Wrongly attributed as a Chinese curse, this “blessing” is more relevant than ever as Jews prepare to welcome a New Year.
Without any doubt whatsoever, the incoming year will not only be interesting but will pose increasing challenges and danger to Jews worldwide as well as Israel.
Banish notions of peace and fraternal love breaking out. Although we pray incessantly for those wondrous times I am afraid that reality dictates a completely different scenario in the coming year.
Eternal optimists will grasp at any vanishing olive branches, but regrettably, the trajectory is a continuing descent into tough times whether you live in the Diaspora or have returned to the Promised Land. Wishing away dire predictions may be a soul-satisfying experience but as Jewish history should have taught us it can be a fatal attraction.
Although my crystal ball gave up the ghost many years ago I will be very pleased if my prognostications turn out to be a false alarm.
However, here are my observations about the challenges which will confront us.
They are not new or unforeseen (except by those who deny reality) and the only reason they still exist is because they have been put in the too hard basket for far too long.
Israel as the resurrected nation of the Jewish People continues to face implacable hate which has mutated directly from ancient Judeophobia. This longest-surviving virus itself is making a come back worldwide despite frenetic attempts at containing it.
The Abraham Accords have for the first time offered a glimpse of the potential opportunities which might accrue when genuine efforts are made towards tolerance and friendship. It is the acceptance of the legitimacy of Jewish sovereignty and historical rights by ordinary citizens that guarantees peaceful relations. By contrast, the Oslo Accords which demanded Israeli surrender in exchange for the establishment of a terror entity guaranteed murder, mayhem and eternal enmity. The result is an Arab populace immersed in and soaked with hate and increasingly radicalized with jihadist visions of Israel’s destruction.
It is a pitiful comment on the irrational blindness and ideological lunacy of the architects and apologists of these disastrous accords that even today after intifadas and the death and maiming of thousands of Israelis they still believe it was a wonderful achievement. Yossi Beilin of the hard left stated that despite everything which has transpired, Israel still has a partner for peace. He and his cheerleaders continue to embrace the holocaust liar and his friends from Ramallah. The former Miss Iraq has denounced Abbas as a serial defamer and denier and condemned those countries continuing to fund his corrupt authority.
What does Miss Iraq know that the hallucinatory left and the international community still refuse to acknowledge?
Biden, Blinken as well as all the rest of the UN continue to peddle failed and fatal “peace” plans. They continue to fund and support those carrying out terror. There is no sign that despite occasional slaps on the wrist the rest of the world will in the coming year wake up to reality and demand accountability and a reversal of current incitement.
The same goes for Iran. As it hurtles towards nuclear blackmail status and completes its agenda to eliminate the “Zionist entity” the so-called free world led by a US President and political party veering leftwards, fiddle, appease and condemn Israel. The head of the IAEA complains that the world has lost interest in Iran and Biden releases US$6 billion of frozen Iranian funds as a ransom payment. At the same time, Russia and China lend support to Iranian genocidal preparations.
On the “home” front the incoming year will see continuing clashes between secular, religious and political extremists. In last week’s Torah portions we read how Moses, in his farewell speech, warned of future dissension and efforts to deviate from the main cause. Settling the Land, unity of the tribes and adherence to the laws handed down at Mount Sinai were to be the pillars of the new society being established. Participating in the defense of the nation was to be a national necessity for all, just as important as welcoming those joining our ranks, helping the poor and the widows and rejecting pagan worship. The head of State was to be held accountable for his/her actions and a system of courts established.
Most importantly, Moses appointed a successor so that there would be a smooth transition of leadership. His burial place is unknown and therefore not a place where subsequent pagan-like excesses’ might take place.
If ever there was a blueprint to follow this is it. As one surveys the chaos caused by those who have lost sight of the real objective one can only wish for another Moshe to reappear. Remaining ignorant of core subjects such as mathematics, science and languages and refusing to join in the defense of Jewish sovereignty while expecting financial handouts from the State is a disgrace. Turning the graves of righteous Rabbis into places of pagan like behavior is exactly the opposite of what Moshe taught us. Thus, the thousands who travel to Uman in the Ukraine of all places, leaving their spouses and families to celebrate Rosh Hashanah alone are the antithesis of what Judaism is all about.
Likewise, those secular Israelis who want to turn Israel into a junior version of bacchanalian pagan Rome and who refuse to accept the results of elections, need to pause and rethink. Jewish continuity can only be guaranteed for succeeding generations if there is a solid knowledge of history and Judaism itself. The right to remain secular is a personal choice. The least we can expect from religious and secular citizens alike is a fraternal tolerance of each others views and ability to dialogue respectfully.
These are just some of the challenges Israelis face as we enter the month of Tishri.
Jews living in the Diaspora face an increasing rising tsunami of the old hate. Dressed up in various mutated forms, this wave of delegitimisation is increasingly rampant and ever more virulent. It’s malign poison attacks the vulnerable such as university students whose knowledge of their heritage may be weak or even non-existent. It infects the self-loathing who like others throughout our long history, love nothing better than to turn on their own and spread the worst calumnies against their fellow Jews. Thus, Jewish academics and faculty join in the chorus of hate against Israel and Zionism and political activists ingratiate themselves with the purveyors of hate in the hope that they will be embraced and accepted.
All the Holocaust museums and government-appointed envoys tasked with tackling hate against Jews are fighting a losing battle against the resurgence of this malady. The power of social media combined with an increasing political woke correctness and the rise of extremists on the left and right, means that the forces of ignorance, historical revisionism and plain old bigotry will be likely to gain the upper hand.
We can already see this as Jewish university students hide any evidence of their Jewishness, faculties openly spout anti-Israel/Jewish fallacies and violence against Jews and communal buildings increases. The coming period will witness political parties being increasingly infiltrated by extremists. They will look to garner support from a rapidly growing Islamic electorate in Europe, the USA, UK and elsewhere.
Fighting back against Jew and Israel haters is unfortunately being undermined by two main factors.
The first is a hesitant leadership which despite all evidence still refuses to make waves and call out the hypocrisy and double standards of respective Governments.
The second is galloping assimilation which is decimating many Diaspora communities. This is also taking a toll on those Israelis, most of whom are secular, who leave for the “paradises” of places like California, Germany and the exotic Far East.
Combined with assimilation is an appalling lack of Jewish education and identification which means that in one or two generations you have vanishing Jews.
Last, but not least, is the age-old phenomenon of Jews either returning to live at the scene of their worst pogroms or staying in those places until it is too late to leave.
The New Year we are about to greet is all about learning from our mistakes and resolving to do better. We acknowledge our failings and pray for a better outcome.
It is a mistake to look forward to a starry-eyed future without recognizing the pitfalls ahead.
May we at least be granted a year of good health and smachot.