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My Daily Beast column: “Dear Israel, This Is Why I Left”

By Emily L. Hauser
Friday, April 6, 2012 14:01 EDT
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I’m one of the regular columnists at the newly formed Daily Beast blog group “Open Zion,” edited by Peter Beinart. I post there every other Friday, and will regularly shill that post here. It’s the way of the internet!

In this week’s Daily Beast/Open Zion column, I tell Israel why I left. Not that I’m sure they’re listening or anything, but there it is.

Following you’ll find the top of my column – to read the rest, please click here, and as I say every time I post: Really! Please click! I’m by far the least known quantity over there, and swimming with the big fish is both an honor, and nerve-wracking. Any attention will be most gratefully appreciated!

I lived in Tel Aviv for 14 years, and having been back in America for almost as long, still miss it every day. At Passover, that longing becomes an almost physical weight in my chest.

The smells of springtime Chicago aren’t right, and neither is the culture. I want to be surrounded by people who know why I’m frantic in the lead-up to the Seder, bus drivers wishing me a hag sameah, and neighbors asking “where are you for the holiday?” I want to be home.

But I’m not home. Instead I’m in the gentle exile of American suburbia—a self-imposed, political exile that I undertook for the sake of my children.

When the second intifada broke out, my Jerusalemite husband and I were temporarily in the US as I worked toward my Masters degree at the University of Chicago. We assured everyone (over and over) that we would be back in Israel by the time our just-born son went to kindergarten—it would be easier, we figured, if he started school in the country where he’d be growing up.

But then the intifada ground on. And Israel responded with increasing violence, and a steadfast refusal to admit any culpability, or need to make good on past promises, or understanding that the Palestinians were reacting as we would, had we been occupied for decades on end.

For a year my husband and I wrestled with our fears, not even sharing them with each other—then one day, when home for a visit with our son, we began to talk, and realized: We didn’t want to raise children in that place. The Jewish State was no longer a place in which we wanted to build a family—“for the time being.”

In the meantime, “the time being” has become our lives. The boy was joined by a girl, birthdays have come and gone, and nothing about Israel in the past decade has convinced us that our Israeli children should leave the galut.

To read the rest — honest to Pete, please click here.

Emily L. Hauser
Emily L. Hauser has been a freelance writer for 20 years. She has contributed to publications such as the Christian Science Monitor, Chicago Tribune, and Dallas Morning News, covering topics ranging from Israel/Palestine and domestic politics, to women’s issues and the occasional burst of geekery. She is a regular columnist at The Daily Beast’s Open Zion, and blogs at Emily L. Hauser In My Head. Follow her on Twitter at @emilylhauser.
 
 
 
 
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