Years tend to be remembered for their exciting news developments.
instance, if you ask your typical Israeli about 1948 or 1967, his eyes
will light up because of the historic events of those years.
5772, the Jewish calendar year that ends next week, will be remembered
not for what happened over its 12 months but for what could have
happened but didn’t.
5772 was the year that got away – the year of the almost, but no, not quite.
Israel almost attacked Iran, almost went to elections, almost won an Olympic medal.
With so many anticipated news events that never ended up taking place, it’s no wonder two Israeli newspapers - Ma’ariv and Haaretz – are going through major financial problems and the former is in danger of closing.
Obviously those newspapers’ problems have more to do with the woes of Ma’ariv’s tycoon owner and Haaretz’s detachment from mainstream Israel. And the news will go on in 5773.
those assigned to compile lists of news items that happened in 5772 had
a tougher job than they did in other years. Some of the items that made
the two-hour year summary broadcast on Army Radio Thursday morning
would not have made the cut in a more exciting year.
Minister Binyamin Netanyahu was mocked for putting together his own list
of his government’s accomplishments, listing one event for every Jewish
month in Sunday’s cabinet meeting. While it is nice to know that in
Shvat, the cabinet approved a rail line to Eilat and in Sivan, free
dental care was extended to children up to age 12, only the
pro-Netanyahu Israel HaYom printed the list.
When looking back at
5772, it is much easier to compile a list of what did not take place.
It was challenging to cut the list down to 10, but here they are:
1. No one attacks Iran
are still three days left in the Jewish year, but it looks like it will
end the same way it began: With Iran moving full speed ahead in its
nuclear program and the international community not doing enough to stop
it. The difference is that Netanyahu is now being less polite and is
saying publicly what he had been saying privately to world leaders. He
says that time is running out for action to prevent Iran’s
nuclearization; But then again, he has been saying that since his speech
to Congress – not the one in May 2011, the one in July 1996.
2. Knesset not dispersed; elections don’t happen
year began with Netanyahu reeling from the 2011 summer protests, but he
made a deal to bring home IDF soldier Gilad Schalit during Succot and
his popularity skyrocketed.
Netanyahu started initiating an
election after Independence Day but changed his mind and formed a
short-lived national-unity government before Lag Ba’omer. There have
been more signs lately that he will initiate an election when the
Knesset returns after the fall holidays. But he could still decide that
he can pass the 2013 state budget, which could allow him to remain in
power through all of 5773 until the official date for the next election,
18 Heshvan, 5774 (October 22, 2013). Other possible political
non-headlines: Kadima does not split and Carmel fire comptroller’s
report does not result in ministers quitting.
3. No sequel to summer protests
socioeconomic protests that brought 300,000 people to the streets in
the summer of 5771 when the economy was at its peak, ironically never
got off the ground in the summer of 5772 when the economy was not doing
as well. Reasons included in-fighting among the protest movement’s
leaders, competition from pro-draft demonstrators, and violence that
marred the protests’ reputation.
But the best reason there was no
sequel to the summer protests was revealed by the annual Democracy
Index, which found that people believed the demonstrations failed to
change the government’s priorities.
4. Palestinian state not declared
Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas submitted his request for the United
Nations Security Council to recognize a Palestinian state when there
were still five days left in 5772, but the year the maneuver was blocked
was 5773. Palestinian anti-Israel efforts on the world stage failed
throughout the year. While “Palestine” did become a member of UNESCO,
that move backfired because it resulted in the UN body losing $80
million a year in US funding. There was also speculation that there
would be a sequel to the Gaza flotilla of 5770 in 5772, but that, like
other possible pro-Palestinian news events, did not materialize.
5. Palestinian election not declared
was elected to a four-year term as president of the Palestinian
Authority on January 15, 2005. There was a constitutional dispute in the
PA about whether his term really ended in 2009 or 2010. Since then,
several dates raised for possible Palestinian elections have come and
gone, including two this past year. Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman is
pressing the world to give up on Abbas and encourage a Palestinian
election, but so far his pleas have fallen on deaf ears. The
socioeconomic protests that have started in the West Bank are against PA
Prime Minister Salaam Fayyad, not Abbas, but they could end up
resulting in a long-awaited Palestinian election.
6. Bashar Assad does not fall
Reports say the death toll in Syria has passed 30,000. But the world is letting him stay.
7. Haredim not drafted en masse
thought that, the day after the July 31 deadline set by the Supreme
Court to equalize the burden of military service would pass, the IDF
would go straight to Ponovezh Yeshiva in Bnei Brak and hand every
student a gun. Instead, the deadline passed without fanfare. A solution
is now being worked on behind the scenes. The IDF presented its
recommendations to Defense Minister Ehud Barak two week ago. Since then,
remarkably, they have not been leaked. Liberman vowed to make sure the
issue comes back to the forefront when the Knesset returns from its
extended summer recess.
8. Migrant workers not expelled en masse
Minister Eli Yishai put on a show worthy of an Oscar when he promised
to expel some 50,000 Eritrean migrants who came to the country
illegally. But very few of them actually left the country, and Strangers No More,
an American documentary about migrant children in Tel Aviv who were
facing expulsion, ended up winning an Academy Award. The security fence
that has nearly been completed on the border with Egypt has
significantly brought down the number of new migrants coming in, but the
ones who were already here are still here.
9. Olmert not sent to jail
was seen as a foregone conclusion that either the so-called Rishon
Tours or Talansky scandals would result in conviction and jail time for
former prime minister Ehud Olmert. But the Jerusalem District Court
thought differently and he was acquitted in both cases. He was convicted
of the minor crime of breach of trust but because the court ruled that
it does not involve moral turpitude, he could still make a political
comeback if he emerges unscathed from the ongoing Holyland trial. A Jerusalem Post poll after his acquittal found that his political fortunes were bright if the courts allow him to make a political comeback.
10. Israel does not win medal
Lee Korzits and Shahar Tzuberi and pole vaulter Alex Averbuch briefly
excited Israelis with hopes of an Olympic medal in London, but they all
Israeli basketball coach David Blatt won a
bronze but he was coaching the Russian team. Some would count
gold-medal-winning sailor Jo Aleh of New Zealand because her father
lives in Israel and both of her parents served in the IDF. But the first
real gold medal Israel won in London belongs to tennis player Noam
Gershoni, whose victory enabled “Hatikva” to be played at the
Paralympics on Saturday.
Those upset with Israel’s Olympic
failure comforted themselves in the success of chess player Boris
Gelfand, who finished second in the world championships. He almost
finished first. That “almost” makes him the symbol of Israel in 5772,
the year when lots of things almost happened.