What, Me Worry?

We get ourselves worked up over so many fears, overcome by a terror that paralyses us in the face of real and imagined threats until it assumes the proportions of an apocalyptic ring of fire.

In referring to the "Days of Awe," the 10 days of repentance between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, in the Israel of today it is possible to invoke the witticism of Dorothy Parker who, when learning that the taciturn and passive president, Calvin Coolidge, had died, asked:"How could they tell?"

And indeed, at least from the political and diplomatic points of view, if these are the Days of Awe, what are the others - days of merriment?

Sunbathing - Olivier Fitoussi - 07102011
Olivier Fitoussi

There are those who might well say: Well, yes. After all, what's wrong? For a long time we haven't had such a long a period of calm in the security situation; at least there is no all-out war. The diplomatic tsunami that the defense minister warned us about did not reach our shores. The terrifying "September" has come and gone, and with it the duel between the two speakers at the United Nations. Apparently some mysterious person planted a bug in the Palestinians' plans "to hold a month of bloodshed in September of a kind that has never been seen before," as Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman phrased it when he demanded that they be punished in advance.

It is true that the Iranian centrifuges are still spinning and the Turkish fleet has not yet been destroyed, the peace with Egypt and Jordan is being put on hold, Sinai has turned from a place of recreation into a hornets' nest, leaders from all over the world are turning from supporters into enemies, and now Syrian President Bashar Assad is also threatening to rain missiles on Tel Aviv. But for now, the People of Israel live. What's more, rather like a hero in an animated film, they are wrapped up in a kind of magical feeling of immunity. From all sides, people bare their teeth, click their tongues, sharpen their knives, wag their fingers at them, but Bugs Bunny goes on undeterred, cheerfully making mistakes, singing merry songs, and from time to time, simply to get on somebody's nerves or to amuse the folks at home, constructs yet another neighborhood on the bridge of Barack Obama's nose or the forehead of Angela Merkel, and then has the nerve still to telephone and ask: "What's up, Doc?"

Large numbers of people had pinned revolutionary hopes on the protest movement. But during the Netanyahu-Barak-Lieberman term of office, a much more significant revolution took place with regard to the way Israel sees itself. If in the past, the striving for a better future, peace and security, were considered a matter of unrivaled complexity and difficulty, a yearned-for objective, a perpetual effort that involved military struggles and discouraging negotiations, and creative efforts in which the bottom of the barrel of ideas was scraped - now, everything is so very simple: as long as we are not annihilated, everything is sweet as honey.

The modus operandi is also easy as pie. We get ourselves worked up over so many fears, overcome by a terror that paralyses us in the face of real and imagined threats, fanning every spark of danger until it assumes the proportions of an apocalyptic ring of fire. At which point, the very fact that we are still breathing is seen as a tremendous victory.

The refreshing simplicity, which exempts us from making any effort, has for time immemorial been a source of attraction for the Right in Israel; certainly in comparison with the philosophizing and dialectics of "the Left," which has contorted itself ad nauseum over issues like why terrorism and peace can go hand in hand, and what the Arabs meant to say between the lines when they said exactly the opposite, and so forth.

However, the prolonged term of office of an ultra-right government has brought this elementary simplification to new heights - the kind that makes possible a political figure like Lieberman; the kind that shapes every one of the speeches of Netanyahu, whose expertise lies in the reduction of the most complex picture of reality to the level of simplification of a kindergarten refrain ("if they give, they'll get" ), accompanied by the appropriate movements of the hands.

And things are simple, so simple. And all is well with the Jews (and if you ask the people in Netanyahu's bureau, so long as the Rabbi of Lubavitch is still alive, we have absolutely nothing to worry about ). So who said anything about "Days of Awe?"