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Tough Questions

Are Israelis avoiding the tough questions? Photo: Reuters
Are Israelis avoiding the tough questions? Photo: Reuters
 
 

The average Israeli

Op-ed: Most Israelis want to be ‘good guys,’ but prefer to stay away from the tough questions

Naomi Krieger
Published: 04.27.11, 10:56 / Israel Opinion

The average Israeli wants to wake up in the morning and find milk for his coffee in the fridge.

 

He once heard about “free trade” coffee, but doesn’t quite remember what that is. It sounds like something that a pompous "bleeding heart" would say.

 

The average Israeli doesn’t want to be a bleeding heart. He would like to be considered the “salt of the earth,” but will settle for being a “good guy.”

 

The average Israeli doesn’t mind talking a little politics. After all, he follows the news and current events. Yet if he finds himself arguing with a radical rightist or extreme leftist, he will quickly seek to calm things down by saying something like: “Well, everyone has the right to his own opinion.”

 

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The average Israeli fails to understand that this so-called tolerance is merely indifference, and that this relativism is highly dangerous; an approach that legitimizes all evils and villains, with a smile no less, paints everything in grayish-whitish shades, hushes us, and dumbs us down.

 

The average Israeli seeks some challenges at work, a few challenges in his relationship, and a little challenge in the occasional trip overseas or mountain climbing session with the guys. He’s not interested in truly being challenged with difficult questions about the society he lives in. When it does happen, he laughs nervously and says things like “if it was really that bad, they wouldn’t let it happen.”

 

Inside him he sometimes hears a small voice saying “prhaps it’s true after all?” but he silences it. We are a welfare state, we have the world’s most moral army, and besides, there are smarter people than me who deal with these issues and surely know what needs to be done.

 

Unanswered questions 

The average Israeli occasionally hands out a few shekels to beggers on the street, but he realizes this will not solve the poverty problem. And he doesn’t know what to do about it. He knows that real estate prices are rising every year, but he doesn’t know what to do about it. He knows that Israel has a foreign worker problem and squirms in the face of images of expelled children in the newspaper, but he also knows that Israel must remain a Jewish state, and he doesn’t know what to do about it.

 

When these issues are brought up, he shifts uncomfortably in his chair and remembers that there’s a basketball game on TV tonight and that he must get going.

 

The average Israeli knows a little about the global economic crisis, a tad about the tsunami, a bit about what’s going on at the UN, and very little about the reality of the meat industry. When some vegetarian starts bugging him about it, he gets upset and says that “we cannot be more righteous than the Pope.” Besides, eating meat is the "natural" thing to do.

 

The average Israeli fails to understand that for a while now “nature” has not been a synonym for good; that the nature of man can be evil from his formative years if his formative years were hard; that maybe we must start looking at what goes on in our own homes and backyards, in our youth, and figure out how to address the root causes.

 

The average Israeli doesn’t quite want to know. I want to yell at him, rattle his world and shake him out of his self-righteousness and indifference. I want him to know that he doesn’t have to be a bleeding heart, and that he can still watch his favorite basketball team on TV, but that being a good guy on the sofa isn’t enough; one needs to truly make an effort to be a good person.

 

But I too am the average Israeli.

 

The writer is the former director of Strive Israel, an innovative social program designed to foster financial independence and rewarding career choices among Israelis

 

 

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