Am I Cheating on my Israeli Wife with my American Mistress?

Israel and the United States of America – the two geographical and cultural loves of my life. The only two places I’d ever dream of living and the two countries tearing my heart. The following is a shortened correspondence I had recently with a friend of mine who lives in Israel:

ME:  I think I’m extra sensitive at the moment with everyone asking why, why why. Thing is I don’t even have all the answers myself. (not w/in original correspondence; though I tend not to talk about it, one of the main reasons I’m here at this time is because my parents aren’t doing well, and as an only child, it’s my responsibility to do what I can to help…and I can’t do much from the other side of the planet)

I’ve never felt so conflicted. I feel like a “traitor” so to speak, admitting that there are aspects of life in America that are infinitely better than in Israel. On the flip side, I feel very defensive whenever someone else implies anything negative about Israel.

On the one hand, I hate the feeling of having to defend the integrity of our homeland 100% in every situation, as if life there is all roses and dancing camels. A lot of BS goes on there that I don’t like. And I don’t mean just politically, but culturally as well. It makes it worse to feel I have to look the other way or sweep it under the carpet, so as not to offend or embarrass my fellow Israelis in front of our American counterparts. But, c’mon, only the absolute lowest of the low would speak publicly of their ‘spouses’ shortcomings.

On the other hand, don’t I have the right to call it as I see it? To have an honest discussion of the good and bad in both countries? Even to fly back and forth as I please without justification and without feeling as though America is my secret mistress with whom I’m cheating on my wife, Israel?!?

FRIEND:  I understand your conflicted feelings. I felt the same way for my first years back in the US after the army.

But I have come to two conclusions about these matters:

1) you have every right and responsibility to be critical of the US and Israel when it comes to Politics, culture, social trends, etc. that you feel need to be addressed. Your current country of residence is irrelevant.

As someone who has spent significant time in both countries you are in a unique position to compare and contrast. The only caveat is: try to be aware of your audience. Context is important. What an informed friend understands as ” The Israeli government needs to improve x, y and z”, the uninformed person may hear as “Israel is evil”.

2) So you are in the US now. The reason does not matter. No need to justify it to anyone. Just embrace the moment and make the most of it. How long will you stay? When is the right time to come back? That is for you and Sara to decide and when you reach that bridge you will know if it is time to cross. But it is nobody else’s business. And just because you write about encouraging Aliyah, it doesn’t mean you are a hypocrite for doing what is right for your family at this given moment.


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