To be and not to be

Are protesters demanding the indictment of PM right? Are gender-neutral announcements in the UK needed? TV host Sivan Rahav Meir weighs in.

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Sivan Rahav Meir,

Sivan Rahav Meir
Sivan Rahav Meir
Self

1.

At the conclusion of every Shabbat there is a Motzei Shabbat, a Saturday night. And every Motzei Shabbat a group of protesters has recently begun gathering outside the private residence of the Attorney General in Petah Tikva.

They are angry with him and with the judicial system and stand outside his home holding banners asking: "How come the investigation has not been completed?" "Why haven't criminal charges been pressed?" The most blatant banner declares that: "Bibi is guilty until proved innocent!" Excuse me! Something is not quite clear here. In a democracy, the Attorney General cannot be forced into issuing an indictment, there is the minor matter of facts before this can happen.

It was sad to see the newly-elected Avi Gabbay demonstrating outside Mandelblit's house and trying to explain that he was not protesting against the Attorney General. Who is he trying to fool?

So much for the person who lives in Petah Tikva. What about the one who lives on Balfour Street? Whatever happened to the good old statement: "I respect the law enforcement agencies, and will cooperate with them and I await the conclusion of the investigation."? Netanyahu summoned a group of Likud MKs for a meeting, as a result of which, they went on a coordinated media blitz. MK David Amsalem wrote about the "wicked campaign" saying that: "they are using the Prime Minister to try and topple the Likud.". MK Miki Zohar added that: "we are fed up with the unforgivable slander against the Prime Minister and the Likud." Yet, not every investigation is really a putsch, sometimes it is nothing more than just an investigation.

Although it's true that Bibi's opponents accuse him of being a suspect in every single investigation even if he is not connected, but one cannot ignore the fact that there is also an ongoing investigation in which he is involved.

So, on the one hand we have calls to get on with the job and indict him, whatever happens, just because we're talking about Bibi. On the other hand, we have claims that the law enforcement agencies are working in tandem with the Left and the media and it's all a foregone conclusion and everyone is against him, just because we're talking about Bibi.

Maybe we should be offering support to Mandelblit, Alsheikh and all the other investigators and prosecutors who only hear these two sides. We should be telling them not get too affected by vocal campaigns, but should simply try to get to the bottom of the story and discover the truth.

2.

This week we read the final Portions of the Book of Numbers, Matot-Masei, in which Moses warns the Children of Israel as they are about to enter the Land of Israel about: "a culture of sinful people." It is interesting to note that this is the only time in the Torah that the word 'culture' appears, and already then in the context of a culture war. The Torah talks about a struggle for the spirit of the Children of Israel and this same struggle continues in our times.

It is no coincidence that the Ministry of Culture headed by Miri Regev is constantly in the news. It's not just a question of the Minister but also the subject. The question of which movies or plays receive ministerial funding is a critical one, because we know just how much culture can make an impact.

If historians will ever study today's culture, in the age of post- and neo-, they will be able to point to one news item and one advert that were published this week which encapsulate contemporary culture. We live in a generation of 'this and also this', of blurred boundaries, and of all-encompassing inclusivity. Proof of this comes from London. The British media reported that the London Underground management has banned the use of the term 'Ladies and Gentlemen' in announcements telling the public about a train's arrival or delay, in order not to hurt the feelings of those who are uncomfortable with these gender definitions. Is this really the most pressing issue in terror-stricken and refugee-swamped Europe? My first thought on reading this news item was that maybe the best public service announcement on the Underground would be 'Ladies, Gentlemen and Terrorists.'

If this is the level of news we are exposed too, it's not surprising that we are confronted with adverts such as the one for Tik-tak gum. The newest flavor is called 'mixers'. The PR agency tells us that we have entered a new age when we will no longer have to think about what flavor to choose. Cherry flavor becomes cola, peach becomes lemonade. Why do we need to be boxed in by definitions, why should we be forced to choose just one specific flavor? Those days are gone and now the flavor changes as we chew our gum.

Five hundred years ago, Shakespeare wrote his famous line: "To be or not to be?" Today he would not have presented us with such a dilemma, he would have said: "To be and to be, you can have both your peach and your lemonade."

3.

Two weeks ago, I wrote in this column about Debby Gross, the psychologist who wrote the "Ten Commandments for our Children's Safety." In response, I received an important addition:

"Dear Sivan, This is Na'ama Bar, I am a social worker, therapist and lecturer who specializes in sexual trauma. I read the expert's rules, but the very fact that a list of preventative rules is published, means that parents of victims or the abused children themselves may feel guilty for letting the abuse happen. Regrettably, most abusers (87%) are well-known by the victim.

Most adults, and certainly most children, will simply be frozen to the spot when being abused, unable to resist. Therefore, the most important thing is to emphasize that if abuse occurs and we freeze, it's not our fault. Freezing on the spot happens to almost everyone, however old they are, no matter what gender they are. There is no place for guilt feelings.

In my opinion (and those who are more experienced in this field) we have to convey the following message to the public (many of whom are victims and/or parents of victims). It is indeed true that we are almost completely incapable of controlling whether or not our children will fall victim to abuse, and this in itself is a very difficult message for parents and indeed anyone to digest. However, and this is the big difference, if a child is abused, we certainly can influence the extent of the victim's trauma, by having control over the level of empathy and understanding we give him or her."