Now that the Chagim (Festivals) are over most people are looking forward to a new year devoid of past follies and one which will somehow fulfil their craving for a more balanced and normal life.
When will the covid pandemic disappear so that we can all resume employment, socializing without restrictions and masks and overseas travel again? Is a vaccine the answer and will it be safe? How many businesses will be permanently closed? Will working from home become the norm? After experiencing smaller outdoor religious services which not only were quicker and somehow more spiritual who will want to return to sitting in a large edifice again?
These and a myriad of other uncertainties will need to be faced and answers provided. One thing is certain and that is the old way of doing things may never return now that we have tasted what alternatives can provide. This is going to be a major challenge for religious and lay leaders alike. At the same time, the incompetence and inability on the part of many politicians to lead and inspire will definitely come back to haunt them. In democratic countries, there will be a day of reckoning when elections are due. Those citizens unfortunate enough to live in despotic regimes where glorious leaders rule for life and human rights are a mirage will once again suffer in silence.
One thing is certain however and that is as far as Israel and Jews are concerned nothing has changed. The euphoria over the UAE and Bahrain “recognition” notwithstanding, reality should be once again staring us in the face. I said “should” because like a recurring fatal affliction there are far too many who still blindly endorse past failed follies.
There are several examples which illustrate the enormity of the problem.
Looming imminently is the train wreck and potential meltdown situation in the wake of the USA elections. This deserves an op-ed. of its own and will be addressed in the coming weeks. Suffice to say at this stage that it will not turn out to be good for either Jews or Israel.
It is undeniable that the opponents of normalization are now investing enormous amounts of energy in trying to negate and prevent further countries from acknowledging Israel’s right to exist. Swept under the Persian rug and conveniently silenced is the scandalous situation whereby covert and overt support by the European Union, Russia and China is being offered. One can also discern sections of the US Democratic Party in the USA fulminating against the very notion that Trump was able to have a hand in the UAE and Bahrain finally recognizing that Jews have the right to their country.
It is no surprise therefore that the corrupt, non-democratic and human rights abusers in Ramallah and Gaza are salivating at the prospect of a Biden victory. Their efforts to sabotage, with the help of most of the UN, any further steps towards peaceful co-existence is no doubt why there has not been the predicted avalanche of other Arab/Islamic nations following the example of the two Gulf States. Saeb Erekat, a senior PLO and PA official recently made the following amazing statement: “the 2 State solution has been killed. (the Abraham accords) has destroyed the Palestinian moderate camp- all those who wanted peace, prosperity, human rights, women’s rights, rule of law and accountability.” He then declared: “calling it the Abraham Accord means – ARABS, Mecca is yours, Jerusalem is theirs (i.e. Israel’s).”
If hypocrisy and double standards were not the norm these assertions would have been exposed and condemned for the slanderous lies that they are. Any observer of reality would immediately point to the fact that none of the assertions made by Erekat have ever existed. The very fact that the rest of the world, some Jews and the media swallow this garbage without choking on its fictional fantasies proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that folly knows no boundaries. It is not as though our supposed “peace partners” are coy about advertising their intentions. Here, courtesy of PMW, are just two examples which exemplify the situation:
This brings me to the latest act of gross folly perpetrated by one of our own leaders.
The President of the World Jewish Congress who presumably represents all those organizations affiliated with it, apparently was in Israel during Sukkot. This Festival is one of the three Pilgrim Festivals. In ancient times Jews from all over the country and also those living elsewhere travelled to the Temple in Jerusalem where they participated in mass prayer gatherings. It is precisely at this important time that Ronald Lauder decided to take a Jordanian helicopter ride to make a pilgrimage to President for Life, Mahmoud Abbas, in Ramallah. Astoundingly he did this on Shabbat which also happened to be in Israel, Shemini Atzeret and Simchat Torah. It is precisely on this day that we participate in the Yizkor service whereby we pray for the souls of our departed relatives as well as those murdered during the Shoah, victims of terror and soldiers who fell in the defence of the country.
That he should sneak off to see Abbas, dafka on this particular day, is not only grossly insensitive and a scandalous act of folly but also demonstrates a deplorable lack of respect for the very faith he purports to represent.
From the very sparse information, we have been able to ascertain it appears that the reason for this pilgrimage was to persuade Abbas to resume “peace” talks with Israel. The spectacle of someone, no matter how exalted, who does not live here and therefore would not suffer the consequences of his folly, pleading with someone who promotes lies, incitement and hate education is revolting to most thinking Israelis. Did he demand something be done about the Palestinian textbooks in UNRWA schools which poison the minds of the next generation of Jew-haters? Did he advocate strict oversight of the billions of money which pours into the corrupt coffers of the PA? Did he demand that the refugee camps be demolished and the eternal Arab refugees resettled as citizens of either the PA or the countries where they reside?
Instead of pulling the plug on the rejectionist Palestinians the President of the WJC, unelected by any Israeli voter, continues with doomed policies. The march of folly continues unabated.
Michael Kuttner is a Jewish New Zealander who for many years was actively involved with various communal organisations connected to Judaism and Israel. He now lives in Israel and is J-Wire’s correspondent in the region.