I believe in magic. Not those trippy, sleight-of-hand illusions that tap into your inner child and leave your eyes feeling scrambled with wonder. I believe in the magic that happens when you get together with an assortment of individuals from your past, and a collective joy emerges that is so much greater than anything you imagined it could be – especially when the emotions you felt prior to the meetup were a quirky mix of excitement, curiosity and trepidation (accompanied by a soupçon of nausea). Why the trepidation, you ask? Well, even though you’re no longer that quiet, socially awkward teenager with questionable fashion sense (because the 80s made you do it), it seems that you still haven’t managed to completely rid yourself of those last remaining shreds of self-conscious, teenage angst.
But you allow the excited, curious bits to take control, and suddenly find yourself registering for your 30th high school reunion. You’ve been reconnecting online with your former classmates for years, and if you happen to be an introvert like I am, maybe platforms like Facebook have allowed you to create a comfort zone that lets you put your personality on display in ways you never dreamed possible. The confidence you lacked back in the day – when you were sure that EVERYONE had more than you did – has finally taken root. You know who you are and you like the person you’ve become, and you love the idea of reconnecting in real life.
So you subject yourself to a marginally invasive full-body pat-down (because security theater) and wedge yourself into a cramped airplane seat, hoping your seatmate won’t be a chatty armrest usurper while quietly, fervently praying to the airline gods for no seatmate at all. If you’re like me, you’re on a transatlantic flight or two, because you really are crazy enough to fly in for a week just so that you can spend a few days with your old high school pals – and make a few new ones – in and around your old hometown.
Despite the fact that it’s such a cliché, you’ve got a sweet selection of John Hughes movie soundtracks playing on a loop inside your head as the reunion draws closer. You’re staying with a dear friend you’ve known since first grade, and you spend the afternoon catching up and gossiping before digging through your suitcase for something suitable to wear. You take one last look in the mirror to make sure your hair is doing that wavy thing you like, and it’s off to the pub you go.
You arrive a little early, and when you step inside, you see that others had the same idea. The setting sun plays games with your eyesight, casting shadows and dancing rays of light around the classmates who greet all newcomers with whoops of joy. You squint against the glare as hugs are exchanged – sometimes with people you barely spoke to back in your high school days, but now it’s all good. The years have softened the memories and made us all nostalgic, and the lines that once separated us into distinct social groups are blurred beyond recognition. Thanks to social media, you can skip much of the preliminary “getting reacquainted” stage and jump straight into the fray.
A private room has been set aside for the Niskayuna High School class of ’86, and one of your former classmates generously turns the cash bar into an open bar by setting up a running tab for all. Drinks in hand, everyone works the room, moving from group to group to catch up and marvel at how amazing we all seem to look, because apparently, none of us have aged at all and everyone looks even better than they did 30 years ago. Despite the proximity of the bar and the privacy, though, there’s a gradual move to the crowded outdoor patio. The room is stifling and your friends question the wisdom of a closed space with insufficient cooling for a large group of perimenopausal women in their late 40s. Jostling with others for a good spot in front of a fan in the corner while beads of sweat form on your forehead and in the small of your back, you’re inclined to agree.
At some point, you start to yawn and your friend seizes the opportunity to tell everyone that you’re still battling jet lag. You tear yourselves away and collapse into her car, rehashing the evening while driving through the dark, quiet streets of your childhood. You later find out that many people stayed until the 2am closing time and then moved on to Denny’s, and are seriously impressed by their fortitude, if not their choice of venue.
The next evening, after a leisurely afternoon spent in the pool drinking sangria and homemade limoncello (and marveling at the appropriateness of the Oreo flavors paired with each – Annette knows you well and it shows), you head out once again for the second official event. You talk, laugh and drink until the restaurant closes and throws you all out, at which point you move en masse to the pub from the previous evening, stopping by the car to change your shoes and drop off the bottle of locally produced wine that Lisa gave you as a gift (because she knows you love wine, and also because she’s clearly awesome and thoughtful).
Tonight you stay until the end, until the gruff-looking bouncer with the loudest voice you’ve ever heard (who surprises you with a gentle smile when you jokingly ask him if he’s going to yell again) announces that the bar is closing and everyone has to leave. We are drunk and sober and every shade of tipsy in-between, leaning into one another and against each other as we shuffle towards the door. We are makers of magic, a magic that follows us outside to the parking lot, where we cling together for as long as possible and then some. Nobody wants to break the spell this weekend has cast on us, and we linger for long moments before splitting up to go our separate ways.
Two days later, the trip is over. Airports make you teary-eyed and this visit is no exception. To pass the time until your flight, you keep checking Facebook because your classmates are still posting about the reunion. You’re finally able to the board the plane, and blink back tears while quickly writing one last update, clicking “Post” just after the plane doors close. Your mind is still on the reunion and you feel like you’ve left a piece of your heart behind. But you’re okay with that. After all, the missing piece has been replaced by magic.
Photo courtesy of Annette Wertalik-Collinsby Liza Rosenberg
Butt. Poop. Budge. Intrigued? Amused? Slightly repulsed? Join the club. These were just three of the new words that the Little One learned to use with great gusto during his two weeks in an American day camp last month. Of course, it now seems like ages since we were in the US, but the reality is that we’ve been back for just over a week.
Truly, we had a month filled with escapades and exploits, not to mention what certainly seemed to be more than our fair share of encounters of the watery kind. We managed to squeeze in three days by the Delaware Water Gap with dear friends, rafting down the Delaware (and reveling in an onslaught of happy memories of long lost summers in a camp just up the road), sightseeing, eating, drinking (which seemed to happen with greater frequency than usual, though rarely in excess), and being quite merry. As much as I can be merry, that is…
We made it to two amusement parks. One was small and close to home, where I had the privilege to meet up with two old school friends (both of whom could probably make a fortune by selling their secrets for not aging) and their gorgeous children – a four year-old girl and a four-and-a-half year old boy. It was wonderful to spend time with these fabulous women, and the children really seemed to enjoy each other’s company. Until “the incident”, that is. Until a certain four-year-old girl (who will most certainly be keeping her parents perpetually on their toes, and who has been voted most likely to throw a house party when her parents are out of town, though hopefully not until she’s at least seven or so) tried to hug and kiss the Little One goodbye. Oh, the horror!
Imagine this scene, if you will – a beautiful little girl chasing an increasingly frantic Little One in circles around me, with the Little One calling out (in English, albeit with a slightly Israeli accent), “no Mommy! I don’t want!” I just know he’s going to regret this when he’s a hormonal sixteen year-old looking over my shoulder at pictures of her when she’s 15 and stunning, as she inevitably will be. Our girl was apparently not used to being rejected so firmly, as she later commented to her mother, “why wouldn’t that boy let me kiss him? If he had, he’d have seen that it was ok…” High-fiving the little boy goodbye in the parking lot appeared to be acceptable, however, and I was charmed to learn that he asked his mother before going to sleep later that evening if she thought that “his new friends missed him”. If he considers me to be one of his new friends, then the answer to that question would be a resounding “yes”.
And then there was day camp. Two action-packed, fun-filled weeks at the local JCC day camp, and while camp is probably deserving of its very own post, you’ll have to make due with a few of the highlights.
Clearly, it’s very difficult to do justice to a month-long journey in one (rather long) blog post. Therefore, I’ve decided to spare you the blow-by-blow description and throw in yet another list of highlights, given that it worked so well above. For those of you in the know, feel free to add other choice vignettes to the comments.
All in all, this was definitely one of our more successful trips to the US. We are finally over our jet lag (three cheers for vodka – hurrah!), and the Little One is once again using more Hebrew than English (though the words “butt” and “poop” still pop up with dizzying regularity). My heart is full. My wallet is empty. And so begins our return to normal life. Normal being a relative term, of course…by Liza Rosenberg
One of the best moves I’ve made during my time in Israel was to leave my job in a technical writing outsourcing agency and make the leap into the local hi-tech industry. My life changed socially as well as professionally, as I suddenly found myself in a Hebrew-speaking environment instead of an English-speaking one. Instead of spending my days in a comfort zone surrounded by colleagues who were Anglo – the generic term used to describe all native English speakers, I was now spending my days with native Israelis and other non-native English speakers, speaking Hebrew instead of English, and finally having the opportunity to integrate as I never had before.
For the first time since coming to Israel, I started to make Israeli friends of my own, as opposed to those I’d inherited by virtue of being married to an Israeli. Until then, most of my own friends had been Anglos from a variety of countries, and while there’s certainly a lot to be said for having friends from similar backgrounds and with a shared frame of reference, I wanted to expand my boundaries. I wanted the Israeli experience, and given that I was too old to serve in the army (which probably wouldn’t have worked out to well anyway for any one of a plethora of reasons), immersing myself in a truly Israeli workplace as one of the lone native English speakers seemed to be the best plan of action.
And it worked. I now have a wide circle of Israeli friends and acquaintances. Not only that, but from a professional standpoint, I’ve managed to tap into that network and use it to my advantage by positioning myself as the token native-English speaker among them. When people require English-language services, I’m usually the person who comes to mind. In addition to editing and translating resumes (as many international companies with facilities here prefer to receive CVs in English) and academic theses, I’ve been contacted by perfect strangers either requiring my services or offering me a job, having been referred to me by one of my Hebrew-speaking friends or colleagues. In a country like Israel, where who you know is often just as important as what you know, these associations can be invaluable, especially to those who didn’t grow up here, who don’t have the benefit of the ever-important school and army connections. Whether you’re trying to find a full-time position or trying to crack the freelance market, networking is probably going to play a key role in your success.
Positioning Yourself for Success – Networking Tips for Immigrants and Expats
I could make excuses about the fact that life’s been crazy lately, but what it really comes down to is that I just haven’t had the energy to write. I’ve begun new entries that never panned out, had ideas at inopportune moments and never followed through… The urge to blog had simply gone AWOL, and frankly, it’s been more than a little worrying. Even now, as I write this, I know that I’m doing it just to prove that I still can, and not because I have anything particularly scintillating to say. I’m just sort of hoping that if I can pop out a few words, the rest will flow. And no smartass comments about where you may or may not have seen my groove and when. You know who you are… 😛
In any event…
I didn’t vote. I have the right to vote, but given that I chose to make my life here, outside of the US, I don’t feel that it’s my place to try to make an impact when I don’t have to live with the consequences of that action. Of course, some of you may say that as an Israeli, that’s not necessarily true, and that I should use my vote to help elect the more pro-Israel candidate, but I disagree. What is best for Israel may or may not be best for the US, not to mention the fact that your ideas about what is best for Israel may not gel with mine. Gila summed it up very well in this post, though I would not have voted for John McCain, had I opted to exercise my right to vote. I don’t agree with his stances and I don’t like his style. And I think the Little One would be a more qualified running mate than the one he chose, given that the Little One can see the West Bank from his house, has more international travel experience than Sarah Palin and speaks two languages. And for the record, he would never have spent $75,000 at Neiman Marcus. That being said, I did enjoy watching her cast her vote wearing jeans and a hoodie – pretty much the only thing about her entire campaign that I could relate to.
Had I voted, I would have voted for Barack Obama, which I’m sure comes as no surprise to anyone. While I’m still not sure how he will be as president, I am impressed with his intelligence and his eloquence, and that he genuinely seems to give Americans hope in ways that I can’t recall ever seeing before. I am excited by the outcome of this election, and I am moved by all that his win symbolizes. It excites me that Barack Obama has realized Martin Luther King’s dream. It excites me to know that racists across the United States are most probably still apoplectic, and will be for at least the next four years.
Oh, and for those of you who still feel the need to refer to the US President-Elect as Barack Hussein Obama, please find another hobby. It’s unnecessary, and says so much more about you than it does about him. My husband is Persian, and most of his male cousins have Muslim-sounding names. It doesn’t mean anything! And just for argument’s sake, what if he is Muslim? So what? What difference would it make? Seriously. Your racism is showing, and it’s not your most flattering feature. Get over it. Go out and find another hobby. This one’s passé, baby!by Liza Rosenberg
I’ve been following the latest brouhaha in the Anglo-Israeli blogosphere with some interest. Nefesh B’Nefesh (NBN) is sponsoring the upcoming International Jewish Bloggers Convention, due to take place next Wednesday in Jerusalem, and debates are raging about everything from the convention’s target audience to the list of scheduled panelists. Adding fuel to the fire was an article that appeared in the Anglophile section of last Friday’s Haaretz, where the journalist in question seemed more interested in writing a divisive, sensationalist piece that served only to highlight the differences between various local bloggers and create controversy, using predictable quotes and selective background information to reinforce stereotypes.
And he succeeded. The Haaretz article has been used, predictably, as a springboard to attack those bloggers quoted as not being supportive of the conference. Frankly, I have a difficult time understanding what all the hype is about. The NBN agenda is not everyone’s agenda. I may be a Jewish blogger, but only because I’m a blogger who happens to be Jewish. I don’t necessarily blog about Jewish issues, and in the rare instances that I do, it’s most probably because the issue at hand has something to do with Israel. I don’t consider myself to be an aliyah blogger by any stretch of the imagination, and don’t feel anything more than a nominal connection to the realm of the blogosphere known as the Jblogosphere. I’m not interested in the Jewish blogosphere, and while I’m sure I have Jewish readers out there, I don’t consider the Jblogosphere to be my target audience. I never have. When I blog about Israel, it’s to present some aspect of Israeli life to those who don’t know about Israel, not to those who do.
From everything I’ve been reading on the local blogs though, there are definitely people who have a problem with that. At least one blogger has expressed disappointment over Lisa Goldman‘s stance on the conference, based on her quotes in the Haaretz article. Aside from the fact that the journalist obviously selected quotes designed to garner attention (and let’s face it – everyone knows that this is what journalists do), I fail to see the problem of Lisa not being interested in a conference that’s specifically geared towards Jewish blogging. Not everyone who moves here chooses to focus on the aliyah experience. I’ve been here for 17 years and came on my own. Aliyah issues aren’t on my radar, unless they involve my friends, and even then, they’re just someone else’s (often amusing) stories. Like Lisa, I’m far more interested in issues that all Israelis are facing than the issues faced by new immigrants. And also like Lisa, I would much prefer a convention for Israeli bloggers (I can think of at least three blogs written in English by non-Jewish Israelis) than a convention that’s strictly for Jewish bloggers. I’m just not interested.
As bloggers, we all have our own opinions and agendas. If we didn’t, we probably wouldn’t have begun to blog in the first place. My agenda is me – my thoughts, my opinions, my experiences – I don’t think that’s too unreasonable. NBN also has its own agenda, and there’s nothing wrong with that either. What is wrong is when people are bashed for their agendas, or more accurately, for having agendas that don’t mesh with the party line. One commenter (who seems to be connected with the convention’s organization) on the aforementioned blog stated “as to ONE of the agendas of this convention… this convention is hosted by NBN, and what of? They have an agenda, just like most bloggers have. If you don’t like it, then don’t make Aliyah.” So, if I don’t agree with NBN’s agenda, I shouldn’t be in Israel? Rather harsh, no? If this comment is representative of the convention agenda, it looks like I’m better off not attending. Somehow, I don’t think I’d be very welcome.by Liza Rosenberg
Living in Israel for sixteen years means that I don’t often pay attention to those “only in Israel” moments anymore, and events that may strike a new immigrant as unusual are no longer something out of the ordinary. The times when I’d wake up and go through my days being conscious of the fact that I was in a “foreign” country are long gone, and while I still mutter and mumble about some of the more maddening aspects of life here, it is more often than not with the full agreement of my native Israeli friends and acquaintances – in other words, I’m grumbling about life, and not about “life in Israel” (though admittedly, sometimes I become a bit more focused in my grumbling…). During my time here, I’ve gradually undergone a metamorphosis, changing from the wide-eyed, easily-excitable immigrant into a jaded, cynical Israeli (though the foundations for my jaded cynicism had, quite obviously, been laid far before I’d ever set foot in this country, so it really wasn’t much of a stretch).
Yesterday, however, I had a rare “only in Israel” moment. While sitting at my home computer
playing around on Facebook trying to get some work done, I was repeatedly distracted by a truck going through the neighborhood with a megaphone. From my seat in front of the computer, I couldn’t see the truck, nor did I try very hard to hear what was being said. Ordinarily, these megaphone masters are trying to sell something, whether it be fruits and vegetables or household items, and frankly, I wasn’t interested. I had to hand it to them this time around, though. He was nothing if not persistent, and I finally stepped outside to hear the message, which was clearly being broadcast by an individual who had honed his craft by watching reruns of old Peanuts episodes and emulating Charlie Brown’s teacher. Well, I’ll be damned! Nobody was trying to sell me anything. Quite the opposite, in fact. They’d come to collect something. They’d come to collect our gas masks. That’s right, you heard me. These guys were here on official government business, asking citizens to please come outside with all gas mask kits in order to return them.
They’d left a notice in our stairwell last week, but I’d forgotten. We’d had them since the second Gulf war. I’d even opened mine to check things out, as per the instructions of the Home Front Command at the onset of the war. I carried it to work with me one day, following those same Home Front Command instructions. The Husband laughed at me and my gas mask kit, and once I reached the office, I understood why. The only other colleagues who had followed instructions were immigrants. The natives were blasé, and in my desire to “go native” (not to mention the desire to get the Husband to stop laughing), I immediately left my mask at home too. After all, I was determined to assimilate, and certainly wasn’t going to let a small detail like the threat of chemical warheads get in my way…
The war came and went (at least the bits that were considered dangerous for Israel), and our gas masks were once again relegated to their spot at the back of the top shelf, left to gather dust until the next threat of war would require us to take them down again. As luck would have it, we did have another war, but fortunately, the missiles being fired in our direction weren’t chemical-tipped, so instead of grabbing my gas mask (which was still at the top of the guestroom closet) as I ran to our safety room when the sirens went off (an infrequent occurrence in our area), I grabbed a glass of white wine, and found it to be equally, if not more effective than my gas mask.
I didn’t give our masks another thought until yesterday, when the guy from Manpower (yep, you heard correctly – the government outsourced the gas mask collection) snapped me out of my reverie and sent me scurrying for a ladder, as no chair in the house would have allowed me to reach the top shelf in our closet. As sounds of the megaphone drew closer, I dug around, dodging falling playing cards and ankle weights as I perched on the ladder’s top rung, plucking two dusty gas mask kits from the murky depths.
After returning the ladder to the porch (with the Little One so engrossed in “Dora the Explorer” that he hadn’t even noticed when I’d walked past him with it the first time), I left my little couch-potato-in-training and scampered off with the kits, finding the collector downstairs dealing with one set of neighbors as a motley assortment of others made their way over with identical boxes. As we each patiently waited for our turn, we exchanged stories about the lengths we’d gone to in order to find our masks. Houses torn apart seemed to be a recurring theme, and one neighbor mentioned how relieved she’d been to have a child in the house small enough to fit into the attic crawl space and retrieve the family’s masks.
As I ran back up the stairs, my mind replayed the afternoon’s main event, and I couldn’t imagine it happening anywhere else but here. After sixteen years spent honing my jaded cynicism and trying to become more native than the natives, I was having an “only in Israel” moment. Good grief. If I start peppering my English with Hebrew words spoken with an American accent more than I pepper my Hebrew with English words spoken with an Israeli accent, then we’ll know that I’m truly “een da sheet”.by Liza Rosenberg
As promised in this post, here is the translated version of the article I wrote for Nana last week. I’ve tried to maintain the structure and links used in the Hebrew version, and I’ve made only one change to the content, in order to include a mention of Lisa Goldman’s recent trips to Beirut, which could not be included at the time when the original article was published (who says I can’t keep a secret?!).
A rather interesting article was published on Nana’s Computers portal recently, whose title was “We are all Behemoths”. The article purported to provide an overview of the English-language blogosphere in Israel, with one of the more salient points being that as English-language blogs, the bloggers who write them are, in essence offering a skewed view of Israelis and of life in Israel, given that these bloggers, by virtue of the fact that they are native English speakers, are not at all representative of the average Israeli.
The article’s author, Dana Peer, (whose mother, incidentally, is American), opts to focus on the blogs of relatively new immigrants, including “What War Zone?”, “Zabaj“, and “Ari Lives in Israel“. The highlighted posts all have one thing in common – experiences mostly revolving around encounters with native Israelis. Peer then goes on to belittle the bloggers of the Anglo-Israeli blogosphere for choosing to focus on these experiences, and claims that,
“the Israeli image in the global blogosphere is proffered almost solely from the viewpoint of immigrants and tourists – and it’s possible to say a great deal about them, except for one thing – that they faithfully represent the image of the average Israeli. Forget representing – most of them don’t understand it at all.”
One of the issues that Peer addresses is the way that some of these new immigrants poke fun at the way that Israelis have incorporated various English words into the Hebrew language. Peer points out in an ongoing email exchange (which began after the article was published) that it is a “natural phenomenon that words from one language are assimilated into another language, and then adapted to meet the relevant rules of grammar.” I am inclined to agree with that statement, though as one whose native language is the one from which these words often originate, I must admit that it does sound amusing at times to hear native Hebrew speakers use words in “English” while speaking Hebrew.
The amusement is not necessarily directed at the speaker, but rather at the concept. For the record, I am similarly amused when I hear Americans in the US say the word “chutzpah” with a totally American accent (or any other random word that has entered the English lexicon from another language) in their daily lives, lest you think it is limited to Americans making fun of Israelis.
The Internet Changes the Rules
One of the suggestions that Peer brought up in her email is that perhaps she should have included a disclaimer at the beginning of her article, noting that it was not intended to be a serious look at the Anglo-Israeli blogosphere, but rather a humorous take on a very specific aspect of this virtual society. Indeed, one of the greatest “pitfalls” facing writers today is that the internet has created a situation where one’s words have the potential to go farther than ever before.
As such, the writer essentially loses all control over their own creation. Writers can no longer get by with excuses about intended audiences, and it is something that we as bloggers and journalists must take into consideration, accepting that our words may reach unintended audiences who can twist our thoughts to suit their own needs.
A prime example of this would be an incident that occurred last summer, when Norwegian author Jostein Gaarder published an article about Israel and the Jews in a Norwegian newspaper. The article was intended for Norwegian audiences only, and Garder was reportedly completely shocked by the worldwide condemnation he received after his article was translated into other languages and seen to be rather anti-Semitic, even though Garder claimed that this was not his intention, and that his words were taken out of context.
I also think, perhaps, that Peer did not take into account that there might be immigrants reading her article who would not see it as being a funny, cynical piece at all, but rather a personal attack on “those immigrants”. In her email, Peer explains that she has taken care to focus on both sides of the issue – that of the immigrant and that of the native-born Israeli, and has tried to maintain a balance in her criticism of both groups. However, in the same way that comedians can openly mock their own group without anyone raising an eyebrow, but will often be criticized for mocking another group, it should come as no surprise that immigrants would have issues with being criticized by someone who is not “one of their own”. An indication of this can be seen in the responses to Peer’s original article, which, while obviously quite amusing for the native Hebrew speakers (whose comments reflected a rather alarming trend to bash immigrants who had chosen to make Israel their home, which makes me wonder whether some of them had taken the article as seriously as I had), seemed to lose something when the article crossed cultures.
On the one hand, Peer is accurate in her assessment that the new immigrant bloggers among us often focus on their unique immigrant experiences and encounters, which is certainly not an unusual phenomenon, and indeed, is entirely legitimate. Of course, perhaps we, as immigrant bloggers, must also take into account that just we have chosen to make Israel our home, we must be more accepting and open to the nuances of Israeli culture and the local lexicon. Peer mentions an incident in her email of an immigrant blogger poking fun at native Israelis for not being able to say “Massachusetts”. Frankly though, until you can master any Hebrew word or name with the letter “resh” in it, you’re really not in a position to make fun of “the natives” (unless, of course, you are trying to emulate MK Michael Eitan).
Putting a Human Face on “The Monster”
Humor aside, though, Peer does a disservice to her readers by limiting her article to these few blogs while ignoring the richness and variety of the Anglo-Israeli blogosphere as a whole, a heterogeneous group of writers whose blog postings cover an incredibly wide range of topics, whether it be politics, current events, local culture, family, and so on.
Our corner of the blogosphere includes both new and veteran immigrants, religious and secular bloggers. We have bloggers in the Territories and bloggers who live in Tel Aviv’s trendy Sheinkin neighborhood. To say that we’ve had a few battles over Israeli political issues would be akin to calling last summer’s war a minor border incident.
Residents of our virtual neighborhood include bloggers like Canadian-born Lisa Goldman, a journalist whose blog “On the Face” not only received worldwide attention during the war last summer (and whose clip
s that touch on her recent trips to Beirut can be found on Nana’s news portal), but also won the Best Non-Muslim Blog award in a competition held in the Islamic blogosphere; British expatriate “Anglosaxy“, a non-Jewish blogger who writes about his view of life in the Holy Land; Bert de Bruin, a Dutch-born blogger who posts at “Dutchblog Israel” in both English and Dutch, primarily about current events and political issues; “Chayyei Sarah“, a blog written by an American freelance journalist and teacher living in Jerusalem; Australian expatriate artist Nominally Challenged writes over at “A Whiff of the Med“. And these are only a few examples of what can be found out there.
These Israel-based bloggers who write in languages other than Hebrew are the face of Israel for readers around the world. We are the writers who put a human face on the “monster” known as Israel, and do so on a daily basis. We are the writers who readers turned to during the Second Lebanon War last summer, when people the world over were anxious to dig up any shred of information they could find about the human side of the conflict.
It must be noted that the Hebrew-language blogosphere and the English-language blogosphere (not to mention the Russian and Arabic language blogospheres) serve very different purposes. While the Hebrew-language blogosphere is for domestic consumption, Israeli blogs written in English (or in other foreign languages) are often specifically targeted at the world outside of Israel. These bloggers see their natural role as being that of explaining Israel to the rest of the world.
Willingly and Not by Force
Judging by the article itself as well as the numerous talkbacks it received, Peer and her “Israeli” readers seem to think that these new immigrants, all of whom chose to live in Israel, are not allowed to be critical of their adopted country. A running theme throughout the comments was that if these Americans aren’t happy in Israel, then they should just simply pack up and go home. If everyone who lived in Israel was asked to leave if they complained, chances are excellent that within a relatively short period of time, there’d be no one living here (except, perhaps for Ehud Olmert, who clearly lives in a world of his own where everything is good and everyone loves him…).
Western immigrants come to Israel because they want to, not because they have to. Israel is where they want to be, but that certainly doesn’t mean that life is perfect here. I have been living here for sixteen years. My life is here, my family is here. Do I believe that daily life would be easier in the US? Yes. Do I believe there’s a lot to complain about in Israel? Of course. Am I planning to leave? No.
Israel is my home, just as it is the home of all these new immigrants that people seem so keen to mock and send away.by Liza Rosenberg
For those of you who read Hebrew (and especially for those of you who can read it AND understand it), the post that I wrote here has been edited, rewritten, and translated, and can now be found here on the Nana website. I’ll put up the final English version soon…by Liza Rosenberg