Yet when the scales are balanced and the book of judgment closes on the year 5779, the Jewish People are thriving
A Government in Exile
This was the year in which the State of Israel let the Knesset lie fallow, after the parliamentary body dissolved itself for new elections not just once, but twice.
This was also the year of the “constitutional crisis,” pitting a weak and badly divided government against a hyperactive Supreme Court.
This was the year in which Prime Minister Netanyahu’s grip on power grew precarious due to protracted corruption investigations.
This was also the year in which Israeli politics was torn asunder from within. A new party, Blue and White, led mainly by former generals, has given the Likud its stiffest challenge in more than a decade.
This was the year in which even loyal supporters, such as AIPAC, split with the Jewish state over its refusal to allow entry to two Muslim members of Congress, even though their trip was to be sponsored by a pro-BDS group.
Yet when the scales are balanced and the book of judgment closes on the year 5779, the Jewish People are thriving.
A full one-third of Israeli schoolchildren are receiving a Torah education. Almost 19%, or 340,000 out of Israel’s 1.819 million schoolchildren, are learning Torah in chareidi schools. Another 253,000, or 14%, learn in state-run religious schools. Not to mention an estimated 85,000 young men learning in kollel.
Israel’s Jewish population grows by 8,000 to 10,000 per month. At that rate, more than 7 million Jews will be living in Israel in another two years.
A record 4.1 million tourists visited Israel in 2018, up 14% from the year before. So much for Israel being isolated, as many knee-jerk leftists like to proclaim.
Israel’s per capita gross domestic product crossed the $40,000-a-year mark still lagging America’s $59,000 figure — but making progress. Despite reports of dire chareidi poverty, a study by the Haredi Institute of Public Affairs showed that more than 70% of chareidim are happy with their economic lot.
On that basis, 5780 looms as a fruitful and happy new year for G-d’s chosen people in His chosen land. There is much to be grateful for when looking beyond the fretful frowns and sweating brows of the politicians.
Historians still dispute whether Louis XIV really said “I am the state,” or just implied it. Neither Bibi nor Russian president Vladimir Putin utilize that self-aggrandizing phrase, and neither will rule for 72 years as Louis XIV did, but Netanyahu surpassed David Ben-Gurion’s record of 14 years of service as prime minister in July, while Putin, just this month, celebrated 25 years combined as president or prime minister. Together, Netanyahu and Putin have rewritten the script on Israel-Russia relations, transforming the animus of the Communist era into forceful and effective military and geopolitical collaboration in the Middle East.
Stat of the Year
The number of times President Trump tweeted on collusion with Russia in his first 963 days in office. The runners-up: 557 tweets about fake news and 518 referencing Fox News and/or Sean Hannity.
Can you name one thing that President Trump and Senator Elizabeth Warren have in common? I can. They both disapprove of Federal Reserve Board Chairman Jerome Powell. Warren was the only member of the Senate Banking Committee to vote against Powell’s confirmation when Trump nominated him as Fed chairman. Then, Trump soured on Powell for raising interest rates, a move the president saw as slamming the brakes on the US economy and jeopardizing his leverage in China trade talks. Powell has begun to reverse course on rates, but 5780/2020 will tell who outlasts whom in office, or whether the two men will have each other to kick around for another four years.
Israel’s vaunted reputation for high tech was tarnished when the Beresheet lunar lander crashed on the moon’s surface while attempting a soft landing. Just minutes before the crash, Beresheet’s camera snapped a close-up just 15 miles from the moon’s surface, with a logo in the corner of the snapshot that read: “Am Yisrael Chai” and “Small Country, Big Dreams.” Israel will try to reach the moon again, but to turn the dream into reality, the team must solve the glitch that caused the crash and restore Israel’s national pride.
Quote of The Year
“From my point of view, there have got to be consequences to your behavior. If you openly joined an international movement to destroy the State of Israel, then you’ll suffer the consequences.”
—Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) on Israel’s decision barring Congresswomen Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib from visiting Israel
(Originally featured in Mishpacha, Issue 779)
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