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We are only listening to ourselves (and others have completely stopped listening to us)

With all that divides people on both sides in Israel, there are some thing s- like tech - that can unite
The northern Israeli city of Nazareth. (Moshe Shai/Flash90)
The northern Israeli city of Nazareth. (Moshe Shai/Flash90)

A very dangerous situation now exists in Israel — we listen only to ourselves, only to one of our own, only to other Jewish Israeli citizens. Actually only to those who we expect will say what we want to hear.

As I listen to the radio programs, I hear every Tom, Dick and Harry going off in great detail and self-conviction of his recipe to correct the current situation.

We should remind ourselves: We are a tiny country, less than 10 million people, in a world of 7 billion souls. Surely even a tiny fraction of those 7 billion people have something to say about our predicament — not to say, about universal human values and guidelines for civilized behavior — to which we should listen?

Or at the very least — we should listen to our American friends, and hear what they have to say. And read some of the mouthpieces of thinking in America, like The New York Times for example. Maybe there are some useful ideas about ways of dealing with issues which can be examined here? Maybe there are some parallels from history and from other conflict-ridden areas of the world which just might be relevant here? Maybe some outsiders can see some things here which we cannot see, because we are so totally involved? But no, we are determined to ignore all of this completely, and to listen only to ourselves. Rest assured — we know everything.

I am not saying that we have to agree with everything written in The New York Times, or everything that key American leaders or figures say. And I am very aware of huge miscalculations the US has made.

But if Israel wants to be a member of the community of nations, we must respect what other well-meaning countries and people have to say to us.

Yes — we want to be a member of the community of nations so far as business and investments are concerned, and so far as academic cooperation is concerned. But we cannot have that without being prepared to engage with civilized society on all aspects of our lives here in Israel. It doesn’t work that way. We are a tiny country in a huge world. They set the rules, not us.

I will go further. I will argue that we have lost the ability to talk even amongst ourselves. Noone wants to listen to anybody else unless he expects that they will agree with him.

And we have certainly lost the ability to listen.

Come to think of it, perhaps we have lost the ability to think as well. After all, slogans rule. All we need is a spin, a slogan. Quick, easy and painless. No — what we need is fresh thinking, good analysis, clear-headed brainpower, damn hard work. Lets try that.

Now for the other side. Again, let’s take the Americans as the example. They are completely fed up with these people who refuse to listen, who insist that their way is the only way. Who can blame them?

The Americans have their hands full with genuine world problems. Why should they waste their time (again and again) with these stubborn, pig-headed provincials who refuse to put their house in order (its been pending since 1967) and insist on wasting their national energies, treasure and most of all — precious lives — chasing messianic dreams and impossible symbols?

I do not mean to put all of the blame for the situation on us Israelis. Our cousins and neighbours the Palestinians certainly share much of the blame. And we most certainly have all the rights and justifications to defend ourselves, to protect ourselves from the insane, lustful killings, murders, shootings and stabbings all over Israel.

But I believe that the larger and more powerful country (us) must take the lead in trying to start to regain trust and resolve matters. And it is in our fundamental interest that our country be one in which we are proud to live — and in which our children will choose to continue living.

Wake up Israel! We have gotten ourselves into a fine mess, a perfect broch. Now lets get ourselves out of it. Look at all our other fantastic achievements in 67 years. We can do it.

Yes — fortunately, there are some ways out and there are some positive signs. Many groups are hard at work conceiving road maps, conducting dialog, reaching out and all the rest. A tiny example: I personally spent the last weekend in the Arab Jewish Makeathon in Nazareth, sponsored by Tsofen, USAID and others. I met some terrific people. We will continue to work together. There is hope.

About the Author
Naftali Moser works with organizations in the innovation eco-system in Israel and internationally. He writes surveys and advises organizations on their plans. He is an activist in Israeli non-profits and a keen observer of global trends. Born and educated in Australia, Naftali made aliya in 1974.
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