A Cultural Defeat, Too
By Gideon Samet
The evacuation of Gaza was, of course, a cultural war too. But in this war, the sides spoke in different languages. Their formations were armed with weapons of completely different kinds. Seemingly unbalanced forces: A heritage of thousands of years, with its sacred tools and entire canon, steadfastly facing what religious propaganda describes as a barren field of screwed-up secular culture. But in the cultural terms of the new Israel, the battle was decided before it began. The evacuating majority, even if few among them are able to quote a line from Dalia Rabikovitch, approached the campaign with a cumulative advantage. In the last 30 years, the right has made hardly any contribution to the intellectual elite and Israeli cultural creativity.
It is impossible to name more than a handful of right-wingers and religious individuals who have left their mark on the Israeli cultural expanse during this critical period - not a single significant poet, not a single author of durable value, not a single rock artist with resonance aside from Ariel Zilber. When it comes to songwriting, there was Naomi Shemer. Yosef Ben-Shlomo is perhaps the only philosopher of Judaism whose influence spilled over the cultural boundaries of the orange. The Torah sages garnered support from the depths of the religious community. But which of them, aside from Avraham Yitzhak Hacohen Kook and his son, left a mark outside the high walls of religious faith?
You can read the rest over at Haaretz--along with a few real doozies in the "commentary" talk-back section, like this from a fellow in Pennsylvania: "The only culture that matters is the family culture and its silent, unseen fruit to society. [...] Culture is for people who appreciate other pursuits than tending to their moral responsibilities." (Not that he's reaching for his gun or anything....)