This last year has been a unique one for the Jewish people worldwide.
COVID dominated our conversations, with the Delta variant setting us back in our collective attempt to control the disease.
A devastating war between Hamas and Israel left destruction on both sides of the border and a ceasefire that few people believe will hold indefinitely.
A surge in antisemitic acts in Kentucky and worldwide has left us feeling even more vulnerable.
And a politically motivated insurrection violently attempted to disrupt the work of government, leaving our country wounded.
This is all on top of the deep-seeded injustices plaguing our inner cities, serious questions about ensuring a woman’s right to reproductive choice and a climate crisis that is leaving much of our country flooded and much more in a permanent drought.
So, what is in store for our community in 5782?
Certain trends are sobering. The increase in world-wide antisemitic acts in the last few years does seem poised to maintain its high levels. Attacks directed at the Jewish community, verbal and otherwise, from far-right and far-left sources, surged during Israel’s recent war with Hamas and rioting inside the Green Line. Absent another war, we should see this number leveling off. Certainly, an increase in political disillusionment feeds hatred, and this won’t decrease any time soon.
COVID has further exacerbated these tensions. Unfortunately, increased hatred directed against Jews (and many other groups) is likely here to stay for the time being.
In Israel, the latest round of fighting was particularly intense. Both sides may be wary of another conflict any time soon, so don’t look for another battle like the one we saw this past May.
But the prospects for a political solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict remain dim. Low-level skirmishes and riots continue along the border, with Hamas sending incendiary balloons into Israel, prompting retaliatory airstrikes. The cycle keeps repeating itself.
There is some talk of a long-term ceasefire, coupled with economic and infrastructure relief for Gaza, which could benefit both sides as a political solution remains elusive.
This past year has been a diplomatic boon for Israel, with several Arab countries signing peace deals, signaling a growing acceptance of a Jewish state in the region. Israel continues to strengthen itself militarily and economically, so bet on other Arab/Muslim countries signing peace deals with her in 5782.
But there remains a dark cloud is on Israel’s horizon – and the Middle East’s, and the world’s: Iran.
When the United States pulled out of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) deal that curtailed Iran’s nuclear program, Iran felt free to ramp up activity that is prohibited under the agreement. Right now, Iran is enriching uranium at an accelerated pace and some estimates put just a few months away from having enough material for a nuclear weapon. The United States is open to rejoining the JCPOA, but negotiations have stalled, particularly since Iran recently elected a hardline government that is wary of offering the minimum necessary for a resumed agreement. This issue will continue to make headlines in the new year.
With the fears associated with COVID, climate change, unconscionable limits on reproductive choice, it is easy to despair. But our strength lies in our community, deepening bonds with each other, and speaking with a collective voice in defense of common values and interests. I am optimistic that this will increase, making a better world possible.
(Matt Goldberg is the director of the Jewish Community Relations Council.)