2012: The Year of the Foreign Passport

January 17, 2012 by Raffe Gold
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Will 2012 be the year of the foreign passport? Will left-wing Israelis, after experiencing gender segregation; political sidelining and the threat of religious coercion find themselves researching how much it would cost to move away from Israel for good? What will happen when these Israelis say that enough is enough? When they believe that the Zionist dream remains just that…a dream that could have been so much more…writes Raffe Gold.

Raffe Gold

Left wing Israelis are preparing themselves to leave the nation of their birth, and of their dreams, because the dream for them has turned into a nightmare.  Many are planning on joining their family members, cousins, brothers, sisters or parents, in the West to restart their life. A 2008 Menachim Begin Heritage Centre Poll found that 59% of Israelis surveyed had approached or intended to approach a foreign embassy to apply for citizenship and a passport. A Bar-Ilan University study found that more than 100,000 Israelis hold a German passport and the number rises by 7,000 every year. The foreign passport was originally acquired as a last resort in case the Arab armies managed to go through with their plans of the annihilation of Israel. Passports were updated in 2001 when the Palestinian terrorists waged their war of bus bombings and massacres and it is being updated again under the threat of the Zionist dream dying.

Those Israelis that are looking for a escape route are leaving for a number of reasons. They leave for a life free of religious and right-wing coercion. They leave for a better economic future. They leave for a life for their children that is not dominated by religion. They leave with a heavy heart. This is not what they wanted. They remain proud Zionists and they know that with the growth of extreme right wing religious extremism, there is nothing here left for them. Israelis who cannot leave warn their friends not to return. This is not a country to start, or restart, a life. It is a country that is on the brink of abandoning liberalism, once a happily celebrated value by Jews and Israelis the world over.

This is not, in any way, to say that modern day Israel has become Saudi Arabia, Iran or Gaza. Only around 10% of Israel’s population identify themselves as ultra-Orthodox and an even smaller number insist on this gender segregation. There remains a vibrant community of thinkers here who are free to say and do what they wish. Haaretz continues with its proud tradition of challenging government authority and all faiths are free to worship as they see fit (unlike Gaza where Hamas, in an almost cliched villainous move, literally outlawed Christmas). Israel remains a strong democracy with a free press and our neighbors look on in envy as their own governments trample their basic rights. Israel remains a beacon of light amongst a sea of totalitarian dictatorships but lately the beacon has been wavering slightly and this is why some are looking for an escape route.

Israelis see the battle in Bet Shemesh as but another nail in the coffin of Israeli liberalism. They see the increased construction within the settlements as a cause for alarm, they see the potential shut down of Channel 10 as a threat to the Fourth Estate and they see ‘loyalty bill’ as curbing the right of freedom of speech. They feel that the right-wing coalition formed under Netanyahu has damaged Israel irrevocably. Ultra-orthodox groups, a minority in terms of the population, are imposing their will on the majority. A recent bill, thankfully defeated, proposed turning electricity ‘kosher’. Essentially electric companies would operate according to Jewish halachic demands and the rabbinate would have the authority to cut off power. Israel is a country that truly appreciates freedom of religion but it seems that it is forgetting that freedom of religion also demands freedom from religion; secular Israelis should not be subject to the will of the faithful.

Right-wing groups and various MKs paint many in left wing NGOs as traitors. The New Israel Fund has been demonized as anti-Israel and has sparred with the Knesset and the right-wing media alike. Many of those who eye foreign passports fear that they do not have an adequate voice at the parliamentary level. Kadima chairwoman Tzipi Livni is considered a failure in her goal to create a credible opposition. Despite her party holding a majority of seats she is outnumbered by right wing and religious groups and can resort only to name calling against Netanyahu.

It is presumptuous to declare the modern-liberal Israeli State ‘over’. It is, however, teetering on an edge that leads to a very dark and uncertain future. Many centrist Israelis hope that the recent decision of Yair Lapid, a popular television commentator, to enter politics will lead to a resurgence of a strong opposition to take on the right-wing coalition. These Israelis who believe that the darkness is overcoming believe that Israel is in need of a major intervention. They had hoped that the recent protests over the summer would lead to a renewed sense of vigor but many are disappointed in their inability to change anything. These Israelis, who serve in the army with pride and built the State from nothing, will sigh in frustration as they line up at Embassies to collect their foreign passport.


7 Responses to “2012: The Year of the Foreign Passport”
  1. Robert Eichel says:

    Somehow I can’t see them lining up for passports to Egypt Syria Tunisia Iran or any Islamic paradise or Russia or Eastern Europe or the countries on the edge of bankruptcy.
    I don’t see anybody defending the minority of loonies here even the Israeli chief Rabbi condemned them as well as the son of Rabbi Ovadiah Josef who said it was acceptable to sit next to a woman

  2. Robert Eichel says:

    A beat up considering the overwhelming majority of Israelis are secular and they vote.

  3. Paul Winter says:

    I am not sure in which Israel Raffe Gold is living in. The Israel my wife and I visited in September had none of the religious extremism and right-wing aggression that he perceives. Beit Shemesh is where my cousin’s son works and he lives in the Orthodox community of Yad Benjamin. It is too religious for me but he is by no means a fanatic, not is the cousin who lives in a building where units are sold only to the religious. All I saw was tolerance and contentment; the hereidi were accepted as much as the guy in shorts, t-shirt and thongs laying tefillin while sitting on a cafe stool on a Tel Aviv street. As for the New Israel Fund, it is a threat to democracy in Israel by funding Arab enemies of Israel and supporting sedition with the aim of compelling Israel to yield to EU pressure. Those who find a resistance to sedition and the exploitation of democracy only to undermine it objectionable, should use their passports to escape to the realm of the European administrative oligarchy.

  4. Richard says:

    Regarding the left wing Jews who you say want to leave Israel, many will be happy to see them leave, and will not be shedding any tears.
    Do they need any help packing their bags?
    Written by a new and proud Israeli citizen.

  5. Rami says:

    So! at the first sign of disappointment these left wingers won’t fight for their rights but runaway like rats. For a long while these people have vilified the state, vilified the religious sector, helped Israels enemies by supplying names of soldiers and airmen to those who wish Israel harm. They received payment from foreign governments to undermine Israel and now after finally being called to account and seeing a revival of the religious sector who are increasingly becoming the backbone of the IDF, while they, the lefties, promote refusal to serve in the IDF feel they need to abandon the State. If they are such Zionists, it doesn’t take much to get them to leave. Good riddance, in the last couple of decades, all they have been doing is harming the state.

  6. Gabrielle says:

    Thank you Raffe and thank you J-wire..

    It seems to me that far to many Jews in Australia stand up for the appalling behaviour of the ultra Orthodox in Israel thinking that is the right thing to do.

    We need to know what is really going on and the fact that more and more Israelis are applying to leave the country is very telling.

    • Paul Winter says:

      I am terribly sorry, but I have not met any Jew in Australia nor read of any Jew in Australia excusing the atrocious behaviour of some of the Cheiredi. No civilised person will condone the behaviour of anyone who descrates the Sabbath to object to a perceived violation of the Sabbath, to avoidance of national service, to hostility to Israel because the messiah hasn’t yet come and to existing on welfare because they have no work skills. But it is grossly unfair to tar all religious Jews as medeival, obscurantist fanatics. For centuries Jews have been the victims of stereotyping where the faults of a few and usually the false accusations against some have been treated as group characteristics and the group was made to suffer. Such generalisations have no place in the family of Jews and certainly no place among Jews who consider themselves progressive.

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