Sunday, January 28, 2007

Ideology vs Ambition

This is a monologue I have been having with myself and I guess a dialogue I have been initiating with others that has been background noise in my thoughts for quite a while, but was recently thrown to the limelight when I was asked the question at a party:

"Would I move to London, or would I scrape off hairs from the toilet bowl in the central bus station in Jerusalem?"

When I answered the question emphatically, "Move to London", I was informed that I am not Zionist.

Hmmm, I think to myself, here I am standing in Jerusalem thousands of miles away from my family and friends that I grew up with, and this person has the audacity to call me unzionistic - because by his standards, I would leave the country if the only work available to me is a cleaner. It bothered me that this person was willing to criticise me when he knows nothing about the contributions that I have made towards promoting Israel as I was growing up and merely the fact that I am standing and I am here living in Israel as he makes this comment to me I found to be quite offensive. I know he was saying it for a reaction and here's my reaction.

I'm sorry I think I can make a larger contribution to society on top of just existing here.
I'm sorry that I actually want to use my degree...and I am really proud of the fact that I have made Aliyah and I work in an Israeli environment, in my profession...a statement that not every Oleh can claim....because at the end of the day it is really hard, Israel is a developing country and it's economy reflects this...

At the crux of this is the issue I feel is that people who live here have made sacrifices to be here and have essentially placed ideology as the major priority. People die in order to live here and defend the country, which means emotions are running high and they get defensive...I am trying to understand this position. I think people sometimes see the grass as greener on the other side. Israel has a tough economic status and when you hear how successful your friends are doing and the opportunities that they have that you perhaps don't, perhaps you might feel that you are missing out and therefore need to make a statement about how fulfilled you feel you are,because you 'just exist here'.

I love Israel and I think it's really cool to be here but I grew up in an environment where I had a good education, and where all my friends went to University. Aspiring to achieve something great, realising your potential and giving your best was a culture ingrained into my identity. Hand in hand with this in my home life, Israel was always discussed at the dinner table, updates on the political situation were always going on, the Jerusalem Post and Jerusalem report were delivered to our doorstep and intellectual articles about the 'the matsav' were always lying around the coffee table.

It has everything to do with priorities Ideology vs Ambition.
For me I am quite comfortable to say that I would not be happy just living here. Ideology is a major priority of mine and I have placed it very high up there on my list, but I can not ignore my other internal desire, - the ambition to achieve something for myself on top of my address and post code. I think people underestimate this internal struggle and do not give enough credit to the toll this struggle creates within the soul.

So yes I would leave if there were no career prospects for me - and I don't think this makes me 'un-zionist' I think it makes me a balanced person. I would feel really degraded if all I could do was clean a toilet. While some people might find this insulting - and I apologise to them - for me it's what enables me to got to sleep at night... you know....success...

For me, Ralph Waldo Emerson encapsulates this - 'to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived, this is to have succeeded' - I know for myself I have taken a very literal interpretation, but that is what resonates with me. I know how I am measuring things is not how others do, and for the person who would prefer to clean the toilet and just exist here, he may be feeling personally fulfilled, but I guess I have an 'Alpha Female' side to me and I really can not relate to the 'Omega', call me a snob but I will always view this person as beneath me.


Anonymous Anonymous said...


6:41 AM  
Blogger gils said...

You are entitled to that opinion, but I am trying to explain that I am coming from a place where making a contribution t society in order to improve it, s highly valued, and when given the choice of Zionism vs that, personally knowing my own capabilities I would not necessarily stay here. I am also criticising people who come here and think that is enough and do nothing else - in which case the snob comment is valid.

11:41 PM  

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