When a good mate of mine who has been based in the States since the summer mentioned that he can't work until January, mindful of how much we all bitch about Misrad Hapnim, I asked him to write a few lines about his experience with American bureaucracy.......
"The first thing I noticed whilst arranging a prolonged "Yerida Le'tzorech Aliya" in America was that I felt a longing for Misrad Hapnim. This is a very strange feeling indeed. The Misrad Hapnim in Jerusalem has greatly improved over the years. You can now book an appointment in advance (!) but when I made Aliya back in 1997 things were a bit different. Also, I was in Ashkelon. The Misrad Hapnim there was packed with Russians and of the ten clerks behind the desks, only one spoke English.
You get the picture. Even that was a picture of friendliness compared with the cold embrace of America. Israel is a warm, welcoming, frustrating but lovable bureaucracy. I have yet to speak to a human being in America. The websites are incommensurable. The automated voice machine directs you only to another set of option menus. The postal service does work, but again...there is no human at the end of the line.
I write this so that Olim should be grateful for what there is. I miss it like hell. There is no comparison between dealing with someone who is happy you have moved to Israel even if it makes work for them and between dealing with the American Immigration Department who doesn't want you there, treat you like a terrorist suspect and wouldn't give a monkey's if you were deported on the spot. And the process takes forever.
Now, I remember making Aliya. I know that it didn't happen overnight. I know that Israel is commited to helping Olim (though, perhaps more resources would help, eh?), but America takes forever. I recently heard from a friend who married an American and moved from the UK to New York. It took a year before she could get the necessary permits to work. What is that all about?
But the process has been smooth so far. I don't really have a clear idea of what lies ahead. America is everything you would expect after a life of watching exported TV programs. Just as long as they don't demand I learn to start speaking like an American. That would be, like, y'know, really, like, y'know, really, well, yeah, eh...
Nu, maspik. Az, matai anu chozrim habaitah? Be'hekdem Ha'Efshari.Todah Rabbah Le Mar Gil Ben-Mori u'lehitraot bekarov."
....and we look forward to your speedy return too.