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An immigrant to Israel struggles to stay here

The social justice movement has started up just in time to offer middle class Israelis like Karen Kaufman hope that life in Israel might finally get better – and cheaper

By Karen Kaufman

Child at demo holding sign "Capitalism is dead! The people of Israel is alive!" (photo: Karen Kaufman)

I moved to Israel exactly 15 years ago. Almost immediately after finishing my last exam at high-school, I got on a plane, by myself, and left London. Initially I came on my “gap year” between high school and university, but pretty much certain that it would be for good. A year later, I made it official: went back to London, got all the paperwork done and made Aliyah. I couldn’t wait to start my life in Israel, as an Israeli citizen.

The problems started almost immediately. I showed up for the first day at Ulpan to learn Hebrew, only to be told that the Immigration Ministry hadn’t authorized payment to Tel Aviv University because there was some sort of problem with my papers. They wouldn’t let me into the class. Nothing prepared me for the Kafkaesque bureaucracy I experienced during my first months as an Israeli citizen. I spent days and days at the Immigration Ministry in Holon – where nobody spoke English, all the forms were either in Hebrew or Russian. It was at the tail-end of the mass immigration from the FSU and before Nefesh B’Nefesh, and they didn’t know how to deal with me. The clerk dealing with my case wanted to revoke all my rights because my mother had made Aliyah with her family in the 1960s and lived here for 18 months. Even though I had never been registered as a citizen, she insisted that I was a full Israeli citizen, and couldn’t even qualify as a returning citizen.

I was miserable. My parents urged me to come back to London – I still had a place at a good university, it wasn’t too late. But I was insistent. The woman who held the key to solving my case had just lost her mother, so I had to wait until she returned to work. She finally ruled: I was only a full citizen from the day I got my first passport – just a few weeks before I made Aliyah. Finally, I got my little Aliyah ‘pinkas’ (notebook). I was here to stay!

At university, people thought I was nuts for moving here. After a while, I learnt to shrug it off. After a while, you get used to people asking you why you’re still here if you have a second passport (and get used to people trying to exploit the fact you have a second passport). I would always give the same answer: I moved here for a better life, for the weather, the food, the people, and so that my kids could play outside and have a happier childhood. I was adamant: I would never leave.

Maybe I was very naïve, or maybe things really were easier back then. The last few years in Israel, have been particularly difficult for us: a young, middle-class family really struggling to make ends meet. And I’m really sad to confess that over the last few years, conversations about packing up shop and trying our luck overseas have become an almost daily occurrence.

Perhaps part of the reason was becoming parents. No matter how strong my love is for Israel, I struggle with the fact that a country that actively encourages you to have as many children as possible (in order to stave off the demographic threat) forces mothers to abandon their infants after three months to go back to work. We bring kids into this world, only to put them into the care of complete strangers. Nappies, formula, prams, bottles, clothes – almost everything you need to bring up a kid costs far more than it does in the real West.

With two kids and demanding jobs, there isn’t much time for luxuries. We rarely eat out (going to restaurants with our kids is not my idea of a fun night out), we go to the cinema perhaps twice a year, we rely on our parents for babysitting. It’s also simply impossible to get your head around the fact that Israeli products – including perishables like cheeses – cost less in the US and Europe than they do in Israel. Even after 15 years in Israel, there are two things I still get people to bring for me from the UK: Tetley’s tea (which you can’t buy in Israel) and deodorant, because I refuse to pay NIS 30 and more for something that costs about NIS 10 overseas.

The last time I saved any money was 2002 to go backpacking around the Far East. That was the last time I had any sort of disposable income that could be put aside. When we first moved to Tel Aviv in 1999, we paid $600 in rent for a tiny two-room apartment on Hayarkon Street with a little balcony. It was three flights up (no lift of course), and the bedroom was just wide enough for a double bed. We were in our last year at university, we both had jobs, and the NIS 2,500 in rent was just about manageable. A decade later, we were paying NIS 6,000 in rent for a three-room apartment in Tel Aviv (at least it had a lift!), but our income certainly hadn’t tripled.

We’ve tried living in the suburbs a couple of times: we had to buy a car when we moved to Givatayim because otherwise I had to take two buses to travel the 5 kilometers to work. In Kfar Saba, even though I was in walking distance of a train station – using public transport saved me zero time commuting. Door-to-door, it took about 50 minutes. Essentially the same as sitting in traffic.

We left Tel Aviv – for good – a year ago. Our landladies told us they were putting up the rent. There was no way we could pay NIS 6,500 in rent, plus another NIS 6,000 to put two kids in private daycare (because subsidized daycare isn’t available to all). And we both had relatively well-paying jobs, earning well above average wage. We were struggling, and living with a constant, ever-growing overdraft.

And so, here we are, two grown adults with two growing kids, still leaching off our parents. I’m now right back where I started 15 years ago: in my parents’ apartment in Bat Yam, sitting in my old room, at my old desk, surrounded by a décor that hasn’t been touched since 1980 (a very fetching avocado green bathroom, and lots of brown and beige in the kitchen). Hardly where I thought I would be after getting a university education, and working hard for over a decade.

We have no savings, no future. We don’t plan ahead. We can only dream about taking a family holiday. We’ve been driving the same (third-hand) car for seven years. Even now, even living in one of Israel’s poorest and most-crowded cities, we’re not putting any money aside.

We’ve thought about buying our own place several times. We’d need a huge amount of help from our parents, but given the exorbitant rent we were paying in Tel Aviv, we thought it would really make more sense to buy. We’d go and see endless projects – all NIS 1.5 million and up. Believe me, we’re not fussy – we’re not after designer kitchens or ‘suspended’ toilets. All we want is a decent neighbourhood to bring up our kids. We could never understand how young couples like us signed up for 30-year mortgages, paying thousands upon thousands to the bank every month – and often earning less than we do.

I couldn’t shake the feeling that we were missing something. God knows, we’ve made mistakes with our money in the past, but how could it be that everyone was buying a house? Projects in “exotic” places like Petah Tikva, Gadera, Even Yehuda, Kiryat Hasharon were all selling like hotcakes, and we were left scratching our heads, not managing to come to terms with the fact that we were being asked to pay half a million dollars, for a pokey apartment, at the end of nowhere, with no public transportation. And the more we deliberated, the more the prices kept rising.

And then, the tent revolution happened, and I realized we’re not alone. We’re not the only ones who have had enough. We are a generation without a future, without savings, a generation who will almost always have to rely on their parents. But we are trying to take back our futures and turn things around. Standing with a quarter of a million of my fellow citizens last night, I felt prouder than ever to be an Israeli, and for the first time in a long time, I didn’t regret my decision to fight for my rights to become an Israeli.

Karen Kaufman works in public relations

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    COMMENTS

    1. Louis

      September is 16 years for me. came here at 29… still studying… still working hard, in human rights, was once a Zionist, now it is no longer relevant… kids go to public school… where they will learn to be good Zionists and not give a shit about social justice and not to think about Palestinians as people… actually the school is not bad even for Jerusalem… the Principal is progressive and there are other progressive leftists in the Neighborhood… the kids, thank goodness are also co-educated at demonstrations, and by listening to me. Sometimes… Not an easy place but on the other hand for people like us, who would, read, write or even click on a site like +972 we can at least take comfort that there is much work to do, all is not lost and who are we to desist from doing the work of rights, peace and justice…

      Reply to Comment
    2. Ben Israel

      Last week we celebrated our 25th anniversary here. We came in the year with the lowest aliyah of all time from the United States. We were older than Karen and we had both started our careers which allowed us to come with some money saved. Prices of apartments had collapsed after the end of the hyperinflation period and we bought within a year of coming and got a good oleh mortgage. We had intensively prepared, knew what to expect and had no problems with the bureaucracy. All the people we knew who came at the time we did have remained here and fully integrated.
      I completely agree with what Karen says about the expense of living here and the difficulty of saving money, but I do not believe we would be better off financially had we stayed in the US. Private education is very expensive there and I don’t know if the job I had for 5 years before we made aliyah would still exist (it is in the aerospace field). I emphasize the education factor which is very important for us so we do appreciate the much cheaper tuition here (although I do wish it was still lower) and there is not question that Jewish education in Israel is vastly superior in Israel. After all, the reason was we came was because wanted to live as Jews in a Jewish State in Eretz Israel and we, with all the difficulties, feel we have achieved this and I know our friends who came at the same time feel the same way. We are fortunate to belong to a community in in a suburb in the Tel Aviv area that has always been supportive.
      I work in a government company that has few Americans and yet I have always been treated with respect and no one has ever said he couldn’t understand why we came.
      Thus, one who is planning aliyah should try find a community setting where one is comfortable and where people can help. I am not sure the central Tel Aviv area and its population are the most compatable with the goals of olim. We wish you success in the future and understand your feelings, Karen. We really respect your sticking it out and hope that things can work out for you.

      Reply to Comment
    3. Shelly

      Those of us who came in the early 70s, when things were slightly easier (but still difficult) have seen many of our children up and leave for the countries that we ourselves came from.
      Can’t help thinking that if, many years ago, we had the guts and the motivation of today’s young adults, to go out and demonstrate against the numerous injustices here, perhaps we could have made this country a more palatable place instead of a source of one of our most precious, outstanding exports – our own children.

      Reply to Comment
    4. Philos

      Well, being born here I guess its my 28th year 😛 Stam, in Israel altogether I’m here about 12-years with the rest of my life overseas. But I’m leaving in September. You can’t get ahead in this country so I worked hard and got into one of the most prestigious universities in the world for a Ph.D. My plan: come back to Israel when I’m finished and then some and jump the line of all the suckers who did their Ph.D.’s in Israel to get tenure…. what a sad calculation, isn’t it?

      Reply to Comment
    5. Danny

      “my kids could play outside and have a happier childhood”
      .
      One of the myths Israel likes to propagate – especially among diaspora Jews – is that Israeli children are generally happier and live fulfilled lives than their diaspora Jewish counterparts. I have lived as a kid both in Israel and abroad, and I can safely say that Israeli kids have it tough, real tough, compared to their age groups in western countries. For one thing, an Israeli youngster has to put a full stop on his/her life at the age of 18 and give a full 3 years of their life to the state. More and more Israeli youngsters are now rightly asking what the hell for. Three years out of 21 is a huge chunk that largely goes to waste with no real compensation from the state. Another hurdle an Israeli youngster has to climb is the sub-standard educational system that provides little more than the bare-bones basics and produces many borderline illiterates who then go on to become semi- religious ignoramuses who largely vote for Likud or Shas (which explains why the state has a direct interest in producing ignoramuses in the first place). A third hurdle is a welfare state that has produced some of the widest socio-economic gaps among children in the developed world. So, Karen, I hope things work out for you in Israel; however, I’m glad you’ve opened your eyes in the face of Israeli propaganda.

      Reply to Comment
    6. Karen

      Thanks for your comments!
      @Danny – I spent two months every summer in Israel and I was dead jealous of my cousins. They lived near the beach, they had friends in their buildings, or just around the corner. They could go round to their friends without their parents having to drop them off in the car, and then pick them up again. My 14-year-old cousin would go out clubbing on a Friday night, and her parents would sleep soundly at night. By contrast, my life in Britain was drab, and confined by the walls of the Jewish community in which I lived – certainly a major impetus for wanting to leave. I didn’t need any ‘propaganda’ – in fact, it was usually Israeli officialdom that would question, rather than applaud, my decision to move here.

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    7. Danny

      As I said, Karen, I hope you will be happy in Israel going forward. However, your account of how you envied your cousin’s way of life of partying in Tel Aviv without a care in the world is a tad simplistic. What I am talking about are real material disadvantages that Israeli kids have compared with their diaspora peers. Also, I wouldn’t recommend to any parent to sleep soundly while their 14 year old daughter was out at night in the streets of Tel Aviv; as you may or may not know, rape and sexual assault is a pretty common crime in Israel.

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    8. excellent and really brave piece Ms Kaufman!!

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    9. Karen

      Wow @Danny. Thanks for opening my eyes. Imagine that – at 17 I was a materialistic teenager, who was more concerned with going to nightclubs than with what it was like to waste three years of your life in the army.
      I don’t know where you live – but believe me, I have a very good idea of what living in Israel is REALLY like. The prostitute on the corner of my street who I pass every day with my kids in the car is a pretty good reminder that life here is far from the ideals of a tourism poster.

      Reply to Comment
    10. Liz

      Excellent article echoing what many of us are feeling.
      I came on alyah ten years earlier at the age of 24, but 24 years later we are still struggling to make ends meet (we don’t) even though we ARE lucky enough to own our own house, so we dont pay crazy rents, and my father STILL helps me (with holidays etc) at the age of 48!!!!
      The worst part of the whole situation is the arguments at the end of every month about where the money is going…..

      Good luck to all of us! and thanks Karen, for voicing what many of us are going through.

      Reply to Comment
    11. Sarah K

      IMO – You made a mistake in not buying a “pokey” apt 10 years ago in one of those places listed – and they were not selling for the prices you said. I paid 160k for my pokey apt in kiryat hasharon 6 years ago.
      By the way – I’ve been here 18 years and I still beg people to bring me Tetley’s all the time.

      Reply to Comment
    12. Mitchell Cohen

      Been here 16.5 years myself (came at the age of 23 as a single) and can relate to Karen and everyone else posting here. I am also now married with two kids, work two jobs (little by little my wife is getting back to work freelancing, after being home with the kids and having some health issues for many years). We are also struggling even though we own our own small, nothing special apartment (but at least we don’t have to deal with landlords, which was a nightmare!!!!). We don’t own a car (had one until about 6 years ago, but had to give it up because it was a money guzzler), but we manage. Is Israel a tough place to live? Yes, certainly. Do I regret having made aliyah? Nope, not for a minute. Admittedly, it could be because I came here and remain here out of ideology. Granted, I still consider Israel (yes even Tel Aviv) safer than most big cities (and even many suburbs) in America, certainly a safer place to raise my kids. However, while I can’t speak for other countries, America is not exactly what it was 20 years ago either. My parents are lucky to be retired, but they know more and more people everyday losing jobs who can’t find another. More and more “99 weekers” (i.e. those who have been unemployed for 99 weeks, so their unemployment compensation has run out) are popping up every day. The real estate situation there is also cr&ppy and it doesn’t look like their economic depression is going away any time soon. Maybe Australia and New Zealand are a different story.

      Reply to Comment
    13. Gonie

      This article really touched some sore points with us. I made aliyah 17 years ago from the US. Now married and with small children, we barely make ends meet. No restaurants, no vacations, no visiting family outside of Israel, no extra-curricular activities for the kids. I don’t have a pension fund and we don’t have any long term savings. On the bright side, I love living in Israel – the culture and the people. The option of moving to the States or Europe is always there thanks to foreign citizenships but I can’t imagine living anywhere else.

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    14. Gillian

      We’ve been here 19 years and we never regret coming here, but we are in the same situation as everyone else when it comes to finishing the month. So-called free aducation takes a large chunk of our earnings, petrol also (and that’s with a hybrid). We made the decision to leave Jerusalem in order to be able to buy a house, so in that way we are lucky, and my husband works from home so we manage somehow with one car (even though public transport is minimal).
      Not all our kids feel they are wasting three years of their lives – my oldest is even preceding his army service with a year of volunteering.
      I would hate to live in England again, but I would love to feel that our future (and our children’s) was secure financially, and I would love to improve many things here.
      All that said, I would only take to the streets seeking real social justice, not for a smaller overdraft.

      Reply to Comment
    15. omg

      OMG! It’s my story. From the papers in Russian or Hebrew at Misrad Hapnim to not being allowed into ulpan to not finishing the month. I moved here in 1998, have been employed from my 5th day in Israel… I now have 3 kids, a mortgage, and dreams that I’ll be able to take them abroad one day in the future.
      As for toiletries… I always ask people to bring them from abroad. Hot chocolate powder, too.

      Reply to Comment
    16. Ste

      Try comparing your life to the average Palestinian in the West Bank, Gaza, Lebanon, Jordan or Syria and then maybe you would feel better about your situation. You used a ‘right to return’ which they are systematically denied by the Israeli state. You still have another citizenship and therefore options, which they can only dream of. You have access to ‘above average’ salaries and therefore careers in Israel which the average Arab in Israel will never achieve.

      I could go on. Still, its good that Israelis like you have been inspired by the Arab Spring – perhaps you’ll see that the solution to your problems is the same as theirs. Hopefully, that will start to bring you closer together. Maybe Palestinians will even be able to have their share in the problems that you experience…. for the moment they can only dream!!!

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    17. Deïr Yassin

      Thank you, STE
      I was amazed by an article that didn’t mention the Aravim even once, just as the commenters.
      That must be the denial that Dan Rabinowitz, professor of anthopology at TAU talks about in his books.
      Wonder how many of these commenters complaining about their lifes live in Arab property, or on stolen Arab land.

      Reply to Comment
    18. Karen

      Thanks to everyone for sharing their stories. I’m glad to hear I’m not alone.

      @STE and @Deit Yassin – So sorry for being so selfish to only talk about my own, personal situation in a personal post about my own, personal situation and view of what’s going on here.

      Reply to Comment
    19. richard Allen

      STE and Deir Yassin, Right-wing Israelis love to bring up the fact that Israeli Palestinian Arabs have a higher quality of life than Arabs in any surrounding country, and the appropriate response to that is, “So, who cares? They have a lower quality of life than Jews in Israel.” They also love to bring up homophobia and sexism in Islam, as though that is a justification for occupation and disenfranchisement. And once again, the appropriate response is “So? That’s their problem to fix.” Do you get where I’m going with this? A poor quality of life for Palestinians does not magically make a less poor, but still shitty, quality of life for Israelis acceptable or desirable.

      Reply to Comment
    20. Deïr Yassin

      @ Richard Allen
      Your exemples have no validity. When right-wing Zionists talk about the living standard in the Arab world, the lack of democracy etc to exonerate the institutionalized discrimination against Palestinians within the State of Israel, it is a red herring, and there is NO direct link.
      On the contrary, the lives of Israeli Jews are inherently linked with that of the Palestinians as your state has been established on our land and at our costs.
      You’re welcome.

      Reply to Comment
    21. Chris

      Dry your eyes – and try to move here without Aliya-as you were actually just about to do in the begining.
      Then you will realize that you’ve got it all a present.
      Imagine paying everything for yourself -Ulpan, thousands of papers, re-doing your degree.
      + all the hassle you get in this country when you are not jew.
      Then you know what hard is…..
      Wish my parents had a flat in Bat yam I could live in…..

      Reply to Comment
    22. Deir Yassin can never miss an opportunity to mention the poor Palestinians, can he – even in an article refreshingly free of ‘hamatzav’?
      What about me? Dispossessed from our Jewish land in Iraq and brutally expelled. But what the hell? we’re only dhimmi Jews. The Left doesn’t think our rights count either.

      Reply to Comment
    23. Karen

      Ah, @Chris, but this is the point. If someone like me, who has a relatively good job, now pays low rent, no longer lives in the heart of the city, is struggling to make ends meet – then how on earth DO people manage to make it here?

      It’s like the old joke: How do you make a small fortune in Israel?
      Come with a large fortune.

      Reply to Comment
    24. ohla

      Have to agree with a previous commentor. You should have bought a pokey apartment 10 years ago. We bought a 3 room when we got married in the Katamonim neighborhood for $165,000 in 2001 (peak of the intifada and with significant help from our parents). We put in around another $100,000 (took a larger mortgage) in shiputzim and building harchava and it’s now 4 rooms and worth $600,000. As you can imagine, we have absolutely no desire for housing prices to drop.

      Reply to Comment
    25. Anna

      What can I say? I live in the north, where everything is a bit cheaper, but salaries are lower and public transport takes 2 hours to my workplace. Otherwise I can just fully empathize with absolutely everything you talk about. Until now, I always felt either spoiled wanting to have more spare time or expecting to be able to take a holiday now and again, or ashamed that I didn’t have rich parents who could give us a new car or some $100k towards a flat. I think it is about time that this is openly spoken about, and as Carlo Strenger wrote in Haaretz, we should stop being apologetic about it.

      Reply to Comment
    26. Sam E

      Same Karen Kaufman
      who worked for:
      Haaretz
      Night Editor · 1999 to 2005
      ?????????????????????????

      Reply to Comment
    27. Avi

      PHILOS – Sorry to have to tell you this, but I made a point of getting a PhD and another advanced degree at two of the most prestigious universities in the world and they have been just useless as far as getting into academia here, which is all about the branzha, who you know, cronyism etc. etc. I know people from here who have been getting tenure-track jobs in humanities (my area) and they can’t even read English, even a few words.
      Thank you Karen for this brave and (if my decade of experience here is worth anything) accurate essay. Let’s hope.

      Reply to Comment
    28. Mr Envious

      It seems as if many of you don’t know how fortunate you are to live in Israel with all the issues attached. I would give up my upper middle class existence in The diaspora to be in Karens poky apartment in TA in a shot if it were possible. 26 years ago we were making Aliyah (both in our early 30’s)and my wife took ill while pregnant. Next thing you know we are in our 50’s and the same wife has a terminal, debilitating illness and Aliyah cannot happen. I am fortunate though to be able to visit Israel a few times a year on business and occasionally on pleasure – our kids having been educated and married – I can afford this after paying exhorbitant Jewish school fees for 20 years as Jewish kids cannot attend state schools due to the poor standards. I see the freedom you have, the rights you have and the lives you have. dont even dream of leaving as the grass is certainly not greener. Kol hakavod to you all.

      Reply to Comment
    29. Tanya

      Thank you Karen for such a wonderful article. I didn’t even get two paragraphs in before I yelled to my husband and told him to sit down and listen to me read it out loud.
      I couldn’t believe the incredible parallels – even down to the bit about having tea sent from overseas (my mum sends it to me from Australia!) I used to get her to send me deodorant too, but I gave up on that and now wait for a good “mivtza” and buy in bulk. She still sends me my favourite razor blade refills, Vegemite and decent quality but cheap clothes for my kids.
      We also have two young children and I recently went back to work after having been a full time stay-at-home mum for the last 2 years. My salary goes 100% to daycare, a car, petrol and parking. Literally 100% of it. So clearly I am not working for the money. I am edging towards 40 though, and was scared stiff of becoming obsolete in the job market if I didn’t get back into things soon.
      We live an incredibly modest existence and I haven’t even made it back to Australia one time since I left in 2006. My father has never met my husband or seen his two grandchildren in the flesh (Skype is great – but it will never take the place of human contact).
      We are literally drowning financially and there seems to be no end in sight. The thought of buying a property seems like a total fantasy, even with all the amazing demonstrations taking place across Israel now.
      I have been financially independent since the age of 18 and have worked and traveled all over the world. For the first time in my adult life I have no choice but to go to my mother in Australia (who is by no means well off!) for money each month to help us make ends meet.

      My husband and I also have an almost daily conversation about moving overseas – and although I am deeply saddened to admit it, I think I have a little less hope and optimism than you Karen. I still love, and always will love Israel – but I don’t think I am prepared to make my children suffer for my idealism.
      Think Realism. Not Zionism – that seems to be my motto these days.
      Thank you again for a wonderful article. Although we’ve never met – I have a feeling we’d get on famously!

      Reply to Comment
    30. Mitchell Cohen

      Mr. Envious, sorry to hear about your wife. Refuah Sh’leima!!!!

      Reply to Comment
    31. Karen

      Wow. I just want to say thanks again to everyone who’s posted here. I’m really touched by your comments and to hear your stories.

      To those who say we should have bought 10 years ago. What can I say? I agree! But unfortunately at that time, we were far more concerned with saving money to travel the world than buying a house. Like I said, God knows, we’ve made mistakes.

      Mr Envious – I’m sorry to hear about your wife. Refuah Shlemah

      Tanya in particular – Thank you for your comment! Wanna do coffee? 🙂

      Reply to Comment
    32. Mr Envious

      @Mitchell & Karen. Thx for your wishes. To those of you getting support from your parents – I believe I speak for most of them when I say that it is a privilege for our children to live in Israel and a pleasure (for those) who are able to help. The chances are you are living your parents dreams. Accept help and say thanks – it will give your folks pleasure – remember, Jewish parents live for, and through their kids.

      Reply to Comment
    33. Tanya

      @Karen – would love to! Can you access my email address from +972? It would be great to meet you and share more stories.

      Reply to Comment
    34. Chaya V

      Thing is, the Tent City needs to be more specific in its requests instead of “social justice for all”, or “capitalism is dead.”

      Better to say:
      -Rent or mortgage no more than 20% of income.
      -Education (including text books and transportation) no more than 5%
      -Day care no more than 20% of NET income

      Things like that.

      Working from home has saves us a ton, but it’s still hard to make ends meet.

      Reply to Comment
    35. FrugalMom

      I’m sorry, but I really ahve to disagree with some of your points here. The cost of living is incredibly high here, I will agree. But I have the opposite view. I look at young couples who have more money than we do and better jobs and less children and think “why are they drowning in debt?” My husband and I make under 10,000 nis per month and we are going to be building a home soon and are saving money every month (until we start a mortgage, that is). I work from home so we don’t pay for childcare. Other child costs are virtually nothing (800 nis per month for gan at the moment) and our biggest expense is petrol, as my husband has a mobile job and he is atzmai so he has to pay for the gas himself.

      I don’t understand why people are willing to make their lives so much harder by living in Tel Aviv and have a three room for 6000 nis when you could be living on the outskirts and paying half that in rent? I mean, I know that you make the choices that are best for you, but it doesn’t really take that much effort to get by on less money.

      That being said, I do hope things work out for you, Karen.

      Reply to Comment
    36. David

      Karen – Thanks for your story. Makes the idea of making aliya sound downright scary. One question – I didn’t understand how you moved there from England but your parents have an apartment in Bat Yam. Maybe I’m just dizzy from fasting…

      Reply to Comment
    37. Karen

      @Frugalmom – Working from home certainly helps cut the costs of daycare, not just for younger kids, but also because you don’t need a ‘tzaharon’ or other arrangement for the older kids. Our 4 year old starts municipal gan next month: we’ll save maybe NIS 100 a month, because we need to pay for tzaharon. And it depends on how far out you can go. As I said, even when we lived in the suburbs, we might have got a bigger, nicer apartment for the same or less rent in Tel Aviv – but then there are added expenses, like petrol, extra time commuting etc. Public transportation isn’t always a time-saving option.
      @David – My parents bought an apartment in Bat Yam in 1980 for virtually nothing. No one wanted to live here back then – and though there are parts of Bat Yam that have certainly improved in the last few years, the ‘gentrification’ is yet to reach our part.

      Reply to Comment
    38. agammi

      If your parents bought an apartment in Bat Yam – or anywhere in Israel – before the great inflation, they bought it for nothing. Not virtually, but practically. Because the mortgage – if they took one – would have dropped to a few pennies a month latest by 1984. Banks simply wrote off all these mortgages. I know people who paid no more than a few thousand dollars for their place.

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    39. agammi

      I should add that until the great inflation there was no such think as “tsamud lamadad”. So unless any debt – or credit – was linked to the dollar, which most weren’t (yet), debts – and credits – dropped to zero in no time.

      Reply to Comment
    40. Harold

      I went to 2 kibutz ulpamnim, most of the attendees returned to their homelands after the ulpan finished because the sachnut is a cia front and does not want Jewish immigrants to move to israel.
      I moved to a city and could not find a decent job above minimum wage even after serving in the idf.
      I returned to my native country where I am now a multi millionaire, something I could never have achieved in israel.
      IMO Jews should forget about moving to the mafia run zionist paradise and stay in the diaspora

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    41. Sam Smith

      @Harold: lol. Good one. Given that you don’t even know the Hebrew words you use (“ulpamnim”? “sachnut”?), forgive me for doubting your story.
      Congrats on your imaginary millions!

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    42. Ben Israel

      Sam Smith-
      It is finally coming out that many of the people who claim to be Jews who are involved in Israel bashing are not really Jews. It seems more authentic when someone who claims to be a Jew comes out and says “I’m a Jew and what the antisemites say is really true”. The one who was “outted” was a Gabriel Schivone who is a member of the radical anti-Israel organization “The Jewish Voice for Peace”.

      http://www.haaretz.com/print-edition/features/letters-to-the-editor-1.376284

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    43. Deïr Yassin

      Maybe “Ben Israel” could come up with more informations on these ‘many of the people who claim to be Jews’. ‘Many’ is more than one.
      Maybe Schivone is not Jewish, but it doesn’t alter the message he has, whereas Hasbara hoaxes as this one is much more serious: Israeli actor Omer Gershon participating in statesponsored lies !
      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DVXrHFxgzSA
      Yossi Gurvitz also wrote an article about it here at 972 mag.
      PS. And don’t forget to mention the reply by Schivone underneath in the Haaretz-article. People might not see it.
      PPS. And if you really push the conspiracy theory: maybe Harold is not a non-Jews trying to pass as a Jews to criticize Irael, but in fact playing the game with Sam Smith and you in order to paint a negative image of the pro-Palestinians. Who knows ?

      Reply to Comment
    44. Sam Smith

      @Deir: I vehemently disagree with a lot of what Ben Israel says, and I didn’t write the post as a general attack on pro-Palestinian activists.
      I just felt skeptical about what Howard was saying.

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    45. Sam Smith

      Sorry, “Harold”, not Howard.

      Reply to Comment
    46. Deïr Yassin

      @ Sam Smith
      As you didn’t ask me to shut up this time, I’ll confess to you: so did I.
      I found the change between making aliyah to talking about a ‘mafia run Zionist paradise’ a little too drastic even for someone who has ‘seen the light’.
      But the fake identities are in all camps: recently I came across someone who pretended to be a West Bank Palestinian with a Jewish father from Baghdad. Hardcore Likudnik. Or some other guy who pretends to be a Shia Lebanese from Bint Jbeil. He knows no Arabic, is pro-Israeli and a mouthpiece for AIPAC.

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    47. Sam Smith

      @Deir: I’m honestly glad to find common ground on something. And I apologize if past posts came off as rude.
      Amidst all the animosity and rancor on the P/I issue, which depresses me to no end, there can be dialogue.

      Reply to Comment
    48. Deïr Yassin

      I’m very much on my guard when I hear the word ‘dialogue’. I know what that means, historically. It’s like when Israelis say they want ‘peace’. Of course they want peace, they have the rest, that is the land.
      I want justice, there can only be a long-lasting peace if there is justice, and no more talking.
      The implementation of all UN resolutions would be a good start.

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    49. Sam Smith

      I just meant dialogue between people. Frankly, I’ve lost much of my belief in the leaders.

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    50. Rose P

      I made Aliyah – Chol Chamoed 2009. After 3 years of hearing lies about how great Israel is from the Jewish Agency and Nefesh B’Nefesh. The day finally came where they placed me on a kibbutz for Ulpan. I was ecstatic. Of course as soon as I reached the airport there was something they hadn’t received and they wanted me to go back to Miami on the next plane out.
      I grew up Zionist, I grew up being taught to believe that the people here still stand for the belief of a Jewish state, and what that stood for in 1948.
      I have been left to stand on my own two feet, to work cleaning for 20 nis an hour, to work my way up to a better job, with a higher than average salary. I have been told many times when asking for my basic Olim rights to ask my parents in the US for help instead.
      I have tried repeatedly to get over the bureaucracy, the rudeness, and non-chalance of this society. I have tried to integrate and be more Israeli. I have worked my a** off.
      Yet, I still can’t afford to buy things, I only buy basic food at the market, no goodies like ice cream, I cant even afford real juice on a regular basis. My Fiance and I could only afford an apartment bigger than a closet by living with a friend.
      I am only 25, and after 2.5 years am ready to turn around and say f*ck it to Israel. I am proud to be here during these protests, it provides a glimmer of hope when I’m ready to give up. And I hope that things here do change.
      If not, I am still a tax paying, passport holding US citizen. Who understands that the debt crisis ridden US may actually provide more opportunity than the oppressed Israel.
      It’s heart wrenching.

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