Friday, September 07, 2007

Zionism Lives: Reflections of an American in Israel

I read Oleh Michael's blog from time to time (check the "Michael in Israel" link in my sidebar).

Michael is an American Zionist who emigrated to Israel, and I enjoy reading his entries, which alternate between family musings and hard-hitting commentary on Israeli politics and national security.

His post from Wednesday, "
Why'd I Do It?", represents some of the most intensely sincere writing I've read in a long time. Michael explains his decision to move to Israel, and he demonstrates powerful conviction for his values. His thought are moving, and eminently worthy of emulation.

A reader inquired about Michael's reason for moving to Israel:

Do you ever wonder if you did the right thing, bringing your family to Israel?

I often wonder why people like you and Yael go there to live. Is it to be with other Jewish people, or to support Israel, or something I haven't thought of?Don't get me wrong, I admire you for taking action, instead of just talking like most people do.
Michael comments on my page from time to time, and we've communicated in some interesting e-mail exchanges. I too have wondered a bit about why Michael moved to Israel. Yet reading Michael's posts, and picking up some insight about his love of family and the way of life in Israel, I learned of Michael's love for the Zionist cause - or at least, that's what I've thought for some time, and felt I had no need to inquire one way or the other.

Read the whole post.

Michael mentions his important, turning-point visit to Israel, and how he was awed by the country's spiritualism and history. He gave up some American comfort by moving, and he faced obstacles of assimiliation that were costly to overcome.

I like his conclusion, though, which sums up the most important factor of all, which was to take action to in accordance with his core beliefs:

How long can people just talk? There comes a time, in all of the political back-and-forthing, when you realize that it's all just sophistry, unless you do take action. Maybe it was just our early training, or maybe it was world politics, but sometime after September 11, my wife and I realized what was missing in our lives: Action. We were feeling a disconnect between the lives we were living and the ideals we espoused, and we didn't like it. So call us crazy idealogical Zionists; I won't deny it. But Jewish nationalism is a fact.

All of that is why I'm here, because all of that is Zionism. I've never wondered if I did the right thing, in bringing my family here, because I know that there's no better place to be than home.
Head on over to Michael's page and read this post and some of his other musings. I agree there are times when we need to stand up for our actions, though it is rare to find a more powerful example than Michael's.

(Addendum: I've thought about the future of Americans in Israel of late.
Hillel Halkin has argued that the decline of Zionism is in fact the biggest threat to the survival of Israel. Halkin's basic argument is that Israel needs more American Jews like Michael, those willing to place their religious faith and belief in the cause of Israel over the good life of acceptance, materialism, and security they have achieved in the United States. That's some heavy food for thought, in any case.)

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