The New York Times falsely portrayed a grim, sad Israel
As is the wont of the New York Times, it has published yet another hit piece on Israel. As Ira Stoll writes about the essay, the Times writers are relentlessly negative. Instead of noting the country's accomplishments and vitality, says Stoll:
For all the show up, reportorial road-trip hustle, the Times narrative is exactly the pre-cooked agenda we've all come to expect: "the underlying tensions and inequities remained — the unending occupation, the blockade of Gaza, and the social divisions that have split Israel since its founding: between Jews from Europe and the Middle East, between the secular and the devout, between the Jewish majority and the Arab minority." Never mind that the occupation isn't actually "unending" because Israel withdrew from Sinai, withdrew from Gaza, withdrew from the Southern Lebanon security zone. Never mind that the "blockade" of Gaza also involves Gaza's neighboring country of Egypt, and has been sufficiently permeable to allow the entrance of thousands of trucks weekly, carrying millions of liters of fuel and tens of thousands of tons of supplies.
If the Times writers who denigrate Israel would sit for a moment and contemplate their work, would they, in the quiet of their minds, say they told the truth? If so, they would be deluding themselves, because their biases mean that the narrative is inevitably incomplete. Moreover, they offer nothing to replace that which they are intent upon destroying. They ought to be ashamed.
At a more philosophical level, they cannot avoid the personal consequences of their dishonest writing. Despite having before them all the wonders and joy of modern Israel, they have been able to see only drab unhappiness and division. It is in this way that everyone produces themselves — by choosing the contents of their minds. If they cannot see joy, for whatever reason, they limit their experience with it. Things are a bit more complicated than the way I have stated it, but not much!
The New York Times' relentlessly negative, gray view of Israel deserves a counterpoint. Sit back and put on your seatbelts, because you are in for one of the most exciting musical rides of your lives (or at least of mine). Those of my friends who have thumbed through the links below have come away enlivened. I wish the same for you! And don't worry that you don't understand Hebrew; the videos radiate joy.
Here is Yonina, originally from California, and her husband as they start their and their children's day with the prayer Jews say upon getting out of bed in the morning:
Many of the videos in this list are from Koolulam, a group that brings together hundreds of strangers to sing songs, representing a melding of the different locations, ages, and cultures within Israel. In the first one, made before COVID made Zoom ubiquitous, Israelis participate in a group sing-along, sort of a cross between a large church choir and a "rave." It draws together people who have never met from five cities — Jerusalem, Kiryat Motzkin, Ashkelon, Rishon Letzion, and Dimona — to learn and perform the same song on Zoom.
Leftists would be particularly appalled, because many of Koolulam's songs, even when they speak of pain, aren't about victimhood but are, instead, about hope and overcoming tribulations:
Many among the adult Jewish population know "Honey and the Sting of the Bee," which is being sung here at the big national celebration of Israel's 70th year of international recognition. At the beginning, the president of Israel can be seen turning on the house lights.
In this next video, the medical staff at a major hospital celebrate Israel's 73rd Independence Day.
The following song is being performed by 600 Holocaust survivors with their children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren, making it both heart-wrenching and heart-warming. In Israel, a nation that is a testament to Jewish survival going back over 4,000 years, there is no shame in family continuity!
Now for an even larger family! Singing on the occasion of the 70th anniversary of their founding, the members of Kibbutz Ein Tzurim celebrate together. The first part of the video shows their accomplishments on the land. There is no better childhood than that provided by kibbutz living.
Next is my favorite video because there are so many children who love singing together.
Finally, having a purpose in one's life is a theme that no longer resonates strongly in Western culture. However, in Israel, a country long surrounded by unrelenting hostility, Israelis sing of a great light that teaches them not to waste their lives. Absolutely reactionary!
In the United States and Europe, people go to concerts, plays, and movies that are, in the end, passive events for the participants. In Israel, the culture sees people stand with each other, learning to be participants in their own joy and entertainment.
In my humble opinion, the most important part of these videos is the quick face shots of the people who are singing. Hit the space bar occasionally to stop the action to get a better view of them. These are the faces the New York Times wishes you would never see: real people enjoying their lives and building their communities, in this case through song.
We need to disabuse ourselves of the idea that everything is either sexual or political. Otherwise, that is all we will ever have. And worse, we will never know there was ever anything else.