By Howard W. Karsh
Within the history of any nation, there is a complex pattern of nature and politics that have shaped the life of the country. There is probably no nation like Israel whose history has been so dominated by its location and the quest for control. It has no buried wealth, but events that happened there, religiously and developmentally, have always managed to keep this small plot of land in the center of world history.
One of the complex factors since the development of the modern state has been the effect of aggrandizing enemies. I can think of no other nation that is so defined as Israel by the fact that it has never been at peace for the entire 64 years of its existence; and peace does not seem to be in its near future.
Important, as well, has been the effect of all these threats as a unifying issue in World-Jewry, and even though there has never been a consensus on how to proceed, there has been a universal determination that Israel must live.
This last week Prime Minister Netanyahu survived a challenge to his leadership within his own party, but steering a course with his glued-together majority in parliament is a very delicate journey. And now due to Iran the people of Israel have had to push back their own agendas in the face of what is an imminent danger.
What is that danger from Iran? It is impossible to say, but with an economy being strangulated by international decree and sanctions, the unstable party in charge with growing nuclear potential, cannot be trusted to do the right and sane thing.
This week, the United States government indicated that terrorist attacks by Iranian operatives and sympathizers are a real and present threat within the United States. If we believed in conspiratorial plots, nothing could work better to keep Israel’s allies on high alert more than the schizophrenia of the Iranians. They seem to be a bomb waiting to explode. And rather than planning in secret as was the process in the past, the whole likelihood of a preemptive attack by Israel or Israel and allies is daily reported in the news, not as rumors, but as possibilities.
The computer virus, “Studnex,” created a problem for the development of nuclear power in Iran, but it was not a solution. And with Iran busily burying everything deep underground, time seems of the essence. Recent reports emerging from North Korea, where paranoia is a national disease, confirms that all these years while the population was dying from hunger, North Korea was building a subterranean world. What does it all mean?
We are temporarily saved from the “hot issues” of people “spitting on children” in contemptuous religious fervor, and failing to choose when religious modesty determines separation and when it does not.
If you have been on Israeli buses, crowded and breaking speed limits, you can understand why women are concerned about being in crowds that make them uncomfortable, but when women scientists can’t receive their own awards, somehow judgment has been cast aside.
People in Israel are not demanding separate seating on buses. It is simply Egged’s response to serving the market of Orthodox passengers in Jerusalem.
There is an undercurrent of issues in Israel that only occasionally surface at the street level. Housing is a hot-button issue. Housing in Israel was not subject to the U.S. catastrophe because Israeli banks were not allowed to speculate with mortgages. They would have, however, if they could have. They didn’t make the mortgages, but they bought the toxic bonds.
Housing, food prices, wages are issues that fall under the National concerns of defense, but these are the very issues that concern the daily lives of its people. We pray for peace every day. It would make sense to lengthen that prayer and ask the Almighty to bring us not only peace, but the ability to survive the aftermath.
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