Thursday, November 17, 2016

Fire all the Media Analysts

By HaRav Yisrael Rosen
Dean of the Zomet Institute

The Realm of Useless Analysts

The worldwide reaction to the recent elections of the President of the United States was: the utter failure of the media! This cry was accompanied by cries of joy and satisfaction at the passing of the all-knowing and all-powerful deity, the communications media. To be more exact, the statement referred to the media analysts (as opposed to broadcasters and writers of informative articles), including those who create and analyze public opinion polls. But do not get the idea that they have learned their lesson. On the contrary – now we are treated to interview after interview of hordes of analysts in an effort to understand where they went wrong. Why didn’t the “people” listen to the media, which is responsible for fashioning public opinion? How could it be that their efforts to influence the public produced a “negative” and not a positive response?

All my readers should be aware that the multitude of internet channels, both printed and broadcast, has created a new and coveted profession: an analyst for such issues as: politics / economics / sports / political parties / society / the United States / law / health / ecology / agriculture / work relations / transportation / youth / police / religions / water / the performing arts / culture / couplehood / energy / art / fashion / photography / smartphones / software and computers / history / Africa / botany / the Middle East / and of course, cooking. I apologize to any that I have left out, and I leave it to my readers to make their own additions to the list. The requirements for this new vocation are: to have the appearance of “expertise” with an air of confidence, a highly polished manner of speaking, the patience to sit on a panel, and at least limited knowledge of the relevant realm. The only required academic achievements are a passing grade in tests for skills in astrology and crystal ball reading, and passing a psychological test of suitability to become part of the “media branch.”

Here is one lesson to be learned so far: The disbanding of the existing broadcasting authority and the establishment of a replacement will make no difference from the point of view of the healthy instincts of the people. If we can save a few million Shekels by making the change I am in favor of the idea, and we can give credit for it to the Finance Minister.

While we are on the subject, note the impressive number of articles in the press (without any regard for specific events and predictions of the future) – in written and broadcast media, and on the internet – where a journalist interviews his own colleague. “Write about me, and I will write about you.” Just like people who “decorate each other” (see Shabbat 34a).

Is there any Point to this Festival?

After first getting the media analysts out of the way together with other background noise, let us say a few words about the main event which brought all of this on – the election of a new and somewhat strange President in the United States. To avoid being forced to resign from my position, I will refrain from trying to analyze the reasons for his success, and I will not be caught up in the deluge of analysts. It seems that the people are smarter than their analysts (or perhaps dumber), and I will not try to follow the path that has been opened up for experts in the “media branch” to show their superior intelligence, and their plump bourgeois approach.

The Israeli “Right” is beside itself for joy. The time of the Mashiach has arrived – or at the very least, his donkey... Official spokesmen for the right and simple folks are competing in parlor talks and in talkbacks about who will spout greater superlatives on whether the days of the Mashiach are already here, and whether all our political desires are about to be fulfilled on the spot. In the political left, which seems to accept the same assessment of the situation, there are sighs and trepidation. We can assume they are busy trying to decide how to counteract the plots of the right by turning to international venues that are available to them. However, I want to remind us all, and especially the Israeli rightists, of the enthusiasm with which this sector reacted when Netanyahu was elected Prime Minister and he established a government which was totally on the right. The result, or more important the lack of any result, until today, has been like a slap in the face. Learn to take it easy, as the saying goes: “What you see from here from here is not what you see from there, when you are in power.” Blame all sorts of factors: the Supreme Court, world reactions, a rift among our own people, and so on. All of these reasons also exist, and even more strongly, in the United States.

And I have one more thing to add, from the Jewish point of view: Ecstatic dancing on the rooftops in Israel because of the Jewish surroundings of President Trump seem to me to be a serious mistake, certainly from the point of view of tactics. I will not add anything more, so as not to make matters worse!

* * * * * *

Next week’s Torah portion begins with negotiation full of excessive flattery by the people of Chet, based on the statement to Avraham that“You are a mighty prince of G-d among us” [Bereishit 23:6]. They try to estimate Avraham’s true wealth in property andextort as great a profit from him as they can. Our sages called this, “They say a lot but they do not even do a little bit” [Bava Metzia 87a]. This is something that can happen in real life!

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