Emmanuel Rosen
Photo: Sharon Beck

Losing our ability to think

Israeli society losing its ability to engage in reasoned, in depth debate

A few days ago, I happened to sit for a beer with a friend at a small Tel Aviv bar. During the evening, a young politician who serves as a government minister sat down next to us. We did not arrange to meet there; we’re not friends, but we certainly know each other. We spoke, mostly about soccer by the way, and we bid each other farewell, not before each one of us duly paid for his beer.


At the exit, we encountered an enraged young man. He slammed the honorable minister, questioning how a “senior cabinet minister” dares drink beer while Gilad Shalit is still in captivity; next, he blasted me while using the doomsday weapon: Improper ties between wealth and politics. “A journalist sits at a bar and drinks beer with a senior minister. This is precisely the proof of improper ties between politicians and the rich in our rotten state.”


I bothered to share this delusional story with you, where for a brief moment I became a tycoon, because it is a symptom of the malady which Israeli society has been suffering from as of late. We completely lost our trust in each other, each one of us entrenches oneself within one’s own little camp, hates the other, fears the other, and most of all, no longer knows who to criticize and how to do it.


Everyone is a suspect until proven otherwise; everyone makes it hard for us to live and breathe.


We’ve turned into a society interrupted. Every minor matter immediately turns into a major affair here. Anat Kam is a treacherous spy who should be hanged, just like Tali Fahima is the devil – and anyone who thinks a little differently must be an Arab or a leftist.


Meanwhile, a failed operation by our Navy commandoes turns into a heroic effort, and soldiers who were beaten up because they were sent unprepared into a difficult mission turn into the nation’s beloved heroes. Anyone who thinks otherwise becomes a traitor.


Jewish mind replaced by talkbacks

Speaking of traitors, a smalltime provocateur like Knesset Member Hanin Zoabi turns into an enemy who threatens our existence here, while on the other hand, a prime minister who makes every possible mistake, gains great popularity in the polls.


Everything around here is about Left and Right, traitors and loyalists, Zionists and enemies of Zionism. It has become impossible to engage in calm and in-depth debates about anything. The question marks have been replaced by exclamation marks, the different shades have been replaced by black and white, and the Jewish mind has been replaced by zealous talkbacks.


When a state become infantile and loses its ability to think, it also loses its ability to act. The pathetic embrace to our Navy commandoes, who are indeed among our finest, reminded me of the victory celebrations on the Arab side in the wake of its glorious defeats in battles with the IDF.


Once upon a time, it was our enemies who would take off their shoes, run away, and then boast of victories that never happened, while we were the ones who would hit them wisely, powerfully, quickly, and elegantly. Today, the tables have turned. The nation demands impassioned stickers: “We shall win,” “All of us are Navy commandoes,” or “Hanin Zoabi, go to Gaza.”


Both on the Left and Right (yes, on the Left too,) we stopped thinking and started to recite mindlessly. Under such circumstances, one should apparently not be surprised that an innocent beer at a small Tel Aviv pub is the ultimate proof of the wealth-politics relationship in the 2010 Israel.


פרסום ראשון: 06.14.10, 11:44
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