Friday, November 11, 2011

North Americans and Aliya

I am an exception – a former resident of North America (American or Canadian) who came and stayed.  The fact is many come, but few stay.  The interesting issue is the reasons for this tendency.
To clarify, standard of living is generally not an issue.  Most immigrants from North America and Canada come with either capital or financial support.  Being a native speaker and having a degree allows most immigrants to attain respectable jobs.  Very few Anglo-Saxons have ever cleaned streets in Israel.  The level of housing and food is comparable to most of the United States and Canada.  I could not afford my house in the United States.  Instead of living on credit card debt, Israelis live on overdraft.  The name is different, but the interest rate is the same.  Health and educational facilities are superior and less expensive here as compared to many places “back home.”  In short, most Yankees and Canucks do not suffer economically in Israel.
In my opinion, the major factor is cultural.  Israel is a “frontier” country.   The people are hot-tempered and direct; the pace of life is fast; confrontation is common.  For people used to a more “genteel” way of life, coping with Israel requires a change in expectations and thinking.  This is less problematical for singles, who only have to worry about they want.  By contrast, emigrating families struggle to get everybody adjusted to the new life.  Since there is a “home” to return to, some members of the family want to go back where life is psychologically easier.  If the family is split 50/50, it generally returns.
Of course, other reasons may apply.  Age and language difficulty affect integration into society.  Unrealistic expectations can lead to disappointment.  Distance from family can be difficult to handle.
I would be interested in hearing from other immigrants / former immigrants to other countries and their impression.

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