Fatigue at the Top

How have we transformed into a people that knows that the only thing that works is brute force against people in our own country, and especially, against our neighbors?

Many of us wonder where all the genius is that Jews are supposed to embody when they gather in their own country. Our situation has never been worse than it is now, even though our cabinets and Knessets have been filled with Jews since the state was established.

We were a people of gifted violinists, esteemed and talented philosophers, writers, poets and doctors, a people of behind-the-scenes advisers, bankers and belly dancers who against all odds found their way to the king's court. And our list of Nobel Prize winners was many times longer than that of other countries. So how have we transformed into a people that knows that the only thing that works is brute force against people in our own country, and especially, against our neighbors?

It's painful to contemplate what would have happened to famous Jews we're so proud of had they immigrated to Israel. Woody Allen (who probably would have been discharged from the army on psychological grounds, and therefore boycotted ), or Yehudi Menuhin (who would have been boycotted due to his anti-Israeli statements ), would certainly have marched in the protest demonstrations. (There are others I'm not worried about. Criminals and mafia heads would get along just fine here. )

For years, I had an idea about the fact that the cabinet and Knesset are in Jerusalem. As is well known, mountain people are tougher than coastal dwellers, and when you add the blazing sun, ozone holes and unknown amounts of radon gas, you can conjure up a geographic-biochemical interpretation of the dissipation of Jewish genius.

A New York Times article by John Tierney on "decision fatigue" provides a plausible scientific explanation for this phenomenon of lost genius and offers an applicable solution. A study by Jonathan Levav (a Diaspora Jew! from Stanford University ) and Shai Danziger of Ben-Gurion University of the Negev establishes two things. First, the more we are forced to make decisions, the more the quality of our decisions worsens. The brain gets exhausted.

And the least of all evils is to avoid making decisions; that is, to leave a situation as is (not returning the territories or not evacuating settlements are excellent examples of this phenomenon ). Or to make impulsive decisions (Israel's farce in its relations with Turkey is a stellar example of decision-making fatigue ). Or to accept whatever is proposed while displaying a loss of judgment and discretionary power (the fact that someone like Avigdor Lieberman is in the cabinet reflects the decision fatigue of the people who formed the government ).

Another study revealed that one thing that can fix decision fatigue is glucose. That is, a quick sugar fix, which can restart a weary brain and help our decision-making skills. So it's unfortunate that for dietary reasons, the cabinet-room table lacks simple sugary foods and that chocolate cookies have been replaced by healthier items in Prime Minister's Benjamin Netanyahu's office.

Instead of allowing MKs to exercise their tired decision-making skills and make decisions favoring all-out regional war, reductions in health coverage, scandalously expanded budget allocations for ultra-Orthodox education, or the construction of settlements in East Jerusalem, maybe we should just put more sugar in their tea. Too bad chronic stupidity can't be solved by a dose of chocolate.