Several of my correspondents have asked what we should do in the presence of our insoluble problem with the Palestinians.
Immediately, not much.
Wait for the dust to settle, both that raised by the present flurries of John Kerry, and the larger chaos throughout the Middle East, some of which we can lay at the feet of Barack Obama and his call for equality and democracy in that prize winning Cairo speech.
Assuming those storms pass sufficiently to do something other that hunker down and express our own deal-breaking demands meant to counter those of the Palestinians, we might send the politicians (ours and theirs) to other tasks, and go back to dealings below the political level to make life easier for both communities.
Israeli experts along with international funding can do a lot to improve water supplies and sewage treatment throughout the West Bank and maybe even Gaza. That will also contribute to our health and aesthetics, if the Palestinians are led to do something else with their sewage other than dumping it on the ground or into the nearest ravine.
However, that may require cooperation from the highest levels of the Palestinian leadership, and that assumes it reaches a level of unanimity so far not observed. Until now, Gaza, the Palestinian Diaspora, and naysayers within the West Bank leadership have been prominent barriers to any Arab acceptance of Israel. The Palestinian leadership must also prefer the service of its people, rather than keeping them miserable for the sake of sympathy received from their international audience.
There is, alas, an elephant in the room, in the shape of anti-Semitism.
That sentence will send a lot of readers to the delete button.
Let them dream.
Hatred, disdain, or distrust of Jews is not only a phenomenon spread throughout Muslim societies. It has something to do with Jonathan Pollard, sitting in prison long after what a just sentence would have required, and abnormal attention on Israel from international organizations, American, and European governments.
Israel is not an ideal country, but neither are those of its critics. Israel's treatment of minorities and aggressive neighbors is arguably more moderate and humane than the actions of those countries whose officials and opinion leaders are Israel's most unrestrained critics. How many resolutions has the United Nations passed against the collateral damage traced to US forces in its recent wars, or about notorious police actions against minorities? Think what you will about Rodney King, Abner Louima, Tayvon Martin, and how many others, along with the responses of American media and courts. There were no UN resolutions, while the Israeli media and courts are not left to deal with charges against cops without the clamor of the international community.
That many of the participants in the singling out of Israel for criticism are Jews, or Gentiles who have surrounded themselves with Jews, does not lessen the reality.
We are not really in the club of the well-to-do. There may no longer be restrictions against Jews in American country clubs, restaurants and up-scale neighborhoods, but Israel is a pariah among nations.
Call it what you will: a shadow, a mark of Cain, perhaps for dealing with that renegade Jesus, or something that preceded him as we can gather from what Josephus wrote on Apion.
Crying all the way to the bank was meant for the likes of us.
Jews are, as a group, better educated and have higher incomes than most others. Jews lived better than others in the Soviet Union, where most everyone was miserable and the Jews had limited access to the most prestigious institutions of higher education. Jews of my generation in the United States faced similar barriers when applying to college.
Israel ranks among the wealthiest of countries, with money making sectors innovating in medical, agricultural, communications, and military technologies.
There remain poor Jews, some of them stuck in backwaters and sorry that age or some other consideration has kept them from moving. Expect to read of efforts to help those of Crimea and other areas in the Ukraine.
Community leaders in Morocco (with perhaps 2,500 Jews) and Iran (10,000) speak proudly of their security. Those in Iran express their opposition to Zionism.
Believe what you will.
The ultra-Orthodox of Israel are as poor as Jews elsewhere. There are individuals who live opulently, some of them on the basis of what they or their families have acquired overseas. The poverty that prevails most ultra-Orthodox families results from staying out of the workforce, devoting themselves to study that prepare them for no occupation outside of their ghettos, and relying on government subsidies that allow large families to live in crowded apartments in neighborhoods that lack the open spaces, greenery, clean streets, or well kept playgrounds where the residents pay substantial local taxes.
Most recently we have seen a demonstration of the political power that protects that poverty and ignorance. Inspired rabbis claimed that 600,000 participated in a protest against the law that would even out the burdens by subjecting some of their young men to the military draft. More rational assessments were that 200- 300,000 participated. It was not the mythic number the rabbis imagined (like that which, according to the Hebrew Bible, survived for 40 years in the Sinai), but nonetheless a considerable number. The ultra-Orthodox have already demonstrated their weight in the Jewish democracy by diluting to close to nothing the efforts of secular politicians seeking to even out the draft. Hopes are that other sections of a complex bill will be implemented, and lead more of the young men out of the academies, to a bit of modern education, and to work.
Crying on the way to the bank, or coping with a lack of complete acceptance isn't pleasant. It detracts from the comforts associated with our successes, and limits the full acceptance of Israel and Israelis. It also requires abnormal outlays on defense in order to deal with those in the neighborhood always preparing to break down our doors.
Click here to return to Blog home page