Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Detached from Reality

On several occasions, I have commented on various statements by rabbinic figures that are detached from reality. But in those cases, at least the errors are understandable; since the authors really are detached from reality, having had an entirely different education and being culturally isolated from the wider world. Much less forgivable are writings by secular people that are detached from reality.

There are few people more detached from reality than the Israeli secular left. I try not to read Ha-aretz too often, as it is depressing to see just how bad self-hating Jews can be. And so I was pleased to see an article entitled "Why there's no revolution in Israel." Finally, I thought to myself, even Ha-aretz can recognize that Israel is a league above from its Arab neighbors.

Alas, I was mistaken!

The author's reason as to why in Israel, unlike in the Arab countries, there are no protests? Because:

the truth is that it is difficult to expect the Israeli public to take to the streets, because in fact it has too many things to protest.

Ah yes! Unlike in Libya, Algeria, Egypt, Jordan, Yemen, Albania, Syria, Lebanon, Bahrain and Iran, where there is only a single thing to protest, in Israel there are just so many terrible things that it's difficult to know where to start! That's why there are no protests!

The rest of the article presents similar such mindboggling nonsense, such as the claim that Israel's politicians have failed to realize that the population's exhaustion and desire for quiet have led to the yearning for a strong leader. In fact, it is the secular left's exhaustion and desire for quiet - and in particular, their hopelessly naive desire for warm acceptance by the international community - which have led to the desire for concessions even where these are accompanied by dangers so obvious that even the left acknowledge that they are tremendous risks.

The author subsequently admits that Israel is hardly short on protests, thus neatly overturning her earlier claim, but then argues that they have all been futile. Of course, it's difficult to get governments to change their minds, but at least in a democracy, the government can be changed regularly - and their awareness of this is what motivates them to be attuned to the people's needs and desires.

It goes without saying that Israel is not perfect. But the conclusion of the Ha-aretz article, that Israelis should be envious of their Arab neighbors, is a sad reflection on its author. Not just her detachment from reality, but also her singular lack of appreciation of all the myriad ways in which Israel is a league above its Arab neighbors.


  1. Extremists of all kinds live by the slogan: Don't confuse me with the facts.
    But really, you shouldn't call them self-hating Jews. They actually love themselves a great deal. They would more properly be termed Jew-hating-Jews, JHJ's. That would be more accurate although it would put them in the same group as the Neturei Karta. And wouldn't that make a fascinating Shabbos tish?

  2. Even the Israeli Arabs have less of a reason to protest than any other group of Arabs.

    The writer of Haaretz along with the New York Times live in a converse parallel universe.

  3. "Don't confuse me with the facts"

    That's precisely it - which is why this topic is related to rationalism. To be rational is to base one's knowledge on a preponderance of evidence, facts, logic and common sense experience.

    This is as opposed to non-rational thinking, where something is called "knowledge" only when it supports a pre-baked ideology. What happens when the facts don't fit the ideology? Either they're brushed aside as "heresy" (religious or political) or twisted to mean something they clearly don't.

  4. I actually agree with the author and wish, more than anything, for normal Israelis to rise up, take over their government, and finally take care of the Arab enemy that has murdered and maimed over 10,000 Jews, at least, over the last 20 years.

    (The author is also right that normal demonstrations in Israel never accomplish anything.)

  5. Following the author's logic, I guess we're lucky that these Arab leaders hadn't committed further crimes beyond running brutal dictatorships that create abject poverty and the torture and murder of political dissidents - if they would have done so, then their populations wouldn't have bothered protesting, because there would be just too many things to protest!

  6. Rabbi Slifkin - although I agree with the gist of this post, I think it is important to note that this discourse in general is leading some parts of the religious-nationalist community in Israel to very dangerous places. All the support for people like Dov Lior, who refuses to retract his haskama for 'Torat Hamelech' (essentially a Jewish Mein Kampf) should worry civilized religious people far more than the bitter rantings of a Ha'aretz journalist.

  7. Personally, I'm sure there's lots to protest in Israel vis-a-vis the Arab nations.

    In Israel, you can complain about the weather, the traffic, the garbage collection, the taxes, or any of a host of things.

    In the Arab nations, they have that crushing boot of tyranny. This distracts them from the weather, the traffic, the garbage collection, the taxes, and the rest of it.

    I say it's a symptom of societal health that there is so much to protest in Israel.

  8. Radio talk-show host Michael Savage often says that "Liberalism is a mental disorder." This describes the editors of Haaretz to a T. Note: by liberalism, Savage means leftism.

  9. Indeed. The main reason is this: in no modern democracy in the world has their ever been a change in the fundamental nature of government because of street protests. Street protests, and some other factors, led to the fall of the Berlin Wall, the Soviet Union, and two Arab dictatorships so far. Modern democracies, on the other hand, normally can't be subject to a revolution because of street protests because it's completely unclear what the revolution would result in. At the most, huge protests would cause the government to dissolve parliament and call new elections, preserving the overall system. The current chance of a real revolution anywhere in the democratic world is virtually nil, and this is probably a good thing.

    However, a few decades from now, when the majority of Israel is Orthodox, there is a danger that some will call for abandoning democracy in favor of some kind of theocratic authoritarian system. I hope by then that even the right of the Charedi camp is firmly opposed to such a result. Completely separating shul and state (getting rid of the Rabbanut so each religious group can just rely on their own batei din, allowing secular marriage, etc.) would probably be the best option for preserving democracy with a Charedi majority, and preventing the secular from leaving the country.

  10. "Much less forgivable are writings by secular people that are detached from reality."

    If one's knowledge about the world -only- comes from newspapers and speaking to other like minded individuals, then how can you not expect their words to be detached from reality? They are just as detached as the insular Charedi.

    I have never read a newspaper article about an event I witnessed that I felt was 100% accurate.

  11. " The current chance of a real revolution anywhere in the democratic world is virtually nil, and this is probably a good thing."

    I disagree. If a new order of government is needed or wanted, a street protest can result in a new constitutional convention. This almost happened in California 2 years ago, but was halted by the realization that those who wanted a new constitution had diametrically apposed reasons for it. (Some wanting to remove constitutional spending, others wanting to make it stronger)

  12. Great post rabbi. But israel does need a regime change more than any of these arab countries. The arabs want regime change to install islamists who will fight israel. Israel needs a regime change so that they will stop surrendering to the arabs.

  13. You are nitpicking the article, and missing her overall point. I don't think she believes that Israel is worse than surrounding Arab dictatorships. She is just saying that there are plenty of things that frustrate people about Israeli policy, and she is envious when she sees citizens of other countries organizing, taking action, and succeeding. In fact, many across the world have been commenting in similar fashion. No one is envious of the dictatorships... they are envious of the citizens' ability to rise against it.


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