Monday, 20 May 2013

Oh Brother, Where Art Thou?



I always suspected that eventually I will incur some collateral damage for expressing my opinions over the Internets. I did not suspect it would come from the direction it came from.
This morning my brother emailed me an ultimatum. What he said, more or less, is that I have been displaying low level intelligence, I have been a shame to my family (including my wife), and he is ashamed he has helped me with my migration to Australia. Unless I change my ways, he will limit contact with me to discussions of my father's ill health.
My chief crime, in case you were wondering, is posting photos from Israel and adding negative commentary to them (given the timing, I suspect he was referring to photos such as this, this, this, this and that). To add fuel to the fire, he claimed I spare Australia from similar criticism.
Although this is not my main purpose with this post, I will dedicate a bit of space to dismantling his arguments:
  1. First, I admit having an overall negative opinion concerning Israel; if it were otherwise I probably wouldn't have made all the effort required to leave that country. It is obvious to me Australia is a much better place to live in for many a reason, many of which are obvious to my brother, too. After all, he chose to live here, too.
  2. Regardless, I fail to see how leaving a place implies not being allowed to criticize it; by this logic none of us are allowed to pass judgement over North Korea either. This argument stinks Orwellian.
  3. Even though I think Judaism (and all other religions I am familiar with) are dangerous nonsense, I do not go inside synagogues and shout my opinion out loud; I respect the rights of those practicing Judaism to practice their religion. By the same token, if my brother doesn't want to hear my opinions he doesn't have to enforce the obliteration of my web resources; he can just, you know, ignore them.
  4. My brother is ignoring me actually saying some positive things about Israel from time to time.
  5. He is also ignoring me criticizing Australia a lot. Obviously, he does not read this blog; neither does his inability to locate it and my other web presences bid well for his Googling skills.
  6. Besides, since when do the crimes of Australia compensate for Israel's? (Repeat: North Korea, Orwell.)  
  7. For that matter, my brother can easily find me criticizing other countries, too, chief amongst which is the USA. The USA is a country I love a lot and owe a lot too, but also a country from which I have been seeing a lot of scary stuff come out lately. Why should I shut up when I see the country that sparked this child's imagination several decades ago go to the dogs?
At the core of it all comes a simple argument. I am of the opinion that criticism is an essential ingredient on the road to improvement; criticism of one's country, and the awareness it requires, is the true sign of patriotism. Blind acceptance of leaders and traditions is for fools to be had.
But my brother chose not to address my arguments. Instead, his attack too a personal approach: shooting the messenger and applying personal pressure. When someone argues this way they are either saying they are too ignorant to argue properly or they admit their side's lack of foundations.
More importantly, I believe very strongly that everyone has the right to say whatever is on their mind. By the same token I also believe that everyone else has the right to tell them they are stupid idiots. I did the first and my brother did the second, which is perfectly fine, but my brother did more: he tried to block me from expressing my opinions through the threat of severing contact with me. This is not a threat I will take lying down; this is exactly the type of thing that burns my fuses the fastest.
Besides, can I truly be expected to change my opinion because I know someone doesn't like them? It is technically impossible.

Truth is, my brother and I have been drifting apart for many years now. We have grown to be very different people who share little in world outlook and opinions. It was probably just a matter of time until a rupture came along; as it happens, it took a particular difference of opinion for it to finally erupt.

5 comments:

wile.e.coyote said...

I'm sure being your big brother is lot of fun.
You take small problems in Israel (that I never saw or felt) and make them to the face of Israel.
Bottom line is that people in Israel are happy with their day-to-day life.

I assume that part of your arguments are self-justification to your relocation decision.

If you brother love Israel so much, he know our address.

Moshe Reuveni said...

First, I am happy to hear you are happy at Israel. I really am.
Second, things like my wife not being able to legally live in Israel for reasons to do with her religion of birth while she is just as religious as I am (at least not as a citizen of equal rights) are not things I would consider to be "small problems". If such grievances make it fun to be my brother then so be it.
Third, it seems as if by spending too much space on refuting my brother's arguments I failed at conveying the main point. The point is that the argument between my brother and I is about freedom of thought and freedom of speech: according to his ultimatum, he would have continued our relationship if I was to cease with both in relation to Israel. I, however, argue that the former is technically impossible and the latter is a matter over which I cannot see myself giving ground. Neither did the USA's founders, by the way.

wile.e.coyote said...

From this point of earth it seems a very strange fight, 2 people that are, YORDIM, NEFULET SHEL SMUSHOT, BOGDIM, argue what is the way to love Israel.
Does criticism shows love or does it means you dislike the place.
I think that it really does not matter, remote-love or remote dislike is same-same.
If you just talk and don't suffer from the "hard difficulties" in here, you are just handling non-sense issues.
As the RAMBA"M said "It is only permitted to emigrate and resettle abroad in cases of severe hunger. It is permissible to emigrate from Israel for marriage, to study Torah or to support oneself, including in cases where famine is not present."

Moshe Reuveni said...

/Hat off/

Moshe Reuveni said...

I'm trying to stop myself from always having the last word, but I do think a clarification is due:
"it seems a very strange fight, 2 people that are, YORDIM, NEFULET SHEL SMUSHOT, BOGDIM, argue what is the way to love Israel.":
I think it is important to note the only argument that was took place several years ago over a Flickr photo. That argument was always fuzzy because of the way it took place (my brother did not identify himself there, for example).
This time around there was no arguing whatsoever: just an ultimatum I had received. Out of the blue, as far as I am concerned. Which is why I interpreted the whole affair as an attempt to dictate what my own opinions should be.
Yes, very strange.