A World Off-Kilter
779 was the year when the earth spun off its axis.
Well, not exactly, but it did often feel that way. On dozens of occasions this year, I read the news with gapemouthed disbelief. Much of my shock and bewilderment related to the culture wars. College campuses have become virtual Stalinist satrapies where students with conservative or pro-Israel viewpoints are shouted down, ostracized, and paraded through the quad. Gender, too, has taken on Orwellian overtones. This was the year when we were told that gender identity is based on “identification” and not on fact.
In the world of foreign affairs, Iran dominated the headlines. If all goes as planned, Tehran will extort the European Union for even more cash and trade to rejoin the 2015 nuclear deal than they got for joining it, all while the Revolutionary Guards colonize Iraq, manipulate Syria, pull the strings in Lebanon, and threaten Israel with destruction. This is the same nuclear deal that all the front-running Democratic presidential candidates want to rejoin.
And then there’s President Trump. Never has a politician done a better job of self-immolation. The economy is humming, unemployment is at an all-time low, and China has been put on notice, but the president continues to flail at enemies imagined and real, alienating potential supporters and energizing the opposition. Memo to the president: Calm down, keep cool, be nice, smile, say nice things to people, and you’ll win in 2020.
Scientists say the world’s magnetic field is seriously off-kilter — and I believe them. Let’s hope that 5780 is the year the world rights itself.
It’s easy to forget, but the United States recognized the Golan Heights as Israeli territory. Even more, the recognition passed almost without incident. Like the moving of Jerusalem’s embassy, the world did not, despite dire predictions, explode in anger. Next on the agenda is extending sovereignty over the Jordan Valley, a pledge that has already brought censure from Israel’s erstwhile Arab allies. We’ll see if that is still a bridge too far.
FAKE NEWS ITEM OF THE YEAR
I hate to do this — I really do — but I must quote myself from last year’s Year in Review: “Until the prosecutor proves that President Trump or one of his senior staff knowingly solicited help from the Russian government in order to defeat Hillary Clinton, the multimillion-dollar probe amounts to a huge waste of time and money.”
Ding, ding, ding! Give Mishpacha’s news editor first prize and a trip to Fiji! The Mueller probe only succeeded in proving that politically motivated FBI agents could thoroughly disrupt the orderly and constitutionally mandated process of presidential succession and that the vast majority of American journalists still want Barack Obama to be president. Other than that, the Mueller investigation amounted to a national embarrassment. Shame on House Judiciary chairman Jerrold Nadler for prolonging the witch hunt.
Words of the Year
“The disposition, in any conflict, to side with ‘them’ against ‘us,’ and the felt need to denigrate the customs, culture, and institutions that are identifiably ‘ours.’ ”
“An affection for unknown/foreign objects, manners, cultures, or people.”
Stat of the Year
The largest American debt on record is still not the largest as compared to GDP (that came during World War II), but economists say the United States will reach that dubious milestone in 2025. It costs the US government $393 billion each year just to service the debt, or an average of $1.076 billion per day. That can’t be good for the future economic health of the country.
Wokeness and the obsession with white supremacy
It feels like it’s everywhere, especially among the news media. It is now a foregone conclusion that white people have some penance to pay and non-white cultures are superior. An Associated Press poll even found an “entitlement ranking” among liberals in which white men are at the top and Muslims and immigrants are at the bottom. Paradoxically, this hyper-focus on race only reinforces the racist idea that everything is determined by skin color. Fortunately, a cultural backlash has already begun (especially among comedians, who are no longer allowed to tell jokes), but, worryingly, early Democratic presidential candidates are pandering to the woke base. The truly frightening fact is that a generation of college kids have already been indoctrinated in the ideology.
Is this the year that Israel fights the war to end all wars? With President Trump in office, there would seem no better time to take on Hezbollah and Iran. But a conflict of that size would mean thousands of casualties and serious damage to Israel’s infrastructure. For years, analysts have been saying that a war is “just a matter of time.” But the Israeli leader who makes the ultimate decision will have history’s judgment on his shoulders.
(Originally featured in Mishpacha, Issue 779)