I first came to Israel in the ’70’s. 1973 to be exact; just in time for the Yom Kippur War. Now, some 40 years later, I’m in my own ’70’s. And lots have happened in between.
But I’m not sure where to go from here. Is the TOI blog section a fit forum for personal reflections, or would it be better to walk in the gardens of the political or cultural? It’s been said that personal reminiscences are a peculiarly American affectation and I hesitate for fear of being boring and irrelevant. But…….being peculiarly American I can’t resist.
Lately, my age has been on my mind. Not so much from a physical perspective as from a generational one. I’m still working and still making a contribution but for the first time I’m beginning to feel outside the flow of things.
Facebook bores me. Twitter holds no attraction. I find the concept of same sex marriage a strange one, as is uncontrolled abortion, and I find hip hop culture uninteresting at best. When I walk the halls of the college at which I teach and see everybody totally absorbed in looking down, I wonder at first what’s going on. A cockroach? A mouse? Nope. Just smart phones. It seems to me a world apart. What am I missing? Am I totally out of date, a relic, a piece of Byzantine pottery, an anachronism?
It is the generation in their twenties and thirties that drive the culture and currently it is obsessed with technology-not a bad thing as it has brought with it many benefits. Those in their forties and fifties are the ones that are tasked with keeping things heading in the right direction (however one wants to define “right”), as are the sixty somethings. But those of us in our seventies who are still actively involved in the world have somehow become dinosaurs.
It isn’t that I’m unable to absorb or be absorbed in the youth culture, it’s that I don’t particularly want to be. The culture of quick sound bites and tweets and photo ops and a headline driven society which has neither time nor desire to look beyond Wikipedia (not to knock Wikipedia; in and of itself it is a wonderful resource) is, for me, not a healthy one. We’re long on information and short on judgment.
Israel is the pariah of the political left, those who speciously call themselves liberals or progressives, but who blindly accept the “oppressor of the innocent Arab” narrative because they’re too stupid or lazy or uninformed or anti-Semitic (choose one) and incapable of, or indifferent to, or opposed to (choose one) looking beyond a skewed narrative framed to overlook any context. Why are there checkpoints? Why a security fence? Why travel restrictions? Because the Jews, Israelis, Zionists, settlers (choose one) are uniformly murderous monsters? How can anyone, even holier than thou Presbyterians, swallow such preposterous drivel?
And what about those settlements? Oy vey! If only the “settlements” would disappear everybody could sit together and sing Kumbaya again. How simple minded is that? Ask John Kerry.
Not to mention President Obama, another parrot of the left. When he ran the first time and promised ‘hope and change’ many saw just smoke and mirrors. And the mirrors of a naïve foreign policy are now reflecting the smoke from the ongoing war and terrorism in the Middle East and the Ukraine.
So instead of swimming with the current, I stand on a bridge looking down and don’t really like what I see. And wonder what I should do next.