An Internet friend sent me a YouTube showing a scene from the TV drama, The Newsroom. It has characters claiming that America is the greatest country on earth. Then the star of the show sets them straight with comparative data that reveal something much different.

 
Among the items he cites are dismal standings on literacy, life expectancy, infant mortality, and incarcerations.


For those inclined to question their patriotism, it appears here.


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He also notes that the US is far from alone as a country with individual freedom.


My friend who sent me the clip also reported about 


"an orthodox acquaintance who believes that America is going to the dogs, being sped on its way by Barack followed by Hillary. He also believes that God is finally convinced that the Jews, having proven that they can survive and thrive in a world dead set against them, will emerge in the second half of this century with Israel as the moral leader of the world, technologically superior in every way (which does seem to be happening now) and will be a major player and world leader."

It would be great if we could believe it. However, anyone who thinks that a country the size of New Jersey can be a world leader should go back to school and learn something about Jewish history.
 
We've always been a small people, having to maneuver among those with much greater power. It began with Egypt, Babylon, Persia, Greece, and Rome. Currently Israel is maneuvering between the US, the EU, Russia and China, with interests as well with Turkey,Egypt, Saudi Arabia, India, South Korea, and Japan. Any place with resources and influence is a potential partner, but never likely to be more than a partial partner, with Israelis careful not to put all their eggs in one basket. 
 
Some of Israel's partners are not so friendly with one another, and that complicates things.
 
Most of the time, Jews have done well in these maneuvers. But not always. The Books of Jeremiah and Lamentations provide some early examples of bad choices, still being memorialized on the 9th of Av.


We shouldn't downplay Israel's accomplishments. This is the first place where Jewish capacity has been allowed to flourish unhindered by limitations. My generation matured in a United States along with anti-Jewish quotas in colleges, major firms that would not hire a Jew for a junior management position, and restrictive covenants in real estate. With all the changes that have occurred since the 1960s, the lack of any Jew receiving a major party nomination as president suggests that a ceiling is still there.


Not here. 


Israel is prominent, if not a world leader in several fields worthy of praise.


But it is still the size of New Jersey.


Moreover, some Jews and many others see us as a source of evil, and are doing their best under the banner of BDS.


We can count on continued tensions, suspicion, and at least segmental antagonism from our Arab cousins. Even if many Israeli Arabs and Palestinians benefit from and enjoy connections with Israel, others aspire to kill Jews and end Israel's existence. Other Arab governments will cooperate when it's in their interest, somewhere between under cover, discretely, and at least partially open.


Israel's international standing may change in a dramatic fashion, but it would not be wise to rely on it's going in one direction or another.


With respect to the US and the EU, Israel's standing may vary with whoever is sitting on the top of those governments. Yet they are complex entities, each in their own fashion, with strong institutions working against any dramatic or rapid change in directions. Israeli connections will help in maneuvering between the US President and Congress, as well as between the heads of major European governments. 


Currently Israel is staying out of Syria, working to avoid friction with Russia, smoothing relations with Turkey, and wondering what a Clinton or Trump White House would say about all that might touch upon Israel.


What happens to Palestine amidst all this?

Assuming that there is no sea-change in the sentiments of Palestinians who climb to the top of their political organizations, this too is likely to be more of the same.

Many countries of the world already recognize a Palestinian State, and treat with honor the main claiming to be President almost eight years after the expiration of his term. 

What that is worth to Palestinians we can only wonder. For Israel, it is part of the political slights that Jews have been receiving since the get go. We can think of it as the modern equivalent of Abraham's wife spending time with a nearby king, with Abraham saying that she was his sister. (Genesis 20:2).

The impact on Israel of those ceremonies provided to a State of Palestine  will be minor as long as Israel surrounds the Palestinians of the West Bank, provides much of their electricity and water, their imports pass through Israeli ports, and Israel shares control of Gaza's borders with an Egypt more friendly with Israel than with Gaza.

Jews know at least as much as anyone that nothing is permanent. What's especially risky, however, is assuming change in one direction or another before it actually comes. One wants to be prepared, but not doing all that much in getting ready for A while B is no less likely, and C, D, E, or F might also occur.

Comments welcome.
-- 
Ira Sharkansky (Emeritus)
Department of Political Science
Hebrew University of Jerusalem
Irashark@gmail.com 
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Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this blog article are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the official position or viewpoint of The Jerusalem Post. Blog authors are NOT employees, freelance or salaried, of The Jerusalem Post.

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