To Leave or Not to Leave: This Was My Question
In the 1970’s (my 20’s), I stood at one of the most profound and significant crossroads of my life. At this junction, facing Israel, my homeland, I asked myself: “Should I continue living here? Or is it time to leave and move on?”
I debated long and hard. On the one hand, I felt deeply connected to Israel as my birth place and as the home of my family and friends. The language, the music, and the landscape were my own. My history was intimately linked with that place: it was there that my parents found safety from the Nazis in the 30’s.
On the other hand, I could no longer take part in an oppressive regime that was occupying Palestinian territories, illegally and immorally, since the 1967 war. I did not want my kids to go to a war that I did not believe in. In my mind, the argument that the occupation was necessary because “Israel will not let the holocaust happen again,” was no longer a justification of Israel’s inhumane treatment of Palestinian people.
For many years I debated, discussed and weighed my options. I reflected on my thoughts and beliefs as I wrestled with my conscience, hopes, and fears. I contemplated my familial, communal and cultural affiliation against my moral commitments.
While I could have stayed in Israel and actively fight the occupation, as many of my friends and family members chose to do, this did not resonate with my conscience. In following this choice, in my mind, I would have turned into either a bystander or a colluder in the occupation's atrocities, rather than a ‘peace activist’ protesting against them.
Eventually, I elected to leave. I have been at peace with my decision but there is a price I pay: Even though I visit Israel often, at times, I still miss Friday night family gatherings, the music, the language, friends, the desert, Jerusalem, the Red-Sea . . .
— Ofer Zur