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Anecdotes about being Israeli Anecdotes about being Israeli
by Joseph Gatt
2019-05-02 09:17:21
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The thing about being Israeli is that a lot of people think that we're a secret society that controls and dominates the world. A secret society with superpowers. So a lot of people in many countries will either not talk to us, or in some cases be scared of talking to us, because they think we might harm them. Others who believe in such conspiracy theories want to be our friends, but because by being our friends they think that somehow we will reveal to them the secrets of how we rule the world.

islar_400As the friendship progresses with such people, we inevitably get the question: why do you steal Arab land? Israel is a land of immigrants, but was a land without a people for a people without a land. So I explain that Tel Aviv, 150 years ago, did not exist. We populated Tel Aviv. My hometown of Rishon LeZion, did not exist 150 years ago, and today is Israel's fourth largest city. Many other big cities like Ashdod, Ashkelon, Ramat Gan, Petah Tikva, Netanya, Eilat did not exist 150 years ago. Many, many other smaller cities and Jewish villages did not exist 150 years ago. And Palestine did not exist 150 years ago. So if you build a house and live in it at a time when state law did not mandate a house had to be built with a permit, are you stealing anyone's house?

Indeed many other countries are countries of immigrants. Canada is a country founded by immigrants. So is the United States. I think all countries in the Western Hemisphere were founded and established by migrants. Australia and New Zealand were founded by migrants. Liberia was founded by migrants. South Africa was founded by migrants. Most African borders were defined by migrants, and if it were not migrants, you'd have like a thousand states in Africa. And Israel was founded by migrants, and there was no one living in Israel when the migrants settled. Yes there were Arabs in what is today known as the West Bank and there were Arabs in what is today known as Gaza, and a few other Arab villages here and there, but most Jewish cities were built from scratch. And unlike European colonial authorities who did not give indigenous peoples citizenship, Arabs got citizenship the minute the State of Israel was established.

Then, my friends tend to like to display a little bit of anti-Semitism. If there's a state of Israel, why are there Jews all over the world? Why don't they all move back to Israel? Of course, as the myth goes, Jews are present all over the world. Although indeed a little less than half the world's Jews live outside Israel, the Jewish presence around the world is no greater than the Chinese presence, the Japanese presence, the Korean presence, or even French, British, Algerian, Egyptian, Moroccan, you name it diasporas around the world. The United States has 2 million Jews, France has 500,000, 8 other countries have 100,000 Jews or a little more, and the rest of the world's countries has a tiny Jewish presence in their communities. Those figures don't differ from the Indian Diaspora or the Vietnamese Diaspora.

And why don't the Jews move back to Israel? Why don't the Indians move back to India or the Filipinos move back to the Philippines? Why don't the Russians move back to Russia and the Italians move back to Italy? Actually, in the United States, a lot of secular Jews think Israel is a religious state, while religious Jews think it's a secular state. A lot of French Jews won't move to Israel because “they know nothing about Zionism, Zionism is not an ideology that we understand, it's too complicated.”

But why Jews are racist, will say my friends. Why do they accuse all those they hate of being anti-Semitic? Now that's funny because a lot of Jews love making non-Jewish friends, have zero problems with making non-Jewish friends, date non-Jewish people, in some cases marry non-Jewish people. And most Jews celebrate diversity and world cultures. But somehow a lot of people don't like the Jews and think that the Jews hate them. If you go around spreading negative stereotypes about Black people, you'll be labeled as racist. If you go around spreading negative stereotypes about Italians you'll be labeled as anti-Italian. So there's no reason you won't get labeled as anti-Semitic for spreading negative stereotypes about the Jews.

OK, will say my friends. My friends will say “I'm a human being and I feel that I belong to humanity. I don't feel like I belong to one tribe or another. Why do the Jews feel like they belong to the Jewish tribe?” Funny. I'd love to see how you would fare in countries like Japan, China, Korea, India or other places. If you'd still feel that you belong to humanity. The vast cultural differences will make you conscious about belonging to your tribe. And some Jews feel like they belong to the Jewish tribe while other Jews don't.

So in the end stereotypes are always going to be around. My Italian friends complain that everyone thinks they are romantic and are excellent cooks. My German friends complain everyone thinks they're cold, rigid and stingy. My French friends complain that a lot of people think they don't shower and have strange manners. My Arab friends complain everyone thinks they're terrorists. And my female Soviet friends complain everyone thinks they're prostitutes and would sleep with them. So stereotypes are here to stay. After explaining all this, next week, my friend will ask me, again: “why did you attack the defenseless Palestinians?” There we go again.

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