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Wednesday, July 4, 2018


July 4th signifies for me both sadness and renewal. It was on this day 42 years ago in Israel - on American bicentennial - that my father passed away. After seventeen years of suffering a serious heart disease he succumbed to excitement when he saw on TV the bold Israeli rescue operation in Entebbe, Uganda. I was in Washington DC that day, unbeknownst to my family in Israel, and therefore unreachable. When my sister finally reached me the next evening, it was too late for me to fly to his funeral: The Israeli orthodox burial society, which is controlled by the Israeli Rabbinate that is in turn controlled by the Religious Ministry, refused to wait for me because I was a daughter not a son.  Had I been a son, expected under Jewish orthodox law to recite the Kadish prayer for the dead - a right that is denied under Jewish orthodoxy to women – they would have delayed my father’s funeral until my arrival. Heartbroken and outrageous, I mourned with my American husband and young daughter in New York.

Seven years earlier I was an activist in Israel, demanding rights for certain Israeli war widows, of which I was one. When in 1969 the Israeli government offered me a two-year position in New York, wanting most likely to send me away before I activate my threat to take my case to the Israeli High Court of Justice (equivalent to the American Supreme Court), I hesitated. “Go, it can be the chance of your life,” my father encouraged me, though it was hard for him to part from me. He was the only one in my family to persuade me, and I took his advice. 

I have done well in America. I remarried an American man with whom I had hoped to return to Israel, but that did not work out. I gave birth to a lovely daughter, earned a PhD in Political Science, became a college lecturer, a neutralized citizen, a Fulbright scholar, a writer, a grandmother and a memoirist. My father’s foresight was prescient.

The America I arrived in was not a unified country. Division over the Viet Nam war enhanced political partisanship, and anti-war demonstrations were met by state-sponsored violence, like the shocking Kent State killings. Richard Nixon, who was at the onset of his presidency when I arrived, had to resign five years later over his scandalous abuse of power. But the bi-partisanship in America was not the polarization America is experiencing under the Trump administration. And though Nixon acted criminally, taking advantage of American values and politics, he certainly understood them:

Unlike President Trump, who shuns non-Norwegian migrants, cages and separates families of illegal immigrants who seek a better life in America, in 1971 Nixon submitted legislation to the 92nd congress that is diametrically different. He proposed to “improve our immigration laws and to enlarge upon our national tradition as an open nation and an open society, which would, among other reforms, provide:
--A higher percentage of immigrant visas for professionals, needed workers and refugees.
--Additional visas for the Western hemisphere, with special provisions for our nearest neighbors, Mexico and Canada.”

Unlike President Trump, who has no well-defined foreign policy and lacks strategic skills, Nixon understood foreign policy, and was a brilliant strategist. He would not have given Jerusalem to the Israelis without using that gift as a strategic asset to promote peace in the Middle East. Like other US presidents succeeding him, he would not have met the North Korean leader without receiving something in return, and undoubtedly would not have canceled military exercises with South Korea, tarnishing American credibility.

No American president would have planned to meet his Russian counterpart, the master manipulator Vladimir Putin with out preparatory negotiations. And no US president would plan to meet Putin alone.  Likewise, no US president would offend his country’s NATO allies, partners to US global strategy since the end of WWII.

And I have yet to address the genuine threat to women’s reproduction rights under the current reactionary administration.

Surely some readers would say: “if she doesn’t like it here, let her go back to where she came from.” But America is my country and I value its principles and ethics. I wish my grandchildren and their generation will be living in the America I had known.



  1. Thank you Michal. I sent it to an English-language Israeli paper, suspecting they won't print it. They didn't.