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Of Two Worlds

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Photo by Dewang Gupta on Unsplash

I'm writing this post on the plane on our way back home. That is, we're going back to London. It's odd to say we're going back home when we just visited home. Because no matter how much I hate the government, no matter how much I feel smothered by the density of in-your-face Israelis (and smog), no matter how much I feel weighed down by my growing responsibility to my family, Israel is still—and will always be—my childhood home. The place I grew up in.

I don't like to say never, because I've been proven wrong too many times (it's a fun story, I'll tell you one day), but it doesn't seem likely that we'll go back to live there. There's just too much stress. The issue with Israel is that you're always fighting for your place: in a queue, on the road, in a conversation. It comes, I think, from the fight for the place to exist that has been waged in this country since before it was born. It's where the Jews are allowed (reluctantly, limitedly) to exist. And I'm not pinning Israel's issues on outside antisemitism. Many Israelis are racists as hell, especially towards their cousins, the Palestinians. It's an age-old siblings rivalry for resources, and it's not looking good. That's one of the reasons we're unlikely to go back.

Another reason is the mandatory conscription. There's no way in hell I'm raising kids for 18 friggin years, including cooking healthy food, getting them to clubs, encouraging their interests, helping them fulfil their potential, and answering an infinite number of questions, just to have the army take them and have them sexually harassed and discriminated against (if they're girls) or be crunched by the system into a macho who would literally kill or be killed (if they're boys). It ain't happening.

And yet. Leaving is hard. It's always hard. I've been doing it for over 15 years, and it doesn't get any easier. My family lives there: my mum, my siblings, my aunts, uncles, and innumerable cousins. Really, we're a big family. After my dad's memorial, we had dinner for our closest relatives. My mom and I counted. There were 53 people in the house, and some were missed that day. Fifty-three of my closest relatives. And they're not nameless side characters, either. I know all of them, they have been there since I was born (or I've seen them been born, which is incredible). They all have character traits that are annoying as well as redeeming. They all have dreams and wishes and sorrows. They are people. They are my people.

My daughter told me that she doesn't know what she wants; she wants to stay here with her grandparents and cousins, but she also wants to go back home to her friends and her school. She wants both worlds. And I wish I could give her both worlds. I wish I could have both worlds. For now, we are all torn between them. We can't help but be of both worlds.


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