After seeing countless olim come and go during my nine months in Israel, I felt I had to do something. I’ve always been a planner, and making Aliyah (immigrating to Israel, for the uninitiated) is the craziest thing I have done to date and also the best thing. Out of all my friends who are recent olim I feel like I’m among the happiest and most well-adjusted, and as I speak to many of them I am beginning to see a pattern of common mistakes new olim make. None of the solutions I am about to propose are mandatory and they might vary from person to person, but these are the things that worked for me.
Problem #6: I feel like I lack the sense of purpose I thought I would get here. I miss the Zionist spirit I had when I was still in the diaspora and faced with adversity.
Seems like a weird problem but I hear it a lot. These people were actively involved in pro-Israel groups on campus like SSI, lobby groups like AIPAC, Zionist advocacy groups like ZOA, StandWithUs, and Hasbara Fellowships, Youth movements like NCSY and Bnei Akiva, and the like.
Solution: Join a political party or working group!
Many Israelis get their feeling of purpose and contributing to a higher cause from joining political parties and getting involved. Who knows? You might be the next Dov Lipman!
Here’s a quick primer on the major parties – the ones with seats and the ones that are emerging (from right to left):
- United Torah Judaism – the Ashkenazi ultra-orthodox party
- Shas – the Sephardic ultra-orthodox party
- Zehut – for the Moshe Feiglin lovers among you.
- HaBayit HaYehudi – A popular party among the National Religious (dati-leumi) Israelis who are more right-leaning. This party doesn’t believe in a two-state solution, but does believe in giving some land away for Palestinians to administer if it would help security. Lead by Naftali Bennet, the party strongly supports annexing Area C.
- Israel Beitenu – Avigdor Lieberman’s party. More hardliner than Likud in some ways.
- Likud – The ruling party, where Benjamin Netanyahu is their leader. Their reputation is much more right-wing than they actually are – which is slightly right of center on most issues. Likud is home to the Knesset’s first openly gay MK, Amir Ohana. This party is very much the establishment.
- Kulanu – Similar to Likud on foreign policy, economic, and military issues but socially a bit more liberal. Home of former American oleh Michael Oren. A good party for more “in the box” centrists.
- Yesh Atid – Home of former American oleh Dov Lipman and run by the famous Yair Lapid, their views are across the board on the political spectrum. So for those a bit out of the box politically, this is a good party for you.
- Zionist Union – This party is the product of the merger between Tzipi Livni’s HaTnuah (center left) and Buji Herzog’s Avodah (Labour zionist). It’s about as left as you can go in my opinion while still being a solid Zionist. While strongly Zionist in their beliefs, this party is very socially, economically, and militarily liberal. Many members are the “old guard” who are attached to their labour Zionist kibbutznik past, and others are young idealistic youth. The party strongly believes in a two state solution and dismantling Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria to make way for a Palestinian State, so if you believe in the Jewish Heartland, this isn’t the party for you.
- Meretz – a.k.a. the J Street party. Enough said. This party leans very left on every issue and is so idealistic, they believe if you just hug Abu Mazen (Mahmoud Abbas), he will love us. Some in this party are solid two-staters, while others believe in a one-state “democratic” solution with the right of return for Palestinians, which inevitably leads to the end of Israel. I would classify this party as post-Zionist, home to many of the ultra-critical radical leftist “elite” of Haaretz.
- Joint Arab List – If you are even thinking of joining this party, why the hell did you even move to Israel?