So what is it like to live in Israel?

October 26, 2008 - 1:22 PM by

Welcome to IsraelI returned from a trip to the states last month and was as usual was quite annoyed with the incessant questioning about my life here. Call me impatient but it’s the same thing every time and it can get quite annoying. So one night after a difficult dinner where the amount of silly questions matched the amount of drinks I had I jotted down the most common questions. The most common of course is being asked “What is it like to live in Israel?” People fail to understand that my life here is not a Disney-esque adventure where I jump from an archeological site to the Great Synagogue and back again. Sure I live in Israel, but I have a real job, real problems and a real life.

Here are a few of the most common questions asked of me, my real answers and the answers I would really like to give.

Question: Do you like living in Israel?

Answer: Very much.

What I would like to answer: No, I’ve only stayed here for the past eleven years because of self-hatred and my love of bureaucracy.

Question: Should Jerusalem be divided? I don’t think it should be.

Answer: That is a complicated question that I would need hours to answer.

What I would like to answer: Well, that is a fairly complicated question that I can’t even approach. It isn’t so black and white and frankly, your opinion on the matter means nothing to me. Just because you stay at the King David Hotel once a year does not give you the right to determine the future of Israel’s capital city.

Question: Is it quiet over there?

Answer: Yes.

What I would like to answer: It’s quiet right now, but you never know when the next bulldozer attack is going to be and I hear Iran is developing nuclear energy.

Question: I know someone who moved to Modi’in last year? Do you know David, uh, what’s his last name (screams to wife/husband “What is David’s last name?”)

Answer: Modi’in is a fairly large city and most of my friends live in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem.

What I would like to answer: Even if I did know this person who you apparently do not know very well since you do not even know their last name where can we possibly take this conversation next?

Question: Your daughter, does she understands Hebrew? Do you speak to her in Hebrew or English at home?

Answer: Yes, she understands Hebrew. They speak to her in Hebrew at daycare. We speak to her exclusively in English at home.

What I would like to answer: Well, if we want her to speak like someone with a severe learning disability we would speak to her exclusively in Hebrew. Of course we speak to her in English, it would be a crime to rob her of the gift of fluency in English.

Oh, I’m really not that bitter…I did have several drinks before jotting all this down. And I was just really missing the land where high fructose corn syrup can’t be found, the hummus is more common in it’s unpackaged form and where salad is served with every meal. I just couldn’t wait to get home already.


19 Comments on So what is it like to live in Israel?

  1. Rocky on Sun, Oct 26th 2008 3:55 PM
  2. “Just because you stay at the King David Hotel once a year does not give you the right to determine the future of Israel’s capital city.”

    Agreed. Maybe we should just stop visiting Israel. It happened just a few years ago and could well happen again next year. Gimme a break…with all the anti-Israel FUD coming from the MSM as well as most of US-Christendom, (not to mention the BBC and others) it’s pretty easy for folks to make assumptions and ask these kinds of questions. Maybe you should reconsider this workflow of drinking and blogging and pull your foot out of your mouth, or wherever you (may) have put it.

  3. David-Joe on Sun, Oct 26th 2008 4:58 PM
  4. With respect please also remember that Israel receives a lot of money from the United States paid theoretically by the people you were talking to – an American taxpayer. This assists in Israel’s defense agsinst avowed enemies.

    The United States is also the only defender of Israel internationally and stands between Israel and a world that would effectively isolate Israel.

    And while so many Americans may ask odd questions it is not from malice but usually by a person from a country that is the greatest the world has ever seen. America, a nation with a generous heart and a gentle hand that even assists in humanitarian terms nations that wish her bad.

    So please give her people leeway they are your true friends despite clumsy questions.

    To know America really is to love her :-]

  5. LB on Sun, Oct 26th 2008 9:09 PM
  6. David-Joe – I’m sorry, but no. Yes, America is an ally, but your point on American aid to Israel is very misguided.

    American aid to Israel is unwanted – it creates a situation in which Israel is a patron state and development is stifled because money is already coming from Uncle Same.

    Also, I don’t think Harry thinks people ask these question with any malice, just that hearing the same questions over and over again is frustrating. The question on Jerusalem he quoted, though, is completely right – unless you pay taxes, serve in the army, or have your children serve in the army – your opinion on Jerusalem is worth absolutely nothing to me.

  7. ronenosity on Mon, Oct 27th 2008 1:48 AM
  8. David-Joe..well said

  9. Objectivist on Mon, Oct 27th 2008 3:05 PM
  10. Not well thought out, flippant, impatient, arrogant, and equally ignorant post. Congrats on your journalistic achievement.

  11. David-Joe on Tue, Oct 28th 2008 3:34 AM
  12. Thank you Ronen :-]

    LB – if American aid to Israel is unwanted – and the only Israeli politician to actually present a stepped plan to stop aid was Netanyahu – then why doesn’t Israel ask the US to stop the aid?

    Especially given the fiscal problems America has today, would it not be the decent thing to stop taking the aid based on principle even though it is relatively small?

    Nowhere is this heard from Israel.

    To accuse the United States of stifling Israel, as you do, is worse than a disgrace.

    It is only because of the firm support of the United States that Israel properly exists today. Without the American alliance, Israel would be extremely weak and countries that hold back would jump to act with Israel’s enemies.

    The world hates Israel – it would not take much for Europe to revert – and the United States with an Obama Administration, will be a very precarious situation for the Jewish State.

    A vote for Obama by Americans living in Israel, is a dagger into the body of Israel and they ought to be ashemed of themselves for not standing up and defending Israel.

    Anyone voting for Obama should leave Israel and go back to the United States – of course I know that these people will likely still have their safe American passports. Always one foot in America – just in case y’know.

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  15. vicky on Tue, Dec 8th 2009 8:10 PM
  16. I am thinking of living in Israel because I am in love with an Israeli that lives there.
    I am am american born and raised in South America, I have my own business and speak three languages, traveled the world and really think that living in Israel is like living any place else.I have been there.
    I wonder how much money you need to live a decent life and I found very hard to find answers in the internet.
    Can you help me?


  17. rivka on Thu, Jun 10th 2010 7:40 AM
  18. awesome. and spot on. you don’t like the bluntness, don’t expect to like israelis or israel. LOVE THIS

  19. Arous Mohamed on Mon, Jun 27th 2011 8:16 AM
  20. i’m a tunisian and i’m really fascinated by isreal it’s true that i’m arab but i’m not that proud of .i’m wondering how can i go a d live in isreal and carry on my masters there and why not if the gov allowed me to be an isrealian

  21. Carol on Sat, Mar 31st 2012 5:05 PM
  22. I just read through the blog and the responses of others.
    I am an American who has a grown child who lives in Israel with her Israeli husband and children.
    Everytime I visit her in Israel I dislike the Israeli people more and more.
    Israeli’s do not like Americans. I have a difficult time loving this country because of the mindset of the Israeli people. As an American, I know my country gives Israel money and many indivduals who live in my city donate to many causes…I see the names of prominent people in my city in museums on plaques, etc. None of this is appreciated.
    I don’t understand the Israeli people and it saddens me every time I visit.

  23. Natalie on Fri, Jun 29th 2012 2:31 PM
  24. Hello, how can I start living in Israel. I feel it is the place for me to be but since I have 2 small children I just don’t want to leave and figure out over there. Would you sahre few tips? thanks

  25. melissa on Mon, Jul 30th 2012 2:54 AM
  26. I am very drawn to Israel and have been seriously considering moving my family there. however i keep hearing how poorly Ameriican Jews are treated by Israelis. Is this accurate?

  27. business directory on Fri, Aug 3rd 2012 6:43 AM
  28. I am genuinely thankful to the holder of this web site who has shared this great piece of writing at at this

  29. business directory on Fri, Aug 3rd 2012 1:59 PM
  30. Its like you read my mind! You seem to know a lot about this, like you wrote
    the book in it or something. I think that you could do with a few pics to drive the message home a little bit,
    but other than that, this is fantastic blog. An excellent read.
    I will definitely be back.

  31. Deb on Sun, Dec 30th 2012 2:49 AM
  32. Wow, way to shut down people who are just expressing curiosity about a country that they’re probably just unfamiliar with. When I meet someone from a place I’ve never been or may have been but still don’t know a lot about, I like to ask questions to gain a better perspective. I didn’t realize my curiosity could raise such hostility on the part of the person I’m asking questions to. I always thought I was expressing interest in the other person by asking them questions about their life and where they live. Most people love sharing information about where they live, especially if they love it the way you seem to love Isreal. It’s sad that you have such a negative and pessimistic view of other people. You must be unpleasant to be around long term.

  33. Susan on Mon, Apr 8th 2013 6:42 AM
  34. Harry, your honesty is refreshing. No one should tell you how to feel; and, it would be slimy of you to lie about how you feel. Sincere communication, whether positive or negative, might be more important than no communication at all. Communication is at last, for the purpose of conveying truth to another human being for his or her benefit, and not at the expense of one’s own personal truths. Yes, these are quixotic beliefs; but they can’t be torn from my white-knuckled grip. They’re coming with me to the grave.

    I am an American today. What this might mean is that I have bought into a culture of empathy and charity hook line and sinker. Although I have not travelled enough to any place in my lifetime except within the States and parts of Canada, I have volunteered here in the States with a group to provide supplies to Israel. I can tell you that despite its geographical smallness, the love for Israel is strong in the hearts of many people here in the States. But, what does it mean to love a nation, if it does not mean to love a people?

    You would be absolutely correct to assert that Israel’s success depends not on any other nation but upon God. Americans may want to feel significant in that their tax dollars might be going to the Holy Land. It’s very silly what we assert to each other. God has made each of us significant, just by giving us life; we do not need to look to each other and brag about our contributions. It is enough; it has already been done because of God’s grace. Without God, none of us would have the time to even blog our complaints.

    Be at peace with yourself with the land and with God. Don’t worry about the US. You are our brothers and sisters no matter where you reside.

  35. Jordan on Mon, Apr 29th 2013 6:25 PM
  36. hahaha funny authentic rant.
    Shocked but not surprised that most replies took you so seriously. After all opinions are like a**holes on the Israel/US topic…everyone has one.

    Remember to keep your sense of humor people, even tho I’m sure he was quite serious! ;)

    ps – Author: I’m a west-coast Canadian who has spent more time in Israel than my average ‘countryman’. I get: “so is the food there any good?” and “are you gonna be…safe?” I keep telling my boyfriend, Israel needs a new international marketing campaign. It’s gold Jerry, gold!

  37. Jordan on Mon, Apr 29th 2013 6:27 PM
  38. (note: Harry I realize you wrote this years ago but google brought me here 5 years later, thank you!)

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