Thursday, June 18, 2009
When Aliyah Bullies Attack
By Michelle Nevada
Well, I’m back after trying to cool off my temper. I was just so angry in the past week that I didn’t think it was really fair of me to write anything.
One would think I was primarily ticked off with Bibi’s speech, and even though it probably SHOULD have been the reason I was upset, it was not. Instead, I was upset about the very small issue of comments made at the end of an article I had published in Arutz7 (Israel National News) last week.
Is my skin so thin that I would get upset about people disagreeing with my opinion? Am I so sensitive that I can’t take a few negative comments?
Actually, the idea of someone disagreeing with what I say is the point of publishing an opinion piece, isn’t it? So why am I so upset? Because the comments weren’t disagreeing with my opinion. In fact, they didn’t even ENGAGE my opinion. Instead, they attacked me for HAVING an opinion.
Apparently, according to the dozen or so commentators that attacked me (and who attacked the one reader who attempted to argue in my favor): I am supposed to just keep my mouth shut if I don’t live in Israel. And it isn’t just this article. Every article I have written for the past eight years has been attacked at least once in the same fashion, and I know from my correspondence with other pro-Israel columnists that I am not alone. They attack everyone who isn’t living in Israel, no matter what they say or how they say it.
These commentators are what I call “The Aliyah Bullies.” The Aliyah Bullies think that I am stupid. They think that I can’t possibly understand anything because I am not breathing the air of Israel on a daily basis. The Aliyah Bullies believe there is no excuse for living anywhere but Israel, and that the litmus test of Zionism is aliyah. If you don’t live in Israel, you are no Zionist and you certainly have no right to speak for or about Israel.
I know that it is important to move to Israel. I am aware that it is an important mitzvah, and I praise those who are able to attain it. Meanwhile, however, I am here for reasons that are none of your business and, yes, they are important reasons.
Do these Aliyah Bullies think that these attacks --when they know NOTHING about me, my family, my job, or my life--are going to help me make aliyah? Do they think that I will say to myself, in a moment of epiphany, “Wow! Israeliperson1234 says I should be living in Israel. I better buy a suitcase and run, not walk, to my closest Israel Consulate office today!”?
Seriously, It’s not going to happen like that.
So, while I am waiting for the day when I can make aliyah, should I just shut up and not care about Israel? The Alliyah Bullies seem to suggest I should just disconnect--stop going to rallies, stop writing, and stop caring. Now, I ask them, “If I were to do this, do you think that new state of being would bring me closer or further away from the goal of making aliyah?”
I think I am doing the correct thing in caring about Israel, advocating for Israel, and commenting upon what is going on in Israel. In fact, I may even believe that I am proficient at understanding and communicating a certain Pro-Israel understanding of issues to others who may want to advocate for Israel, but who do not always have the right words, or enough facts, to do so.
Love of Israel is the reason I have been writing for A7 all these years, the reason I went to Yesha with Betar/ZOA, the reason I have raised my sons as Zionists and sent them to Israel. There are hundreds of programs across the world set up to train and encourage those in Galut to involve themselves in Pro-Israel activism, and I always believed it was my duty to do whatever possible to counteract the daily malicious anti-Israel attacks I see in all branches of the media, in my schools and colleges, and on my computer.
I know my last article wasn’t about supporting Israel, it was about an internal Israeli matter, and that is why the commentators felt that they could attack me for having an opinion. They argued that, unless I live in Israel, I have no right to discuss internal Israeli matters. I disagree.
Israel is not like the other nations. An Israeli has no other nation but Israel; but all the other Jews in the world have two nations: the nation they live in, and Israel. Israel belongs to me just as much as it belongs to any other Jew in the world—Israeli or not. If those commentators were, indeed, Zionists, they would understand this point.
I will not be silent. I will keep writing. I will insist that Israel is my home and that I should have an opinion about every aspect of it, whether the Aliyah Bullies like it or not. Israel does not belong to them, Judaism does not belong to them, and, when it comes time for me to make aliyah, I will remember Israel is the inheritance of every Jew, not just the few who share the blessing of living in The Land.
For now, I will calm down and take pride in the fact that, no matter what the Aliyah Bullies say in the comments about this article, they will finally be engaging the subject.