According to rumors and reports, Idan Ofer, the controlling shareholder of Israel Corporation and one of the wealthiest men in our country, is considering leaving the country for England. It's reasonable to assume that London is waiting to receive him, as it is other rich folks like him — after all, he is a global business figure and Israel is merely a tiny province in the Middle East.
If he does so, he would join other tycoons who spend reduced taxes in England, taxes that go toward welfare stipends for Pakistani immigrants and pension funds for British military veterans, those who participated in blockading Israel's shores to the few Jews who survived the Holocaust and were searching for a safe place to set foot.
I wouldn't have rushed to write about Ofer's intentions had I not heard on a radio show on the eve of Holocaust Remembrance Day that thousands of Israelis, who grew up in Israel and served in the Israel Defense Forces, are moving to Berlin — a city at the nexus of the country that became a killing machine for Jews. I will never understand how a Jew can stand to hear, from morning to night, the German language, used to give the orders to annihilate our people just 70 years ago.
A lecturer from a well-known university in Israel, who specializes in thesis writing for doctorate degrees in the sciences, told me recently that she is convinced that most of the students in her class will emigrate immediately after they receive their degrees. To put it more delicately, their post-doctoral endeavors will stretch for years on end.
Israel is a democratic country, open to immigration and emigration. We paid a steep price, one that can't be quantified, to earn independence 65 years ago and to build the home for all the world's Jews. We are honored by our democracy, freedom and openness. It's every Israeli's right to live anywhere in the world. We will continue safeguarding the home for them as well, so that they have a place to which to return.
I've learned that not everyone is deserving of realizing the dream, shared by so many generations, of a life in the historical homeland. There are those whom the land of Israel absorbs, and there are many to whom the land refuses to connect. This is the holy land's unique metaphysical virtue. Nearly a million Israelis have emigrated since the country's creation. One can meet them in New York, Los Angeles and other places. Communities of Israelis, those who have preferred a life of exile and alienation, primarily out of the consideration of acquiring wealth.
Most of the Jews in the world today live in Israel. The Jewish communities in other countries are assimilating and disappearing. For a long time already there have not been 6 million Jews in the U.S. Millions of them disconnected and fell to the wayside of the Jewish historical journey.
The future of the Jewish people lies in Israel, the place where the past and future come together in a wonderful and daring process of redemption. Many throughout history grew tired of carrying the people's burden, but the emancipators of Zion will never shy from effort and dedication. We've proved it in the past, and our war of existence here has yet to end and we will continue tirelessly to fight it.
Israelis, the large majority of them, will continue to live here, in the State of Israel, will pay taxes according to the law, even if they are high, and will cope with the cost of living and budget cuts expected to be part of the next national budget. Riky Cohen from Hadera, despite the hardships, will not give up on a life in the homeland. There is a price to pay as a free people. It's expensive and dangerous to live in Israel. It is perhaps the only country in the world seriously threatened by nuclear weapons, but we are here because we were born here, and we will never move.