Come again?

I have mentioned here that I am in the process of acquiring Israeli Citizenship. Something that I didn’t actually realise was that important to me until the clerk who told me almost a year ago that at our next meeing I take out citizenship, suddenly changed her story and postponed the meeting.

I am highly suspicious of why. I know that the state of Israel is not wild about me being here. I guess I was getting excited about voting in February and now it looks like I won’t be able to. I realise that my vote would not excite pretty much 80+% of the Israeli population, in fact that I am allowed to vote and will not be voting along religious lines will probably infuriate certain people.

Anyway, I went into quite a slump as I got my head around ‘not being there yet’. I just want to scream from the rooftops that I don’t need any bloody favours. I can quite happily take myself and my family to anywhere in Europe or Northern America with the passports I have – I do not need to be here. Except that I met and married an Israeli man, and have build my life here. And this is where I am for now.

I guess I am still ambivalent about being here. I feel awful that my DH is able to exercise his right to marry a non Israeli/non Jewish person and that Israeli Arabs who would marry a non Israeli/non Jewish person are allowed to, they just are not allowed to live with them in Israel. This is justified as being a security requirement as Israel cannot risk having Palestinians coming into Israel through maraige. And so, Israeli Arabs and Palestiinians have a different set of ‘rules’ from Jewish Israeli’s.

And this does touch my life. I do not feel comfortable getting ‘preferential’ treatment. Although it is hardly a red carpet treatment. That is reserved for Halachically Jewish people who chose to make Aliyah (Assention – or immigration is other countries) to the Land of Israel and exercise their right to vote the second they put their foot on the tarmac at Ben Gurioin International Airport. So, yeah I am angry that I am mixed up in this mess. I have no answers for the deeply complex issues that are entwined in the history of this land and the modern conflict that is so pressing.

I think most Israeli’s around me prefere not to think about it. I am welcomed as a stranger who made a huge effort to be part of Israeli Society and as such I am accepted. That I am fluent in Hebrew and fairly well read on Israel (although this is in comparison to people who know *nothing*. My knowledge is still very limited) gains me access to friendships and conversations. But, I keep my personal pain of being repeatedly ‘told’ by the state of Israel that I am not equal, to myself. I do not think Israeli’s can understand just how painful this is. I am reassured that it’s not that bad. That we had to consult lawyers and invest a lot of time and money to get my name on our property when we bought our house is kind of forgotten. And I got my name on the property, so what’s wrong?

Yes, there is a law in Israel that when ownership of land is being processed, if you are not Jewish, the board processing the request can deny the request if there is any opposition to the ownership going through. This did not happen to me in the end. I have to assume because I do not have an Arabic name and my husband is Jewish. But I did go through a tough time trying to decide if I can live in a country that for whatever reasons (some of them very valid) is so catergorically racist? In the end I could not find enough of a reason to ask my DH to leave this country and we are still here.

I grew up in South Africa and was born to a father who left South Africa as a youth, not prepared to serve in the army and support the racist regeime. Only when I was 5 and when he was assured he would not have to serve in the army did we return to South Africa. I know about racism. It has been personal before.

I just do not know yet how to reconsile my life here in Israel. I feel like I am condoning things that I do not agree with just be living me life here. However, my life is more than the politics around me. My IL’s are all here, my DH has never called another city home, let alone another country. We, in our personal lives, have a good life (a VERY good life). But that does not quiet my longing for making sense of this country that I live in, and finding a way that I can explain to myself why this is the country that I should be living in.

So, G*d knows when and how I will get this citizenship. Perhaps I require some more soul searching before accepting this opportunity. And yet, I honeslty feel that only as a citizen and a voting citizen, can I have any hope of contributing to what I want to see develop here in the Holy Land.

Happy Holidays



Filed under My Musings, Politics, Rant

7 responses to “Come again?

  1. Hi. 🙂 Always happy to be a first comment. 🙂

    While I agree that there are issues with home ownership/complications depending on who’s doing the home-owning, I think to just stamp the rules as racist is sloganeering/sound-biting and ignores the realities involved.

    And every country, every single one, has rules about when immigrants get to become citizens and how long it takes for them to attain the right to vote. There are specific reasons for the right of return (ie., that “halakhic-Jews” get instant citizenship, everyone else has to wait like in every other country in the world).

    Granted, the bureaucrats here are probably more infuriating, arbitrary, and obnoxious than in every other country in the world, and what should be a relatively simple-yet-drawn-out procedure is sure to be a horrendously-painful-and-ridiculously-shlepped-out procedure … but the “racist” label gets in the way of the validity of the rest of it.



    Welcome to the blogosphere, BTW. And happy Khanuka.


  2. mamawork

    Hi, thanks for the comment and getting me thinking.

    Yes, Racism is a heavy word. And not one that I use lightly. However, I do see certian laws in Israel as being fundamentally racist (different sets of rules for different people depending on their racial catergory according to government regulation).

    There are very real reasons why this element of racism is so essential to the State of Israel. Historically it was essential.
    I have no idea how there could be a guaranteed Jewish State if every Israeli citizen were equal in the eyes of the Law on issues like land ownership, marraige, voting etc. I think this is the crux of the conflict. And there are no easy answers.

    On a lighter note, chag sameach and Shavua tov

  3. amyrpk

    Where’s the inequality in voting?

    I’d really like to know.

  4. mamawork

    Yikes – it starts getting complicated.

    Under the Law of Return there are people making Aliyah who are not Jewish according to Halacha. They may or may not know about Israel and the history of the Jewish people – or even the modern history of Israel. These people are given the right to vote immediatly. I am still not allowed to vote, despite converting to Judaism and building a Jewish identity in my family.

    So, not being able to vote is not a race issue per say, but it does touch on some of the complexities that exist in the modern State of Israel

  5. amyrpk

    See, I hear that and agree it’s a problem, but again, disagree that it’s racist. The number of converts in my community (religious community, that is) is high, and very diverse racially, and they’ve all had to jump through the standard hoops for converts to make aliyah.

    Not being able to vote is an issue, if anything, regarding the screwed up aliyah-rules situation. But race is irrelevant to this discussion.

    The nonJewish ‘olim’ are a big problem, a big question. *That’s* the problem.

    Am hoping that your issues don’t have anything to do with the narishkeit that has been swirling in re conversions over the last two years … that stuff is just way beyond insane. It’s also why Mashiakh hasn’t shown up yet, IMNSVHO, but who’s asking me. LOL

  6. mamawork

    I think I made a mistake when I mentioned that my not being able to vote is a race issue. It is not. It’s a bureaucracy nightmare – but not a race issue. Land ownership and marraige are race issues in my mind.

    But yes, the olim who are not Jewish do raise questions. I know my FIL is very happy they are here. He likes to eat pork and attributes the availability of pork to these Olim. But, he is in no way religious (obviously). But very Israeli. He is a Sabre (born in Israel for any non Israeli readers) as is his mother.

  7. Land ownership … I’ll give you that one, but with caveats. The issue is more complicated also, because a lot of JNF/KKL land is involved, too, and that’s land that people paid for specifically for Jews to live on. So the money was given with specific obligations involved. It’s still there, but convoluted in that issue.

    Marriage? Not, either. Because of the security issues, which are real, and I know you know that.

    See, what’s screwed up IMO about the marriage situation here is that there’s no civil marriage. Which is just plain ridiculous. Civil marriage would solve all sorts of problems. The current situation is absurd, if you ask me. But no one’s asking me, so …

    Though it wouldn’t necessarily solve the situation for Palestinians coming in through marriage … again, the security issue. Keep in mind, though, that there are situations like that all the time where they do come in. They have to apply and jump through hoops and all that stuff, but some do get approved.

    I guess we can go ’round and ’round on this. But the racism charge is so serious, and thrown around so freely where it’s not reality, that I’m a little hypersensitive about it. /shruggingshoulders

    Happy Sylvester, BTW … 🙂

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