Olim L'Berlin

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Milky pudding in different flavors

Olim L'Berlin (Hebrew: עולים לברלין, lit. "Let's Ascend to Berlin", also known as the Milky protest) is the name of a Facebook page that coined a snowclone in 2014. Comparing the high cost of living in Israel with the comparatively cheaper economic climate in Berlin, which has a growing community of Israeli expatriates, the page urged more Israelis to move to Germany, raising a storm of protest in Israeli social and political circles. Compounding the reaction was the Facebook page's use of the same verb (olim) that Jews use for aliyah (immigration to Israel).

The Facebook page based its cost-of-living comparison on the price of grocery items in Israel and Germany, among them a pudding dessert similar to the popular Israeli pudding known as Milky. The grocery bill was found to be three times higher in Israel than in Germany. The Facebook page and subsequent public debate became known as the "Battle of the Milky" (Hebrew: הקרב על המילקי‎) in Israel, or "Milky Protest" in international media.

Background[edit]

Milky pudding, based on a former Danone product and produced by Strauss, is one of the best-known and best-selling dessert products in Israel.[1][2] The chocolate-flavored Milky was introduced in 1979, followed by the vanilla-flavored version in 1980.[1] In 1986, a video commercial called "Battle of the Milky" (Hebrew: הקרב על המילקי‎) was released in cinemas, showing supermarket customers racing each other down the aisle to grab the last chocolate-flavored Milky off the shelf.[1][3] Evoking the cottage cheese protests in Israel in 2011, the Facebook site owner chose the popular Milky pudding as a new symbol of protest against Israel's high consumer prices, calling for Israelis to emigrate to Berlin to enjoy a lower cost of living.[2]

Berlin is known as a "cheap and shabby-chic" city with a lower cost of living than Israel[4] and a growing population of Israeli expatriates.[5] It is among the cities that now attract "the type who made Tel Aviv cool" – young, single, and often female graduates; artists, filmmakers, musicians, and other members of the creative class.[6][7] According to unofficial estimates, between 3,000 and 20,000 young Israelis and Western European Jews relocated to Berlin between 2009 and 2014;[8] an estimated 25,000 Israelis were residents of the city in 2014.[9]

Controversy[edit]

On September 29, 2014, a Hebrew-language Facebook page called Olim L'Berlin was launched by an anonymous site owner.[4][5] On October 5, the page showed a picture of a Berlin supermarket[10] receipt for a variety of products, including bread, eggs, noodles, orange juice, and three containers of a chocolate pudding dessert. Beside it was a picture of a Milky-like chocolate pudding product topped with whipped cream.[9] The site challenged Israelis to buy exactly the same list of groceries in Israel for less.[9] The pudding alone cost the equivalent of 1 shekel in Germany, as opposed to 4 or 5 shekels in Israel.[10] The equivalent grocery bill was found to be three times higher in Israel than in Germany.[6][10]

Besides reminding Israelis of the high cost of living in their country, the name of the Facebook page was a distortion of the Zionist ideal of aliyah, using the same verb (olim) to suggest emigration to Germany instead. Finance Minister Yair Lapid called the owner of the site "anti-Zionist".[9] The fact that Germany was chosen as the destination struck a raw nerve across the social and political spectrum, considering Israel's founding in 1948 in the wake of the Holocaust,[11] its large population of Holocaust survivors, and the many citizens who still refuse to buy products made in Germany.[12] "Are the gas chambers in Berlin also cheaper than here?" one visitor posted to the Facebook page.[11] Israel HaYom branded the Facebook page as "an insult to all Holocaust survivors".[6] Agriculture Minister Yair Shamir stated, "I pity the Israelis who no longer remember the Holocaust and abandoned Israel for a pudding".[4]

The Facebook page garnered 13,000 likes within hours of its posting[10] and reached 1 million hits within four days.[9] The so-called "Milky Protest" was widely covered by international media.[5][9][13][14][15] The site owner refused to reveal his identity or to be interviewed by the Israeli press; he was known only as a 25-year-old Israeli and ex-IDF officer living in Berlin.[16]

Five days after the page went live, the site owner claimed he had received 12,000 messages from Israelis and was actively advising Israelis how to emigrate.[9] He told Channel 2 that he had petitioned German Chancellor Angela Merkel to issue 25,000 temporary visas to accommodate Israelis looking for work in Germany.[17] From his home in Berlin, he organized an "emigration fair" in Rabin Square in Tel Aviv on October 14, 2014. Though 2,300 people registered on the Facebook page to attend, fewer than 100 participants showed up.[16]

On October 14 The Washington Post revealed that the site owner was Naor Narkis, a 25-year-old former officer of the Intelligence Corps and a freelance mobile app designer living in Berlin.[4] Narkis had first emigrated to France five months earlier, but was put off by strains of antisemitism and the high cost of living in Paris. He found much less antisemitism in Germany and a more welcoming atmosphere for Israelis there, as well as the "cheap and cool" factor of Berlin.[4] He claimed that the high cost of living in Israel was "forcing young people into exile".[4]

On October 26 The Jerusalem Post reported that Narkis was planning to return to Israel in a month’s time, saying that his Facebook protest had become "less effective" since he revealed his identity.[18] The site will be taken down upon his return to Israel.[19]

Other responses[edit]

In a play on the original page, other Olim L'... Facebook pages sprang up to provide destinations for emigrating Israelis, including Olim L'Prague, Olim L'Detroit, and Olim L'Mars.[5]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Yefet, Orna (22 April 2008). "We were (almost) there first". Ynetnews. Retrieved 22 December 2014. 
  2. ^ a b "The Milky Way". The Jerusalem Post. 6 October 2014. Retrieved 22 December 2014. 
  3. ^ Collins, Liat (26 June 2011). "Milking a Crisis". The Jerusalem Post. Retrieved 22 December 2014.  (subscription required)
  4. ^ a b c d e f Faiola, Anthony (17 October 2014). "'Pudding Man' who left Israel for Germany reveals his identity". The Washington Post. Retrieved 22 December 2014. 
  5. ^ a b c d Rudoren, Jodi (16 October 2014). "In Exodus From Israel to Germany, a Young Nation's Fissures Show". The New York Times. Retrieved 22 December 2014. 
  6. ^ a b c "Next year in Berlin: Some Israelis yearn for new lives in Germany". The Economist. 11 October 2014. Retrieved 22 December 2014. 
  7. ^ Hagin, Adi (16 September 2011). "Why are Israelis Moving to Germany?". Haaretz. Retrieved 22 December 2014. 
  8. ^ Faiola, Anthony; Eglash, Ruth (21 October 2014). "Waves of young Israelis find a home in the former Nazi capital". The Washington Post. Retrieved 22 December 2014. 
  9. ^ a b c d e f g Salloum, Raniah (10 October 2014). "An Israeli in Berlin: The Chocolate Pudding Exodus". Der Spiegel. Retrieved 22 December 2014. 
  10. ^ a b c d "From Tel Aviv to Berlin: Social media takes notice of Israeli supermarket prices, again". The Jerusalem Post. 6 October 2014. Retrieved 22 December 2014. 
  11. ^ a b Schofield, Michael (27 October 2014). "Israeli's praise of life in Germany sets off fury on Facebook". McClatchy DC. Retrieved 22 December 2014. 
  12. ^ Heller, Aron; Grieshaber, Kirsten (18 October 2014). "Berlin exodus campaign sparks outrage in Israel". Associated Press. Retrieved 22 December 2014. 
  13. ^ Goldmann, Ayala (8 October 2014). "Billig in Berlin" [Cheap in Berlin]. Jüdische Allgemeine (in German). Retrieved 22 December 2014. 
  14. ^ Molinari, Maurizio (11 October 2014). "Appello su Facebook: 'Berlino più economica di Tel Aviv, immigriamo'" [Appeals on Facebook: Berlin cheaper than Tel Aviv; immigrate]. La Stampa (in Italian). Retrieved 22 December 2014. 
  15. ^ "Teurer Schokopudding treibt Israelis nach Berlin" [More expensive chocolate pudding drives Israelis to Berlin]. Israel Heute (in German). 10 October 2014. Retrieved 22 December 2014. 
  16. ^ a b Harkov, Lahav (15 October 2014). "Low turnout at 'Berlin' protest in Tel Aviv over high cost of living". The Jerusalem Post. Retrieved 22 December 2014.  (subscription required)
  17. ^ "Israeli expats in Berlin appeal to Merkel for help in facilitating 'aliyah' to Germany". The Jerusalem Post. 10 October 2014. Retrieved 22 December 2014. 
  18. ^ Harkov, Lahav (26 October 2014). "'Milky Protest' leader in Berlin moving back to Israel". The Jerusalem Post. Retrieved 22 December 2014. 
  19. ^ Dekel, Irit (3 December 2014). "Israelis in Berlin and the Elephant in the Room". The New School for Social Research. Retrieved 22 December 2014. 

External links[edit]