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Misplaced rage: Let politicians travel abroad – analysis

CM 22/08/2021


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Two unflattering traits came to the fore over the weekend surrounding the Merav Michaeli surrogate birth affair: a need to always look for someone to blame, and envy.
Israelis love to have someone to blame. Whenever something goes wrong in the land, whenever tragedy befalls the nation – whether man-made or an act of God – fingers are always pointed at who is responsible. 
 If a horrific forest fire breaks out, forget about the arsonists, someone must have planted the wrong types of trees – flammable trees. If a crime is committed, it is not the responsibility of the criminal, but rather reflective of a greater societal ill. And if a husband beats his wife, the social worker must be blamed for not having paid attention to the signals. 

Finding someone to blame gives us a sense of control, removes the randomness when bad things happen. 
One radio interviewer on Sunday grilled the commander of the Border Patrol unit whose soldier, St.-Sgt. Barrel Hadaria Shmueli, was shot and critically injured at the Gaza fence on Saturday, trying to get him to say who messed up in allowing the terrorist to fire a pistol into a slit in the wall behind which the Israeli sniper was situated. 
Israelis do not want to believe that some things are simply out of their control; rather if something bad happens, someone must be responsible. The good news is that this demands an accounting – as in the case of the commission of inquiry into the events that led to the deaths of 45 people at Meron on Lag Ba’omer this year. The bad news is that sometimes this leads to a tendency to look for culprits where there may not be any.
Right now, with a swirling uptick in the Delta variant of the coronavirus, there is a need to blame someone for the current spread of the contagion, even though it is washing over much of the world. Sure, there are the unvaccinated, but that’s too easy and obvious a target. Plus, with a million unvaccinated Israelis out there, there are simply too many to blame. So the newest targets are those traveling abroad. 
Even though the airport is open, even though airlines are operating dozens of flights a day, even though the coronavirus protocols both when leaving the country and entering are now well defined and streamlined, even though those returning from “red” countries like the United States must self-quarantine for a week after passing a coronavirus test just before flying here and minutes after arriving, those traveling abroad are currently cast as villains, irresponsible people whose selfishness is spreading the disease.
 Travellers wear protective face masks at Terminal 3, Ben Gurion International Airport, as Israel restricts air travel more, on August 05, 2021. (credit: AVSHALOM SASSONI/FLASH90) Travellers wear protective face masks at Terminal 3, Ben Gurion International Airport, as Israel restricts air travel more, on August 05, 2021. (credit: AVSHALOM SASSONI/FLASH90)
Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, who will be flying this week to Washington for a meeting with US President Joe Biden, added to this atmosphere, by calling in June for Israelis not to go abroad unless necessary.
So on Friday night, when Channel 12 revealed that no less a personage than Transportation Minister Michaeli, who bears administrative responsibility for the airport, boarded a plane with her partner Lior Schleien for a trip to the US, volleys of blame were fired in her direction. 
The immediate media and social media reactions were one of outrage. How dare she fly to the US when the prime minister said not to and the variant is spreading. Her response that the visit was for personal reasons was interpreted on Channel 12 as taking a “vacation,” only adding fuel to the rage – who takes a vacation at a time like this.
And then on Saturday evening, Michaeli shared on her Facebook page the true reason for her journey: to greet her new baby, the product of a surrogate pregnancy.
If ever there was a “now how do you feel for saying what you said” moment: those who criticized Michaeli earlier now congratulated her as it became apparent that she should not be rebuked for traveling abroad to greet her new infant.
Nor, however, should anyone – including Opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu – be blamed for traveling abroad as long as they are not breaking any laws in doing so and will follow the quarantine regulations when they return. Israeli travelers are not the enemy and shouldn’t be demonized. 
This leads to the second trait that came out in the Michaeli saga: envy. Among the chorus that criticized Michaeli for traveling abroad before the reason became apparent, as well as voices damning Netanyahu last week for taking a family vacation to Hawaii, there was a dissonant chord of “why can they fly abroad, while I’m stuck here.” 
But even politicians are entitled to a couple of days off. 
Part of the rage at Michaeli and Netanyahu for flying has to do with the egalitarian ethos that permeated the country in its early days. Those were the heady days of Israeli socialism when bus drivers made as much as doctors and the country’s prime ministers lived in spartan digs and comported themselves like everyone else – living simply, unpretentious.
This goes a long way toward explaining the endless tale of the failure of Israel to provide a dedicated plane to its prime ministers and presidents – because it smacks of lavishness that Israelis like to believe does not suit them or their country. 
“If I have to travel in steerage, then why should the prime minister get his own plane,” goes this way of thinking. “Who is he, anyway?”
Forgot that having a dedicated plane for the prime minister would actually end up saving the country money in the long term and that countries with a less pressing need for an Air Force One-type plane for their leaders than Israel have one, it just does not fit in with the image Israelis have of themselves. 
The irony is that while Israel has long moved beyond that egalitarian idea and spartan lifestyle, it still expects its leaders to carry themselves as if that was still the nation’s norm. The irony is that while thousands of Israelis have or would like to take a trip abroad this summer and would jump at the chance had they the opportunity, they are worked up in a rage when they see Netanyahu or Michaeli doing just that. 
Anger was well placed in the early stages of the coronavirus when the country saw that its leaders were not practicing what they were preaching regarding the coronavirus regulations, when Netanyahu, then president Reuven Rivlin and others were celebrating holidays with their families while the rest of the country were prevented from doing so because of a strict lockdown.
But now, when there is no regulation against travel as long as tests are taken and self-quarantine is honored, this rage against leaders and politicians traveling abroad just seems churlish and much less genuine or justified.

Source: Jerusalem Post

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CM

The host of Coffee Mouth Scare Crow Show and CEO of 452 Impact, Inc. Here is food for thought. Romans 6:23 "For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord." John 3:16 "For God so love ed the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him shall be saved."

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