There's a limit

'Every week we're exposed to new levels of depravity,' says journalist Sivan Meir. 'The lines between decency and rudeness have blurred.'

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Sivan Rahav Meir,

Sivan Rahav Meir
Sivan Rahav Meir
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Sensitivity, privacy, common sense, sanity and an innate sense of what is appropriate. These are what the human race is going to have to fight for next. It seems to me that, from week to week, all our boundaries are being crossed and new levels of depravity are being seen. The events may even be connected: There is a connection between what the Prime Minister's son allows himself to do and what one of those present allows himself to record and sell, to what is publicized and turns into a discussion about all the juicy details.

There is certainly a line connecting a Minister who tries to get someone who is sitting "shiva" in the week of mourning for his wife to come to vote in the Knesset, to the members of the Opposition who, surprisingly, withdrew all their objections to a proposed bill and demanded an immediate vote, when they realized that members of the coalition were absent, attending the funeral of a terror victim. There is a connection between those who published the recording of the victim shouting "I've been shot, I've been shot" to the media who publicized the recording without any attempt to alter the voice (thus enabling several family members of the victim to hear about the attack), to the fact that some of the family members heard about the murder from the media.

The connection between all these events is the loss of the most basic limits. We no longer know the lines distinguishing manners from rudeness, logic from illogic. These limits have nothing at all to do with "legal" or "illegal". It has everything to do with being a decent human being or not.


Nurit Eilon-Hirsch is a lawyer who lives in Tel Aviv and heads the "Ashira" center which organizes lectures. She has had enough of juicy gossip and people shaking their heads in disapproval at this week's news and decided to take advantage of the week's topic of conversation to try and make a real change in the way women are exploited and objectified. Last year, she joined forces with the Committee for Gender Equality in the Tel Aviv municipality to fight against the business cards strewn on the sidewalks of the city that advertise massage and sexual services. The campaign led to arrests and indictments. Reacting to this week's news she wrote: "The headlines are celebrating the embarrassing affair of the social life of the Prime Minister's son.

Before we forget the details and the next juicy scandal comes along, did anyone think about social responsibility and the problematic educational messages that society projects about women? In the news, I read and hear about all the moral critics but when I go for a walk in Tel Aviv with my children, we are confronted with a barrage of adverts, business cards and billboards that leave no room for imagination. Pornography in the streets. All those who criticize Yair Netanyahu should realize that this is not a question of Left and Right. It's all about education. Education for respect and against exploitation.

Education about building a relationship based on love. Why should the value of pluralism erase all other values and limits? Will the Tel Aviv municipality agree to publicize adverts, regardless of how depraved and deviant they are, so long as it gets paid? Is everything legitimate? I contacted the municipality about some of the adverts and filed a complaint with the police about defamatory advertising, which is a criminal act. We are also planning a class action lawsuit. We are not talking about the value of freedom in our city, we are talking about our freedom not to live in a city that promotes messages that objectify women and blur the boundaries. These billboards may seem dazzling and glorified, but they give legitimization to a sinister world."

Within a few hours of publicizing her petition, some 600 men and women had already signed it.


And in one instant everything changed. We stopped talking about the lurid details of his nightlife, and began talking about the details of a life filled with goodness and volunteerism. Rabbi Raziel Shevach was a volunteer medic for Magen David Adom and also for Kav Lechaim, an organization that provides support for sick children.

I have been told so many stories about Raziel Shevach this week, each one more meaningful than the previous one. Are we really blessed to have such modern-day holy people living among us? People who get up in the morning and just want to help, to volunteer, to make someone else's life better? And why, when we hear someone talking on the radio about "a good person, who always wanted to help others" are we certain that he is no longer with us?


So let me tell you about some good and positive moves by young people in their twenties. A new movement called "Be'artzenu" (lit. In our country) was launched this week in Ben Ami. It was set up by alumnae of the pre-military academies who decided to set a new goal for social activism. Tens of people came to listen, find out and to register. Their goal is settlement. Not in Judea and Samaria, and not in small, exclusive communities in the North but in towns in the peripheral areas of Israel.

Dani Zamir, the CEO of the Joint Council of the Military Academies told me that this goal was decided upon after a survey of the thousands of alumnae. "The kibbutzim around the country do not need our support, but the city centers do. Settling a small farm in the south may be trendy, but we want to turn settlement in towns into the next big trend. We chose to focus on Upper Nazareth in the North and Arad in the South. We plan to bring 250 families and young couples, graduates of our programs, to settle in these town within the next five years. We will build neighborhoods with a rural atmosphere because they are giving up on their dream of a family home in the countryside. They will move to the towns as a group, to build a new community. "I live in Nazareth" is a strategic and meaningful decision, it may not be the chic thing to do but in this way, we hope to change the trend of negative migration. By concentrating most of the population, especially the upper echelons, in the center of the country, we are making a strategic error. Being a productive citizen in the center does not help. We want to stress that we are not against the Arabs who move to Upper Nazareth or Arad, but we do want Jews to move there also."


Who still remembers that, once upon a time, the headlines were all about the minimarket bill? Both opponents and supporters of the bill admit that it will have no actual impact. This week the central committee of the Bnei Akiva youth movement passed a motion that could very well have an impact. The motion calls on all branches of the movement to make a point of buying at stores that close on Shabbat. Dr. Yossi Londin's children are all members of Bnei Akiva - a branch coordinator, a counselor, and three members and he is optimistic that such a move could have a real impact. "Today, in the age of commercialization and anti-coercion, this is the only way for change.

I know it is sometimes difficult when you are at the mall, or want to see a movie or fill the car with gas to look out for the business that is closed on Shabbat, it is so tempting to choose the comfortable and speedy way. But if we do not give preferential treatment to those businesses that are closed on Shabbat, it won't work. We do not need to boycott anyone, but we should make a point of giving our business to those heroes who withstand the temptation.

These are the people who understand that from a religious, nationalist and socialist point of view a day of rest is more important than having more income. Just think what would be the outcome if 20% of the religious and haredi population and some of the traditional sector would give preferential treatment to businesses that are closed on Shabbat. There would be no need for any legislation or arguments. Are we capable of rising to this challenge?"