March 15, 2001
Israel vs. ‘Ally McBeal’
When the new intifada first began, a few Israeli men I dated could not figure out why I wanted to remain in Israel considering the "situation." They barraged me with comments and questions like, "Don't you want to go back to Los Angeles?" and "If I had an American passport, I'd be out of here," and my all-time favorite, "Maybe I should marry you for American citizenship" (as if they would last the date).
I wondered what made them think that just because I was a single woman without a family of my own, I would so easily yield my Israeli citizenship and loyalties and hop on a plane to sunnier Los Angeles, where the major news headlines consist of Calista Flockhart's weight and Tom Cruise and Meg Ryan's romance dramas. As the violence escalated, however, I began to see their point. Why live in a country where you live in fear every time you wait for a bus, where you're surrounded by people who hate you, shoot you and throw rocks at you, where you never know when your favorite TV program will be interrupted by a news anchor counting the dead.
Fortuitously, I happened to have planned a trip to Los Angeles during a dark month of violence. Boy, did I need this break. I needed to be spoiled by my family; pay a very important visit to my good friend, the Beverly Center; and catch-up on "Ally McBeal," which Israel was way behind on.
When I returned to Los Angeles for a week, however, I couldn't watch "Ally" even if my conscience let me. The show was interrupted to broadcast news about the growing Middle East crisis. Then I remembered a major reason why I left for Israel in the first place.
Before I moved to Israel, I remember thinking that if I were to stay in Los Angeles, the only place where I would probably feel a little excitement and drama is inside a television set or the big screen. Like the thousands who flock to the capital of stardom, I found the idea of a showbiz career extremely appealing. It's a world of glamour, risk, adventure, parties and people. I couldn't imagine myself stuck in a humdrum day job, especially in Los Angeles, where night life can't make up for a boring day life. Restaurants close at 10 p.m. and bars stop serving liquor at 2 a.m., when we would need it the most. Considering the few interesting causes to fight for in Southern California, Hollywood seemed the only place for me to gear my idealist energies with panache, and get rewarded with money and fame.
I continued to watch TV, and I saw an Israeli soldier being interviewed at his base. Besides being terribly cute and reigniting my longing for buff Israeli men, I recognized that Israel is a place that still needs real-life heroes and heroines. Israel is a place where drama exists everyday, and while it may not always be a comedy or a romance and all too often is a tragedy or horror, a story is constantly unfolding.
In Israel, I feel that I play a role in an amazing plot filled with beautiful, ugly, mean and courageous characters. There's an energy in Israel that makes me feel that I'm sometimes walking onto a movie set.
I can't personally say that I'm much of a hero. I stopped watching the news on a regular basis, and have been overtaken by my own personal soap operas dealing with work and my last dating fiasco (but I remain weight-problem free). However, there is a certain striving and ambition in the air that many people in Los Angeles waste on trying to land a part in a commercial or movie. Israel is a place where life is not taken for granted, so you don't have to escape into someone else's. You can live without a script and take part in an adventure that the major networks find mighty more interesting than my favorite TV show. In Israel, at least for now, I can star in my own life.