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Sunday, February 03, 2008

Sorry if I annoyed you...

... but I'd be lying if I said it was entirely unintentional.

Clearly there are a lot of you out there who may not know me well enough, and a few who really should know me well enough by now... so let me state a few things for the record:

I am a Jew.

I am a Zionist.

I am religiously observant.

I am a settler... but then, so are those who live in Beer Sheva, Kiryat Gat, Petach Tikva... and Tel Aviv.

I am a bleeding heart liberal when it comes to social welfare and civil rights.

I am unapologetically conservative on homeland security and foreign relations.

I believe there is no such thing as quasi-Zionism.  Either Jews have a right to live here or they don't.    Our right to live in Tel Aviv and Haifa is based on our claim to Jerusalem and Hevron.   If anything, our claim to the latter is much stronger than to the former.

I view an attack on any Israeli as an attack on all Israelis.  Once upon a time this was the cornerstone of our national defense policy.

I believe that there is no such thing as acceptable casualties inflicted by an enemy during peacetime.  If your knee-jerk response to that statement was to point out that we aren't at peace... then why aren't we at war?  And if we aren't at war, why are our 'peace partners' still shooting at us? 

I believe that a government that thinks that any attacks on its civilian population and upon it's national sovereignty can be considered 'acceptable' ... and which continues to talk peace with those who are attacking us... must be replaced.   Negotiating terms with someone who is still attacking you doesn't lead to peace.  It leads to surrender.

I believe that when any or all of the mainstream media in a country admits to engaging in deliberate collusion with the ruling government to push forward a pre-agreed upon agenda (including not reporting - or at least drastically underreporting - attacks on 'some' Israelis), they should be discredited and replaced from the ground up by a legitimate fourth estate whom we can trust to serve as a watchdog... not a lapdog.

I believe that any citizen of a country who sits quietly by while any other citizen is targeted by foreign military forces or by domestic governmental abuse, and rationalizes it because the victims are not part of the 'mainstream consensus', has confused mainstream consensus with oligarchy.

We've all heard the rumors about the silent majority of Arabs who want peace with Israel (or at least aren't actively in favor of annihilating us).  But what good do they do us if they remain silent?  I know it sounds trite, but if they aren't part of the solution they are part of the problem.  The same can be said of our side.  Even if the majority of Tel Avivis (and those who make up the geographic and gravitational center of the country) are personally enraged by the relentless attacks on Israel's periphery (a statistic I'm certainly not ready to concede), they are enabling the attacks to continue with their collective silence.   

Our government doesn't look to Sderot or Kiryat Shmonah or even Jerusalem when making national policy decisions  Like it or not, they look to where the majority of the people live; Gush Dan (Tel Aviv and her environs).  With that power comes added responsibility (and the occasional unfair generalization). 

When Gush Dan takes to the streets in sufficiently large numbers, the government listens.  When you stay in your cafes sipping lattes, they hear your silence too.  Loud and clear.

I'd like to end here, but since some of you took my post personally I suppose I should point out what should have been obvious:

If you were annoyed or offended by my generalization about those who sit drinking lattes on Shenkin while rockets fall on Sderot and bombs blow up near Efrat, you should ask yourselves whether I was really talking about you.

If you've gone to demonstrations against the government's (and media's) willingness to accept casualties along Israel's periphery while it continues to negotiate 'peace' with those inflicting the casualties... if you've written letters to the editor, lobbied any of your Knesset members, posted to your blog, commented on other people's blogs... anything at all to lend your voice to a real consensus against inaction and silence in the face of open attacks against Israeli citizens and Israeli sovereignty... well then, obviously I wasn't talking about you, and you have no reason in the world to be offended.  Well done.

But if you haven't done anything to let the government and media (and the world at large) know how you feel, yet you somehow found the time to put [electronic] pen to [virtual] paper in annoyance, protest or indignation when you saw some idiot in Gush Etzion taking a poke at the apathetic tsfonim drinking lattes on Shenkin... well, maybe it was you I was talking about after all.  Offense intended.

Posted by David Bogner on February 3, 2008 | Permalink


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Posted by: ezer | Feb 3, 2008 5:33:06 AM


I have gone to demonstrations--not necessarily the same ones you attended--but I do go. And I have been giving out pamphlets for my (to remain nameless) chosen political party. Again--probably not the same as yours. And I volunteer locally. Not all the time, but about 1-2 times a week.

So I care, and I act, but it is likely that my take on the situation is not exactly the same as yours.

So, does that make me part of the demon-latte-sucking-spawn or no?

:) Shavua tov, and thanks for the thought provoking post.


Posted by: Gila | Feb 3, 2008 8:08:16 AM

ezer... I'm confused... you liked it? ;-)

Gila... No, by the sounds of it you are certainly a part of the solution. True, we may not agree on the ways and means, but it is silence and apathy against which I've been ranting, not partisan politics. It's funny, but this week there is an odd confluence of interests in that Meretz and the NU/NRP are calling for the same exact thing; Labor's exit from the government and new elections. I'm not saying (or even guessing) where you stand politically, but so long as you are not sitting idly by while Rome, er I mean Israel burns, I was certainly not talking about you.

Posted by: treppenwitz | Feb 3, 2008 9:00:41 AM

Pardon me for completely failing to discern that hit-and-run post from the 150-car pile-up that it actually was. Me bad. However, since you admitted to using the tactic intentionally, let me continue the analogy love-fest by saying that, at least in my eyes, you also threw the baby out with the bathwater.

Shavua tov.

Posted by: Jen | Feb 3, 2008 11:28:58 AM

Jen... How do you figure? I say (in about 900 words) that my problem is with those in the merkaz who sit silently by while those at the periphery continue to live under fire. I explain that it is their silence that sends a clear signal to our leaders that this is something that does not require an immediate solution. Your response: I threw the baby out with the bathwater. I get that you consider yourself the baby in your analogy. But my problem is not with you... but rather with a large, silent ocean of bathwater in Gush Dan which the government uses as a bellweather of national opinion... and these folks are quite happy to be silent so long as it isn't their cafe going boom. I think that is worthy of a little derision.

Posted by: treppenwitz | Feb 3, 2008 1:09:47 PM

David, the country is small. We all have been targeted one time or another. In 1991, we opened our houses to people from Tel Aviv. In 2006, we had special attention from Nasrallah. In between, there were more terrorists in our area close to the fence than I care to remember.

I didn't say, "oh well, you over there in Efrat, go on and take care of your bees". I never would. We're all in the same boat. We send our children to the army, we are targeted by terrorists, our existence on this soil is disputed.

I hardly ever read anything here that disturbs me - usually, I find myself thinking, "I wish I had said so cleverly" or admiring your warmth and strength. I admit I found the tone of your remark disturbing. I'm living in the periphery, and I do run a Qassam ticker on my blog and try to do my thing for our country, so I shouldn't feel hurt. But I do.

Posted by: Lila | Feb 3, 2008 4:40:15 PM

Lila... First of all, you are the last person who should have taken offense since you don't fall into any of the categories I mentioned. Also, you omitted a crucial detail in your comparison: Besides the fact that we had guests from the upper Galil in our home during the war, even if we'd remained silent and unmoved by what was going on up there, the government doesn't formulate policy based on what people in my area say and do. The same cannot be said about the 'merkaz'. I honestly don't know what you saw in my post to be hurt about.

Posted by: treppenwitz | Feb 3, 2008 5:24:45 PM

I am going out on a limb here because I 1) did not serve (got here at age 30) and 2) have no children to serve (not married-no kids). Nonetheless, onto the limb I go.

Something Lila just said reminded me of one point. Granted, Tel Aviv itself reportedly has a relatively low enlistment rate. But that low rate is not universal throughout the Gush Dan region. Furthermore, most of the guys I work with here in Tel Aviv do disappear for weeks at a time to do their reserve service.

Their silence disturbs you. As my father likes to say "actions speak louder than words". A lot of those guys slurping down the lattes are also putting their lives aside, and in fact putting their lives on the line to protect us as needed.

And what are their activist brethren doing? The ones who scream and yell, who go to demonstrations, who write letters, who move out to the shtachim...some of them serve. But a significant percentage.... what is the enlistment rate in the (rather right wing) Haredi community?

I think the Dag Nahash song "Frierim" might provide more light into 'the other side' of this story.

Again, I do agree with you 100% that we need to fight apathy. That is why I volunteer in my community and with a political party. I simply respectfully disagree in how you are defining apathy.

Posted by: Gila | Feb 3, 2008 5:40:50 PM

I knew you didn't mean people like me, personified periphery. Still - we are so fragmented already. Merkaz-periphery is well... just another brick in the wall.

When I hear of horrible things, I try to keep in mind the things that bond, not the ones that separate. Call me a harmony-addicted fool and you can't go wrong. I hope you understand - the bitterness in your tone hurt me. Not in a personal way of course.

We have so many enemies already - I wish we could stop making enemies within the country. I know you are right in what you say about the government. But Sheinkin bashing won't make it better. I liked your explanation. I found your original words too hard.

Sorry I can't express myself better.

Posted by: Lila | Feb 3, 2008 5:45:06 PM

Gila, I deleted the sentence "the guy in Sheinkin may be a shell shocked soldier on regila".

We never know what the other person lives.

You said what I feel better than I can.

OT: Just put you on my blogroll.

Posted by: Lila | Feb 3, 2008 5:47:34 PM

Gila... It would be silly of me to try to quantify the service of the Tel Aviv reservists you refer to. Yes, of course Tel Avivis serve in the army and also in reserve units... although well below the national average. and yes, if you expand that to all of Gush Dan you get a more level picture of service. But my point was not at all about serving. It was about affecting change in government policy. Soldiers follow policy, they don't make it. While it is all well and good that there was a reservist protest calling for the removal of Olmert and Co... but without a groundswell of support from the Merkaz the government never had to seriously consider the reservist's demands. This is a country that can bring the economy or higher educational system to a halt on a moment's notice over something as common as a few percentage points on someone's paycheck. I find it hard to believe that with people's lives hanging in the balance that a nationwide strike and massive protests calling for a change in leadership could not be organized on very short notice. But it doesn't happen. Why? Because it is not bothering the people in the center of the country nearly enough to act. And please don't bring up the Haredim. Beside the fact that they are not really right wing on any of the issues that are cogent to this discussion, their lack of enlistment is now slightly less than the secular draft-dodgers at this point. Some time if you like we can have the religious vs secular discussion about who serves and where. I'll let you take the secular draft dodgers out of the mix in exchange for removing the haredim from the equation. You will be shocked by the results in terms of percentages of officers, combat volunteers and elite unit service. I was.

Posted by: treppenwitz | Feb 3, 2008 5:57:37 PM

Sorry, but if you're a "bleeding-heart liberal" on social issues, you are part of the problem you lament. It is indeed this anti-Torah (and it most certainly is) world-view that is at the heart of defeatist complacency in Eretz Yisroel and America (vis-a-vis their enemy...Islam). A liberal society cares more about its "rights" to practice unbridled hedonism (homosexuality, abortion, promiscuity, euthanasia)than national security. Until you see the link between liberalism and the self-loathing of a population, you will continue to go down the road of self-destruction in EY, as will we in the US, Gd forbid.

Posted by: michal | Feb 3, 2008 5:59:36 PM

Tel Avivis? I thought it was Televivot.

Unfortunately, many Israelis that I know are sungularly impermeable when it comes to other life opinions and experiences. They often deny the validity or legitimacy of chutznikim having any opinion on whence Israel, and even cannot sympathize with the opinion of anyone outside of their little mutually enabling clique.

Posted by: Barzilai | Feb 3, 2008 9:42:17 PM

michal... Huh?! I suggest you look up 'social welfare. It may surprise you to discover that it is not synonymous with social disease. I'm not even going to dignify the rest of your comment with a response.

Barzilai... I admit to more than a little of that malady as well. It is one of the reasons e are so delighted that Ariella was accepted to an excellent high school in Jerusalem. She will be with girls from a very broad spectrum of backgrounds and places in Israel. Maybe she'll be a little less provincial than her folks. :-)

Posted by: treppenwitz | Feb 3, 2008 10:53:15 PM

If I may ask, is Ariella's high school the one you wrote about the other day?

Posted by: Channah | Feb 3, 2008 11:11:04 PM

Channah... Yes. The final tally was two acceptances, one wait list and a 'we regret...'. She has registered with one of the two schools she applied to in Jerusalem (which happens to be one of the best schools in the country).

Posted by: treppenwitz | Feb 3, 2008 11:17:28 PM


May I suggest you reread parshas Mishpatim or go to KosherTorah.com and read Mishpatim and the Social Contract. The care of the needy is to be met by you and me, NOT the state. It is because the state is usurping the role Gd intended for us (caring for the needy), that most of the population is abdicating it (not their problem...we have "welfare"). But of course liberalism is purging populations of religion and replacing it with the nanny state. Can't have it both ways.

Posted by: michal | Feb 4, 2008 3:40:28 AM

A liberal society cares more about its "rights" to practice unbridled hedonism (homosexuality, abortion, promiscuity, euthanasia)

That is among the more ridiculous and unsupported statements I have read. Of course if one is interested in living under a Jewish Taliban it might be the path to follow.

Posted by: Jack | Feb 4, 2008 3:59:47 AM

I don't mind taking the heat for David/Trep, Michal. Anyway, I don't see the difference between 'the state' and 'us.' To quote Louis XIV in a very different context, L'État, c'est moi. And I have to tell you that while I believe it is the place of the state to assist its weakest members, it wouldn't hurt us to learn a thing or two from Western politics, and leave moral judgment to individuals and out of the hands of the state.
And whaddaya mean 'read Parsha Mishpatim..."? I'm the guy who writes deep yeshivishe divrei Torah on this stuff! What I don't know ain't worth knowin! (I'm starting to feel like an Israeli already....)

Posted by: Barzilai | Feb 4, 2008 5:44:36 AM


I just commented to my husband how awesome you are. This past year, I've pretty much have given up reading most blogs, with the exception of yours. Your's was my first, and after three years it's still my favorite. I just adore your writing and your perspectives. I may not always agree with them, but they are always thought provoking.

"I view an attack on any Israeli as an attack on all Israelis. Once upon a time this was the cornerstone of our national defense policy."

It's been 20 years since I last was in Israel, and though I shouldn't be surprise (considering Rabin's assasination, the widening gap of the many political and social ideologies, combined with plain old selfishness and apathy) it's still difficult to swallow the second half of that comment.

Re: Michael's comments, for a moment there, I thought I was having a dejavu. Wow, if I didn't know better, I would guess he was somebody that you and I know personally.

Posted by: jaime | Feb 4, 2008 7:28:18 AM

The "baby" in this case was not me, but the message you were trying to send. And apathy isn't a disease solely of Gush Dan.

Good luck to Ariella, hope she's on the acceptance list.

Posted by: Jen | Feb 4, 2008 8:25:05 AM

Gila: the army is so alarmed by the large number of settlers and religious Zionists in its high-profile combat units, that they have taken the somewhat underhanded tactic of having separate religious and secular "qualifying days" for these units.

It's well established that the settler youth have replaced the kibbutzniks as the army's highly motivated spearhead in these units. And we all know that the army has been tearing its hair out trying to boost morale and interest among the young people of the "merkaz" - whose interest in service is at an low ebb (probably because they've been bombarded with delegitimizing and defeatist media messages.)

So - without denigrating anyone's service, folks from the outlying areas are clearly doing more than their part in defending our country.

Perhaps - as David says - because they feel the heat of the situation more.

Posted by: Ben-David | Feb 4, 2008 9:54:29 PM

This is a very complex post. While I agree that the Olmert government is adrift, and prosecuted the war in Lebanon badly, I am reluctant to say that they are only interested in the opinions of Gush Dan residents. Not because it's not true, but because it's ultimately unknowable without detailed and precise research. Perhaps Barak didn't leave the government because he doesn't trust who Olmert would replace him with, even in the short time before new elections would be called. Perhaps he sees the ascent of Netanyahu, who would probably be the biggest beneficiary of the fall off the coaltion, even worse. I know I do. I am not against right wing Israeli politician per se, but I am against the current crop, who remind me uncomfortably of the Doug Feith crew in Washington.

Posted by: jordan Hirsch | Feb 5, 2008 4:27:22 AM

michal... Please email me with your address. I know an indigent schizophrenic who I'm sure the government would love to pass over responsibility for. He doesn't require much, but if you could put away anything expensive it would be better not to tempt him. Thanks in advance for your lovely offer to lead by example.

Jack... Please don't feed the zealots.

Jen... Thanks Jen, a post about Ariella is pending. :-) As to apathy, of course it is widespread and fairly evenly distributed. My point was that if the government looks to one segment of the society more than any other when formulating policy, then that sector has an added responsibility to shake of their apathy and act for the good of the country.

Ben-David... Interesting point. I would only add that much of the present problems in the army with how the religious are treated is caused by one man - ironically a religious Jew - who is in charge of manpower and who seems to have either an axe to grind or something to prove... I haven't figured out which.

jordan Hirsch... You're basically saying 'better the devil we know than the one we don't'... which would be fine if the 'devil we know' wasn't responsible for a big part of the mess we're in now. I'm talking about Ehud Barak, the architect of unilateral retreat from Lebanon, and as hapless a Defense minister as Israel has ever seen. Don't believe me, then please look at Israel's random policy statements and actions towards Gaza since Barak assumed the Defense portfolio and then tell me how it differs from the random statements and actions carried out by a completely unequipped defense minister (Peretz) during the 2006 war. 'nuff said..

Posted by: treppenwitz | Feb 5, 2008 2:08:43 PM

You know, not bring up a US Civil War analogy, but it seems like Israel faces the same problem Lincoln did in the summer of 62. Problem is, Olmert is no Lincoln, and there does not appear to be a Grant, or even a Meade, with which the current command can be replaced. I am sure they are out there, but the road to find them is trickier than it looks. Like the Union, Israel has phenominal soldiers, but lack the commanders to get them where they need to go. As a left of center guy myself, I have always been reluctant to employ military solutions where diplomatic ones will do. This does not appear to be one of those times. As a student of history, I have always felt that once you put troops in motion, you must strike with maximum power on your target, and ideally, to use most of your force to defeat a portion of their force. I also believe that air power alone cannot defeat anything. Israel must choose it's target carefully, and not strike just to say they are responding, which everyone sees through anyway, but once the true target is acquired, strike with overwhelming force.

Posted by: jordan Hirsch | Feb 5, 2008 6:42:27 PM

"And we all know that the army has been tearing its hair out trying to boost morale and interest among the young people of the "merkaz" - whose interest in service is at an low ebb (probably because they've been bombarded with delegitimizing and defeatist media messages.)"

Dave, is this a relatively recent phenomenon (within the last 20-25 years)?

When I lived in Netanya back in the mid 80's, I definitely sense that but not because of the media's messages, but (in my own naive view) due to the influence of the superficial, self-centered, pop culture of America. It seemed to me that they were more interested in the material things than ideology (which quite frankly, it's natural for a typical teenager.)

However, at the time, it was disappointing for me to witness and I remember thinking that times are going to change among the youth and their attitude towards the Army and their homeland responsibility. I was teenager myself back then, who admired the pioneer and worldliness spirit that I thought Israelis possessed and despised the Jappy American selfish attitude.

Posted by: jaime | Feb 6, 2008 6:28:31 PM

I have to say I am offended Trepp, even though I am one of those people you so kindly clarify that you exclude from censure. The people in Gush Dan are doing the same things as the people up in the North as are the people in the central Negev --hey where are all those folks in Beer Sheva jumping up and down and screaming? I sure as hell don't see them. Haifa? in the Galil?--as are most of the people living in Jerusalem: mainly they are not even reading the news any longer. They are exhausted from the news. They are feeling without hope to change the situation or that any change can be found for "the situation." There was a huge rally here last year in response to the original Winograd report and most of those who attended came from right here in Gush Dan. They came after they sat and had a latte. What changed as a result? Nada. Sorry my friend but the government doesn't listen. I have friends in Jerusalem who only knew that Bush was here because of the traffic snarl it created, that is how closely they are following the news of late. I sit in those cafes and I take an active part but I'll tell you, I'm getting exhausted. And I do get offended when someone takes an entire region and paints everyone in it with the same brush particularly when that region is doing nothing different from what 90% of the rest of the country is doing.

Posted by: Yaeli | Feb 8, 2008 4:48:13 PM

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