(October 21, 2015 / JNS)
You asked, I answered. And now I’m at it again. I apologize if your question didn’t make it in this time—I have a word limit. Nothing personal. Az, yalla! So, let’s go!
“When you post something on Facebook or on your blog and you get a response that is anti-Israel or anti-Jewish, how do you decide whether to respond or not?”
If something is posted publicly and isn’t ridiculous (for example, “Israel will be flattened!”… which I’ve gotten), I respond for the benefit of my other followers—especially if it’s a question. I never respond to private messages.
“How do you manage the anxiety or stress of living in an area where people of your religion are the targeted subjects of violence?”
Wine. Friends. More wine. And I write! It helps me process my thoughts and feelings and channel them into something worthwhile.
“Do you have any thoughts or ideas on how to change world opinion against Israel?”
I think a multi-pronged approach will have the most impact, with peace education for Israelis and Palestinians, keeping the media accountable to the truth, and increasing tourism to Israel so people can see what it is really like here.
“What is it like as an American to live in a place where the reality of war is a daily norm?”
I wouldn’t actually say that war is a daily norm. It is on everyone’s mind now, because it is such a tense time. But on the average day in Israel, we live like anyone else: going to work, taking kids to the park, shopping for groceries, etc., and we don’t think about war.
“Why is there an incongruence between the American news about what is happening in Israel and what people living in Israel seem to experience?”
One reason is downright bias. Many times, terrorists will stab Israelis and headlines will read “Palestinian killed by Israelis, one Israeli stabbed.” They don’t mention that the Palestinian was a terrorist who was killed in the act of stabbing someone to death, and the Israeli victim was murdered while minding his or her own business.
“Where is the violence taking place? I have friends in Tel Aviv and they are riding bikes with their kids.”
The current wave of violence is mostly in Jerusalem, and focused on the Old City. That is not to say that violence isn’t spreading outside of Jerusalem—it unfortunately is. But Jerusalem is by far the tensest city in Israel right now.
“What was the big shift that made this erupt?”
In short, two Israelis were stabbed to death by a Palestinian in the Old City, followed by more stabbings. There was also a dispute over Jews praying at the Temple Mount, where the Jewish Temples, the Al-Aqsa mosque, and the Dome of the Rock were built. Recently, Jewish activists have demanded greater access to the Temple Mount despite the Status Quo agreement in 1967 that forbade Jews to pray there. Now, Palestinians are angry—angry enough to kill people who have nothing to do with praying on the Temple Mount.
“How do you stay safe?”
I use my “business walk” like my grandma taught me: with my head held up high and looking people in the eye. I carry pepper spray and go out in groups. I took a self-defense class with a focus on knife attacks. I avoid more dangerous areas and when it is tense, I don’t go out if it can wait. Most of all, being aware of what is going on around me is the most effective way to stay safe.
“What’s the one thing you didn’t expect once making aliyah?”
Making such great friends! I figured people would go to ulpan primarily to learn Hebrew, but I found some friends who I know will be life-long friends. And that has been the best and most unexpected part of making aliyah. Living in the same building as many of my new friends makes it extremely easy to get to know people quickly, and relationships flourish because of it!
“Most important question for an ex-Seattleite in Israel: Starbucks or Aroma?”
Starbucks has Pike Place Blend. Aroma has Sachlav. Starbucks has an amazing environment. Aroma give you chocolate with every coffee. Starbucks has coconut milk. Aroma has iced café. Aroma has gluten free bread and gluten free cake. Starbucks has a wider variety of drinks. Starbucks drinks are less expensive (based on the price of an espresso). At Starbucks, the customer is always right. At Aroma in Israel, the customer is always wrong.
Final score: Starbucks 6, Aroma 4. Starbucks wins. Sorry not sorry. #stillbasic
“What item do you miss most from the U.S.?”
My big bed. In ulpan, I have a twin XL. College all over again.
“Do Israeli Jews care what American Jews think?”
Whenever Israelis join the army, the gun they’re issued is marked “property of the United States of America.” Israelis are very aware how powerful America is and are therefore quite concerned with what American Jews think. It is also important to them that American Jews understand the situation in Israel and the bias against Israel in the media. Israel is investing a lot of money for “hasbara” (public diplomacy) of foreign policy because of this. Whether it’s helping or not is a different question.
“How have you changed your daily life based on what’s going on?”
I honestly haven’t changed my daily life. I am still in ulpan until the afternoon, I go out to events if I want to, and come back at night. I still take the buses, I walk outside with friends, but I am more aware when I do.
“How can I help?”
If you hear about what’s happening in Israel, spread it on social media. Talk to your friends about it. Simply spread the truth. It’s on our side.
Eliana Rudee is a fellow with the Salomon Center for American Jewish Thought and the author of the new “Aliyah Annotated” column for JNS.org. She is a graduate of Scripps College, where she studied International Relations and Jewish Studies. She was published in USA Today and Forbes after writing about her experiences in Israel last summer. Follow her aliyah column on JNS.org, Facebook, and Instagram.
Read Rudee’s first Israel FAQ here.