Most politicians in Israel are bureaucrats. Most bureaucrats in Israel excel at being politicians. Here and there, however, one may find a singular exception, a person who looks beyond the nine-to-five workday, who sees the bigger picture and has the nerve to do something beyond the call and comforts of what would ensure lifetime employment.
They are often frowned upon, for they rattle a system otherwise quite stable. Why change something and cause more work? The salary, benefits and pension are all guaranteed and anchored with collective bargaining. If at the group level there exists no responsibility toward the greater good, why would any individual member of that or any other groups behave differently? The example is set; stay the course.
What I described thus far is true for a small city like Beverly Hills (about 35,000 residents), a large city like Los Angeles (just slightly over four million residents) and a small country like Israel (just over seven million citizens). Such behavior is commonplace in every government, local, state or federal, where bureaucrats forget whom they are serving or when politicians are busy with anything but that which they have been elected to accomplish.
The way to treat such pitfalls is to trim down the system and make people accountable. This so rarely happens that when we encounter an exception, it raises our spirits.
There is a professional staff member at the top of one of the ministries of Israel who is such a rare exception. But the story is not about him. Rather, let us look at the frustration expressed when he approached a group of Israel supporters and friends around the globe. He writes about last week terrorist attacks on Israel which were followed by a constant barrage of missiles on Israel’s cities in the south:
“As we all had our sights on ‘September,’ the realities of living in Israel hit us with all its force. Areas Israel relinquished for the hope of peace and with the assurances of the International community are used to assault our existence. One would think the facts would be obvious and simple:*
“Israeli civilians are attacked and murdered by terrorists who violated our sovereignty and took advantage of our internationally guaranteed peaceful border with Egypt. Israel does what any country would do and attacks the perpetrators of the terrorism. Terrorists fire rockets deliberately at civilian areas. Israel defends its civilians.
“Last week, I was on vacation in Ashkelon, my hometown. In a matter of hours my three little kids and I went from fun in the sun along the great beach to being stuck in my mom’s home running for shelter. I am back in Jerusalem now and my kids are vacationing with my wife up north. But the difficult reality remains for my mom, my young nieces and nephews and the one million Israeli’s who live in the south.
“As usual, it is not how the simple facts play out in the international media. Emphasis is on Israel’s attacks and on the tensions with Egypt.
“Our ‘hasbara’ efforts at the moment are emphasizing the attacks on our civilians and the disruption of life in the south. Tours are being arranged and briefings organized with mayors and hospital personnel. The attendance is not very high.
“You may have noticed the AP, Reuters, AFP, et al news items that have scenes from Gaza showing ambulances arriving at hospitals and dozens of civilian victims being brought in. A closer look shows that most of them have no blood on them at all. They are deliberately creating the impression of many civilian casualties. These photos are provided by the Palestinian stringers of these media organizations who are Hamas sanctioned.
“Why are media outlets allowing the airing of these obviously manipulated images? Mostly because no one says anything about them. This is also an issue that is better resolved when the public addresses it.”
Indeed, there is relatively little coverage of the real victims of the latest terrorist attacks. Israel licks its wounds, tries to gather strength from within and resorts to its daily lives as soon as possible. This is both part and parcel of the reality of living under constant threat of war and attacks and of the very Jewish being: When a person dies, burial is immediate. There is a seven-day mourning period, and a thirty-day and a year unveiling, but life must resume. Jews are taught to move forward as this is the never-ending ebb and flow of our existence.
On the enemy’s side, they just wait for each opportunity (of their own doing) to barrage the world with images. I remember the land incursion into Gaza. Within hours and Israel’s enemies had Facebook groups up and running, with images (pictures taken over the years and kept for such purposes), caricatures (impossible to draw so many detailed caricatures in such a short period of time) and detailed accounts of stories concocted out of thin air in advance.
And the world? Hurting and murdering Israelis is not newsworthy (possibly on page 42 hidden at the bottom of the inner column). Israel must have done something to deserve what took place (how about existing in the first place?). The media coverage is slanted and those trying to correct false and misleading “reporting,” organizations like Honest Reporting or CAMERA (Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America) are treated with white gloves. On the one hand they are agents of the Zionist Propaganda Machine, on another the Jews Control the Media and seek influence designed to reject any just criticism against Israel.
So who is left to fight for Israel? The Israelis and Jews. They must expect nothing from international or local media. The world is not and will not be on Israel’s side. Too much was invested in demonizing the Jews and delegitimizing Israel’s very right of existence. But before going and looking for allies and blaming the world for hating Israel, one must look in the mirror and ask: Have I done everything possible and more? Am I doing what I can and beyond?
The frustration of answering this question resonates clearly from the top official whose comments I quoted. The world does not take Israel seriously, and Israel’s enemies do not take her seriously, for one simple reason: ISRAEL IS NOT TAKING ISRAEL SERIOUSLY.
Lack of self-respect is so evident that everyone other than Israel sees it. “Would any country in the world stand idle as its cities were bombarded, civilians attacked and the normalcy of life disrupted?” is the question asked most regularly. Of course not, but Israel skips the events and ignores them, or instructs its air force to target empty, deserted fields.
A top minister expressed his “frustration” that the heads of the terror organizations sleep quietly while Israeli citizens are forced into shelters. Stop talking and start acting is the most basic solution.
This failing approach is prevalent in everything Israel does. Gilad Shalit is an Israeli soldier kidnapped more than five years ago from within Israel. He is believed to still be alive, kept in captivity either in Gaza or possibly Sudan. The International Red Cross has not been allowed even one visit, and yet Hamas terrorists in Israeli prisons have cell phones, TVs, radios, Internet access, regular visitation and copulation rights and all sorts of other rights granted or demanded and then taken. Can any rational person make sense of such a travesty?
Israel allows this to go on at every level.
For years the Gazans have targeted the southern part of Israel. They seek to disrupt civilian life, but more so they are focused on high-profile targets. They want to hit the nuclear reactor in Dimona or a plane landing or taking off from Ben Gurion International Airport. It will also suffice to hit the power plant in Ashkelon (the second largest power plant in Israel) or a water treatment plant nearby (one of the largest in the world).
Thus, while critical infrastructure is under missile attacks, Israeli workers have to be out in the field to fix the damage in order to continue an uninterrupted supply to Gaza.
If you were to describe the above (“how would you react” vs. “how does Israel react”), what would you say? How about “Israelis are Idiots with a capital ‘I’!”
There is no need for “hasbara” efforts (with a lower case “h”), for actions that so strongly contradict any talking points render the latter meaningless. This is the true reason that these actions have failed for so long. It is not that Israelis are not capable of achieving the desired goal; they are simply not interested. The politicians talk the talk while bureaucrats are adverse to any new ideas, so Israel is busy with a “branding” exercise. Has Israel not understood after wasting millions that the model is not working?
It goes far beyond Israel’s lack of resolve to protect her very right to exist as a sovereign country and defend her citizens-Jews, Christians, Muslims and of all other faiths. If one has no respect for oneself, why would one expect others to show any? The other main obstacle is what I call “the Other Israel.”
Half of Israel lives outside the Jewish State. There are about 14 million Jews in the world today, and only half reside in Israel. Since Israel is the ONLY homeland of the Jewish people, and given no one likes the Jews anywhere else, it is appropriate to state that half of Israel’s population is overseas. Specifically, American, Turkish, Venezuelan and all other Jewry are really “Israelis,” the “Other Israel.”
One would expect that Israelis (i.e. Jewish People living anywhere they may choose to live) would be fully supportive of Israel and her right to exist. This is not the case at all. Most Israelis, in the more encompassing sense of the word, are aware of their Right of Return to the Land of Israel, though they do not select this option. They conveniently ignore their own history, one that periodically repeats itself: Eventually, they will be led to the slaughter, and nothing will protect them, not local allegiances or pretending to conveniently remove oneself from Judaism. Anti-Semites are good at uncovering Jews and marching them to crematoriums.
The Other Half of Israel is embroiled in everything but standing united in support of Israel. They debate whether Israel should be a “democracy” or a “Jewish State,” a “Jewish country” or a “country of all its citizens.” They cannot agree on how to achieve peace. Is there anyone who does not want to see peace and tranquility in the region, yet why is it solely Israel’s responsibility to capitulate and invest in an unforeseen future?
Step by step they chisel away whatever is left of Israel’s resolve. Much like American Jewry who did nothing to help the European Jewry during World War Two. Now they become the destroyers and demolishers of their own country.
Israel lacks the resolve to survive, and Israelis are more concerned with the enemy than themselves. It is an old familiar Jewish character flaw, I am afraid. Until this equation changes, Israel is on the fast track to destruction.