Monday, September 13, 2010

Ragen’s Rant

Naomi Ragen’s rantings, while extreme, is usually tolerable because there is typically some veracity to what she is screaming about. However this past week her rant over Time Magazine’s article about why Israel doesn’t want peace was way over the top and intellectually dishonest. I know because I too read the article. As a matter of fact I stopped reading Time Magazine thirty years ago when it became too critical of Israel’s policies, signaling their pro-Palestinian slant on the news. However, as I was rushing through the airport Time caught my eye and read it while waiting for my flight. When I began reading it I had an attitude, like Naomi Ragen. By the time I was half way through the wind was out of my sails; or to use an airport metaphor, the wind beneath my wings began to dissipate.

“Why Israel Doesn’t Care About Peace” (Time Magazine, September 13, 2010) by Karl Vick is a fairly accurate description of Israeli society in real time. His central thesis is that Israel for many years pursued peace but as a result of multiple disappointments has become disillusioned with the prospects of peace. Instead Israelis have a set of priorities typical of those in other Western cultures where quality of life, healthcare, education, economics and lifestyle trump the illusive peace. Peace for Israelis, according to Vick is very low on the list of priorities. This is all very true. So why is it that Naomi Ragen is so vituperative? Why can’t she get past her “galut mentality” which demands a knee jerk reaction every time someone says something that doesn’t place Israel in the shinning light of Isaiah’s vision?

Isaiah’s vision, was just that a vision. Most visions are rarely reflective of reality; in most cases prophetic visions were totally disconnected from reality. We happen to live in the here and now; most people, which includes Israeli are therefore concerned with the mundane things in life: economic growth, achieving the good life, leisure time, good healthcare and excellent education, not necessarily in that order. So what is Naomi Regan’s problem?

I admire Israel’s tenacity in seeking a national lifestyle where normalcy is the measure by which one ought to live. Why should Israelis obsess over peace, which has hitherto been illusive? They have learned to adjust their lifestyle to one where a state of war exists, the same way one with a crippling disease has learned to manage their pain and disability. One with a disability who obsesses over their misfortune is worse off by far from one with a disability who is focused on adjusting and enjoying life as much as humanly possible. Israel has learned to manage their disability, a perpetual state of war. Unlike in the past, they have seized obsessing over their misfortune, and lowered their expectations regarding this particular misfortune; setting their sights on things they can achieve, that is, things within their power. They have no control over the warped minds of the enemy, but they do have control over their economy, research and development, healthcare and education.

Karl Vick highlighted these points in his article. I have no issues with that. As far as I’m concerned, and based upon Vick’s assessment it would appear that the ball is in the Palestinian court. It’s up to them to prove to Israel that they are totally serious and committed to peace. As the Talmud says “hamotzee mechavero alev harayeh”!!