The food here is terrible, says one hotel guest at the outset of the movie Annie Hall. And the portions are so small, replies her friend. In the same spirit of dissonance, we have seen around here in recent months a whining assault by our finest trendsetters and their partners; this offensive targets the terrible deeds of the current government, ranging from the trampling of our citizens to the destruction of democracy. The government is also being slammed over the tiny effort, if at all, it undertakes for the sake of the citizens and for the sake of peace.
Had a foreigner arrived here and listened to the revolutionary milieu headed by our social protest leaders or by the media, he would have
no doubt that Israel’s citizens are no less than slaves; that the local middle class has been destroyed; that nobody can make ends meet around here unless he was fortunate enough to be born to a wealthy family compensated endlessly by Steinitz and Bibi; that Israel never faced such diplomatic isolation; that our higher education and research are maligned by backward, Third World standards; that racist and discriminatory laws are pulverizing Israeli society; and that the Bibi-Lieberman government is at fault for everything.
Had this foreigner paid some attention to some tedious archives, he would discover, for example, that the “country that reached a scientific nadir” is third in the world in terms of per capita scientific articles; that the number of academic researchers per capita is second in the world; that Israel’s share in the global science production is almost 10 times greater than its relative share in the global population; that the country is third in the world in research investment in universities in relation to its GDP; and that it’s the first in the world in national expenditure on civilian research out of total GDP.
If we dig deeper, we shall discover that Israel’s economy is 17th on the list of developed economies (according to the Swiss IMD); that in recent years it has grown more than all other Western states and that unemployment here is lower than in all these countries; that according to American journal Atlantic, when adjusting the calculations to various economic and technological innovation and development indexes Israel is ranked fourth in the world; that in 2010 this country climbed to 15th place in the United Nations’ standard of living index; and that this state boasts the fifth highest life expectancy among OECD countries.
Shopping malls are packed
The foreigner’s confusion would have grown exponentially had he been told that the state where “most subjects are no less than slaves” is eight in the world in terms of human happiness, according to a Gallup poll for the years 2005-2009 (in most recent survey from last year, Israel moved up to seventh place). Meanwhile, in a Geocartography poll from a month ago, some 70% of Israel’s citizens said their situation was good. According to another survey, almost 90% of citizens would not be willing to live anywhere else in the world.
On another note, no fewer than 4.3 million Israelis traveled abroad in 2010, while shopping malls and coffee shops in the country are more packed than ever before these days.
The foreigner’s confusion would not have been made better by the fact that “the country’s growing isolation” enables it to develop unprecedented commercial, security, scientific and high-tech ties with the world; that with the passage of time, Israel only boosted the number of its diplomatic relations; that senior statesmen keep visiting here; and that Israel was brought into prestigious OECD club.
This foreigner’s disorientation would have surely gotten the better of him had he realized that in a country where rumors have it that the government already killed democracy, where citizens are scared to speak up, where the High Court has turned into a government arm, and where draconian laws shattered the freedom of the press – that very same press has no problem slamming that very same government, anti-government groups face no hindrance in blasting their own government and state; where the terrible hearing method proposed at this time is nowhere near its American equivalent; where libel laws discussed by the Knesset are still much softer than Britain’s; and when Israel’s judicial activism has no parallel in the Western world.
Even if whining is an Israeli mitzvah, the attempt to paint Israel in dark colors is mostly a calculated, orchestrated deception effort by certain political, ideological and media parties who feel that blatant lies are also proper persuasion means.
The ability to prompt many fine people to hit the streets and squares this past summer in the name of the lie that the middle class collapsed a while ago, or the assertion that fascism and silencing laws have taken hold around here, constitute the clearest evidence that lies often work, while drawing many loyal repeat customers.