Answers, Analysis and Insight
Throughout this project I kept thinking about what my interviewees had said and if the answers surprised me or not. I definitely feel that the answers to my questions were more complex than I had expected, but to be honest, I didn’t really know what to truly expect when my question basically was “why are you still here?”.
Initially I felt this phenomenon of North Americans feeling a sense of sacrifice by living in Israel, the feeling of being in Israel for the greater good. I now realize that this phenomenon does exist, but only in the beginning of their lives here, and that this feeling quickly wears off when reality kicks in, and that this seemingly selfless feeling seems selfish after a while. To my question of why to stay in Israel when you obviously miss America, I’d say that the phrase “the grass is always greener on the other side” truly applies here. Both of my interviewees miss aspects of North America, especially their families, but when hearing about Michal’s sister that actually did move back to Toronto and how she wishes she were still in Israel, one can see that the feeling of wanting to be in the other location no matter where you are applies. I feel like there is also the factor of convenience that affects them staying in Israel. Michal has made a good life for herself here, and my second interviewee says that he is where the opportunity for him lies. What also struck me is how both of them felt that for now, Israel was right place for them. None of them said that they knew that they would stay here forever, but that for now this is where their lives are and that there was a possibility that this could change in the future. Their flexibility and unwillingness to plan far ahead into the future to me shows that the aspects of Zionism and idealism no longer have much effect in their decisions to stay or leave, as they are open to leaving, unlike when they initially moved to Israel, when Zionism played a much bigger role in their decision making. The factors of decision making have clearly changed for them, starting out with Zionistic and idealistic reasons, then turning to convenience and opportunity which both interviewees attribute to growing up and reality setting in.
When it came to the feeling of home for my interviewees, it turned out that they mostly disagreed with the different theories I introduced them to from Pnina Werbners article. They had neither truly felt that their home moved with them, or that it was lost in the move. Both of them in fact felt that they had multiple homes and that home didn’t have to be restricted to one place. I would attribute this to different kinds of homes. Both of them were still connected to their city of origin due to the fact that their families still lived there, while Israel was their home because that is where their lives are now. I would interpret this as division of home, not multiplication. Michal states that if her family moved to Israel, she would have nothing left in Toronto to feel at home there. To me this shows that the different components that usually make up a single home are just divided up for the American immigrants in Israel, giving them the feeling of two homes.
In terms of integration into the Israeli society, both my participants displayed the feeling that although they might feel integrated, as being part of the Israeli WE, that Israeli society would not fully accept them. This to me indicates that they in fact do not feel integrated or even able to fully integrate as they feel alienation without necessarily having heard it first hand from Israelis. Additionally, both participants portrayed that they would only be able to fully integrate in ways that would make them lose a part of who they are, whether that be living in the middle of nowhere, or ceasing to use North American products, and they were not willing to take that step, saying that staying true to themselves is more important than fully being integrated into their surrounding society.
In conclusion, I definitely feel that my questions have been answered,