photo credit: REUTERS/Handout )
Sir, – Having read “Why I (already) made aliya” (Comment & Features, August 19), I am reminded of comments made by friends who remained in South Africa.
When I announced in 1977 that I had agreed with my husband to make aliya despite the known problems this involved, they told me I was crazy. Several years later, when we were faced with numerous terrorist attacks, they told me I was very brave. Then, after the introduction of democracy in South Africa, which was accompanied by a great increase of violent crime, they informed me that I was very lucky.
Three views on the merits of aliya.
Sir, – Leah Bieler’s jocose “Why I (still) haven’t made aliya” (Comment & Features, August 15) sadly prompts a reply.
We have Ziploc bags here and better items than Trader Joe’s.
We have a few “crisp, snow-covered winter mornings” without closing down daily activities.
Our religious lives are not exercises in cognitive dissonance. We are proud of all those who have the privilege and ability to serve in the Israel Defense Force.
We have nice hotel rooms and all kinds of equipment for babies, the elderly, the handicapped and more. We have a plethora of pluralistic schools, institutions, colleges, hospitals, clinics, camps and universities.
Strenuous efforts are made to prevent violence and intimidation as much as possible.
Values brought from elsewhere are given due consideration in our multi-cultural and evolving civil society. Mature parents guide their children toward independence while never holding them as “possessions.”
Leaving a Diaspora birthplace to return to our marvelous homeland is more satisfying than mere words can describe. Since our l968 arrival with five children we now have 83 core family members. I hope for the Bielers’ similar success.
Sir, – If I had known 50 years ago that there were no Ziploc bags to be had in Israel, I might have reconsidered making aliya.
Life without Ziploc bags! Unthinkable! Despite this deprivation, though, life in the only Jewish independent state in the world has more than compensated for this inconvenience. Leah Bieler’s objection is as mature and convincing as that of the American girl who justifies not making aliya by saying it is impossible to wear high heels in Jerusalem because of the cobblestones.
After many similar reasons we get to the truth: She has four children and she doesn’t want them to serve in the IDF. She would rather other people (those aggressive, unruly Israelis) spend “many years with our hearts stuck perpetually in our throats,” as we and countless others have done, leaving the natives to keep the country safe for her next vacation.
Sir, – I recently relocated to Israel not by choice, but by a decision determined by circumstances.
As a born and bred British citizen, I have never felt the need to defend our religious lifestyle as I now do in Israel. The unrelenting haredi-bashing has no limits. The media hype over the cost of maintaining these “leeches” is totally untrue when all the figures are stacked up and compared to the educational costs of secular youths.
So why make aliya when the tax incentives are being eroded day by day, when the bureaucracy is mind-boggling, and when the standards of accountability expected in the West are not to be found here? There’s also the endless verbal abuse and intimidation endured by my 12-yearold son, while the general level of courtesy among people here does not compare favorably with what we came to expect abroad.
Israelis are not prepared to do menial jobs, and some have to resort to illegally employing foreigners at an exorbitant rate. So how are working families able to run their homes when salaries are half the cost of domestic help? I did not come to spend my days doing sponga or standing in court for employing an illegal cleaner.
So for the moment, if we have to be here we shall make sure to keep leaving the country before our three months are up, keep my earnings taxed in England and keep my other schoolgirl and home in Britain so that “my center of life” remains there while my physical being, for now, is here.
The writer describes herself as a ‘distressed potential olah’
Sir, – Every few months, for some reason, the Post publishes a piece from armchair Zionists, usually from the US, who explain with excruciating chutzpah why they cannot make aliya. It is usually because they value their children so much that they cannot bear to send them to the army.
This implies that we who have made aliya do not care as much about our children.
We who do “get it” are busy building a country. I ask that Leah Bieler not crowd the local newspaper with sanctimonious gab about how much more precious and well behaved her kids are. Israel, the IDF and our bully children and grandchildren will be here for all of them, not if the need arises, but when.
Sir, – Leah Bieler describes the fear that her children will be too tense to learn in Israeli schools, in which children can behave boorishly and even violently toward one another. She bases this fear on incidents her children experienced in summer camp here, and the picture she paints is one in which Israeli children are either bullies or wimps.
I would like to share a true story: In a classroom in Jerusalem, an angry seven-year-old shouted at a classmate: “Tomorrow my father will come to school and beat you up!” The classmate answered: “Then my father will come to school and he’ll calm your father down.”
The girl’s father happened to be a community mental health worker.
The yiddishe kop has enabled the Jewish people to withstand bullies the world over, and it can prevail here as well.
Sir, – As an Anglo Saxon oleh of many years I am still unable to absorb and defend the aggressive and arrogant Middle Eastern culture and mentality here. To me the words civility, courtesy, service, trust, discipline, competence and transparency have a different meaning than they do to an Israeli.
In view of the details Leah Bieler expresses in her article, my advice to her from my own bitter experiences is that when in doubt, do nothing. The wrong decision in making aliya without doing the necessary homework can be disastrous and lead to lifelong regret.
JACK DAVIS Jerusalem
Sir, – I, my husband and our two young children made aliya from Windsor, Connecticut, 42 years ago. We have never for one minute regretted our decision to live in Israel.
I believe that Leah Bieler would not have followed Moses out of Egypt, nor would she have been among those who were with Joshua as he led the people into the promised land.
Nor would she have boarded the Mayflower to travel to the New World, which she is now so afraid to leave.
Aliya is not for everyone, and especially not for Bieler. There will always be an excuse to remain an outsider, a visitor in our beautiful land. It’s not the schools, the bad behavior of the children and adults, the lack of material goods, the climate or whatever. Israel is Israel.
We came, others have come and others will come. Maybe her children will come, and maybe not. Israel may not be her dream-come-true, but we are not a dream. We are a reality.