Escaping the Hell of the Holy Land

Israelis Contemplate the Unthinkable—Moving Out

"So if we want to run away from the Arabs, there's only Easter Island left," she laughed. "But seriously, it is not the Arabs we are running away from—it is the kind of people Israelis have become after living for 50 years with this pressure."

Ha'Aretz correspondents Uriya Shavit and Jalal Bana investigated the "secret exodus" of Palestinians and found a profile similar to that of Israelis seeking to leave: "young, educated, and with no hope."

A large number of Palestinians leaving were also "new immigrants" who had come back to the territories from America or Europe when peace appeared to be at hand, only to see their hope for a decent life blown apart by a renewed eruption of violence.

In an interview with Yedioth Aharonot last month, Yossi Beilin, a Knesset member from the Labor Party, said he is now hearing things that he never heard before. His old army pals and schoolmates, people in their fifties, are privately saying that they would not mind, or would even be glad, if their children moved someplace else.

Beilin wondered aloud at the hawkish policies of Defense Minister Benjamin "Fuad" Ben-Eliezer and Matan Vilnai, minister of science, culture, and sport, both of whom have children living outside the country.

He said it was hard for him to understand how Fuad and Vilnai could fail to see the price they are paying for policies which could result in their children never coming back to Israel.

He said he did not think Fuad made decisions that contribute to the cycle of violence and "endanger our children just because his children are not here.

"But I tell him: Don't you understand that you will stay here alone? Look at your children. Is there anything harder than the fact that your children are leaving the country?"

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