Saturday, May 03, 2008

You Know You're Israeli When...

Mossa'ei Shabbath Qodesh Parshath Qedoshim 5768

Dan of asked me [and many others] to participate in his Big Project for Israel's 60th Birthday. He asks writers to answer the following question:

"What are the 4 accomplishments of the State of Israel which make you most proud?"

Well, Dan, I've tried. But every time I come up with something positive, my negative attitude toward the state gets in the way, and I ruin it. For example, when I come up with my pride in the state's 5727 (1967) victory against our enemies, I immediately think about how the state started messing it up soon afterwards, starting with the giving up of the Temple Mount. It just goes on from there,...never annexing Judea, Samaria, and Azza, kicking Jews out of Azza and the Northern Shomron, getting ready to do the same elsewhere, wasting a lot of money on that stupid wall,...etc.

When I think of the state's accomplishment of bringing Jews back to our Homeland, I cannot stop thinking about former Interior Minister Avraham Poraz YSh"W putting freezes on aliyah from Peru and India (sources of right-wing, religious Jews) while being complicit in the mass infusion of goyim from the Former Soviet Union. Over 60 percent of immigrants from those countries are goyim. Yet, many Jews in those countries are stuck there, because they don't even have the money for a train ticket to the closest office Jewish Agency.

It's not that the state hasn't make accomplishments that I am proud of. It's just that I can't really pinpoint any at the moment, without ruin them with my current state of negativity.

Certainly I say Hallel and Al HaNissim on Yom Ha'Atzma'uth (Israeli Independence Day), but not for the current "state of the state," but rather for the great nissim (miracles) The Almighty made for us, by protecting us from our enemies and granting us sovereignty over the Land He has given us. The fact that there's a lot of mistakes being made by the powers that be,...and constantly so,...does not minimalize this.

Now, if Dan had asked us about Jewish (or at least theoretical Jewish) sovereignty over the land, problem. I could have come up with a dozen things of which I'm proud:

1. Agricultural technology, and a Jewish agricultural renaissance.

2. Renewed and/or strengthened Jewish presence in ancient towns such as Shiloh, Hevron, the surrounding areas of Shchem, and at one point, Shchem itself.

3. Increased interest and exploration in natural medicine.

The state has had a hand in all of the above, but it's the Jewish spirit which has been behind it all. Ahduth Yisrael (Jewish Unity) can be found in all of the above as well, to varying degrees.

It is important to differentiate between "the state," "the regime," and "Jewish sovereignty over the Land of Israel." They are three completely different entities or ideas. And quite frankly, how "Jewish" is a "state" anyway? The ideal Jewish government is made up of a King and Sanhedrin (High Court), in our in which the Kehunah (priesthood) works within a standing Beth HaMiqdash (Temple).

Dan and I both identify as "Religious Zionists," yet disagree a lot, if not often. I know that may surprise some of you. It is important to be critical of the state when necessary. Yet, I think Dan has it right here. We have an opportunity to be positive, and to work toward Ahduth Yisrael. Constantly dwelling on the negatives isn't going to do anyone any good.

So here's what I have come up with, based on my experiences of adapting to life in Israel.

Long ago, I gave up on "being Israeli." I have no interest in "being Israeli." Rather I am a Jew living in the Jewish Homeland, and I DO have an interest in becoming the best "Jew Living in the Jewish Homeland" which I can be. I have used the word "Israeli," though, for lack of a better catch word. After all, I AM an Israeli citizen. So, how do you know you're adapting to life in Israel, and "becoming Israeli?" (So to speak)

You know you're Israeli when...

10. Tourists ask you for directions.

9. Native Israelis ask you for directions.

8. You're friends with some English-speakers with whom you generally speak in Hebrew, and not in English.

7. Native Israeli store owners in Jerusalem do not automatically speak to you in English.

6. Waiters only speak to you in Hebrew.

5. The owners of the bakery where you've been buying bread regularly stop calling you "adoni" (sir), and start calling you "haver" (friend), or even "ahi" (my brother).

4. You start calling the owner "dod"/"dodah" (uncle/aunt - familiar term for older acquaintances).

3. You fight with the bus driver,...and win,...and then the next time he sees you, he calls you "ahi."

2. After receiving the shwarmah you ordered that you complain that there isn't any hilbeh or shug or other such condiment.

And the number one reason you know you're Israeli is when...

1. You're standing in line for fallafel, and the man preparing it winks at you because the guy in front of you is acting too "American."

(Yeah, I know this one isn't very nice...but we've all probably been there, just might not have acknowledged it.)

By the way, all of the above have happened to me personally, except for number 2, which I have heard about. So, does that make me Israeli? Hardly. Like I said beforehand, I gave up on that as a goal long ago.

It just means that I'm doing the best I can (like everyone I assume) to adapt to life in a country, where things operate very differently than in the country of my birth (the U. S. A. or California, depending on who you ask), but where I believe the Almighty has commanded me to live.

I won't blame Dan for not publishing my contribution on his blog, as I wasn't even close to following his project guidelines.

But, that's OK. Dan gave me something to think about for this Yom Ha'Atzma'uth, my experiences in Israel over the past 11 years, and how I've arrived to where I am.

And, Dan. Even though we disagree on any number of issues, you should still feel free to contact me, when you make aliyah, with any questions you have about dealing with Israel, the government offices, the forms needing to be filled out, or just vent. I believe that's the only way we're gonna survive as a People, returning to this great Land of ours,...helping each other.


Update: Oh, well. No response from Dan, not even a rejection e-mail.... I promised I wouldn't be insulted, as I did not follow his guidelines. And, I stand by this statement.

On the other hand, I tried my best to pander to the state-loyalist Mamlachtim, but to no avail.

I guess I'd better go back to bashing their philosophies [not them]. I'll have better luck waking them up from their brain-washed, glossy-eyed stupor.


Devorah Chayah said...

Really enjoyed this post. Thanks!

Jameel @ The Muqata said...

4. You start calling the owner "dod"/"dodah" (uncle/aunt - familiar term for older acquaintances).

Ungh! Your list was great till this one, which personally, makes me ill.

But yes, you do deserve a waffle for this post.

Shavua tov!

Esser Agaroth said...

OK, Jameel, why?

BTW, don't you pay attention?

I have SHUNNED waffles.

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