New olim arrive in Israel
New olim arrive in IsraelGideon Markowicz/Flash 90

Recognizing the fact that not all Israelis, and at times not even the Israeli government, have treated olim (Jewish immigrants to Israel) with the proper respect and dignity,

And, recognizing the fact that my insistent encouragement of Aliyah can be deemed as a disrespect to some in this regard, as an encouragement to suffer such indignity and even injustice at the hands of others,

I am hereby offering a clarification of my views:

I do not in any way condone the disrespect of olim or the taking advantage of them in any way, shape, or form. God knows that I have been mistreated or underappreciated, and even devastatingly cheated in Israel as well, and that I view such abuse with severe anger and contempt, and with an overwhelming demand for justice.

I, too, have had the urge to leave Israel, if only temporarily, in the past, being fed up with certain injustices that I was forced to endure, but I think that packing up and leaving is the wrong response. Injustice and evil need to be combated, and good Jews need to stick around in Israel and fight them to the end, whereas leaving can be viewed as retreat and abandonment.

I do not expect Jews to suffer indignity or injustice in Israel for the greater good. My encouragement of Aliyah is certainly not to attract Jews and entrap them as the prey of others, quite the opposite. I want good Jews who will fight for what is right in Israel and inherit the Land for themselves and their children, to receive the dignity and the Torah justice that is due to them.

That is not something I can offer on my own, for it must be our national goal, the righteous pursuit of all Jews in Israel. I do not however refrain from encouraging Aliyah before pure justice is offered on the table, because I see the two working hand in hand, the return to Israel with the return to God, each one being dependent upon the other.

The Criticism

Olim who feel they were mistreated in Israel or not allowed to properly flourish, and subsequently leave the country and become yordim, might be offended by my criticism for leaving Israel or take offense at my encouragement of Aliyah. This is particularly true of those who were treated as first class citizens in their countries of origin but felt they were held as second-rate citizens in Israel, even being taken advantage of in ways that would make most peoples’ blood boil.

Those Jews who have been the victims of unfortunate circumstances in Israel, may accuse me of being rude and even heartless with my statements, and I must say that there is merit to their accusations. They wanted to live in Israel but could not find a way to do so with the dignity that they were used to and deserve. Instead of taking up their cause and fighting for them, I am criticizing them, the victims, for leaving.

I therefore offer them this clarification, that although it seems as if I am criticizing them, my intentions are those of encouragement and not offense. I think they should make a greater effort to return to or remain in Israel, but I am certainly not mad at them. My anger is directed against those people and circumstances that have played a part in driving them away from Israel and scattering them back into exile.

God Said it well through Ezekiel, Chapter 34. I recommend you read the whole chapter, but here are parts of it:

Ezekiel 34:2-7

“Woe to you shepherds of Israel who only take care of yourselves! Should not shepherds take care of the flock? You eat the curds, clothe yourselves with the wool and slaughter the choice animals, but you do not take care of the flock. You have not strengthened the weak or healed the sick or bound up the injured. You have not brought back the strays or searched for the lost. You have ruled them harshly and brutally. So they were scattered because there was no shepherd, and when they were scattered they became food for all the wild animals. My sheep wandered over all the mountains and on every high hill. They were scattered over the whole earth, and no one searched or looked for them. Therefore, you shepherds, hear the word of the Lord:”

Ezekiel 34:10-16

“This is what the Sovereign Lord Says: I am against the shepherds and will hold them accountable for My flock. I will remove them from tending the flock so that the shepherds can no longer feed themselves. I will rescue My flock from their mouths, and it will no longer be food for them. For this is what the Sovereign Lord Says: I Myself will search for My sheep and look after them. As a shepherd looks after his scattered flock when he is with them, so will I look after My sheep. I will rescue them from all the places where they were scattered on a day of clouds and darkness. I will bring them out from the nations and gather them from the countries, and I will bring them into their own land. I will pasture them on the mountains of Israel, in the ravines and in all the settlements in the land. I will tend them in a good pasture, and the mountain heights of Israel will be their grazing land. There they will lie down in good grazing land, and there they will feed in a rich pasture on the mountains of Israel. I Myself will tend My sheep and have them lie down, declares the Sovereign Lord. I will search for the lost and bring back the strays. I will bind up the injured and strengthen the weak, but the sleek and the strong I will destroy. I will shepherd the flock with justice.”

Yshai Amichai made Aliyah from Los Angeles in 2001, settling in Israel, where he met his wife and where they raise their six children. He may be contacted at: [email protected]