Opinion |

Have We Completely Forgotten About the War in Ukraine?

Rogel Alpher
Rogel Alpher
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A man pushed a bike in the demolished town center of Trostyanets after Ukrainian forces expelled Russian troops from the town in March.
A man pushed a bike in the demolished town center of Trostyanets after Ukrainian forces expelled Russian troops from the town in March.Credit: REUTERS/Thomas Peter
Rogel Alpher
Rogel Alpher

The war in Ukraine is passe. Let’s be honest, it can continue like this, at this intensity, for many years, and we’ll never go back to caring about it. Perhaps a special daily item in the evening news during the week of the fifth anniversary of the Russian invasion. Five years, after all – that’s some kind of accomplishment. We’re barely able to carry on for 40 days. But all the death and the suffering there interest us much, much (much!) less than the local version of “Married at First Sight. Farewell, Mariupol, good night Donbas, regards to the Polish women volunteering at the Przemysl train station.

The very fact that a war is taking place “on European soil,” as news anchor Yonit Levy put it so dramatically, turned in a few weeks from being inconceivable into the strange feeling that it has always been and will always be. Instant normalcy, at a discomforting speed. I mean, it’s not very nice, right? After all, they’re dying and suffering there. And it’s happening “on European soil.” But human beings are adaptable. That’s one of our loftiest and most effective traits for the purpose of survival. And the truth is that we have become accustomed to the war in Ukraine from our homes in Israel, and we’re surviving it. If only we could have such a lovely war here, in Jerusalem, next year.

Our present indifference to the terrible humanitarian disaster taking place in Ukraine is as great as our indifference to the terrible humanitarian crisis that took place during the years of the civil war in our neighbor Syria. And of course both of them pale in comparison to our amazing insensitivity to the living conditions of the Palestinians under our occupation.

But let’s focus on Ukraine. The present indifference casts doubt on the authenticity of the interest we displayed in it from the start, with the beginning of the battles. We can assume that it was nothing more than a capricious and momentary diversion, the result of our pursuit of the spectacular. It’s an intense enthusiasm that burns out quickly, and barley leaves a trace.

But there’s a lesson to be learned from the story of the rise and fall of our curiosity regarding the events in Ukraine. If you think about it a little, the thought of the bipolar nature of our attitude toward the war in Ukraine should instill in us a somewhat forlorn feeling of emptiness, surrounded by a suspicion of fake emotions, of self-deception.

We thought that we care a lot, and suddenly we have completely forgotten. We discussed it all the time on social media, and now barely. Where did all the empathy disappear to? Where happened to our desire the desire to be considered experts who were knowledgeable about the details? Becoming aware that we are so fickle is not a pleasant experience.

Do we really care? The massacre in the school in Texas – do we care about that whole story? For 24 hours everyone voices strong opinions about the ills of U.S. society, seasoned with personal anecdotes, and that’s it, we’ve exhausted the issue. The subjects change, and only we remain: COVID-19, a fifth election, a war in the Gaza Strip, terror in the streets, Iran on the brink, MK Nir Orbach beyond the brink.

No, we aren’t robots. Yes, we care. A little. But in the case of Ukraine it’s still fresh enough to illustrate to us once again the degree to which all of that, everything spread out in front of us, all the events in the universe, including here in our country, are nothing more than means designed to entertain us, in the full sense of the word: to excite, to cause us to engage emotionally, to amuse, to bring us to tears, to thrill.

We are egotistical and we have a short attention span. And the purpose of this entertainment package is also to instill an ideology. In the Ukraine war, the principal ideological message is as follows: We need an even stronger army, so that we do not become their entertainment.

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