A well known lawyer's adage says: 'When the law is on your side, bang on the law. When the facts are on your side, bang on the facts. When neither are on your side, bang on the table.' This might be good practice in an adversarial proceeding (though, what it does for justice is another question). However, at least it presumes that the lawyer knows both the law and the facts. However, what concerns (no, terrifies) me is the fact that in current Jewish or Israeli discourse, people only bang on the table. Their ignorance of the facts (never mind the law) is abysmal and, in our case, extremely dangerous. (I guess it comes from living in a bubble.)
A few examples will suffice:
1) MK Michael Melchior, Deputy Minister of Education, was interviewed on Radio Moreshet last Sunday. He was asked about concerns that unilateral withdrawal from Gaza will cost Jewish lives, given Meimad's position that the sanctity of life is more important than the sanctity of territory. Melchior blithely replied that such a position is absolutely unfounded, as proven by the Camp David accords. So, here we have a Deputy Minister of Education for the State of Israel, which is 19% Arab, who never read the Quran, never heard of the Hadith, never heard of the Battle of Badr and has no idea of what Egypt's official policy regarding Israel. What he does do is superciliously reject anything that he doesn't like. Marvelous! (Then again, what do you want from a guy whose minister barely has a BA. Ben Zion Dinur, where are you?)
2) Gidi Gov was interviewed in Makor Rishon. He informs us that nothing taken by violence is legitimate, and that Jews have no rights to Eretz Yisrael. 'Nuff Said.
3) A persistently egregious example of all of this concerns the word 'democracy.' Everybody (both Right and Left) talks about it, but very few people have a clue what it is (especially our legislators, pundits and even our judges). [Those of us who were lucky enough to grow up in the United States and the British Commonwealth do know, but Israelis tend not to listen to us because we're not real Israelis.]
Noone has read Locke, Hobbes, the Federalist Papers, Burke, Benthem, John Stuart Mill, Oliver Wendall Holmes etc. (despite the heroic and wonderful efforts of the Shalem Institute to translate and circulate their ideas). So, the result is that everybody yells democracy, but democracy usually means 'what I think.' There is not a hint of Voltaire's famous observation: 'I do not agree with what you have to say, but I'll defend to the death your right to say it.' Instead, any hint of criticism of the dominant side becomes 'treason,' 'incitement,' 'racism' or worse.
4) This reminds me of an episode after the murder of PM Rabin, z'l. There was an assembly at Bar Ilan where all kinds of people spoke. One speech, however, stands out in my memory. Then MK Benny Temkin of Meretz (now Yahad), spoke extolling his spiritual mentor Herbert Marcuse. Temkin waxed eloquent about how Marcuse was a pacifist whose writings should be the bedrock of Israeli political culture. I thought I was dreaming! Wasn't Marcuse Angela Davis' mentor? I walked over to a colleague who was known for his left-wing political affiliations. I asked him about Marcuse. He confirmed my recollection that Marcuse preached a version of Marxist violent anarchy.
I walked away very sad. Either Temkin had read Marcuse and hadn't understood a thing he'd written. Or, he had not read him and was faking it. Or, he had read him, understood him and was consciously misrepresenting him. Similarly, since the students were lapping this stuff up they clearly hadn't heard of Marcuse either. Saddest of all, I knew full well that none of them would walk the three hundred feet into the Library from the amphitheatre in order to find out.
Ten days of Shavu'a HaSefer. What in hell are they reading?