Why war between Israel and Iran is unlikely today

Si vis pacem, para bellum (if you want peace, prepare for war) – Vegetius, c. 450 CE

I’ve said that I am expecting a hot war soon. But recent developments are changing my mind. The strategy of deterrence and interdiction seems to be working on our northern border, and firm resistance to Hamas’ attempts to overrun our southern one seems – so far – to be effective.

The attack on the T4 airbase in Syria on April 10, and the one on the weapons depot near Hama this week, both attributed to Israel, have sent a strong message to the Iranian regime that Israel is serious about not allowing an Iranian buildup in Syria. Although little is publicly known about these attacks, it seems that both offensive and defensive weapons were destroyed, and that in both cases there were casualties among Iranian personnel.

Apparently, bunker-buster bombs were employed in the Hama raid, which should give pause to the Iranians, as well as Hezbollah and Hamas, all of whom make heavy use of underground facilities in light of the IDF’s air superiority. Iranian nuclear facilities are supposedly deep enough underground and heavily protected enough to survive Israel’s bombs; but how willing are they to test our capabilities in this area?

Syrian air defenses have also proved wanting, despite the downing of an Israeli F-16 in February, which was attributed to a “professional error” by the F-16’s crew. Russian antiaircraft systems were not activated against the Israeli planes. This may be because of agreements between Israel and Russia, but also possibly because the IAF possesses countermeasures effective against even the latest Russian systems – and the Russians would not like this fact to become widely known.

All of this means that Iranian leaders know that Israel will not hold back, and that she is capable of  doing great damage to whatever she chooses to attack.

The recent intelligence coup in which, somehow, at least a half-ton of documents relating to Iran’s nuclear program prior to the JCPOA (the “nuclear deal” with the P5+1) were removed from Tehran to Jerusalem also has deterrent implications. Although it has been said that there is little data there that was not already known (especially to spy agencies), there is specific information about individuals involved in the program and locations for development and testing of weapons. So in addition to the political effect – it publicly establishes that the Iranians lied about their prior programs in the JCPOA negotiations, and may provide US President Trump with a justification for exiting the deal – it improves Israel’s ability to target Iranian nuclear facilities and personnel. The regime definitely doesn’t want to lose these!

There is also increasing unrest among the Iranian population, which is suffering economic difficulties while the regime spends billions on its adventures in Syria, Iraq, Yemen and Lebanon. And here there are two possible effects: either a war with Israel would increase the dissatisfaction, or it would serve to unify the population behind the regime. My guess is that the population would be split, therefore increasing the tension and making things more difficult for the regime.

If Trump does leave the deal and re-impose sanctions, the Iranian economy would receive another blow. On the other hand, if he succeeds in toughening the agreement in the areas of verification, missile development, and eliminating the “sunset clause,” then Israel’s strategic position is improved.

There is no doubt that Israel’s strategic team of Netanyahu, Minister of Defense Avigdor Lieberman, and Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkott, is competent. The IDF has learned the lessons of 2006 and will not be caught with inadequate intelligence and poor planning as it was then. Both the Iranians and Hezbollah understand this, despite their bragging.

Russia, which wants to keep Assad in power and maintain its bases in Syria, has at least so far showed no desire to interfere with Israel in its actions against Iran and Hezbollah. I speculate that a nuclear-armed Iran with missiles that can hit Moscow is not especially desirable to Vladimir Putin. Netanyahu’s diplomatic walk between the raindrops with Putin and Trump has been remarkable.

Hamas, which would possibly add its weight to a war against Iranian proxies, is not an existential threat. Its tunnels either have been or will shortly be neutralized. The IDF can strike very hard against its infrastructure, which it would probably do in the context of a wider war, in order to eliminate the necessity of fighting a protracted battle on another front. Hamas is aware of this.

But there is one factor which I think is more important to our deterrence than everything else put together, and that is the simple fact that the Trump Administration is not likely to try to stop us from defending ourselves. Compare Trump, Pence, Pompeo and Bolton to Obama, Biden, Kerry and Rice! I can’t think of a larger ideological and empathetic distance.

This administration will not accept the propaganda of our enemies as truth, as Obama and Kerry did. It will not refuse to resupply us with Hellfire missiles or force our international airport to close, as Obama did in 2014. It will no longer be a given that Israel has only the shortest possible window to achieve an advantageous strategic position (I won’t even mention victory) before the “international community,” led by the US, forces a cease-fire.

Hezbollah understands that Israel will not shrink from employing its full firepower against rocket launchers embedded in the civilian population of southern Lebanon. And it also understands that Israel will receive support from the US if this becomes necessary.

In fact, not only does this administration help Israel deter her enemies, its uncompromising opposition deters Iran from pursuing its expansionist goals in the entire region. Of course, it must be prepared to make good on its threats, and that remains to be seen. But there is no doubt that the policy of appeasement followed by the Obama Administration had the opposite effect.

It’s ironic that criticism of the Trump Administration, particularly Pompeo and Bolton, refers to them as “warmongers,” when the practical impact of their strong stance against Iran is to make regional war less likely.

Taken together, the actions of both Israel and the US are tending to prevent war, or at least delay it until there is an administration in the US that is more like Obama’s than Trump’s. Who knows? Perhaps the Iranian momentum can be reversed, and by that time there will be a new regime there.

Si vis pacem, para bellum. It was true in 450 CE, and it’s true today.

Posted in Iran, US-Israel Relations, War | 5 Comments

Goodbye, Jewish-American busybodies

I want a divorce. Not from my wife, whom I love dearly, but from the liberal and progressive American Jewish community. From those American Jews who believe that they have a special right to judge and advise the state of Israel because their parents were Jewish.

I have just finished reading a piece by Peter Beinart in the Forward which blames Israel for the condition of the population of Gaza! His article systematically distorts reality and ignores fundamental facts (e.g., that Hamas interdicts supplies of all kinds entering the strip and diverts them to military use; that Gaza has received massive amounts of international aid to fix infrastructure problems, but the money has disappeared into attack tunnels and rockets; and more). And of course, at the end of the article he introduces the clincher: “Trump and Netanyahu,” which never fails to trigger a progressive audience.

Beinart is the paradigm case of the American Jewish turncoat. He has made a very lucrative career from the idea that as a Jew, his attacks on Israel would resonate – both with other Jewish progressives and with the great reservoirs of support available to anyone who will effectively bash Israel. Despite the fact that his arguments are easily refuted and his “facts” often wrong, money and recognition are shoveled in the direction of this Lord Haw-Haw.

I have more than had it with Beinart, and also his less-successful colleagues and his progressive amen corner.

Your Jewish DNA does not make you any more knowledgeable than anyone else, nor does it give you a greater stake in the Jewish state, unless you decide to accept the generous offer it has made to all Jews everywhere by its Law of Return.

The fact that you had a Bar or Bat Mitzvah does not mean that your piece in the Forward or your letter to the New York Times in which you explain why, as a Jew, you are traumatized by Israel’s efforts to defend her southern border, should be published any more than that of any other person’s.

Even the fact that at some point in your life you have experienced antisemitism doesn’t qualify you to talk about how Israel should behave toward her own antisemitic enemies. If antisemitism in the US is problem for you, there is always that Law of Return.

There is no reason that the pronouncements of “If Not Now” are any more worth listening to than those of the American Nazi Party. Peter Beinart isn’t a more authoritative source about Israel and the Arabs than David Duke just because he has a bigger nose.

The head of the Union for Reform Judaism, Rabbi Rick Jacobs, likes to talk about how the demands he makes of Israel are made out of “unconditional love,” because he wants to “repair it” according to his notion of tikkun olam. What he calls “love,” I call hypocrisy. He owns an apartment in Jerusalem. He should live in it, send his kids to be combat soldiers in the army, pay taxes, and learn to practice situational awareness when he walks the streets or gets on a bus. Then he can try to fix things here (he probably would still give wrong advice, but then at least he would suffer the consequences).

Progressive American Jews are no different from progressive American non-Jews. You read the same New York Times and listen to the same NPR on your way to work. You voted (twice) for the same Barack Obama and hate the same Donald Trump just as passionately. For many of you, it would not be a personal tragedy if Israel were destroyed.

As of 2013, 73% of non-Orthodox American Jews were intermarried. 73%! That was 2013, and the trend is upward. This implies that your Jewish identification is decreasing, and with it whatever distinguishes you from the rest of the population. But not only are you assimilating rapidly, your fertility rates are far below replacement level. Reform Jews average only 1.7 children per woman, while “Jews of no religion” are in the cellar at 1.5.

But there is something special about you. That is the way you use your Jewish DNA to justify vicious and damaging attacks on Israel. You created J Street, If Not Now and Jewish Voice for Peace. You contribute to the New Israel Fund. All are organizations run by progressive American Jews to demonize and delegitimize the only Jewish state. And you think that because of your Jewish parentage you somehow have a special right to do this!

Students for Justice in Palestine is led by students of Palestinian or other Arab origin (although naturally it has many Jewish members). The Arabs know it is important to fight for their people. You do not. You feel so virtuous about your “alliances” with the oppressed peoples of the world, that you help those who want to oppress or kill your own people. You believe every lie that is told about Israel, even when it is clearly impossible, because, well, just because.

If you are conflicted about the issues, put down Beinart’s literary excrement and read this book: Industry of Lies: Media, Academia, and the Israeli-Arab Conflict, by Ben-Dror Yemini. He is an objective journalist who even favors a two-state solution, not a right-winger. You will be surprised at how much of what you think you know about Israel and her conflicts is wrong.

And don’t kid yourself. This isn’t a game. There is an objective to the demonization and delegitimization, and it is not to make you feel good and gain status in the eyes of your fellow activists. It is to manipulate public opinion and the international legal and diplomatic systems so that Israel’s ability to physically defend herself will be hamstrung. It is to make the US less likely to supply Israel in time of war, and to drag IDF soldiers and officers into criminal proceedings. It is to help Israel’s enemies kill Jews and destroy the country.

Right now you are reaching for your keyboards. “Not true!” you are typing, angrily. “I am a Jewish American and I love and support Israel!”

Maybe you do, and maybe even your next words will not be “but Israel is undemocratic and theocratic and I want to help her improve.” If so, then at least one of three things must be the case: a) you are Orthodox, b) you are politically conservative, or c) you are the rare exception.

If you are an exception, then I apologize. This isn’t aimed at you. And honestly, I know a few like you. But only a few.

As for the rest, I can’t excommunicate you or make you change your behavior. I can’t get you to stop acting like you know something when you don’t. I can only affect my own attitudes, and today I understand that you are not part of my family.

And the faster you assimilate and the fewer children you have, the better it will be for the Jewish people.

Posted in American Jews | 5 Comments

Restoring the balance between the Knesset and the Court

A hot potato today in Israel’s Knesset is the so-called chok hahitgabrut (literally, “the overriding law”) which would provide a way for the Knesset to pass a law over the objections of the Supreme Court. Various versions of such a law have been considered, which require larger or smaller majorities in the Knesset to override a Court decision to throw out a law. Another approach would be to require more than a simple majority of justices of the Court in order to reject a law passed by the Knesset. The precise form the law might take is still up in the air.

The issue that is presently driving the controversy is a series of Court decisions that have made it impossible for the government to deport any of the 38,000 African migrants that entered the country illegally since the early 2000s. Those who want such a law say that the unelected Court rides roughshod over the views of the majority of the citizens, which are expressed by the votes of their representatives in the Knesset. That’s undemocratic, they say. Opponents argue that in a liberal democracy it is necessary to protect minority rights, which is what the Court has done.

Critics of the Court have been complaining for a long time that it is biased leftward, and that it sticks its nose where it shouldn’t, like the proposed deal regulating the concession for the natural gas recently discovered off Israel’s shores; or the ownership of property in Judea and Samaria, decisions that forced the demolition of communities and the removal of people from their homes.

But the intricacies of the gas deal were understood by only a small percentage of Israelis, and the inhabitants of the razed settlement of Amona did not find a lot of empathy in the general population, many of whom thought of them as extremists. The migrant question, on the other hand, resonates more broadly. It pits the residents of South Tel Aviv – who say that the migrants who are concentrated in their neighborhoods have brought crime, dirt and fear to them – against a coalition of organizations that claim to be defending the human rights of the migrants. In fact, many of these groups are funded by unfriendly foreign governments, or groups with a political motive to embarrass our government (e.g., the Israel Religious Action Center).

A balance between the powers of the various branches of government is important to protect minority and majority rights. A comparison with the Supreme Court in the US will be helpful in understanding just how unbalanced the situation in Israel is.

The American court only has appellate jurisdiction, which means that it can only rule on cases that have been appealed from lower courts. It can decline to hear a case, but it does not have original jurisdiction in which it can take up a case that has not already been heard by a lower court, except in special circumstances (such as one state suing another). The Israeli court is the highest appellate court, but it also acts as the High Court of Justice – bagatz – which can rule on anything done by any branch of government, including the army, municipalities, and – importantly – laws passed by the Knesset, whether or not they have been ruled on by a lower court.

The American legal system includes a doctrine of standing, which means in particular that a person can’t challenge a law or government action unless they can convince a judge that they could be directly injured by it, or that they would be prevented from exercising their legitimate rights by threat of legal sanction. But in Israel, anyone can petition the Supreme Court if he believes a law or government action is illegal or not in the public interest. As a result, anyone can paralyze the government by paying a couple of thousand shekels to file a petition. For example, several foreign-funded NGOs have recently petitioned the Supreme Court to force the IDF to stop using snipers to defend the border fence with Gaza.

In America, some matters are considered political and not legal, and are therefore not taken up by the courts (they are considered not justiciable). Two such areas are foreign policy and impeachment. In Israel, the limitations on justiciability are much weaker.

American Supreme Court justices, including the Chief Justice, are appointed by the President and then confirmed by the Senate, after which they serve for life unless they are impeached, resign or retire. Interestingly, there are no constitutional requirements for a justice to have judicial experience, or even a law degree!

In Israel, the justices are appointed by a committee which includes members of the Bar Association and sitting Justices, as well as the Justice Minister and representatives of the government and opposition Knesset factions. There is a mandatory retirement age of 70, which in practice means that Israeli justices tend to serve for shorter terms than American ones. There are specific qualifications of legal experience. The President of the Court is the most senior of the Justices.

The method of appointment of justices in Israel tends to make the Court reflect the views of the legal establishment, which critics say is biased toward the left end of the spectrum. It tends to prioritize what it perceives as the rights of individuals over the needs of the state, and Israel’s democratic character over its Jewish one.

An associated issue is the Attorney General. In the US, the Attorney General is appointed by the President and confirmed by the Senate, and serves as the government’s lawyer. He or she is required to defend the government in the courts, including the Supreme Court, and on several occasions attorneys general have been fired by the President for refusing to do so.

In Israel, the Attorney General is appointed by the Justice Minister from a list of candidates drawn up by a commission whose majority also represents the legal establishment. The Attorney General can prevent the government from taking an action by saying that he or she believes it to be illegal, and will not defend it before the Supreme Court. The authority of the Attorney General is, like many things in Israel, unclear.

One example of the possible conflicts involving the Supreme Court, the Attorney General and the government, is the legal peril faced by PM Netanyahu. The police have recommended that he be indicted in several corruption cases, and it is up to the Attorney General to decide whether to indict him. The law is not clear whether an indicted PM is required to resign his position, although the Attorney General has expressed the opinion that if indicted, he should resign. But supposing he is indicted, Netanyahu could refuse to quit. Then the Supreme Court would undoubtedly take up the question, and the Attorney General likely would not defend him before it!

There is also the Nation-State Law which has been debated for several years now. It is intended to explicate the sense in which Israel is not only a democratic state, but the state of the Jewish people. Various versions of the bill did not get off the ground because the Attorney General said that they were not “constitutional” (Israel doesn’t have a constitution, but it has Basic Laws which serve some of the purposes of a constitution). Even if the Attorney General doesn’t object, the Supreme Court is expected to be very tough on any non-vacuous Nation-State Law. A former President of the Court who inspired the activist judicial philosophy that characterizes it today, Aharon Barak, famously opined that the meaning of the phrase “Jewish State” should be “identical to the democratic nature of the state.” In other words, a Nation-State Law would have to be so trivial as to be meaningless.

A version of the law that will permit the Knesset to override the Supreme Court  will be voted on by government ministers this Sunday, after which it will be submitted to the Knesset. The Opposition, which has come to depend on the Court to make up for its lack of seats in the elected Knesset, is pushing very hard against it.

The deportation of illegal migrants, the Nation-State Law, and numerous other important issues depend on the ability to take control of the state away from the legal establishment and return it to the elected government. Israelis voted for a right-wing government – they should be able to get right-wing policies. This is a bill that needs to pass.

Posted in Israeli Politics | 3 Comments

Diasporism, a bad idea whose time has come

With the visit of Jeremy Corbyn to a Passover “seder” hosted by the Jewish anti-Zionist group Jewdas, I became aware – I am way behind in cultural trends – of the ideology of Diasporism.

It’s been around for some time. The word may have been coined by Philip Roth in his 1993 novel Operation Shylock, and as far as I can tell it means something like “hating Israel while being a Jew and feeling good about it.”

Jewdas itself is somewhat over the top, apparently concerned as much with making an impression of extreme cleverness as hating Israel, but the feelings it so pithily expressed in a tweet that called Israel “a steaming pile of sewage which needs to be properly disposed of” are shared by numerous other organizations who are not as interested in being archly humorous, like Jewish Voice for Peace and If Not Now in America.

A slightly milder form of diasporism is espoused by J Street and the Union for Reform Judaism. Here, they profess undying love (reminiscent of Obama’s “unbreakable bond”) for Israel, while despairing of what they believe is its undemocratic and theocratic nature and its boundless abuse of the saintly Palestinians. Rather than “properly disposing” of Israel, they want to “make it better,” by such things as replacing the democratically elected right-wing coalition with a left-wing one, inviting African migrants to stay in the country, and not defending its southwestern border against Hamas.

I think I find the “love” of the mild diasporists more irritating that the hatred of the champions of proper disposal, because of its hypocrisy and because it is better at sucking in useful idiots (e.g., Natalie Portman) to advocate for dangerous policies.

The “feeling good though Jewish” part is very important and what distinguishes Diasporism from garden-variety anti-Zionism.

Left-wing Diasporists argue that it is not only possible, but more fulfilling to live a Jewish life outside of Israel. They object to Israel’s actions in self defense, saying they violate “Jewish principles,” by which they mean the mishmash of progressive politics and Christian or humanistic morality that they conflate with Judaism. Apparently it gives them a warm feeling of solidarity with the oppressed of the world, and especially with the “people of color” at their universities who have managed to invert the traditional hierarchies and now oppress the colorless ones in compensation for their previous ill-treatment.

In addition to the left-wing Diasporists like Jewdas there are also Haredi Diasporists, who believe that a Jewish state can only be established when Hashem brings the maschiach. They have been around for as long as there has been a Diaspora. The ones that live in Israel are possibly even more hypocritical than the lefties, because they benefit (even those that refuse to take National Insurance payments) from the state’s protection and services while opposing its existence – and contributing as little as possible to it.

The problem with both of these forms of Diasporism that their smug virtue-signaling proponents are not aware of is this: history has clearly demonstrated the truth of the main principle of traditional Zionism. Jews who do not live in a Jewish state – or worse, who live in a world without a Jewish state – are in mortal danger from the Jew-hatred that seems to be impossible to expurgate from Western and Muslim cultures. At the same time, where hatred wanes, assimilation takes hold.

It’s not just the Dreyfus Case, the Kishinev Pogrom or the Holocaust any more. It is an observable fact that violent anti-Jewish behavior is becoming more and more common in Europe and America. The only reason that one doesn’t hear so much about it in the Muslim world is that almost all the Jews have already fled or been expelled from Muslim nations. Indeed, the irrational demonization of Israel, of which the progressive Diasporists have become an integral part, is itself a manifestation of the contemporary explosion of Jew-hatred into human consciousness.

Both the “traditional” Jew-hatred that goes back to the early Church, the newer Islamic version, and the latest Israel-related variety, are rapidly becoming more widespread. Some places, like North America, are still relatively hospitable to Jews. Others, like France and Sweden, are less so. Unfortunately, it seems that the safer Diaspora communities are also the ones in which Jews assimilate the most rapidly to the surrounding non-Jewish cultures.

Books could be (and have been) written explaining how this is happening, why it is happening now, and why it is worse in some places than others. But the answers don’t matter: it has been demonstrated that the only solution to the Jewish problem that has worked is the Zionist solution, a sovereign Jewish state (with an army) that serves as a refuge for persecuted Jews, that provides support for beleaguered Diaspora Jews, and that can be a reservoir and incubator for Jewish culture.

The Diaspora is a dead end for Jews, both physically and culturally. You can make a case for the continuance of Jewish communities in the Diaspora, and you can find many areas in which Israel needs to improve. But the necessity and centrality of the Jewish state to the continued existence of the Jewish people is indisputable.

At the end of the day, the argument between Zionism and Diasporism won’t be settled on Twitter or in blog posts. Reality will be the decider, and judging by the condition of Jewish communities in Israel and abroad, Zionism is winning by a mile.

Posted in Jew Hatred, Post-Zionism, The Jewish people, Zionism | Comments Off on Diasporism, a bad idea whose time has come

Independence Day

Independence Day in Israel is a lot like Independence day in America. There are barbecues, fireworks, weekend camping trips, street fairs, concerts of patriotic music and boring speeches by government officials. Both nations gained independence from the British Empire, and neither felt warm enough toward their former imperial rulers to join the Commonwealth.

But there are significant differences. Possibly because the nation is young enough that there are still people around who remember when the state did not exist and who remember the price that was paid to create it, there is still a feeling – at least, in some quarters – that independence is not a normal condition. For thousands of years there was no sovereign Jewish state, and the Jewish people were the paradigm case of the outsiders living, with various degrees of toleration, in other people’s countries. That changed suddenly on May 14, 1948, the 5th of Iyar on the Jewish calendar.

America had her Tories who would have preferred to remain colonies of Great Britain (including the son of Benjamin Franklin, who had been the Royal Governor of New Jersey), but I suspect that after some 242 years, very few Americans continue to believe that the US should return to colonial status. Israel had (and still has) her anti-Zionists: those who oppose a Jewish state for religious reasons, and those who oppose it for various political reasons. I doubt this will change even when the state reaches (with God’s help) its 242nd birthday.

Some Americans complain that many of their countrymen (and women) don’t appreciate the sacrifices required to create and maintain an independent nation. This is less of a problem in Israel, whose people are under constant threat, both individually and collectively, by the enemies of the state and the Jewish people. Israel’s memorial day for fallen soldiers and victims of terrorism (yom hazikaron) takes place the day before Independence Day. When the siren sounds to mark the beginning of yom hazikaron, almost all Israelis stop what they are doing and stand at attention for the duration of the siren. Autos stop in the middle of the highways , and their drivers get out and stand beside them. I admit that no matter how many times I’ve experienced this, it’s always emotionally powerful. Except for the siren (and perhaps a few barking dogs) there is absolute silence; and it happens at the same precise moment all over the country.

I said “almost all Israelis” because there are some Arab citizens, some Haredim, and even a few extreme leftists who oppose the Jewish state and make a point of showing their contempt for it and for the soldiers who died for it. If I could afford to, I would happily buy them all one-way tickets to the Arab or Diaspora countries that they appear to yearn for.

When America gained independence, its population was composed of Europeans mostly of British descent, African slaves and Native Americans. It was some time before the “non-white” inhabitants achieved equal rights. Israel also had a minority population made up of Arabs who, while citizens from the start, were under military rule until 1966. Since independence, both countries absorbed immigrants from numerous cultures, although almost all of those absorbed by Israel were Jewish.

Some Arab citizens of Israel see themselves as Israelis, while others embrace their “Palestinian” identity and reject “Israeli-ness.” Most Jews feel that they are part of a Jewish people that encompasses Jews of different national origins. The divisions between Jews of European and Middle Eastern or North African origin are becoming less important as time and intermarriage blur them. Russians, Ethiopians and others are also blending into the Jewish population.

In America until recently the concept of the “melting pot” which would turn immigrants (but never African Americans!) into members of a homogeneous American People was popular, and immigrants aspired to assimilate into “American” culture. More recently, many immigrant groups strongly reject the melting pot, and insist on maintaining their original cultures. I don’t believe this tendency is strong among non-Haredi Israeli immigrants, who do appear to be assimilating to “Israeli” culture. There are various reasons for this: army service, shared stresses (terrorism, bureaucracy, etc.) and the comparative openness of Israeli society. In Israel, at least among the Jewish population, it seems that identity politics is declining; while in America, it is gaining importance.

American society seems – from my admittedly distant vantage point – to be more divided than ever in my memory. The delivery of health care and other social services appears to be worse than I can remember, the primary, secondary, and higher educational systems are failing in their purposes, and the long-term decrease in violent crime seems to be ending. There are many other troubling social indicators. Time will tell if the decline that I perceive is real, and if so, if it will be overcome.

70 years after independence, Israeli society has overall never been better off economically, although the high price of housing is a problem. There are still pockets of deep poverty. The benefits of the success of the high-tech sector and the natural gas discoveries have not filtered down to the lower rungs of the ladder. Politically there is the ongoing struggle between the right-of-center majority and the left-of-center establishment that includes the Supreme Court, the media, academic class, the arts, and so forth. There is growing conflict between Haredi extremists and everyone else. But on balance it is a happy, optimistic society. One indication is the high birthrate, over three children per woman for the Jewish and Arab sectors.

Despite this, there is a cloud over our optimism, which is the almost certainty of war with Iran and its proxies in the near future. Israel is not expansionist and does not desire war. We have absolutely nothing against the Iranian people, but unfortunately their radical regime has an obsession with destroying our state and ourselves.

We’ll prevail. It will be terrible for us, but more terrible for our enemies. Jewish sovereignty in the Land of Israel was not reconstituted after thousands of years to be lost after only 70.

There are flags everywhere, hanging from windowsills, on cars, on both of the antennas on our roof. Our bank is giving out free flags, made in Israel by handicapped people.

Happy Independence Day!

Posted in American society, Israeli Society | Comments Off on Independence Day