Thursday, June 27, 2013

Collective thrills

Several months ago, right before the elections, I spoke with a good friend of ours. He is quite rightwing, though far from being fanatic or extremist (he was considering voting Likud or Yesh Atid), married with children, and very well educated. I could not believe my ears when he said without blinking that Israel can afford "a small war" every now and then. Yesterday I was reminded of his words when I came across this article. This morning - the letters for the word 'incident/coincidence' and the phrase "Only from G'd" are the same in Hebrew, as I learnt about twenty years ago from a rabbi - I read a passage in an amazing book by Sebastian Haffner, Defying Hitler, a very insightful, real-time (!!!) analysis of the developments which led the Germans from one worldwar to another. In no way would I want to imply that Israel resembles pre-Nazi Germany - I am not a big fan of historical comparisons, and there are oh so many differences and hardly any real similarities between the two; for example, Israelis know very well how to enjoy their lives, probably better than anybody else - but for a very brief moment I could not help thinking of Israel today when I read the following:
"A whole generation was , it seemed, at a loss as to how to cope with the offer of an unfettered private life.  A generation of young Germans had become accustomed to having the entire content of their lives delivered gratis, so to speak, by the public sphere, all the raw material for their deeper emotions, for love and hate, joy and sorrow, but also all their sensations and thrills-accompanied though they might be by poverty, hunger, death, chaos, and peril. Now that these deliveries suddenly ceased, people were left helpless, impoverished, robbed, and disappointed. They had never learned to live from within themselves, how to make an ordinary private live great, beautiful, and worthwhile, how to enjoy it and make it interesting. So they regarded the end of the political tension and the return of private liberty not as a gift, but as a deprivation. They were bored, their minds strayed to silly thoughts, and they began to sulk. In the end they waited eagerly for the first disturbance, the first setback or incident, so that they could put this period of peace behind them and set out on some new collective adventure."

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