I am so sick of being Israeli.

I watched the Netanyahu and Abbas speeches unfold at the UN this past Friday through the veil of Twitter. Unable to bring myself to watch them directly — My eyes! My eyes! — I let people like me report to me in 140 character bursts what exactly was going on. One woman was tweeting quotes, others were reacting, several pointed out particularly egregious lies in Netanyahu’s speech, and I scrambled for documents to prove the depth of the lying. At one point I tweeted the following:

See? See?! Where is Joe Wilson when I need him? Bibi, you lie! RT @OriNir_APN Bibi quoting a false USA Today story. Shameful. #Israel

This morning, I read a piece by Israeli national treasure Akiva Eldar in HaAretz, Israel’s paper of record, entitled “Netanyahu’s speech of lies.” I read it, I tweeted it, I tweeted quotes from it, I tweeted a few of my immediate reactions to it, and then I tweeted this:


and just like anywhere else on the internet, ALL CAPS means I WAS YELLING. And I was yelling because it is the damn truth.


Upon tweeting said shouty tweet, there ensued an hour of furious Twitter flurry, with more than 30 people re-tweeting it, and a bunch asking me why I felt what I felt, and me responding, and people asking what Bibi’s lies were, and me responding, and people telling me how happy they were to finally find “a good Israeli,” and me responding (“I’m not the only good Israeli…!”), and my list of followers grew and grew, on and on, until I finally broke down and said

In for a penny, in for a pound: Dear all who like me now b/c I’m sick of being Israeli – I’m still a Zionist: http://bit.ly/eKO7CN#Israel

followed by

Because “If I support Palestinian nationalism, I cannot in good conscience tell my own people to drop theirs.” http://bit.ly/eKO7CN#Israel

and then


and suddenly the flurry stopped.

Of course I have no way of knowing that the flurry stopped because I’d outed myself as (gasp!) a Zionist, but it kind of felt that way. But it really doesn’t matter because the bottom line remains: I am sicksicksick of being Israeli.

I am sick of watching my home lurch from bad to worse — from the unavoidable xenophobia of any hounded and nationalistic people, to creeping-vine-xenophobia, the kind that the holds the whole house up at a certain point, having all but replaced whatever was once between the bricks. Israel had one good, shining year when it seemed it might be stepping forward rather than back, but 1993 came and went and here we are, worse off than we were before the Oslo Accords, because the Palestinian economy is more thoroughly wrecked, the Palestinian people more thoroughly occupied, Palestinian land more thoroughly gobbled up, and thousands of people (the vast majority of them Palestinian) more thoroughly dead. And to those who would say “Is America really any different?” (as some Twitter friends essentially have) I would say: Yes. In America, we go from bad to better — slowly, painfully, splutteringly, we move forward. Israel? Not so much. Have you seen the recent spate of anti-democratic laws passed in The Middle East’s Only Democracy ™? Or read up on why all those protesters were out on the streets for all those weeks? Not to mention the continual erosion, by design, of any and all hope for a genuine, mutally acceptable peace with the Palestinians? Bad to worse, bad to worser, bad to worsest (until the next worsest comes along).

And I am sick of the lies, and lies, and lies, and then more lies, and more to the point, the fact that I continually find myself living in what feels like an alternate reality because my Israeli government goes on and on telling whopper after whopper and my American government just lets it go. Watches as the lies slip and slide past, without so much as a “hey, are you sure? Maybe we should check the documents!” And I sit here with my masters degree and my books and my ability to think in a fashion that does not resemble a drunken bastard and time after time, find myself insisting that, no, really! You can’t make reality up! (Think of it this way: It’s like the climate change debate, on every front, every day, all day long. Forever).

I am sick and tired — exhausted, drained, and demoralized — by the endless, daily effort involved in just thinking about all this, and you know what? If I weren’t Israeli? I wouldn’t have to.

I don’t know if the plan has been to drive Israelis like me away (though driving Israelis like me away is certainly considered a bonus in some quarters), but damn. I am sick to tears of having to have anything to do with the sociopathy and psychopathy that characterize official Israel.

And I am sick to tears of being sick of it.

Crossposted at Angry Black Lady Chronicles.


  1. Mahmoud El-Yousseph

     /  September 27, 2011

    Emily, thanks for your courage and honesty . You just earned a fan for life.

  2. Mahmoud El-Yousseph

     /  September 27, 2011

    A Jewish friend of mine once wrote, “Jewish law stands on three pillars: they are “fredom, peace, and Justice.” Why is not these laws applied the Palestinian people? They are human beings just like you and me. That is a mistake and main core of the problem. The other mistake would be, if you and I and the rest of American let it go unchallenged.

    Once again, thank you for being a fearless Israeli truth-teller. By doing so, you are an inspiration to others.

  3. dmf

     /  September 27, 2011

    the truth may not set us free but by not addressing these kinds of wrongs we lose our faith in our selves, without which surely all is lost. thanks for raising your (again!) voice for hope and our humanity.

  4. I empathize, my dear, and I continue to honor the simple courage it takes for you to recognize and name what’s wrong with this place which you love. I wish you a shanah tovah umetukah!

  5. corkingiron

     /  September 27, 2011

    Emily: Can you talk to me like I’m stupid? You proclaim yourself a “Zionist” – a word freighted with various meanings in the modern world. Can you explain more precisely what it means to you?

    • The bit.ly link in her “Zionist” tweet goes to a post here which answers your question.

      • corkingiron

         /  September 27, 2011

        Ah – thanks. I did try that this morning and got nuthin. So I thought I had to have a twitter account or something. Works now.

  6. Emily, I can empathize. There are days, despite my fervent love for America, that I despise being an American. I despise the politics. I despise a nation that has such a big heart, but fails to care for its own people. I despise a nation that has such great strength, but wastes it continuously on ruinous policies. I despise those who claim to be for freedom and liberty, even as they are trying to take it from others. I despise those who claim to love the history of their nation, even as they are butchering it mercilessly. I despise a nation that had the capability to put a man on the Moon, but cannot seem to educate its children anymore.

    There are days that my wife’s idea of living abroad seems so tantalizing. There are days I despair of things ever getting any better.

    Then the Sun goes down. It rises, reassuringly, in the morning, and I start a new day. The nation is still the same as it was — with minor exceptions — when I went to bed, but there is promise in the air and new chances to try and make changes. I ask you to not give up on Israel, if you believe in it in your deep heart. Accept that there will be storms and chaos and trauma and pain, but from that will come something better. As sure as the Sun rises.

  7. I’m not much for nationalism—we’ve gone ’round on this—but I do wonder if you can’t use your despair to inform your embrace of nationalism.

    It seems like you have, in some ways or indirectly, as regards your own identity, but it might be precisely because you are so attached to [the idea of] your nation-state (as well of the attendant right of Palestinians to their nation-state) that you can offer more insight than a skeptic like me ever could.

  8. There’s nothing bad about nationalism, Jewish or Palestinian, as long as they don’t clash with human-rights. For those who speak in the name of Zionism, equal rights is an existential threat to the state of Israel.

    Imagine the uproar if a US magazine published this on whites & blacks: “Demographic optimism in the new year” http://bit.ly/qyN5VZ .

    I found myself repeating again and again “I am so sick of being Israeli”. Over the years I started asking myself – what is it precisely in “being Israeli” that I don’t like. Today, I have an answer: Zionism is the problem, the idea that Israel belongs to the Jews, not to its citizens is the problem.

  9. Maybe I can empathize, because I am sick of being Pakistani. Because I have lived in a distorted bubble, and now have to deal with either patiently listening to ignorant hate speeches and conspiracy theories by otherwise sensible friends and family, (with the slight hope that calm reasoning causes them to rethink their stances) or being labeled as a blasphemer. Every single point I make is skewed to hatred or fandom, etc (I am too depressed to continue this rant). All I can safely say is, any polarized opinion on this matter is wrong, because it is not such a simple issue and one should not give in to concrete decisions easily. And it doesn’t help by researching with biased mind from the start.

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