Re-imagining Aliyah As The Jewish Immigrant Experience

True story: a landlord once ripped out the toilet of an apartment that I was renting. Reimagining aliyah as the quintessential immigrant experience. Screenshot: from author’s You Tube.

Aliyah Is No Exception To The General Law Of Immigration

  1. Immigrants the world over are generally taken advantage of by a malevolent minority of the population who look to exploit weaker segments of society for underpaid labor — or to rent them shoddy accommodation without properly informing them of their rights (or ripping out their toilets while they are at work, etc etc). This is a problem that plagues immigrants the world over and which has spurned some excellent literature over the years (I contend that many olim would find much that resonates in Orwell’s Down and Out in Paris and London) . Which is also why most people don’t willingly subject themselves to this plight (this is the key point about which Israel and Zionism truly are exceptional and perhaps also what underlies this mental disconnect; largely, from Western countries, it’s a very voluntary migration pattern.)
  2. Immigrants the world over generally struggle to get the non-immigrant majority — or at least its political class — to adequately care about their issues. Because generally, as individuals and collectives, humans are selfish creatures who care about themselves and their problems. In a tribal society such as that which exists within modern Israel, this dynamic is magnified. Ben Gurion once remarked that “We will know we have become a normal country when Jewish thieves and Jewish prostitutes conduct their business in Hebrew.” He made an immensely important point. In one enormous respect — it’s the world’s only Jewish country — Israel in unique. In so many others, it’s banally mundane.
  3. Immigrants usually face concrete challenges to their absorption. In the case of Israel, these are usually both linguistic and cultural. As such, it’s quite normal for immigrant communities to exist within enclaves as they make the slow process of assimilating into the larger culture that surrounds them. Maligning so-called Anglo enclaves is therefore quite unreasonable, or at least the kind of double standard that those who peddle in hasbara often love to complain about. At a minimum, it’s quite understandable that they exist — much as London has entire neighborhoods that culturally and demographically resemble Ireland.

Aliyah May Achieve A Beautiful And Unique End. But It’s A Gritty, Typical Immigrant Experience Nonetheless.



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