Among the features of life in Israel in this age of Internet is a busy mailbox.

 
It reflects Israel's place in the world's media, and recalls those old maps that put Jerusalem in the center of it all.
 
Now it comes with the ease of putting one's thoughts--whether profound, interesting, or nutty--in mailboxes around the world.
 
It's no great chore to obtain the addresses of those who should be targeted. Those who can't be Googled do not exist, and there are programs to sweep through the Internet for anyone who has written anything with the word Israel.
 
Among the challenges to my sanity:
  • A writer of diatribes against Israel on the border of anti-Semitism, who sees a connection between Israel, AIPAC, Jewish money, Israeli selling of arms to India, capitalist domination of America to the harm of the middle and poorer classes, as well as to the detriment of peace in our time. "Israel’s policies are negatively impacting US national interests in five key strategic areas: access to Arab and Muslim markets, funneling weapons technology to US strategic enemies and competitors, nuclear proliferation, spying and undermining national secrets, and diminishing the standing of the US around the globe."
  • An American academic "laments the results of the Israeli elections . . .  The damning consequences Netanyahu’s new government will inflict on the country are as certain as night following day. Israel, which has been led astray by Netanyahu for so long, is fast approaching a new precipice unlike any other it has faced in years past."
  • A writer equally far to the right blames the innocence of Israel's left who do not "want a country. (they want) a Berkeley food co-op.  . . a campus with courses on media studies and gender  . . an arcade where unwashed lefties can tunelessly strum John Lennon songs on their vintage guitars.  . . (Their allegiance is) not to Jewish history or democracy, but to its crackpot leftist fantasies. Now its fantasies are dead and it wants to kill Israel."
  • A student leader at UCLA blames Israeli voters for fouling his campaign against BDS. "Bibi's reelection takes away the pro-Israel camp on campus' most powerful anti-BDS tool: the existence of a government committed to peace. . . . Netanyahu’s words and actions – his doublespeak on the two state solution, his racist comments about Arab voter turnout, his settlement expansion, the foot dragging in responding to racially-motivated attacks, the reckless killing of civilians in Gaza, the "nation-state" bill, the segregated buses – have shown the world the ugly, sad truth: that his government will not be dedicated to solving, or at the very least alleviating, the conflict in any way. No one on campus believes there will be a positive change to the status quo under Bibi. . . . This week, the Israeli electorate let slip the opportunity to elect someone with any vision or viable alternative to the status quo. Instead, they chose to reelect Bibi and his policies of “managing” the Palestinian issue. Netanyahu's victory is also a victory for BDS."
    • [One should wonder at this person's inclusion of "segregated buses" in his screed. If he is referring to women in the back of the bus, Netanyahu has had nothing to do with it; it's a phenomenon--more or less voluntary--only on buses that serve the ultra-Orthodox community. If he's referring to buses serving settlements that do not pick up Arabs of the West Bank, that is a security matter. There is no segregation elsewhere of public transportation in Israel. The light rail that goes near our home stops at a number of Arab neighborhoods, including one where the locals throw stones at the trains.]
  • Several people reject the conclusion that US health care falls below that of other countries. Common theme are I have good health care, and I don't believe the statistics, and If the US scores low as you claim, that is the fault of people with bad habits. One response quoted an internet site in behalf of a claim that Americans are healthier than Israelis: "In the United States, life expectancy at age 55 (average number of additional years lived beyond 55) for Jews is 27.7. This is two to seven years longer than any other large religious group in the United States." 
    • [The source of this is an article written by a doctoral candidate in demography for which she selected her Jews from those who attended synagogue, i.e., most likely a minority of those who consider themselves to be Jews. The author assumes that her findings of Jewish longevity reflect education and income, and she makes no comparison to the Jews of Israel.]
  • There are correspondents who see all that is important in one or another Holy Book, certain that neither Bibi nor Barack have the wherewithal to overcome the will of the Almighty. Correspondents have damned rabbis who missed the point of Jesus from the get-go, everyone associated with the Roman Catholic Church, Islamic latecomers to monotheism, as well as other Christians who chose the wrong preacher, and thus have no appropriate guide for deciphering Holy Text.
  • People come down hard on Jewish settlements, but tend not to agree on which are to blame for current problems, or what to do about those living here or there. Some consider neighborhoods of Jerusalem acceptable, but maybe not all of them. Ramat Shomo and Har Homa are, to some, no better than the isolated hilltop trailers whose Jewish fanatics uproot Palestinian olive trees. 
  • Still circulating are claims about Obama's Islam, his forged or missing birth credentials, and the weight of Jeremiah Wright's sermons on his attitudes toward Israel. A bit more modest is something that begins with "POTUS or POUTUS. And continues with "POTUS (the President of the United States) is pouting over the re-election of PM Netanyahu. He withheld his congratulatory phone call to Netanyahu for two days. . . . There is something perversely delightful in observing the irrational anger in the administration and among Jews on the far left of the political spectrum on Israel’s election results. Granted, millions of dollars were wasted trying to unseat Netanyahu and augment the vote the Israeli Arabs – some of that, disgracefully, US taxpayer dollars. Watching another’s tantrum is often amusing and it doesn’t seem to abate. The commentators and activists who hide their anti-Israel animus behind their Jewish genes – the Friedman’s, Klein’s and J Street’s of the world – are nearly apoplectic."
The intensity with which much is written, associated with the certainty of predictions, recalls the hyperbole of Biblical Prophets who wrote hereabouts some 2,500 years ago. So far none of my correspondents have been explicit in claiming to speak for the Almighty, but the claim is not hard to discern between the lines. Absolute certainty does not invite efforts to correct or persuade. 
 
Associated with the openness of the Internet is our capacity to pass most of the daily mail to trash without more than a glance. Filters provide a handy way to avoid items not likely to be worthwhile. 
 
The most effective filter is not a bit of high tech, but a sense of the factors acting upon this place. 
 
Prominent among them is Palestinian reluctance to concede Israel's legitimacy, the naivete of the Obama administration in its dealings with Iran as well as Israel and Palestine, and the bloodshed associated with Islamic radicalism.
 
Those who dream about turning back half a century of history, and doing away with the homes of 600,000 Jews they call "settlers" might consider other problems due to migration. It's an issue that affects many if not all of the countries in the UN, including all with a veto in the Security Council.
 
The success of Israel's economy and the moderation of Netanyahu --in contrast to what many think and in contrast to Netanyahu's own rhetoric--provide an island of stability amidst the blather.
 
Moderate Muslims are also helping. 
 
The onset of a new war by a number of Sunni governments against Iran's surrogate in Yemen is--among other things--a continuation of Bibi's efforts manifest in his speech to Congress. 
 
Jews have learned not to count on anyone over the long run. We have also learned to be flexible in thinking about friends who claim to be reliable, allies of the moment, antagonists, and enemies.
 
Barack Obama may think he can civilize the Shiite extremists of Tehran with his diplomacy, but there are Arabs as well as Israelis who feel he has it all wrong.
 

 

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