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the sources of rebirth....

Reader comment on item: Israel's [Fatigue and Its] Moment of Truth

Submitted by David (United States), Dec 30, 2022 at 22:14

I'd name a number of reasons for the turnaround. Insofar as the turnaround in Israeli politics, it is driven by the failure of weakness in that region, every single time. Including this past year. Unsurprisingly, Israel's leftist government, (sorry Dr. Pipes, it was a leftist government and this was clear from its inception), presided over an increase in Palestinian terrorism to the highest levels in 20 years. The character of the Israeli government was not the only reason for the increase in violence. A more important factor was the hostile nature of the Biden administration, which fueled fire on the Palestinian street from the very moment it entered office and has not stopped since. A third factor, is the Palestinian leadership succession problem, which is being resolved by a competition of who is capable of murdering the most Jews.

But this was an answer to a different question from the one the author posed. Why has Israel's confidence and birthrate, rebounded? I would say it is probably a delayed result of the Russian aliyah, as well as the endurance of the ultra-Orthodox community, which the author has previously derided in a number of ways. They are responsible for a number of significant strengths though. For one, the high amount of happiness in the general public. Israel is, to the surprise of some outsiders, ranked among the happiest countries in the world. The Haredi community is among the happiest sub-sectors, due to the family and faith focused nature of their lives. Contrary to the consensus, I would argue that by virtue of this alone, they contribute very much to Israeli society. Of course their birthrates are very high as well, but the same is true of the secular population. I think the infusion of talent and human capital from the former USSR, played a role in this as well. Although I have not seen the statistics relating to the birthrate in that demographic, I would not be surprised if the sense of optimism and national purpose they both acquired for themselves and reinvigorated the country with, also resulted in a lot of family formation, by contrast to the dismal trends in Russia and Ukraine. Both affected by deep national depression following the breakup of the Soviet Union. It is certainly my hope that the new chasm between the community of Russian immigrants to Israel and the Orthodox, occasioned and deepened by Liberman's opportunistic defections from the right wing and his refusal to engage in mutual dialogue with the religious parties and reach a compromise that could be mutually beneficial, will heal and be occasioned by the possible emergence of a leader in his party that has the necessary personal characteristics.

Another factor for the population growth, the optimism, and the renewed national will, is the privatization of the economy that accelerated in 2000 and effected some stunning changes visible even in the skyline of the major metropolitan centers. I personally, distinctly remember the time around the celebration of the new millennium, when Tel Aviv's proudest architectural achievement was a meager building called the Shalom Tower, laughingly referenced as the "tallest building in the Middle East" before it was surpassed by the skyscrapers of Dubai. Well, the skyline of Tel Aviv certainly has changed since then, and the evidence of wealth is apparent all over. Free market reform certainly played a part in this, as did the aforementioned aliyah. Which I hope is not arrested by misguided efforts to restrict the Basic Law of Return. One of several reasons why I hope the party of the Russian speaking Israelis finds a way to re-integrate into the coalition, and the reason I suspect why the new PM has reached out specifically to a former Likud MK in another party, the originally Russian speaking Zeev Elkin of the amorphously defined "centrist" party headed by Gantz on the one hand, and the formerly hard right Saar on the other hand.

If the author does respond to questions, and has had the patience to read my lengthy remark, I would like to ask one that I've asked before, and preface it with a word of concern. I agree very emphatically with the author's remark, noted months ago, that the Golden Era of American Judaism, is over. In fact, I would venture to predict, that American Jewry is on a decline toward extinction. Not yet evident, but from everything I can tell, it is a matter of time, unless some unusual events intercede, and some unusually skilled communal leaders emerge. My question is this. Pardon me, but I cannot help but notice that a particular individual formerly associated with the American right, who has since defected to the Democratic party, seems infused with a special disdain for Jewish supporters of Israel and also for non-Jewish supporters of Israel such as the Evangelical Church. His writings are filled with hate and vitriol toward them all, these days, as though hardly any other thought enters his mind. The person I am thinking of is William Kristol, and I personally fear that his newfound influence in the Democratic party, which could be used for very constructive purposes, may instead have the corrosive effect of giving them license to reinforce their own worst instincts, regarding antipathy toward Israel, its national security concerns, sovereignty, and many related matters. If the author does not have an answer or does not wish to answer, I certainly understand. But I'll just ask. What happened to him?


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Daniel Pipes replies:

Kristol remains pro-Israel: https://jewishinsider.com/2021/09/bill-kristol-has-no-political-direction-home/

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