JERUSALEM, October 6, 2013 — Our society is sick, and a remedy does not seem close by. Here is a quick test to see if you are ill:
1. Did you feel a sinking ache in your gut when Walter White’s brother-in-law Hank was shot on Breaking Bad?
Did you give a second thought to the news late Saturday that a Palestinian terrorist, for no reason at all, shot a 9-year-old Jewish girl who was playing in her front yard in the West Bank town of Psagot?
2. Are you still fuming over your most recent loss in Candy Crush?
Did you also fume over the report that two 20-year old Israeli soldiers were murdered in cold blood over a three day period last month by Palestinian gunmen?
3. Are you proud that you had a hand in electing the first African-American President, the single greatest accomplishment of the civil rights movement, a man who, in a week that included the government shutdown and Palestinian terror, threw his two cents into the ring on whether the name “Washington Redskins” was offensive?
Are you as proud that the president continues to push Israel to reward the people who are murdering innocents and a culture that responds to offensive representations of their forefathers not with “national conversations,” but with indiscriminate bloodshed?
If you answered “yes” to the first part of these questions and “no” to the second, you may want to see a physician.
The devastating truth is that what happens on our TV, computer and smartphone screens has become the reality of our lives. Anything outside the scope of these daily digital agenda setters fails to elicit enough outrage to make society react. Israel, one of the world’s technology giants, is suffering mightily due to the very technology and culture it is creating.
Homeland is an American adaptation of the Israeli television show Hatufim, about the return of captured soldiers. It would appear that more people are concerned for the fake lives of Nicholas Brody and Carrie Mathison than for the real lives of the people of Southern Israel, pounded by rocket fire day-in and day-out.
Internet messaging is a brainchild of Israeli innovation; messaging through Facebook and Twitter has become part of our daily routines. Clever hashtags take priority over the plain words of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who at the United Nations General Assembly demonstrated that Iran is a genocidal regime with no intention of abandoning its pursuit of weapons of mass destruction.
This is not to say that technology, television or Israeli culture is the problem. The problem is us, the global society that has allowed this disease to grow and spread. This is also not to say that television and movies are evil. Pop culture has many great things to offer, and entertainment is not something we should abandon until the world is perfect, but prorities are a must.
Fortunately, as the well-known Jewish principles states, G-d always creates the antidote before the affliction. Perspective is a lesson that should be taught in every classroom and spoken about at every dinner table across the world.
Speak to your children about what is really important in life. Show your co-workers that you really care about a safe free world for all people not just the ones who live behind the glass wall in your den. Express your dissatisfaction to your government when their actions do not measure up to their words and the allow lives to be destroyed for the price of reelection and liberal accolades.
All of these things can be done with the help of technology and culture if harnessed properly, but only with the proper sense of priorities.
If you currently rally against Israel, take a step back and challenge yourself to inspect the facts as you currently accept them. If the pain and suffering of the Israeli people is not of consequence to you at all, perhaps opening your eyes and your hearts to the Jewish State that has overcome all odds will expand your horizons. The internet and television are fantastic mediums to accomplish this.
There is an oft-repeated debate over the status of the ‘Modern-Orthodox’ Jewish community in America. Many say that in today’s world, the term “Modern-Orthodox” is an oxymoron that cannot be reconciled. American Jews are either choosing to be modern or orthodox, with no middle ground.
In his thought-provoking blog “Think Judaism,” Yitzchak Sprung reviews a book called “Sliding to the Right” by Dr. Samuel Heilman. Sprung writes, “Dr. Heilman quotes Dr. Haym Soloveitchik as saying that Modern Orthodox Jews might learn a lot of Torah, but we don’t know anything about the high culture we purportedly think is important. Instead, as Heilman points out, we are more likely to engage in a middle class pop culture, which is a little hard to defend in excess.”
Not just the Jewish people, but every citizen of the world should strive to take the cream of the crop that modern culture has to offer us. This means focusing more on chemistry than on the Kardashians, on culture more than on Katniss Everdeen.
While the Jews have always survived and will continue to survive, the people of Israel would greatly benefit if the civilized world chose to adopt the higher concepts of culture, as would the adoptees themselves.
There are people working to develop apps, shows and programs that will make this world a better and safer place but we must play our part. The first step to recovery is admitting we have a problem and boy do we have a problem.
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