Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Don't Fret Over Iran! Get Your Emergency Passport

Last week I found myself desperately trying to find my grandfather's birth certificate among all the paperwork he has accumulated during the 83 years of his life. This wasn't a journey too explore my family heritage, this was quest to find a ticket; a ticket out of Israel and into the EU. My grandfather was allegedly born in Hamburg. An original copy of his birth certificate would grant me eligibility for German citizenship (following exhausting and expensive legal procedures). Why would a native born Israeli, relatively content in his personal and financial status, spend his weekend rummaging through decades worth of paperwork to find a piece of German bureaucracy? Because every smart Jew knows you need insurance, bub'ale!


The great scramble for foreign passports began a few years in Israel. The Israeli Pollacks broke out the kneidelach soup in celebration when Poland was admitted to the European Union in 2004. The descendents of Romanian grandparents are getting restless in anticipation for 2008. And third generation Israelis of German ancestry have ironically been standing in line for the most coveted of European passport for years. It is very fashionable among young Israelis to reap the benefits of hereditary immigration laws in European countries their grandparents fled from only 60 years ago. It seems that virtually every Ashkenazi 'in the know' already has his back up citizenship ready. Israeli Turks! Keep your fingers (and butt cheeks) crossed. The unfortunate Israelis, whose ancestors were not “chilling” in the shtetls, are counting on population-needy Western nations as a Plan B option: i.e.Canada, Australia, etc.

How much has changed in Israel in the last couple of decades. There used to be a time when Jews actually aspired to move to Israel and expatriates were considered traitors. When that fad slowly began waning in the eighties, the Jewish agency orchestrated Operation Solomon in 1991, to resolutely show Zionist skeptics: "See! Jews in the Diaspora still need Israel." Honestly, if I was starving shepherd in Ethiopia, I would live in a meat freezer if I was allowed to lick the carcasses. Nowadays, you can't read the newspaper without being enticed by immigration law firms offering free consultations regarding possibilities of becoming a citizen of (fill in the affluent country of your choice here).

Has the idealized 'stick to your guns' image of the Israeli withered away? Maybe prosperous economies merely lure us away solely because a salesperson in America earns more during Christmas then a teacher would make here in over a year? It's probably a little of both – individualist ideals dominate Israeli psyche, as the economy is receding away from the public sector. In turn, the sense of collective community and solidarity is decreasing. The citizen's indifference to the political and social spheres of society becomes more evident. The unbearable corruption and boorishness of government only aggravates the sense of alienation from the state. Combine the national state of comatose apathy with the magnetic appeal of a respectable pay in exchange for labor and you get “Exodus II - The Round Trip”. And as opposed to 'brain drains' recognized throughout history, any Israeli with a Hungarian grandmother can make claims for citizenship, not just the highly qualified professionals. If the ideological foundations holding Israel together on a thread continue to be ravaged by policies of unequal distribution and political corruption, then you might find masses of disenchanted Israelis standing in front of the German embassy once the situation becomes impossible to ignore.


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