Aharon Gottlieb
Don't lose sight of the bigger picture.

Diaspora, the blindness, and level playing field

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Has this ever happened to you? You decided to change cars, went to the dealership, signed the deal. After that, did you start seeing that car make on the street more often? The sales certainly did not increase overnight, but your attention to that specific item changed. Your brain became focused on that make and, therefore, started to scan the environment for that information.

Psychology discusses this interesting phenomenon called inattentional blindness. In order to save energy, the brain does not focus on everything around us all of the time; this is thought to be the reason behind this remarkable occurrence. Today, I discuss inattentional blindness in the blog as far as it relates to the State of Israel in the eyes of a considerable portion of the Diaspora and the resulting disinformation.

For the benefit of those unfamiliar with this concept, I will start with a technical explanation and give some examples. Inattentional blindness occurs when someone fails to notice something that is completely visible because his focus is elsewhere and the new perception is not expected. The internet has some interesting examples, (spoiler nest) such as a video where the spectator is asked to count how many times a basketball is passed by players wearing a certain color of t-shirt. For this task, the brain directs its attention to counting ball passes and observing colors. For this reason, most people fail to see a sizeable gorilla that walks back and forth in front of the camera. I have been in a lecture with approximately 200 other persons and I was the only one in the room who did not fail to see a huge pink elephant – because I knew what the exercise was about.

This brings me to the State of Israel. Let me acknowledge that Diaspora Jews are a fundamental part of Judaism. Diaspora Jews are quite loved by their Israeli fellows. So much so, that the State of Israel has a Ministry of Diaspora Affairs, naturally funded by the Israeli taxpayer. Likewise, at this very minute, the Mossad is deploying Israeli resources – not only financial, but above all Israeli human resources – to seek the welfare of Diaspora Jews. Operations Moses, Solomon, Magic Carpet, and Ezra and Nehemiah are but mere examples that have become public.

I started the blog today with inattentional blindness because this seems to be what prevails in a considerable portion of the Diaspora. The exile is a comfort zone. As I sit here in Israel, a fellow Jew feels entitled to discuss matters of Israeli politics and llife while they sip on champagne in Martha’s Vineyard or finish preparing cholent in Mendoza. Does this make any sense? All that they see is essentially what they do not see – in part because of inattentional blindness. Say, for the sake of another example, a person who chooses to live in the exile and has a trip to Hebron with a group such as IfNotNow, an organization that I am not sure would exist in the US if it targeted Alaska, for example, the land of the Aleuts, Inupiat, Yuit, Athabascans, Tlingit and Kaigani. This is precisely what these patronizing movements are all about.

This person will certainly be able to see only what his original mental task was. In Hebron, a town where there are very few Jews in very limited areas, his brain will still scan for any information that allows him to see an “occupation”.

Which brings me to the second topic of today’s blog on perceptual blindness: often inattentive blind, is it any right for Diaspora Jews to have a say in anything political in Israel? This is an important question during election season here. Some international newspapers seem to compete rather harshly to see which one gets the greatest number of pages to tell readers about some “reality of Israel”. Well, well. If my fellow brother or sister from the Diaspora wants to have a say, become Israeli. Move to Israel, live and breathe Israel, vote in Israel.

Going back to the several years before I decided to immigrate to Israel, personally I was very careful in my comments to everyone I knew in Israel and also Israelis living in the Diaspora. There was always a sense of respect. The rules of the game have always seemed pretty clear to me: life is about choices – if you choose to live in Israel, you have a say. Choose the comfort zone, you don’t. After all, one cannot ask to sit by the window on a flight he has not boarded. Israel is a democracy, but no Jew from the Diaspora is a member of this democracy and may have a say on how to live here unless they make Aliyah.

How on earth can someone from the Diaspora possibly have a say on things ranging from the current elections, to the powers of the Rabbanut, to gay pride day in Jerusalem? Do these fellow Jews even have firsthand accounts in Hebrew? I hear all these voices full of hatred, but somehow apparently justified by “Jewish values”. Where does this come from? The Jewish value is clear, “Ve’samachtah”.

I see movements filled with contempt and ill will targeting Israel. Fellow Jews join them. In this regard, condescending voices from the exile are neither helpful nor welcome because there is no level playing field – there is no level playing field. If the question is, “Can I voice all I think to Israelis?”, the answer is, “Yes, you can, but you may not.”. Come live in Sderot before you tell us anything.

In this blog, I will never pass a law carved in stone – and this blog does not reflect the views of the Times of Israel, but my views alone. All I suggest is common sense. A type of common sense that comes with respect for the 6,394,030 Israelis entitled to vote last Tuesday and all those who choose to live in Israel, those who perceive Israel as a great nation, and not a last resort place to go.

About the Author
Aharon Gottlieb is a lawyer by profession. He has a special interest in the interwoven areas of national and international security, intelligence, defense and foreign policy. He writes about life in Israel and current events that are relevant to Israel and the Jewish people. In early 2018, Aharon immigrated to Israel, which has added further meaning to his life.
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