When I am back home in my small Tel Aviv apartment, if I switch on the television the voices I hear (sometimes I even listen to) are in Hebrew. Obvious, I am in Israel. But not too obvious, since I have many friends who switch on their TV in Israel and hear other languages. Italians watch Italian TV, Americans are on CNN, the Germans watch the German news and so on. Easy for the French, with i24news broadcasting from the beautiful renovated building in Jafo, in French and from Israel at the same time. But what about the others? The others keep updated daily about things happening in countries they don’t live in for years already, sometimes decades. Follow political events bearing new names and developments, get updates on gossip and cultural trends, but don’t share the information with anyone living around them. I always found it unsettling. Maybe it’s a small “Zelig syndrome” – I personally need to feel connected to the place I live in, and that connection goes through several channels, including television channels.
I remember when I had just arrived in New York, and I would make sure to get home in time to watch the Jon Stewart evening show at 11pm, even though I couldn’t grasp most of the subtext, and I laughed much less times than the public in the audience. It took months, until I got up to a good rate of laughing. And back then there wasn’t even a language barrier, just a lack of local culture. Now in Israel, between the language and the local culture, it took a lot longer, but it’s definitely worth it. So when I open (daily) the Italian online papers and I don’t recognize most of the emerging and emerged names of politicians, actors, football players, I stop for a second and remember that now I know at least something about what happens in the Knesset, or about the latest Israeli scandals, and there is only so much your brain can retain. I prefer it to be local.
*Daniela Fubini (Twitter @d_fubini) lives and writes in Tel Aviv, where she arrived in 2008 from Turin via New York.