Israel Is My Home, but I Can No Longer Live Here

Israel is not worth the price it is exacting from us. There is a nationalist-religious-ultra-Orthodox majority, and our lifestyle will not survive.

Rogel Alpher
Rogel Alpher
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Ben-Gurion International Airport
Ben-Gurion International AirportCredit: Airports Authority
Rogel Alpher
Rogel Alpher

I need to leave the country. My Israeliness and my Jewishness are not essential to my identity. I hold a foreign passport, not just technically, but psychologically. Israel is my home but it is not correct to say I have no other.

Like every cosmopolitan person, strictly secular and with a universalist worldview, well-steeped in the global culture and speaking fluent English, I can have many other homes. There are quite a few countries where I could settle, make a living and feel comfortable. Like anyone who believes strongly that he lives only once and has a right to fulfill his personal desires and flourish with a minimum of sacrifice required for the country where he pays taxes and receives educational, welfare and other services, it is clear to me that Israel offers me a bum deal and there are far better deals out there in the world. Like any parents who believe that their children have no patriotic duty toward the Israel of today, and they do not need to risk their lives or die serving it, I have no doubt that I am doing them wrong by raising them here.

I’m not talking about morality. I don’t want this article to be yet another empty debate about the occupation. I am talking in a practical and sober language. I am trying to be realistic, like Pensioner Affairs Minister Uri Orbach. He claims that we must concede that in our lifetime and that of our children, every few years we will have to wage a war in which civilians will be killed too. He is right. These are the facts of our lives. Missiles will continue to fall on us, because of settlers like him and because of extremist Arab groups like Hamas, Hezbollah and the Islamic State.

My fate and the fate of my children will be determined here by people who have a God whom they talk to and in whose name they act. I think they are crazy. What are the alternatives? The racist forces of Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman? The empty words of Yair Lapid? The useless pessimism of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu? For them, and for their voters, to be a Jew living in Israel is the most important thing, and it’s worth dying for. And they shape our lives according to that principle. They live at Yad Vashem.

I belong to a dying breed in Israel. I can’t influence the situation. I have no interest in devoting myself to the struggle against the occupation. I believe that it is useless. There will be no compromise. No Palestinian state will be established, and a binational state will be hell.

I watch Channel 2, listen to Army Radio, read the website Walla and the newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth – and feel like I don’t belong; that there’s nothing for me here, not even in the Tel Aviv bubble. I don’t want to live in a bubble, certainly not one that’s protected by an Iron Dome.

If you identify with me you will certainly admit that you will encourage your children to seek their future elsewhere in the world, for the sake of their personal security, psychological and economic wellbeing. Israel is not worth the price it is exacting from us. There is a nationalist-religious-ultra-Orthodox majority, and our lifestyle will not survive in our homeland. We have a much better chance of maintaining it elsewhere. That’s the truth.

I cannot justify to my children continuing to live here. Israel is a dangerous place, which takes much more than it gives, for reasons that I do not accept. From my perspective, what goes for Tel Aviv goes for the communities on the Gaza border: You cannot live a good life here. You can die here, you can take shelter or you can simply leave.

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