What Has Happened to Genius?

We are all in the same delusional boat with its proud sail flapping blue and white on the horizon; there is none like unto us among the nations.

Not only David Achitov - whose name would be David Best were he an American or an Englishmen - is the best, everyone in Israel is the best. Or Kashti reported this week that 84 percent of the mathematics teachers in Israel are "definitely prepared" to teach the subject - their self-confidence is higher than the international average (according to the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study). While Israel's students have slipped down to 24th place in international rankings, this regrettable datum did nothing to dampen their teachers' good feelings. Indeed, 40 percent of the teachers fail on tests of their own, yet nevertheless their satisfaction is not diminished.

The students' self-confidence is also high. They fail and are becoming feeble but not long ago it was published that they, like their teachers, are pleased with themselves; they, too, are "prepared." Neither group is going to allow bleak findings to spoil their mood or ruin their self-image; how goodly are thy teachers and thy students, O Israel.

We are all in the same delusional boat with its proud sail flapping blue and white on the horizon; there is none like unto us among the nations. Needless to say, there is none like unto the Israel Defense Forces, which is the best army in the region, in the whole world, the most moral army, O my brothers. And there are none like unto our universities, whose reputation has spread far and wide, and this is already axiomatic; and there is none like unto television in Israel, which is no less excellent than television in London, despite the slurs. Everything that is good is ours and everything that is bad is theirs. Imported.

And there is none like unto the culture and the art in our cities, especially in the field of music, "a yiddle mit a fiddle" - a Jew with a violin - and the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra is the leading orchestra in the universe; even the soccer, vive la difference, is alive and kicking and the muscular-footed Jew will yet have what to say to the Mundus in the near future. We are better than anyone, and there are lots of examples.

Yes, we do have a good opinion of ourselves - the victory of Israel shall not lie, only the visage of Israel lies, sometimes, or is at least impudent. Were we not called upon to take international tests and were these wretched comparisons not forced upon us - we would be in a constant state of ecstasy, because we wouldn't know. Stop the world, disengage it from us, we have nothing to do with it, leave us be to live in the Garden of Eden - a paradise of fools and gluttons, with no tomorrow.

On Jacob's ladder they go up and down, on Israel's ladder - only down. And should it happen that a war - full-force or low-intensity - breaks out, it suddenly emerges that the IDF isn't what we thought; and among the leading universities only one of ours is clinging to the tail of the top 100; and among the orchestras - the Israel Philharmonic isn't even on the list of the top 20, as published this month in the prestigious music monthly Gramaphone, and Hanoch Ron has brought this to our attention. Even the strings are strung out. And were we not exposed to channels with different soccer, we would take comfort in the local product, in pie in the sky and in Maccabi vs. Hapoel vs. Betar.

What has happened to us, what has happened to the "Jewish genius?" Is it atrophying in conditions of sovereignty and swagger? Were we not full of ourselves, we would be able to say that our world here is emptying of excellence. If only we were less sure of ourselves, we would have more security and also better music, and it isn't that we have any illusions concerning London.