The Supreme Court needs a media consultant. Why? Not because of its rulings, assuming that they are based purely on judicial considerations (and they are not), but because of the timing, the implementation and the tone of its rulings. For instance, did Miriam Naor take any advice prior to her final pre-retirement ruling that allowed grocery stores and mini markets to stay open on Shabbat in Tel Aviv? Leaving aside the strange tradition that a judge is supposed to deliver a “landmark” decision before stepping down, as if we are talking about a drama series, her ruling conveys an ideological and moral message that only serves to reinforce the Supreme Court’s anti-religious image.
And this week, the same pattern continued with the pictures from the Netiv Ha Avot outpost in Gush Etzion. Again, leaving aside the actual court ruling, Ofer Hadad, a journalist with years of experience reporting on settlement issues wrote: “Without referring to the actual decision to demolish the Netiv Ha Avot buildings, the High Court’s insistence on evacuating and destroying a carpentry workshop four months before the other homes is strange, to say the least. Hundreds of soldiers participated in an entire military operation to pull down a ramshackle building. What an unnecessary confrontation and waste of public funds.”
2. The Tzipi Hotovely affair may have already been forgotten, but it is worth recalling the term “American Jewry” used during the discussions on her comments. Well, such a generalization is about as accurate as talking about “Israeli Jewry.” Just like in Israel, American Jewry also consists of different streams and sectors and there are certainly rifts between them. It is easy to simply quote the spokespeople of all the official American Jewish organizations who condemned Hotovely’s comments. But that is not the real issue facing American Jewry. The real problem is the next generation, the unaffiliated youngsters who are assimilating at an alarming rate. They do not have an organization or a spokesperson.
3. During the US Presidential campaign, Mike Pence was targeted and ridiculed for his ‘strange’ habits. The Christian conservative Vice President has a set of rules: he does not have dinner alone with another woman other than his wife and he does not attend events where alcohol is served unless she is at his side. Interestingly, a recent New York Times article noted that the ‘Mike Pence Rule’ is becoming increasingly popular in the media world and in the workplace in general. If the incidence of assault at the workplace has become a national plague, then a strong antidote is needed. The article states that many companies are cancelling their New Year’s Eve party or changing the format and are not planning to serve alcohol. Another option is to hold the party in the afternoon, during work hours and serve desserts instead of alcohol. The article quotes CEO after CEO and the message is clear. Liberal US has had a wake-up call and is beginning to set boundaries for itself.
4. Parent-teacher evenings are just around the corner. The 20,000 parents whose children study at AMIT high schools will receive a surprising gift when they come to meet the teachers – a booklet entitled “Thoughts on Education in the Age of the Smartphone.” Much thought has been put into the articles written by experts about the screens that have become an integral part of our lives. The articles give tips on dealing with this technology, and how we can use it in a more balanced manner and still retain our sense of humanity. Dr. Hilit Finkelstein, who heads the R&D division in the AMIT network, wrote the following text which, in my opinion, succinctly states the complexity of the issue and the challenges it raises:
“I belong to Generation Y, and I am jealous. Jealous of today’s children. Everything they need to know is available at the touch of a finger, they do not have to go to the research section of the nearest library. They can organize altruistic activities with a few clicks and take part in chats in three different groups simultaneously. They do not have to wait an entire week to see the next episode of their favorite TV series, nor do they have to fight with their siblings about the remote control. They can get to wherever they need to, without any adult help because they have Moovit. They easily keep in touch with all their friends they made at camp in the summer, because they are all on the same national WhatsApp group. They will not have to be embarrassed to ask their teacher an awkward question, all they need to do is to post it anonymously on any forum. They do not think twice about taking a million photos at camp, after all they will not have to pay anything to develop them. They need never fear missing out on a get together with their friends because their older sister was on the phone causing them to miss the chain phone call. They have a platform to air their views, even though they are technically still minors. If they want a private lesson in difficult trigonometric equations, they can stay in the comfort of their air-conditioned home and have no need to actually go to a class. It takes them just a minute to plan their next excursion, the opening hours of every venue are available with one click. Before they make any purchases, they can look up hundreds of reviews of the product. They buy so many cool Smartphone covers because they cost only $1.50 on AliExpress.
“I belong to Generation Y, and I pity them. I pity today’s youngsters who cannot take a week’s vacation without posting a status twice a day, who are faced with thousands of temptations at their fingertips. Their parents are online with their workplace 24/6 and are not truly available exclusively for their children. When they go on a family vacation or a school trip they are never fully relaxed because they are constantly looking to capture the next perfect status and they need to know how many ‘likes’ it received. They are overwhelmed with confusing and conflicting information that is unsuitable for any age, let alone the teenage years. With online assistance, they never get lost on a journey, but they miss out on the opportunity to reach undiscovered spots. They lose the chance to call up a grandparent who knows all the back streets and alleys and could help them find their way and as a bonus, tell them the history of the area. They do not know what it is to sit together as a family and watch TV, they waste hours binge-watching one series after another followed by a good few hours on WhatsApp with most conversations consisting of two-syllable words. Even when they meet their friends in person, much of the time is spent in silence as everyone is busy looking at his or her own screen. They have forgotten how to express themselves when talking to someone face to face, and without a second thought they will practice online shaming. When they go on a date, they have already learnt everything about their partner from Google. They do not spend hours hanging around at the local youth group house planning activities, and they cannot disappear for a few hours of quiet and pretend that they are not at home, because ‘home’ is online and everyone can see where they are. They would not dream of going to the mall with their mom, that is soooooo passé and anyhow it is much cheaper to buy online.
“Dear Generation Z, I am jealous of you and I pity you and wonder what you will feel about the next generation, Generation Alpha. Will you also have the same mixed feelings about them – jealousy and pity?”