November 21, 2019

ALIYAH 2010 – Hello Obama, Goodbye America

Sitting next to Josh Markovitz, a recent UCLA law school graduate from Hancock Park, on the Nefesh B’Nefesh charter flight on August 18, he told me about the moment his dream of making aliyah became more urgent.

“What sticks out is the day Barack Obama got elected, especially when I was in UCLA, which was an Obama shrine,” he said from the El Al coach seat, just after breakfast, about an hour away from touching down on Israeli soil. “Everyone knew about his alliances with people who generally felt ill will towards Jews and the Jewish state, and the people didn’t really care. I think at that moment, I suppose, I understand that it isn’t their fault, but my values and things I care about are not necessarily the same things shared by the majority of Americans.”

The most well known of these “alliances” is Obama’s Chicago pastor, Rev. Jeremiah Wright, whose anti-American and Israel statements are well-publicized. Markovitz was the only law student who wore a McCain/Palin kippah during elections.

I wondered how many people on this flight to Israel felt the same as Markovitz. Suspicions of Obama’s anti-Israel bias are strong among Orthodox Jews, who, judging from appearances, made up the majority on this particular charter flight. Since Obama was elected, aliyah across the board in North America and Israel has risen about 20 percent, although a variety of factors, such as the economy and normalization of aliyah, have served as an aliyah trigger, as discussed in