Hebrew University Political Science professor Ira Sharkansky evaluates the latest happenings in Israel.
Mon,Mar 10,2014 8 AdarII 5774
Jews are nervous.
That is a chronic condition, now heightened by talk of boycott,helped along by the likes of John Kerry and Thomas Friedman. Shimon Peres is joining those who say the conditions.are ripe for Israel to.make peace with the Palestinians, and it better succeed or else.
On the ground however... where our feet should be, things don't look all that bad.
A recent Gallup poll shows Israel's support among Americans almost four time greater than the support for Palestinians. Moreover, the proportion of Americans with a favorable opinion about Israel has increased a bit in the most recent four years, while those with a favorable opinion about the Palestine Authority has stayed about the same or even decreased.
Despite a dry winter, Israelis are not moaning as they used to about drought. Several desalination stations.are on line, and the is enough water to export. There is a sizable gas field in the same area as we now get most of our water. The country has signed its first contract to sell gas to Jordan, and there are talks to sell the stuff to Turkey and others.
It may be too early to celebrate Israel's membership in OPEC, but there is substantial business being done with China, India, and South Korea.that appears outside the influence of boycott-touting American and European leftists.
Meanwhile the mighty Americans--whose wealth and power we can only dream of--are mired in a host of seemingly unsuccessful efforts with respect to Syria, Iran, Egypt, Libya, Afghanistan and maybe the Ukraine, while they ought to be greatly embarrassed by Iraq.
Israel is managing like Jews have done for millinnia, helped by personal and family connections whatever Jews live. Relations are decent--with successes along with disappointments--with both sides of the US-Russia tensions, along with the governments of other western democracies despite some voices supporting Palestine over Israel, and other voices worrying both Jews and Muslims with their efforts against circumcision and slaughter according to the religious laws of both Orthodox Judaism and Islam.
Young Israeli men, apparently with roots in the Ukraine, and graduates of the IDF, have been using their military training on behalf of the rebels in Kiev. And wonder of wonders, they are reporting an absence of anti-Semitism. We'll see if such reports continue, and Heaven forbid, if it is one of those occasions when Jews have chosen the wrong side. We are also hearing that Israel's friend Vladimir Putin will put all his weight and skills.on.the other side. Neither the Russians nor the Ukrainians seem squeamish about casualties. It's the Americans and Western Europeans who are saying their equivalents of Oy Gevalt about the violence. This could turn bad for everyone.
There is good news for Israel in continued multi-million dollar sales of start ups to firms in US and Japan. They may not have been in the league with WhatsApp and Facebook, but the sale of Waze to Google was nothing to sneeze at.
There are Jews throughout Latin America. Currently the most prominent is an Argentinian millionaire, who has become a major investor in an Israeli conglomerate in need of a financial rescue.
If it looks too much like the Protocols, with AIPAC the power in chief in the world capital, there is also George Soros, JStreet, Peace Now and a host pf other Jewish critics of just about every government's policies, including Israel's. There are more than a few Jews chanting the slogans of BDS.
Need we remind ourselves that Jews have been quarreling about fateful things at least since Moses tried to lead them through the desert?
Modern times have found us on different sides of bloody conflicts.
Jews fought on both sides of the American Civil War.
My own father was posted as an American soldier in World War I against Varda's grandfather and some uncles in German uniforms. All were patriots, proud to serve their countries, not knowing of the family developments that would come decades later.
One of Varda's uncles--trained as a sniper--risked a death sentence by not firing at a French soldier who was in his sights, and then began "Shema Yisrael."
Jews should never put all our eggs in one basket.
The biggest annoyance at this time is John Kerry.
It is not easy being dependent on a great power, where from time to time individuals reach high positions who are obsessed with our problems. They see solutions, which we have tried over the years without success, and are determined to do what they can to bring it off. They may even see our problem as the key to a region in chaos, which threatens the entire world.
Alas, we are not the key to what is wrong among the Muslims, and others cannot solve problems that we cannot solve by ourselves. But they keep trying, and are inclined to blame us for their frustrations, perhaps because we are more like them than are our adversaries.
It is on the downside of being the Chosen People.
It is one thing to be chosen by the Almighty, given a Land and a few other goodies.
Even that comes with the great cost of its contribution to anti-Semitism.
It is something else to be chosen by politicians who do not perceive their own limitations.
We can expect Kerry and Friedman to pass, as others have before them, who knows what in the history books.
Pessimists will say we are like the mythic guy falling from a tall building, and heard to be saying "So far so good" as he passed the 20th floor.
Maybe, but maybe not.