Chicken dances……

It has been over a month since we “committed” (so to speak) Aliyah.

Committed is a great word because a) you have to be very committed to this process to make it work, b) you have to be committed for not being in your right mind!!  Jokes aside, I am thoroughly loving every minute of my experience because when I made my mind up to make the move to Israel, I committed myself 100% to making it work.

People who have had a successful Aliyah will tell you that it is all about attitude. Okay, that and a sense of humour! But it is true. Make the effort and do so with a positive attitude and you will reap rewards.

Aliyah is also about starting again and not taking yourself too seriously. You have to understand that you are almost rediscovering the world, albeit in a different language. I find this strangely liberating. You also have to be prepeared to make a total fool of yourself on occasion. An example of this would be setting off to the butchery to order chicken breasts.

Now the Snert and I make a habit of taking our dictionary everywhere we go or at least try to learn a few words a day. We do look ridiculous standing in stores, dictionary in tow. Don’t fall into the “you can get away with english, everyone speaks it” trap. Make learning Hebrew a priority if you want to integrate, get a great job and of course find out what people are saying about you!

So off to the butchery we go and for the life of me I could not remember the term chazeh off (chicken breasts). This almost resulted in me doing a frantic chicken dance while pointing to the obvious.Imagine the look on the butcher’s face! Anyhoo, managed to get my point across and have a good laugh at the experience.

You will also learn that there are really good people out there. The Ex-Saffers here in Modiin have been truly exceptional. We have wanted for nothing and are making really good friends. People will want to share their experiences with you. Listen to them. Advice is greatly appreciated. My only advice to people wanting to help Olim Chadashim is remember that this is all new for us. It is one thing to dispense with words of wisdom, it is another to enforce your experience on to others.

Everybody’s Aliyah experience is different. Mine is completely different to Snert’s. What is frustrating to some is a breeze for others and everybody’s reasons for leaving wherever they came from are different. There is no right or wrong way to feel. Enjoy your process and remember it is YOUR Aliyah. Own your experience!!!

 One of the pitfalls that nobody can prepare you for is distance from people you love. When someone you love experinces a tragedy, it is agonising to not be able to be there physically for them. This hurts and you have to give thanks to the gods of Facebook, Skype and cellular technology.

 Tuesday morning we start ulpan. I never thought that I would be headed off to “school” at 34 years of age!! Kinda looking forward to it…….

For me, it is another brick in the wall. Another segment of a puzzle I am putting together to create a wonderful life in my new home.

So, anyone wanna do the chicken dance with me….?

Who loses when you boycott Israel

  It is a movement that is making a lot of noise. On university campuses around the world, in the media and in civil society organisations in countries across the globe. The calls for boycott, divestment and sanctions against the State of Israel. Even our illustrious (and I use this term loosely) former Minister of Intelligence, Ronnie Kasrils has fashioned a new career dedicated to this end.

The motivation is simple. If you paint Israel with the same colours as that of Apartheid South Africa and dish out the same treatment, then you can change the political status quo. Sounds simple doesn’t it. Except that in this case, changing the status quo in Israeli politics is not the end game result that detractors hope to achieve. In this case, questioning Israel’s right to exist as a sovereign state is up for debate. Anti-Israelists will passionately argue that this treatment worked for South Africa but fail to realise that the South African paradigm is not one solution fits all. Two different regions, two completely separate issues.

The question we have to ask ourselves is who really stands to lose in a boycott of Israel. We have seen attempts from academics to institute boycotts of Israeli academics including the controversial endorsement by Ben Gurion University professor, Neve Gordon. When you look at the amount of intellectual know how that is exported from Israel to other countries, especially third world and developing nations in the fields of agriculture, science, technology and medicine.

It serves no purpose to instigate academic boycotts because all this serves to do is close off intellectual discourse, after all, aren’t universities agents of free thinking and venues to challenge the status quo? It is not in the best interest of academic freedom to encourage boycotts as this seriously inhibits the flow of great ideas.

What about boycotts of goods? This is where civil society becomes a little noisier and we wonder if they have nothing better to do than to stick their noses into the events of other countries whose politics they know little about instead of concentrating on the challenges in their own countries. Oops, did I say that? Seriously though, earlier this year our very own Cosatu tried to block the unloading of a ship with Israeli goods. This was just prior to them marching on the Jewish communal organisations on a Friday afternoon, in suburban Johannesburg. Genuine concern or just a convenient excuse to use intimidatory tactics against the opposition? It definitely begs the question.

It seems our very vocal trade unionists have forgotten about who stands to lose the most in a boycott of Israel. It will definitely be people who live in drought stricken areas of South Africa who benefit from Israeli agricultural technology. It will be those suffering with AIDS who benefit from Israeli medicine and research. The list is endless but a boycott would seriously inhibit Cosatu’s sms-ing abilities if they intend to do it properly!

It is very easy for activists on both sides to play armchair politician but the impact is on the citizens. Palestinians stand to lose a lot more than Israeli’s in a boycott. At a time when the economy of the West Bank is showing significant signs of recovery and Israel have fulfilled their promises by taking down a significant amount of checkpoints wouldn’t boycotts set back the achievements significantly?

You can’t compare the situation with that of Gaza. It is exceptionally naïve to level the blame for the situation squarely on Israel. What about Egypt’s responsibility over the closed Rafah crossing? What about Hamas’ role in Gaza? Hamas have created a Taliban-esque regime that severely restricts the civil liberties of Gaza’s citizens not to mention a genocidal charter that openly advocates the destruction of Israel. This is disguised in the romantic language of resistance.

While I consider myself a romantic, I don’t buy into the “look at how Israel is oppressing us and we have no choice but to blow up our children and fire rockets and mortars” argument. I believe in responsibility and accountability and it is no coincidence that for the most part, western governments boycott Hamas and regard them as terror organisation. The Goldstone Report fiasco has once again proved that there is a whole movement in global politics that believe in rewarding terrorists and punishing victims. So I guess one shouldn’t be surprised when these very parties choose to cut their noses off to spite their faces.

While the situation in the Middle East is not an easy one to fix, and Lord knows many have tried, perhaps the best way forward is to proceed with cautious hope and not to cry boycott at the drop of a hat.

What on earth have I just done…?

Things to consider when deciding to make Aliyah…

 * The decision is yours. It has to feel right for YOU! If you are a family, the democratic rule applies.

* When you have decided that you will forego the life of comfort to move to a land that is completely different, don’t procrastinate. Open your files and expedite as soon as you can.

* There will be times when you have to divorce ideology for life planning. This doesn’t mean that you are no longer a passionate Zionist but that you are laying good foundations for your future in Israel.

* Do your homework!make sure that you research as much a s possible. Whether it is the banking system, medical aid or shlepping the pets, know how the Israeli systems work.

* You will never completely understand the Israeli systems. Try wrapping your head around banking. Oy vey!

* Everybody’s Aliyah experience is different. Don’t feel bad or beat yourself up if your experience is different to your partner’s/Friend/Child.

* Attitude is everything!!Keep a positive attitude and expect only from yourself. A sense of humour is fantastic! What you put in you will get out.

* I know that learning Hebrew can be totally intimidating. I completely screw up genders and tenses when I attempt it but it is an absolute necessity in order to get really good jobs and to socialise. How else are you going to know what people are saying about you?

These are just a few pointers that I have picked up in my experience. While it is completely normal to stress about Ulpan and not working, time out also provides and opportunity to recoup your emotional and physical strength and enjoy the experience and country. Afterall, you have just committed Aliyah!