The age of stupidity

The publishing of inane drivel by “experts” is a reflection of the sad status of our society.

Selection of newspapers 311 (photo credit: The Jerusalem Post archives)
Selection of newspapers 311
(photo credit: The Jerusalem Post archives)
People in Israel once lived in an age of innocence, an era of all-consuming devotion and an almost naïve belief in our ideals concerning the creation of a Jewish State, of trusting in our leaders and building a just society.
Later on, we lived in an age of heroism in which young Israelis, without thinking twice, gave up their lives for Israel in all of its wars.
Following that, we entered the age of egotism in which Israelis thought of themselves first and not of the country. They were concerned only with their own well-being and the hell with the others. That age still lingers in the background, and is grouped together with the age of cynicism and self-hatred.
Last summer, when hundreds of thousands of young people protested and spoke eloquently in support of social justice and returning to the basic values of Zionism, I thought that perhaps we were finally making a return to the age of innocence. 
But this turned out to be a short-lived episode, a mere preamble before making our merry way into a new age, the age of stupidity. Today, anybody can say anything,  and spouting nonsense seems to be the order of the day. In the past, opinion-makers, newspaper editors, broadcasters, and civil servants – of all political denominations – would filter  any declarations, statements, articles, interviews before deciding what “news is fit to print” or broadcast. These days, it’s become a free for all and you can read or hear the most ridiculous drivel being presented with respect and admiration in our papers and on TV.
Take, for example, a radio interview given to one of the leaders of the protest movement, who I shall gracefully refrain from naming, about her ideas for a solution to the present financial crisis. The woman clearly does not have a clue when it comes to economics. Her sage advice was that we must increase the budget and find more money. Where from, I ask?
Her interview brought to mind a sweet memory from my childhood; I was about 3 years old and I asked my mother for a toy, only to receive the response that we had no money for that. I answered that we should go to the money store and buy some money. That was pretty much the gist of the message given by the heroic protest leader.
The following day, the hero of the morning news was an anarchist who wanted to do away with the government and the bloody political system. On television, protest leaders were singing odes of praise to Moshe Silman, the man who immolated himself, without realizing that their enthusiasm would encourage others to set themselves on fire (which they did). Then I opened a page of Haaretz to find David Grossman urging military experts to stand openly against the government. Apparently, Grossman had become enamored by the Arab Spring and wanted us to join the party. And then, once again in Haaretz, a "Very Important Professor" postulated that Israel should not attack Iran and instead should learn to live with the nation that is developing nuclear energy “for peaceful and civilian purposes” only. He must be the only person that believes that Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s centrifuges, churning in their underground lairs, are intended for the production of isotopes or to provide cheap power for poor Tehrani neighborhoods. Yet the article was duly printed by what is ostensibly a respectable newspaper.
My intention is not to open a debate about whether to attack Iran. It just irks me to read reports by correspondents who “reveal” just how many planes and missiles we have, or what the Saudis or Bahrainis will do to us if we attack. Or to read reports with stats by “security experts” who haven’t read a document or heard a briefing in many years but for some reason are now being promoted to the rank of divine oracles; or professors and writers who make “informed” declarations about what will occur the day after; or pollsters who inform us that “39 percent of Israelis regard the Iranian bomb – or an attack on the Iranian bomb - as a new Holocaust;” or reporters whom, on a daily basis, publish misinformation leaked by foreign embassies. At this point I joke that the People of the Book may have finally found the one thing that will earn them a gold medal, namely, the sport of “making it up.”
These days in Israel there are perhaps 15 to 20 people at most who really know just what the situation is. And most of them never give interviews. I just hope that when the time comes for them to make a fateful decision, they will think of us and our safety and our country’s existence, and ignore the ”experts” that are entrenched in the age of stupidity.
The writer is a former Labor Party MK and the official biographer of David Ben-Gurion and Shimon Peres.