really, guys?

a friend of mine recently visited a food blog that she thought i might like called ottolenghi.  i did, in fact, find it interesting, but what i found more interesting is that three out of the four chefs who founded this highly successful “fresh foods take-away” (think simple, natural, mostly mediterranean dean and deluca) shop that now has at least four locations in england are israeli.  so i decided to do a little googling, see what other israeli born chefs are wandering around the globe.  i recall seeing an israeli chef on the food network show “chopped” while spending time in the US this summer, and after unsuccessful internet research to find his name, i instead learned that two others had also competed on the show: einat admony and  siggy solitto.  shachaf shabtay is an israeli chef who opened up restaurants in mumbai, the czech republic, serbia, and, finally, tel aviv (thank you, mr shabtay, for at least giving a little back to the homeland).  oded shwartz has published more than a handful of cookbooks in the UK and SA.  gadi weinreich is the head chef of one of the highest grossing restaurants in nyc!   super hip miami mixologist elad zvi was a panelist on iron chef.   i could go on if i wanted to spend more than 10 minutes looking into this.  so, what can we make of it all?  obviously the number of israelis emigrants that are entering and shaping the culinary world is far greater than would be expected from the number of expats that exist-around 700,000.

good for them.  good for us.  on one hand, i think this is just peachy.  why wouldn’t i be proud that my countrymen are making a splash on the gastronomic scene, giving israel a good name among a sea of gruesome (but sometimes deserved) publicity?  i want them to become worldly, to travel to places that stretch and mold them into something greater than they could become in this tiny country.  it’s wonderful that they are realizing their dreams and finding success, but please, i beg of you guys (as if someone’s reading this) pay it forward, or backward, should i say.  of course we should venture out of our own land-everyone should-but after a few years, we should bring back to it the things we’ve learned.  some people might feel that israel is no longer their home.  fine.  maybe just come back once in a while to share the knowledge?  maybe just see israel as another potential location for one of your successful business ventures?  or if you’ve become just plain anti, ok, you have an excuse, but only you.

to say that anyone should be forced to live in a country that they don’t want to is ludicrous, but i also think that many israelis who do feel a deep and personal connection to the land leave permanently because life is harder here than it is in the west.  many have already forgotten what their grandparents and even parents fought for, and barely appreciate the existence of a safe haven for our people.  many see the injustices, the violence, and choose to escape instead of stay to help solve it.   i recently talked with a person who complained that people like him-ashkenazi jews-were the privileged class in israel, siting the injustices even other jews here suffer, let alone the arab israelis, let alone the palestinians.  yes, buddy, i know, but what are you going to do about it?  leave, of course!  get on the next plan to america and escape the problem instead of using his so called privileged status as a rich ashkenazi jewish israeli as a platform for change.  “it’s not good for me here,” he said, “i could live so much more comfortably in america (read: money).”  you know what i call that?  a coward.   he refused to join the army out of principle, which i don’t identify with but can respect,  but did he, or others like him, choose to serve the community in some other way?  heck, even volunteering with amnesty international, which outside of israel is pretty much anti-israel, counts as community service equivalent to military service according to the government.  not that it’s just him- most of those who have left, or have expressed to me a desire to do so, are tired of the corruption, of the fighting, but are more interested in relocating to a place full of opportunity, so that they can selfishly enjoy life, instead of nobly standing as a part of the solution.  it’s the bigots, the extremists that can find no compromise, who are the most steady population, staying here out of fervent religious zionism.  people with what i consider to be progressive ideas flee, while those with fanatical ideals not only stay, but have a million babies each.  what ever happened to secular zionism?  i miss you…come back, and bring some the emigrants with you.

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One Response to “really, guys?”

  1. Yahnatan Says:

    Strong words, well said. Keep persevering in the Land!

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