Natural identity

I was musing on the fact that I fit in naturally here in Israel, after all I am a Jew and this State was founded by Jews for Jews.  Given the terrible history of Jewish persecution and murder, it was concluded reasonably by Zionists that the only solution was to re-establish our own State in our own homeland.   Even when I was not living here I totally endorsed that historical aim.  And this has nothing to do with religion per se, I am not religious and we should remember that this country, Israel, was founded mainly by secular Jews who were tired of waiting for God to protect them from the ravages of other humans.

But, I was born and grew up in the UK, and so it would be natural that I should also fit in there and feel free there.  Would that it were so.  For all my life growing up in England I met anti-Semitism, some of it blatant and violent, but most of it polite and snide.  And from all walks of life, from snot-nosed cockneys on the street, to well-dressed middle class snobs and upper crust fellows at Cambridge.   I decided that I did not want my children to grow up there and put up with this constant prejudice and bias.  So I moved to the USA.

In the US I found a much higher degree of acceptance, as a member of one minority among many.  In fact anti-Semitism was rare and I only had one bad experience in about 30 years living there.  But, it was the general sense of violence that worried us.  For example, the three houses surrounding ours in quiet suburban Bethesda were burgled; the local post office in the nearby shopping center was held up by two gunmen on motor bikes, they tied everyone up and put guns to their heads, and it closed down; the movie theater across the main road was held up by a gang of gunmen who beat up a few people and stole the day’s takings.  It is a fact that when the Metro system extended to our area the incidents of crime by blacks from Washington DC increased significantly.  Then there were the shootings, of people in cars, of people just minding their own business, of students in schools and universities.  So the USA is a much more violent country, with many more guns than the UK.

Another factor was the feeling that in the US we were in a country that uses Israel, that applies pressure to get Israel to comply with US interests, rather than treating it as a valued and in fact powerful ally.  We often felt that we were on the wrong side of a constant fractious relationship.  These were some of the negative reasons that decided us to move to Israel, but there were of course many positive reasons.

Last week I went to a clinic in another city to have a medical test.  Although I judge my Hebrew to be poor, I managed to converse with the clerks and the nurses and understand the instructions all in Hebrew.  Maybe I am integrated here after all.


2 thoughts on “Natural identity

  1. Of course you’re integrated. If not here where we can have that feeling of complete belonging. We have never had a doubt

    since first leaving England and then Canada. It was the best decision of our lives.


  2. Jack,
    Your essays have been marvelous, and I especially identify with this one. I did encounter anti-Semitism in the US and hope the latest wave will be quelled. Also much worried about the violence and availability of guns.
    Hope your medical tests came out fine after your good Hebrew communication.


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