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On authors and politics

Op-ed: Writers have inherent ability to offer relevant experience, insights to political leaders

On occasion I’m asked, naively or sarcastically, why authors often voice their views on political and security affairs. What is their advantage over educated members of other professions? Are writers wiser, or do they sit at the computer anyway so it’s easier for them to write? I would like to respond to this question in earnest.


Every time a writer writes a novel or a play or a story, he creates a conflict between two sides. When it comes to one character, the protagonist, the writer identifies with it and can easily describe it, its character, its views and its arguments. Yet then there’s an antagonist who fights the protagonist with all his might. The antagonist’s views are different or the opposite of those of his rival. The conflict can revolve around various issues and involve two people, two groups, two nations or two worldviews.


An experienced writer who masters his craft would do a good job expressing the antagonist’s views no less than those of the protagonist, with whom he identifies personally and emotionally. This ability, without which a writer isn’t a writer, is part of his personality, inspiration, and experience. He not only understands the others (the rival or enemy) but is able to walk in their shows, understand what hides in their soul, and stand by them with the same vigor he stands by the protagonist.


Hence, the author’s profession, character and experience qualify him to also understand the political, diplomatic, or military enemy. Without such in-depth understanding it’s impossible to defeat the enemy, fight the rival, prevent failures or engage in vital negotiations.


Understanding the enemy’s or rival’s view, insistence, impassioned zeal and statements does not mean identifying with them or accepting the rival’s narrative. Yet as long as his narrative is not fully understood and thoroughly familiar to you (and even respected by you!), there is no chance to overcome the rival or reach a compromise.


The writer is skilled in all of the above because this has been his daily job, for years. He therefore feels the need to contribute his part to resolving the longtime, complex and bloody conflicts of the society he lives in.


Not all gentiles are enemies

Heads of state, political masters (and security whizzes) can and should enlist the inherent abilities of experienced writers in resolving problems. Effective simulations should not involve officers facing each other or ministers facing their skilled advisors. It would be worthwhile to openly read what authors write about political and military affairs. It is important to summon authors for face-to-face and heart-to-heart talks ahead of crucial decisions.


I recall important and useful meetings and conversations (too brief and rare at that) between me and my colleagues and some prime ministers. I’m certain they were beneficial for both sides. I live within my people, and I write and think for the sake of my people.


I believe that our leaders cannot fully understand our real friends, who have proven themselves since the state’s inception. Experienced authors apparently also need to get into the shoes of the Europeans an Americans, and open the fatigued eyes of our leaders, who hide behind dictums such as “the whole world is against us” or “they’re all anti-Semites.”


When the whole world is against us, we need to scrutinize our own actions. Not every gentile is an archenemy. Many good Jews worldwide harshly criticize the acts and failures of Israel’s government. I’m one of them.



פרסום ראשון: 02.09.11, 18:00
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