In a moment of nostalgia, I went back to read all 481 of my published articles in search of the numbers of replies I had received from readers.
The numbers stunned me. There were only 46 replies in all, 38 from readers in foreign countries and 8 from our own readers in Israel. And they were Anglo-Saxon Israelis.
It perplexed me to wonder why Israelis who read generally do not write a response. I think it is time that we publish a Hebrew-language edition in addition to the other languages in which TIMES OF ISRAEL are published.
It is 100% certain that every single Israeli has an opinion on everything. We are a highly opinionated people and there is dialogue and arguments in the cafes and restaurants which Israelis enjoy frequenting on every imaginable subject from our national security to our international relations to our treatment of Arabs, mainly to our national politics and even to how much champagne Sara Netanyahu can drink. Surprisingly there was never a mention of Bibi’s cigars.
And you can be sure that as each one expresses an opinion it will be countered with another opinion in response. Stating one’s opinions is the Israeli national hobby. Heated responses from friends can often end a friendship.
Once, many years ago, having coffee in Café Pinati in Rishon Lezion with two friends, the subject of political parties came up. One dear friend who was the secretary of the Mapai party in that city asked me which party I supported and voted for.
Without hesitation, I told him that I voted for Herut (now the Likud) because I considered myself to be a disciple of the Revisionist Zionist great leader, Vladimir Jabotinsky and a strong admirer of Menachem Begin, leader of the pre-State Irgun which helped to achieve the permanent departure of the British Mandatory personnel in Palestine.
My friend sat silent for a few minutes and then turned to me and said “I cannot sit at the same table with someone who supports that fascist party” and he got up from the table and walked out of the café.
Several years later he apologized to me and our friendship was renewed.
Having a strong opinion which differs from a friend’s contrary opinion was not welcomed in those days and was usually accompanied by raised loud voices. Happily today one can express opinions without fear of rejection.
Among the replies I receive from foreign readers many of them are non-Jews from England, Australia, Canada, the United States and even Holland and Brazil. I welcome each reply, both the positive and negative ones, because they show to me the reader’s interests.
Regrettably, from my point of view, too few Israeli Jews take time to respond. There is no dialogue between us. Israelis are wonderful readers. They gobble up books as if they were going out of style. But too few ever write a response.
One reader from Petach Tikva actually responded to one of my articles. He said that he and his wife would like to meet with me. I replied that I would be happy to meet them but since I do not have a car it would be difficult for me to meet them in Petach Tikvah.
“It’s not a problem”, was the reply. “We can meet you at Café Aroma in the Kanyon HaZahav in Rishon”.
And so they did, three weeks later. We sat at a table, we all ordered coffee, me and his wife, café hafuch and he, Turkish coffee. We sat, we sipped, and we talked. His wife complimented me on my writing while he replied “my wife is very good-hearted but I have some disagreements with what you write”.
It pleased me very much to listen to his honest comments and I very much appreciated his frankness. A little more than an hour passed, we departed and went our separate ways. I was glad that we were able to meet and to talk together panim-el-panim…. Face to face. I still remember that brief meeting fondly.
So please remember… tikr’u v’taanu… read and respond.
May God bless our opinionated Israeli readers. Just keep the opinions kosher!!!