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November 25, 2015 / 13 Kislev, 5776
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Posts Tagged ‘immigrants’

English-Speakers Laugh At Life in Israel

Thursday, March 1st, 2012

“Sh*t Anglos in Israel Say”, an English-speaking Israeli meme of the popular Youtube video Sh*t Girls Say”, earned 57,000 views in two days, taking comedic aim at the life of the average young English-speaking immigrant to Israel.

With such typical oleh quips as “I’m going to the post office, I’ll be back in 4 hours,” “You’re going back to the States? Oh, can you bring me back some NyQuil?” and “You have last year’s Cosmo?  Can I borrow it?” the film poked fun at the frustration, confusion, and occasional desperation of Israelis harkening from the US, Canada, England and Australia.

The video is the brainchild of Shira Rottner and Yosef Adest, a freelance video producer and photographer who made aliyah in 2003 from New York.  A self-proclaimed optimist, Adest – who is now 31, single, and living in Tel Aviv – says that while his video is a critique of Israeli society, it was also a labor of love.

“The whole video is a stab at Israel and Israelis,” Adest told The Jewish Press.  “It’s about what is wrong with this place, but looking at it and smiling at it.  We laughed the whole time we were making it.”

The video centered around the characters’ struggle to adapt to a sometimes brusque and foreign-seeming Israeli culture while remaining within the safe and familiar environment of the Anglo community, with its recognizable products and comforts. “What we joke about in the video is all true, it’s all fact,” Adest said.  “It’s not a reason that Israel is bad or challenging, it’s just how Israel is.”  The key, he said, is attitude.  “I feel great that I’m in a place now that I can say no, I’m not an Israeli and I’ll never be, but I completely feel like I fit in and I can call this place my home.”

“We grew up with ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ – we’ll always be different,” he joked.

Yet while Anglo Israelis frequently feel themselves to be apart from native Israeli culture, they can also grow to feel that they no longer relate to the culture of their past, either.  “I was in America, and people were getting in line to get on the bus, and I was like ‘really? You need a whole line?  Here, let me help you with your baby’. I really felt like a foreigner,” Adest said.  “And that’s crazy!  I’m not an Israeli, but I’m no longer American. I’m in the middle.”

Young and old, recent and veteran immigrants to Israel posted comments and kudos on Youtube and Facebook commiserating and laughing with the cast and crew.  Some commenters expressed sheepish surprise at how much the stereotypical immigrants sounded like them, while others shared their joy at being able to identify with the comical trials and tribulations of the actors.

At one point, one of the characters said “I hate it here”, which Adest said is something he has heard some immigrants say.  “Myself and everyone involved, we all love Israel, but we included that statement because people really say that,” Adest said.  “But I think at the same time, most people who grow frustrated with the challenges love it. I think you can get to a point where you can really appreciate it all.  We can make fun of it without harming the integrity of our love for this place as our home.”  Incidentally, the character expressing her frustration with life in Israel was immediately answered by a friend saying, “Oh, I love it here”.

As for himself, Adest made Israel home for different reasons than the ones he loves Israel for today.  “When I made aliyah, I came for very spiritual reasons, but I’ve actually come to love the Israeli culture, the Israeli mindset as well, completely separate from the religious and spiritual significance of the place,” he said.  “I think that’s when you can completely be absorbed here, when you can appreciate the whole gamut.”

JewishPress.com Managing Editor Yishai Fleisher expressed pride in Adest’s accomplishment.  “I first met Yosef Adest at Jerusalem II pizza in Manhattan when I was hosting a pro-aliyah event.  Later, I greeted him as he got off the Nefesh b’Nefesh plane on aliyah,” Fleisher said.  “It was obvious then that here was a young man who was coming to Israel with great ideological passion and a tremendous love of the land and the Jewish people, and since aliyah, he has put his talents to good use.  This video is entertaining, but it also shows the normalization of aliyah in American Jewish life and is a stepping stone in the process of the ingathering of North American Jewry to Israel.”

Yishai Fleisher and Yosef Adest have produced two films together – one about the mass priestly blessing which happpens at the festivals in Jerusalem, and one humorous short about shaking the lulav and etrog on Sukkot.

For more videos by Yosef Adest, visit www.yosefadest.com


IDF Thwarts Major Terror Attack on Israel-Egypt Border

Tuesday, February 21st, 2012

The IDF and Israel Police uncovered a powerful explosive device overnight while on an anti-smuggling operation.

According to the IDF Spokesperson, “Israeli forces that were trying to stop smugglers saw a man throw a suspicious bag and flee the scene. After an examination…it was determined that the bag contained a powerful explosive device. The device was later detonated in a controlled manner.”

The Spokesperson also said that the incident is “a reminder that the smuggling routes on the Israel-Egypt border are constantly used by terrorist organizations to conduct operations against Israeli civilians and IDF soldiers.”

In 2011, over 15,000 illegal immigrants crossed Israel’s porous border with Egypt.


JAFI: No More Hebrew Ulpanim for Olim

Tuesday, February 21st, 2012

Israel Today reported Monday that the Jewish Agency is pulls funding for ulpanim – intensive Hebrew-language classes for immigrants – including classrooms and school supplies, potentially leaving thousands of new immigrants with nowhere to learn Hebrew upon arriving in Israel.

As of March 15, thousands of new immigrants to Israel will have to find new ways to learn Hebrew, as a sudden pullout of funds by the Jewish Agency will force the closure of dozens of ulpanim, schools for the intensive study of Hebrew.

The news was broken by an alarmed letter attained by Israel Hayom that was sent by Absorption Ministry Director Dimitri Apartsev to the heads of the Education Ministry, the Jewish Agency and the Prime Minister’s Office, as well as to the cabinet secretary. “As a result of the Jewish Agency’s unilateral announcement to cease funding the ulpanim for new immigrants, I must warn that starting March 15 ulpan activity will be halted,” Apartsev wrote. He claims that the Absorption Ministry had tried to discuss matters with the Jewish Agency, but that planned meetings had been delayed three times by the agency, and a new date had not been scheduled.

Recruits Must Renounce Dual Citizenship to Join Elite IDF Troops

Thursday, February 9th, 2012

It’s difficult to assess whether this entire issue might not be purely hypothetical, but as it turns out from a Yoav Zitun story in Ynet this week, The IDF now demands that new candidates for service in Israel’s submarine force waive their foreign citizenship in order to join.

We have no way of knowing just how many young men and women with hard-to-give-up American, British, or French citizenship (to name a few) are standing in line at the IDF recruitment offices, eager to spend their service near the bottom of the sea. But if they do, they will have to think long and hard about the price they’ll have to pay.

Apparently, Israel’s underwater fleet joined a few other elite combat units requiring that young warrior wannabes give up their former citizenship to join them. One could surmise from this demand that as long as a young recruit continues to carry his other passport in his shirt pocket, he can’t be trusted with the country’s highest levels of security clearance.

The criteria for receiving an IDF security clearance are decided by the units themselves, by the Shin Bet (Internal Security) and by the National Security Council, based on the level of exposure to classified materials during one’s service.

And so, submarine service recruits who are olim or the children of olim receive a notification stating that in order to qualify for the year-long training, as part of their security screening, they must renounce their foreign citizenship.

But here’s a catch: if a recruit went ahead and gave up his other citizenship, and then was dropped from the training course, he can never get his original citizenship back. Now, that’s a heartfelt show of patriotism!

The IDF Spokesman’s Office confirmed that “for information security purposes, soldiers serving in certain IDF units are required to meet strict criteria.”

According to Zitun, the recent move raised strong opposition among fleet reserve officers, who claim that the new decree will limit the number of volunteers clamoring to join the unit.

One former officer did not think the issue was hypothetical at all. “This is  absurd. Many excellent recruits hold a dual citizenship but wish to serve in an elite unit such as the submarine fleet,” he told Zitun. “In a country that fights for every recruit, especially for elite units, this demand should not be made. Soldiers serve for only a few years, and must not pay by losing their foreign citizenship that can be used later in life.”

The Jewish Press sent an inquiry to the IDF Spokesman’s office, echoing the same concern, and received this response: “The IDF has numerous criteria it uses in order to efficiently place soldiers in optimal positions. Since its establishment, the IDF has done everything in its power to function as a melting pot, allowing the integration of immigrants from all walks of life. The number of drafted immigrants has climbed annually to thousands in 2010 alone.”

Not highly specific, but we catch their drift. It’s not easy taking in young folks from all over the globe and turning them into soldiers. You want to be an immigrant and a hero? It’ll cost you…

71 Olim From Ethiopia Land in Israel

Sunday, February 5th, 2012

71 Ethiopians made Aliyah on Thursday, accompanied by leaders from the Jewish Federations of North America.

Upon their arrival, the new immigrants were taken to an absorption center in Kiryat Gat where they will live while integrating into Israel.

Decades After Immigrating, Ethiopians Decry Continuing Discrimination

Thursday, January 19th, 2012

Thousands marched through Jerusalem on Wednesday to protest discrimination against Ethiopian immigrants, concluding a week of protests sparked by revelations that residents of Kiryat Malachi were refusing to sell or rent apartments to Ethiopian citizens.

Joined by white Israelis and representatives of several rights organizations, the crowds of mostly younger Ethiopian immigrants and children of immigrants marched to the gate of the Knesset, where so many go to air their grievances. Carrying signs calling for an end to discrimination, they decried the social and economic hardships that continue to plague the Ethiopian community, even two decades after their stunning rescue and relocation to Israel. Large sections of the 120,000-strong Ethiopian community lag behind the national average in education and employment, and domestic abuse cases – including dozens of incidents of husbands murdering their wives – have plagued the community.

Successive governments have devoted large sums to housing benefits and a range of other social welfare benefits for Ethiopian immigrants, but advocates say even more is needed for a community that has experienced such a deep culture shock in moving from rural Africa to modern Israel.

Many openly suggest that both the public and private sectors would do more to help the immigrants if they were white, claiming prejudices against the Ethiopians’ skin color and widespread suspicion of the authenticity of the their Jewishness prevent progress.

Thousands of the immigrants were made to undergo a conversion process, to remove such doubts. But religious and racial tensions remain, contributing to the community’s difficulties in integrating with the rest of Israeli society.

Israel Moves to Stop Flood of Illegal Immigrants

Tuesday, January 10th, 2012

The Knesset on Tuesday passed a law allowing foreigners caught illegally entering the country to be held in detention facilities for up to three years, without trial. The law also sets penalties of up to 15 years in prison for Israelis who assist in such infiltrations.

The new regulations, which update a 1954 law passed in response to Palestinian terrorist raids, are meant to stop the flow across the Egyptian border into Israel of tens of thousands of Africans seeking work or asylum. Current regulations allow authorities a much shorter period of detention, in many cases forcing the government to release illegal immigrants.

Opponents of the law said it infringed on human rights, and called its provisions for holding immigrants without trial unconstitutional. The law’s sponsors said that those who provide humanitarian assistance to illegal immigrants already in the country would not be subject to penalty.

Illegal immigration from Africa has become a major concern for Israel. The first wave began in 2005, when a few hundred people fleeing fighting in Sudan travelled through Egypt to seek protection in the country. Tens of thousands of Sudanese, Eritreans and other African nationals soon followed, seeking better living conditions in Israel.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/israel-moves-to-stop-flood-of-illegal-immigrants/2012/01/10/

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