For the past several years, Yedioth Ahronoth has been unable to recover from the loss of its hegemony over setting the agenda for the entire country. In its despair, the newspaper has become a "Guide for Israeli Depression" offering a new dose of national desperation every day, with large headlines that show how the government's policies will lead to a collapse or that Israel is isolated and that its economy is a bubble that is about to burst. Things just couldn't be worse.
On Friday, the paper outdid itself. In its main weekend supplement, Yedioth Ahronoth ran a long interview with Israeli poet Nathan Zach, who made it clear that he would advise anyone against coming to Israel, citing the fact that there were many good places in the world. He also advised everyone to leave the country, "anywhere, to Berlin, for your own good, for your pleasure."
In the interview, he talks with pride about how, back in the day, he would sit in the famous Tel Aviv cafe Kassit from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m., where he and his fellow poets would drink excessively. They all wanted to mold Israeli society in their own image. According to Zach, our culture is in ruins, with the exception of his personal brand of culture, course. He said it was unfortunate that we chose "this stupid place." As if we were presented with a better offer in Europe, where a third of our people were exterminated. Zach goes on to say that one can no longer sing in Israel, because even the birds don't sing here anymore. I just wonder when he last stepped out of the Tel Aviv bubble, which is the prism through which he sees the entire cosmos. It is a bubble where everyone enjoys the fact that they think the same.
Zach belongs to a generation that wanted to divorce Israel from its Jewishness. This undertaking was an epic failure. The Jews returned home, to a place that had no birds; they drained the swamps and fought to attain freedom and were ultimately liberated and built a great country, brazenly defying the Kassit crowd. A fabulous Jewish democracy has been gradually taking shape in Israel, unlike anything in the world; migrating birds have established a great nest here and they sing every day. The problem is that some people cannot hear the great music. Poets sometimes deliberately tune out so that they won't be able to hear it. Zach is frustrated; the public has lost faith in many poets, who have always justified the enemy more than they justify their own people.
And as if that Zach interview was not enough, Yedioth's entertainment supplement included an interview with Dudu Zar, known for his prominent role in the iconic children's television program "Parpar Nechmad" ("Nice Butterfly"). Having fluttered off to Los Angeles, Zar claims that Israel does not like him. The actor encourages Israelis who watched his show as children to relocate to Australia or Berlin. Owing to his ignorance on all things U.S., he claims that everyone there seems to have it all. Well, I have news for him: There are throngs of have-nots in America. I wish him all the best in Los Angeles, but we and our children are going to stay right here and look for more butterflies on Mount Gilboa -- butterflies that don't just fly away. One should not leave his or her home; even if disgruntled artists and detached poets lecture us on the need to leave Israel.
In light of its tendency to print such interviews, is there any wonder then, that Yedioth has seen a wholesale drop in readership? Perhaps the head honchos there will once again resort to lobbying the Knesset to introduce anti-democratic measures against Israel Hayom. They have taken that path before, and failed.