Pushcart Prize nominee, KJ Hannah Greenberg wrote JPost's "Old/New World Discourse...
Fri,Dec 6,2013 3 Tevet 5774
It’s time to get the world excited about Israel. Forget those images of bomb shelters and of bikini-clad youth. Forget all of that huffing and puffing over seemingly endless international, political agendas. Instead, think “awe.”
Contemporary musicians and young models, respectively, have had limited success as Israel’s “spokespeople.” Those celebrities’ hard work has failed to attract the empathy of world leaders and the investments, either fiduciary or moral, of world denizens.
Popular snap and fizz is meaningless to the ruling class and to its would-be emulators. Privileged or otherwise high-placed persons and their underlings give credence, in the long run, to the strictures of dominant cultures. That is, currently, such folks act as if they value bookish knowledge, while actually placing a premium on accruing material wealth. Simply, it’s not possible to divest a zebra of its stripes.
Said differently, the world’s movers and shakers hunger for the sorts of ideas that they esteem can elevate their status, not for bits and pieces of concepts that they esteem are better left to “the rabble.” The masses, meanwhile, wants to be like the high flying minority that they revere. Power gets sought. Grandiosity gets desired. Everyone’s pushing the next guy over in order to get closer to the top of the social heap.
It’s no wonder that minimalizing the worth of a seemingly insignificant world player, Israel, has increased in popularity as a pastime. Have-nots feel better when bullying those they perceive as lacking more than themselves.
Accordingly, most big shots and their minions tire of thinking about Israel in terms of the underdog metaphor or in terms of the displaced person allegory presently offered up by various outlets. Talk of arms, despite its ongoing appearance in the news, and despite the relative affinity the media have for mention of all things nuclear, has long ago lost its provocative, and hence catchy, nature. Therefore, many controlling individuals, as well as their subordinates, lack interest in clusters of information that they believe won’t help their personal causes.
International power mongers, and many of their followers, are not especially swayed by types of convergent electronics’ coercion, i.e. by those communications that prey on human fears, than they are by Internet visibility of modern balladeers or by actresses’ reputations for revealed skin. If an action brings heads of state, and increasingly so, their populaces, neither glory nor coin, they’ll likely turn their attention elsewhere. So, while this land’s marketeers try to sell Israel’s hotels, and while this land’s foes try to reinterpret boundaries and to otherwise hijack Israel’s global image, via their spinning available representations of the goings on here, leaders and hangers-on both yawn.
To wit, it’s time we Israelis stop trying to please outsiders with our portrayals of or with our debunking of others’ portrayals of Israel. It’s time that we Israelis speak the truth. Whereas it is helpful to discredit offending balderdash, and to replace world mythology with veracities, immediately, if not sooner, we must end our reliance on others’ concepts of us. We must define ourselves.
We could, for instance, promote Israel’s natural wonders. In our small, but mighty, geography, a place bounded by both the Mediterranean and the Dead Sea, we are possessed of many types of incomparable, varied beauty. Consider the egrets that nest in Haifa’s olive trees, the hyraxes that inhabit the fields around Holon, and the sunsets that spectacularly color Jerusalem’s sky, especially after rainstorms have cleared.
Consider, too, our turf’s unparalleled history. Here, where every four amot witness yet more holiness, we nursemaid the land of western monotheism. We ought not to be so lackadaisical about this good fortune when we could be touting it to the world. Our land is priceless and we need to treat and to advertise it as such. As HaRav Kook, z”tl, suggested, we Israelis need to express our vision of “scholars and leaders in Israel, [who are] filled with a deep love for their fellow-Jew, and imbued with the love of the Torah and the love of the Land of Israel.”
In short, Israel’s verbal drive can and ought to surpass: the rhetoric of apologia, commercials laden with sex appeal, language about the local music scene, and repeated and dramatic references to potential war. We must cease and desist kow-towing to meaning forced upon us from outside and, instead, prop up that which is valuable about our home.
The Boss bestowed upon us the entrance to Gan Eden. It is our responsibility to embrace this region’s unique qualities and to publicize them to the world. Here, we enjoy Hashem’s expression of the greater part of this planet’s marvels. We are obliged, consequently, to thank The Almighty. It’s time to shout out. We are not improved by cowering and we are diminished, in Shamayim, by lack of gratitude.
Granted, our words of thanksgiving will not line the pockets of dictators nor make kings cringe. Deigning to stop submitting ourselves to global marketing pressure, though, will draw notice. Recall that David marched right up to Goliath-the-Terrifying and smacked him in the head with a slingshot-propelled rock. It’s vital that we henceforth spread favorable words and images of Israel. It’s time to rebrand.
Let the world realize that Israelis, specifically, and that Jews, in general, are both proud of our nation and appreciative that we dwell here. Let other lands’ rulers and peoples be caused to pay attention to the truth that Israel is a miracle. Maybe, if they are nice, we’ll even let them visit.