Stephen Horenstein
Music, Arts and Society

Slowness is beauty

Crossing Red Lines (original painting by Stephen and Ruth Horenstein)

The current crisis threatening the survival of our nation is complicated by a concerted effort to railroad the new laws through the government at the speed of lighting. This can only bring about disaster. I recall working for an Israeli software company in the mid-1980’s. At the time, we were being rushed by the company’s CEO to approve a music software designed for a prestigious Japanese company. We begged for the CEO to allow us to take ample time to find the “bugs” but he refused. We knew the product needed more work, but the owner would not heed our cries. He sent 60,000 software disks and within a week there was a letter from Japan they were shocked that there were so many bugs. The company then sent all 60,000 disks back to Israel with a curse note terminating all business with our software firm, which, in turn, triggered the firm’s total bankruptcy.

I remembered this story while hearing the cries and speeches of Yariv Levin and other politicians trying to break seven-plus decades of balance of power, i.e.“traditions” between the judicial and parliamentary sectors of our government. Their urgency is frightening. It raises questions and fear. More alarming is their need to do it NOW, without proper debate, consultation with experts from both sides of the aisle, and, in the spirit of compromise, find a happy medium to help unite disparate interests of groups.

In response to Prime Minister Netanyahu who said, “one million people voted for this change” (as if the defend the legitimacy of the current speeding process), I would say, simply, such a law has not been discussed at length amongst the populace (and certainly not the essential detailed points). Most voters heard about a vague idea and not its details. Furthermore, if such laws were to be passed with narrow majorities, every time Israel had a regime change the governing coalition would have the ability to simply turn the process around, canceling the proposed law. Only a process of intelligent discussion, inquiry and due process will achieve long-lasting effect.

The flames are already fanned with disinformation, confusion and lack of strategic planning to insure that this (and any) change will be fair to all citizens who care about Israeli’s survival as a democratic nation. It seems that Minister Levin (and by association the `Prime Minister) have leapt up on a high horse of “no compromise” from which there is no retreat.

Unfortunately the die seems to have been cast. The train has left the tracks and is traveling at breakneck speed where the only thing to be shattered is public confidence in our government.   We can already see the flares of protest bubbling, ready to boil, and stiff-neck hubris infused leaders not willing to budge one iota.

This scenario also has parallels with the balance of religious and non-religious education and life styles, basic freedoms and cooperation between disparate groups with private interests. We see protesters of all ages, backgrounds and political affiliations protesting. They sense the ugliness and danger of lack breakneck speed.

Our leaders were elected not to help small group interests, but to help heal wounds and theoretically to instill calm and stability. Israel is the only democracy in the Middle-East a precious status that needs to preserved. Given the current speed with which the process is developing, we will be come one of many countries who display a facade of democratic policy but in fact are an near-authoritarian regime with faces thick with make-up and in-genuine “cares” for the “common” folk.

We are lucky that people are not blinded by this glorified quasi-Ponzi scheme. This is not being cooked up for the good of all the people, but out of reasons of shifting influence and power.    In a just society the minorities are also protected no matter how fast the “train” is rumbling through.

The passing of the current laws may be quick but when they are past without one iota of compromise and dialogue, the wounds will grow deep and eventually will fester and burst. Unfortunately there may be no choice for the bubble to burst with prolonged frustration and discontent all leading change, hopefully returning dialogue conducted not at dangerous speeds, but by step by step logic and the spirit of compromise. If left to fester in moral turpitude, the wound will do more than force the current government to go “belly-up” but become bankrupt of all moral vision.

Slow-Fast (Photo by Stephen Horenstein)
About the Author
Stephen Horenstein is a composer, researcher and educator. His repertoire of musical works has been performed and recorded worldwide. He has been a recipient of the Israel Prime Minister's Prize for Composers and the National Endowment of the Arts (USA) and recently a Mifhal HaPais prize to produce a new album “Sounds of Siday: Side B” (orchestra).. Horenstein's teaching has included Bennington College, Brandeis University, Tel Aviv University, Jerusalem Academy of Music and Dance; residencies at Stanford University, York University, California Institute of the Arts, and others. He is Founder and Director of the Jerusalem Institute of Contemporary Music, established in 1988 to bring the music of our time to a wider audience.
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