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Marching to Jerusalem (YNetNews.Com -Yedioth Internet) Yoav Friedman Published: 04.04.12, 12:23)Source: http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4212357,00.html YNet News - Yediot Achronot YNet News - Yediot Achronot Articles-Index-TopPublishers-Index-Top
Ynet special: American Jews planning to move to Israel say security situation doesn´t deter them

They live in the land of endless opportunities, but their Jewish identities attract them to Israel. The Arabs are planning a march to the border? To 1,000 American Jews who took part in a Nefesh B’Nefesh immigration conference it is clear that they are also crossing the border - to live in the land of their forefathers

Ahmadinejad does not hesitate to threaten Israel at least once every two days, in the south rockets are exploding far too often, in the north quiet is shaky, and beyond all these problems, last week masses of Arabs threatened to organize a Global March to Jerusalem. But it seems they are not the only ones who plan to be there. At the beginning of last week, some 1,000 American Jews took part in a conference organized in Times Square in New York City to collect information and make necessary plans for immigrating to Israel.

Some of the many participants will arrive in Ben Gurion airport as soon as next summer, others are not yet ready to board a plane, but are hard at work on the preparations for doing just that – the job search, finding a place to live, and other financial considerations. And what about “the situation”? At a time like this isn’t it safer to stay abroad? If you ask those who came to the conference organized by Nefesh B’Nefesh, the Ministry of Immigrant Absorption and the Jewish Agency, the answer is unequivocally no.

For Eric Shorr, a 23-year-old student from Columbia University who intends to immigrate to Israel in August, there are more answers than questions. “There is always a struggle surrounding Israel,” he says. In the 1980s it was the first Intifada, in the 1990s terror attacks, and in the decade after that the second Intifada broke out. There is always something, and in my view today is an excellent time to immigrate to Israel, I would even say ideal. This is the time to give to the country, to contribute to my people.”

Shorr is particularly enthusiastic about immigrating to Israel. He came to the preparatory conference in Times Square with his mother and father, mainly to reassure them. He is already locked into the move. Not for nothing did he recently receive the annual prize of the AIPAC pro-Israel lobby for being “the best ambassador of Israel in US universities.”

´World is a dangerous place´

He is already accepted for a master’s degree in the Interdisciplinary Center in Herzliya, but Shorr wants to go through the army first. According to him it is a matter of “a right and an obligation” and he very much hopes that the IDF will agree to accept him as a volunteer even if the post is not battle oriented for health reasons.

Shorr is not frightened at all about the differences in mentality he can expect. “This is exactly the angle I bring with me,” he explains, “to try to assimilate the kind of thinking and philosophy that has a certain delicacy and political correctness that can benefit the IDF and Israeli politics too.”

Sarah Willing, a 28-year-old social worker from New York, is also not worried by the security situation. She hopes to immigrate to Israel next year, but meanwhile is managing to visit the country frequently. “The reality is very far from what they show on CNN or FOX News,” she states. “Not that they aren’t firing rockets in the south, but in general things from day to day are pretty calm.

“As a Jewish woman I feel this is my place, this is home. It is impossible to explain this feeling, it simply feels right. One must not fear what will happen, and in general they say that driving a car in Israel is more dangerous than the security situation…”

Among the many people interested in Aliyah, there is a pronounced number wearing kippot. For some of them immigrating to Israel is not only a feeling of mission – it is a religious commandment. An obligation of faith. So it is with Shoshana Avrahamov who was born in France and has lived in the US for 13 years with her family. One of her friends already made Aliyah, and she expects to do the same in July.

“Whoever lives here is infected by the Diaspora germ” Avrahamov explains. “Today the Diaspora exists by choice, no one obligates us to stay here, but the Diaspora germ is powerful. It tempts you to stay because your family is here, the career you built is here, and your whole life is here, but this is so artificial. There is no real problem just to leave. Man is very adaptive. The Jew wanders – and always manages. He just needs the courage to take the first step.”

“The security situation certainly doesn’t need to deter someone. Israel has been threatened from the day it was founded. It is surrounded by enemies, but it has a defensive umbrella from God. It is impossible to explain it any other way. Even the rocket barrages from the south prove the guidance of God – there are so many strikes, and relatively few injuries.

Nefesh B’Nefesh Chairman Tony Gelbart explains that the massive immigration from the US is picking up steam in recent years. “Since the Twin Towers disaster people understand – and in particular Jewish Americans – that the world is a dangerous place. Israel has bad neighbors, but the fear is always there. Just last week we witnessed the shocking terror attack in Toulouse.”

“In Israel perhaps the situation is sometimes more dangerous, but at least you don’t feel helpless. In France you don’t know whether to wear a kippa or not; in the US the situation is better, but many feel alienated, even if the society around you is accepting. Tens of thousands have already immigrated to Israel with Nefesh B’Nefesh and the reason is that in the final analysis the place in which it is most comfortable to be Jewish is Israel.” (Copyright 2012 © Yedioth Internet 04/04/12)

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