Eretz Israel is our unforgettable historic homeland...The Jews who will it shall achieve their State...And whatever we attempt there for our own benefit will redound mightily and beneficially to the good of all mankind. (Theodor Herzl, DerJudenstaat, 1896)

We offer peace and amity to all the neighbouring states and their peoples, and invite them to cooperate with the independent Jewish nation for the common good of all. The State of Israel is ready to contribute its full share to the peaceful progress and development of the Middle East.
(From Proclamation of the State of Israel, 5 Iyar 5708; 14 May 1948)

With a liberal democratic political system operating under the rule of law, a flourishing market economy producing technological innovation to the benefit of the wider world, and a population as educated and cultured as anywhere in Europe or North America, Israel is a normal Western country with a right to be treated as such in the community of nations.... For the global jihad, Israel may be the first objective. But it will not be the last. (Friends of Israel Initiative)

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

Year Of The Yordim?

The antipodean J-Wire service carries an article by Raffe Gold, himself from Israel, which suggests that 2012 might well be "the year of the foreign passports" as for one reason or another people reluctantly seek a life outside the Jewish State.  I'm sure that many readers will disagree with some of his assertions, including his confidence in the credentials of the New Israel Fund (see this new revelation, by the way).  But his is an interesting, and disturbing, overview that I am taking the liberty of reproducing.

Writes Raffe Gold:

'Left wing Israelis are preparing themselves to leave the nation of their birth, and of their dreams, because the dream for them has turned into a nightmare.  Many are planning on joining their family members, cousins, brothers, sisters or parents, in the West to restart their life. A 2008 Menachem Begin Heritage Centre Poll found that 59% of Israelis surveyed had approached or intended to approach a foreign embassy to apply for citizenship and a passport. A Bar-Ilan University study found that more than 100,000 Israelis hold a German passport and the number rises by 7,000 every year. The foreign passport was originally acquired as a last resort in case the Arab armies managed to go through with their plans of the annihilation of Israel. Passports were updated in 2001 when the Palestinian terrorists waged their war of bus bombings and massacres and it is being updated again under the threat of the Zionist dream dying.

Those Israelis that are looking for a escape route are leaving for a number of reasons. They leave for a life free of religious and right-wing coercion. They leave for a better economic future. They leave for a life for their children that is not dominated by religion. They leave with a heavy heart. This is not what they wanted. They remain proud Zionists and they know that with the growth of extreme right wing religious extremism, there is nothing here left for them. Israelis who cannot leave warn their friends not to return. This is not a country to start, or restart, a life. It is a country that is on the brink of abandoning liberalism, once a happily celebrated value by Jews and Israelis the world over.

This is not, in any way, to say that modern day Israel has become Saudi Arabia, Iran or Gaza. Only around 10% of Israel’s population identify themselves as ultra-Orthodox and an even smaller number insist on this gender segregation. There remains a vibrant community of thinkers here who are free to say and do what they wish. Haaretz continues with its proud tradition of challenging government authority and all faiths are free to worship as they see fit (unlike Gaza where Hamas, in an almost cliched villainous move, literally outlawed Christmas). Israel remains a strong democracy with a free press and our neighbors look on in envy as their own governments trample their basic rights. Israel remains a beacon of light amongst a sea of totalitarian dictatorships but lately the beacon has been wavering slightly and this is why some are looking for an escape route.

Israelis see the battle in Bet Shemesh as but another nail in the coffin of Israeli liberalism. They see the increased construction within the settlements as a cause for alarm, they see the potential shut down of Channel 10 as a threat to the Fourth Estate and they see ‘loyalty bill’ as curbing the right of freedom of speech. They feel that the right-wing coalition formed under Netanyahu has damaged Israel irrevocably. Ultra-orthodox groups, a minority in terms of the population, are imposing their will on the majority. A recent bill, thankfully defeated, proposed turning electricity "kosher". Essentially electric companies would operate according to Jewish halachic demands and the rabbinate would have the authority to cut off power. Israel is a country that truly appreciates freedom of religion but it seems that it is forgetting that freedom of religion also demands freedom from religion; secular Israelis should not be subject to the will of the faithful.

Right-wing groups and various MKs paint many in left wing NGOs as traitors. The New Israel Fund has been demonized as anti-Israel and has sparred with the Knesset and the right-wing media alike. Many of those who eye foreign passports fear that they do not have an adequate voice at the parliamentary level. Kadima chairwoman Tzipi Livni is considered a failure in her goal to create a credible opposition. Despite her party holding a majority of seats she is outnumbered by right wing and religious groups and can resort only to name calling against Netanyahu.

It is presumptuous to declare the modern-liberal Israeli State "over". It is, however, teetering on an edge that leads to a very dark and uncertain future. Many centrist Israelis hope that the recent decision of Yair Lapid, a popular television commentator, to enter politics will lead to a resurgence of a strong opposition to take on the right-wing coalition. These Israelis who believe that the darkness is overcoming believe that Israel is in need of a major intervention. They had hoped that the recent protests over the summer would lead to a renewed sense of vigor but many are disappointed in their inability to change anything. These Israelis, who serve in the army with pride and built the State from nothing, will sigh in frustration as they line up at Embassies to collect their foreign passport.'


  1. Is it a bad thing if the lefties all leave? LOL

    Also, considering Israel has been in a constant state of war for 60 years these are tiny figures. A recent survey last year shows over 50% of Arabs want to leave Arab countries.

    Last year a record number of English (and French) emigrated for greener pastures (Australia etc) a primary reason given in both cases was because of "multiculturalism" and too many Islamic immigrants.

    Lot's of people migrate for various reasons. To claim its some sort of failing on the part of Zionism means the West has failed too. The truth is the only way for Zionism to truly win is ironically not to listen to the "failing" West when it calls for "restraint". Israel should just smash Hezballah and Hamas and their will be peace for generations.

  2. Thanks for the comment, Anon. Apologies for not acknowledging it earlier - Blogger won't let me comment on site as normal, and so I overlooked doing so.
    A future without lefties - tempting prospect!

  3. A portion of those wishing to immigrate do so for economic reasons. There are simply not enough university positions to accommodate all those capable of reaching such levels of expertise.

    A portion want to leave because of external threat. They feel unsafe in spite of the IDF doing more than any army ever constructed to safeguard the lives of their troops.

    Some need to leave because they cannot make a living. They frequently set up businesses in the Diaspora that maintain their connections with Israel.

    Some Jews leave Israel to avoid religious coercion. A small, but significant number of these people regain their Judaism as a result of their experiences in the "real" world.

    Many leave Israel, only to return with increased skills and a determination to hold on to the land. A chief reason to return to Israel is the idyllic life for children. Many adults, as they raise their children in the Diaspora, realize that their children's freedom and growth are hampered by living outside of Israel. Children, religious and non-religious, are uniquely free in Israel. That freedom cannot be obtained in Western countries. Freedom in Israel is associated with individual responsibility for self, while it is associated with license in places like America. Responsible parents in Israel free their children to grow, while in the middle-class America that I know, parents protect their children from street life with lessons and increased supervision.

  4. Many thanks for that interesting comment. Daphne.