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Life goes on, except we’re united



I arrived in Israel in March, exhilarated to be in a country that not only was home to my children, but home to my heart. Realistically, I should have made aliya years ago. For reasons not relevant for discussion here, I didn’t, but I was now home.

I arrived in a country divided by political turmoil. Extreme views aired publicly. If you were on the right, the left didn’t understand, and if you were on the left, the right didn’t understand. When I proudly announced to anyone that I was an oleh chadash (new immigrant) they would hesitate for a moment, ask why, and then tell me that I had arrived at a very interesting juncture in Israel’s political history.

It sometimes bothered me because I didn’t care. I was in Israel, the most amazing place on earth. I’m not naive in thinking that it’s a bed of roses. Aliya does come with its complexity – the Israeli bureaucracy for one – although I seemed to wade through it quite seamlessly; and the Israeli temperament, which to be honest I’m still getting used to but at the same time have the utmost respect for.

The circumstances of 7/10 is the glue that makes Israel, Israel. It’s tense, but life goes on. The buses run, the trains run, the restaurants are open, and the kids are running around. What’s different is the sense of unity. It’s palpable. WhatsApp groups which were once asking about a good seafood restaurant are now asking for food, water, socks or something else required by a soldier or a displaced family from the south, and the response is always overwhelming!

It seems no-one cares anymore what your political persuasion is, the reality is we’re all together, we’re Israel! I cannot speak for what life is like for those displaced families, but I know that everyone realises that we’re all at risk and those families are our families. They are staying in hotels, apartments, in rooms in people’s houses in the centre of Israel, and being fed and the kids entertained. It’s a miracle how fast the support infrastructure has been activated.

I went with my daughter to buy socks and t-shirts for her friends on the frontline, and there was a queue to pay. The normal impatience was replaced with patience, love, and understanding, albeit deeply sad. Would I change where I have chosen to live? I don’t question my decision for a second.

  • Noah Greenhill is a 55-year-old Johannesburg-born businessman and father of two who made aliya in March.

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