Equal Partners
by Roland Ezri

Equal Partners by Roland Ezri

Equal Partners

By Roland Ezri

"Women are the backbone of all societies. They do a substantial part of the work, and play a major role in raising the future generation yet they are largely powerless. The decisions that count are made by men and foisted upon women."

Writings by Roland Ezri

The Second Exodus – Israel – CCLXXXIII. Leaving for Canada (1 of 3)

You`ve been informed early on that Israel was not my first choice.  But having been unable to obtain a visa to one of the “desired” countries (Australia, Canada, and America), I was grateful that Jews now had their own country; nevertheless, I reluctantly went to Israel.

When I arrived in Israel, I was only 21; therefore, the door was not necessarily closed for me if I wanted to immigrate to one of the “promised lands.”  Indeed, at the beginning I was determined to do just that; and here, Robert was onside.

Sooner or later, our plans are bound to collide with reality.  The road to stability was long and rocky; by the early ‘60s though, life in Israel became easier for us.  But we were still facing many challenges; thus the question – at least for me – was still whether I should stay put, or pursue my dream by immigrating once more and starting all over again.

Eventually, I decided to leave Israel.  If I have to summarize my reasons in two words, it would be “economic conditions.”

Ultimately, for my wish to be realized, I needed to obtain a visa to one of the aforementioned countries.  And this time, my preferred country was Canada.

The U.S. was entangled in the Vietnam War, and the draft still existed there.  Free health care like we had in Israel did not exist.  Finally, it was strictly a capitalistic system:  each man for himself.

Australia was still a great choice, but it was at the other end of the globe; travelling anywhere from there was costly and difficult.

Canada had free hospital care, with free medical care on the way.  As well, it had no draft; you joined the army if you wanted to make a career of it, and you were well paid.  It was a peaceful country that went to war only if absolutely necessary.  The drawback was that it was very cold; but I figured, how bad could it be?

So what were the conditions that forced my hand?

Let me start with the minor peeves.

Taxes were very high:  My paycheque was substantially reduced after income tax was deducted.  In addition, when the need arose, there was what was called forced savings; you invested in government bonds whether you wanted to or not, and the face value of the bonds (with interest) was returned when the bonds matured many years later.

Tariffs on imported merchandise were very high; purchasing a simple article like a tape recorder or a transistor radio cost you a fortune.

All locally produced goods had a stamp on them; this was to indicate that excise tax has been paid. And these taxes were high, but you never knew how high because they were not visible taxes, like the sale taxes you pay in North America.  What you did know though was that you paid a relatively high amount on a simple item like, say, an alarm clock.

Despite the impact on my income, I considered these taxes as justified.  Israel was an expensive country to run.  Immigrants were still arriving in droves with, in many cases, only the clothes on their back.

Being surrounded by enemies, it had a huge army.  The cost to maintain and equip it must have been phenomenal.  True, donations came pouring from Jews around the world, but it was never enough; therefore, it was up to the Israelis to foot the bill.

While I accepted taxes as irritants, there were other shortcomings that I could not justify.  Let me give you two examples.

Early in the ‘60s, we applied for a phone line; the cost was prohibitive; and we had to go on a waiting list.  It took us two years to have our application approved; but by then we had already left for Canada!  My parents were going to join us and they therefore turned the offer down.

When I left in 1964, Israel still had no television!  We still relied on the radio!  There was some talk of introducing educational television; I am all for education, but shouldn’t television start by introducing variety shows and news in Israeli homes?

For a Westernized country like Israel, a dearth of telephone lines, and the lack of any television is totally inexplicable.  Those were the 1960s after all, and technology had made great strides across the world.

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