Today, the President of the association of Foreign Press Correspondents in the United States asked me a question: “How do you feel about the US these days?” I can answer this question easily. As a private individual and as a journalist, as well. My short answer is: I feel very comfortable in the United States, but I need to complete my answer, for explanation: One of my eyes is crying, the other one is laughing
How do you feel about the US these days?
One of my eyes is crying, the other one is laughing
The longer answer to the question:
Why do my eyes cry?
As a private individual and as a journalist, I find it difficult to bear the negative changes in American political and social life.
I would like to highlight three things.
The recent racist, anti-Semitic events, hate speech, and hate crime is very disturbing.
I am very disturbed by the news I hear and see on the subject of impeachment.
The circumstances, namely the bureaucracy that is increasingly common in American life, also disturb me.
Personally, let me give an example: I would like to move from my current to a new apartment. To rent a new apartment, I need to fill out an application form. It is natural. However, this application package, including the annexes, is forty pages. Of course, they ask me to have an income, and I also find it natural to ask my accountant for a letter stating whether I have filed my tax return.
However, issues that are covered by personal and bank secrecy, such as how much money I have in my bank account, are clearly considered harassment. They also ask me to send a photocopy of the TAX return from the past two years to the house’s management. They also ask questions that have nothing to do with renting an apartment. For example, what was my PhD and when did I get it? I ask: Will this make me a better resident of the house?
I could give similar examples from other areas of life. I could give similar bureaucratic examples on other topics in life. For example, in health care.
It is difficult for me to bear the events that limit my human safety. Mostly school shootings, attacks on Jewish communities such as synagogues.
As a journalist, my eyes are crying for countless fake news, misleading, incomplete information, seeing unethical journalistic activity.
Why do my eyes laugh?
My shortest answer is: I feel free.
The longer answer is: I am free, free to decide on issues that concern myself. This is freedom even if I know that our lives are governed by law. I lived in a country where laws were also decisive, but since dictatorship prevailed, I was not free. I came to the US from a country that, even today, has only a very democratic tradition, and in reality, a dictatorial tradition. So, for me, the question of democracy is a fundamental one.
The existence of democracy, freedom of thought, speech, religion is a defining value for me. For me, Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights is fundamental.
“Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.”
Today I feel that this point in my life can come true. Here are two examples:
On the first day of 2020, more than one hundred thousand religious Jews celebrated learning in New York City at the Metlife Stadium and Barclays Center. This is an excellent example of religious freedom. I myself was a correspondent at the event, and I think such an event is only possible in the US.
On 5 January, the NO HATE mass march was the streets of New York. The mass was proud, united, and strong. The organizer, the ADL was on the front lines, in solidarity against anti-Semitism with communities across the country. The ADL invited the people from across the region to stand with us and say no to hate and no to fear.
So my answer to the question asked, despite the fact that one of my eyes is crying, the other one is laughing, is that I feel very comfortable in the United States. I feel free.
New York 01/07/2020