Who doesn't remember Ida Nudel from the protests in the 1980s in support of Soviet Jews? She published a letter in this week's The Jewish Press about her experience in Israel since being allowed to leave Russia (link):
A Former Refusenik’s Disillusionment
I arrived in Israel exactly 19 years ago – on the same date, in fact, that I write these words – from the USSR, where Zionist life was thriving. I had come to the land of my dreams not as a refugee seeking a small place under the sun in whatever country was available, but as someone who knew why and for what purpose I had paved – for over 17 years and often at risk to my life – the road to Israel for myself and for many other Jews who shared my feelings and aspirations.
Click here to read moreIsrael’s mass media, Jewish Agency publications, and Voice of Israel radio all declared that every Jewish citizen of Israel lived on his or her land with dignity. All too soon, however, I discovered that most of the proclaimed advantages of the Jewish state belonged to its glorious past.
The word Zionism has acquired a negative connotation in Israel. The mass media, i.e., the country’s intellectual elite, inspire hatred between Jewish immigrants from different countries and obstruct the revival of a homogenous Jewish people after 2,000 years of dispersion.
The disdain of the weak and poor is actively and cynically cultivated by the mass media. Schools actively practice selection of children according to their families’ material means.
The national bureaucracy hinders the integration of young people into Israel’s economic life and thus pushes them to leave the country.
After 2001, when mention of national identity was removed from Israeli IDs, the word “Jewish” virtually disappeared not only from official documents but also from the pages of newspapers. Even the anti-Semitic Soviet regime was never able to deliver such a blow to the national dignity of Jews.
In the last decades of the 20th century, the interests of Jewish national revival and those of Israel’s national bureaucracy came into real conflict – one that endangers the idea of the Jewish national home. We have witnessed how a persecuted and humiliated people’s glorious dream of a resurrected Israel has been reduced, by the national bureaucracy, to a venal vision of nurturing as many millionaires as possible.
The same individuals sit in the Knesset for decades. The intellectuals are concerned only with their personal success, while the mass media have turned into a mass brainwashing machine targeting poor, semi-literate and politically naïve citizens. New millionaires are appearing at a striking rate, while the reverse process of mass impoverishment is also accelerating. The middle class is gradually vanishing from the country’s economic life.
A few days ago the world learned of this year’s winner of the Nobel Peace Prize – a Bangladeshi millionaire banker who, at his own initiative and in spite of bureaucratic obstacles, began fighting poverty and illiteracy in his country. His hard and devoted work has won him well-deserved worldwide acclaim.
This great citizen of a poor country has saved from poverty six million of his compatriots and has given them a chance for a dignified life. It looks like a fairy tale – a kind and resourceful wizard arriving to make the poor people happy.
It turns out that even a lone millionaire, providing he is a genuine patriot, can solve a national-level problem. Instead of making money on poor people’s misfortune and gaining 400% annual profit – as often is the case in Israel – he disdainfully puts the bureaucracy aside and addresses the problem himself.
The myth of unemployment being impossible to eliminate has been debunked by a one-man initiative. Can such a thing happen here in Israel, among our people who declare their mission to be one of bringing light and justice to humankind?
In light of the Bangladesh phenomenon, the economic and moral morass in Israel appears more than ever to be attributable to Israel’s national bureaucracy and political leadership.
Karme Yosef, Israel
(Editor’s Note: Ms. Nudel is a former Soviet Prisoner of Zion and a winner of the Jabotinsky Prize.)