Relax?

 
Impossible.
 
Too much is threatening.
 
Daesh, whatever that is, is chopping heads and managing to evade the US air campaign (along with a few other participants providing 10 percent of the airstrikes), and imposing its draconian Islam across much of Syria and Iraq.
 
Hamas says that it intends to do throughout Palestine what Daesh is doing in Syria and Iraq.
 
More modest Palestinians are demanding international recognition for something that would shrink and threaten Israel. Sweden's Prime Minister and the British Parliament are talking about recognizing Palestine, with or without, the agreement of Israel.
 
The White House sees a partnership possible with Iran, despite Iran's insistence on nuclear independence and viewing Israel as a cancer that must be removed from the Middle East.
 
Ebola has come out of West Africa along with the care providers who have been infected, traveled to the US and Europe, and have begun infecting people there. So far the numbers are small, but panic is starting to show.
 
The American President and the Israeli Prime Minister are squabbling in a more public and nasty way than in the past.
 
Looking beyond the debating points each has scored against the other, one is hard pressed to ignore the greater power behind the US President. The US can live without Israel, but Israelis are worried how well--or if it all--we can live without Americans to provide an occasional veto in the UN Security Council, as well as money from the government budget and private sector investors, and access to the American market for Israeli exports.
 
Israel seems unable to obtain what every other country in its league (Western, democratic, with high levels of income, education, and decent social services) has by way of clear and permanent boundaries, without serious threats against its existence.
 
Geography along with the doctrines of Islam and the warfare among the faithful in that "religion of peace" keeps our neighbors from conceding our legitimacy, even though many of them cooperate in ways that reflects Israel's accomplishments in economics, science, technology, and medicine, as well as its capacity to defend itself.
 
On the other hand, the contrasting religious observances of Yom Kippur and Eid al Adha passed quietly, despite the fears of their potential for disaster.
 
Due to the lack of a leap year in the lunar calendar of Islam, the two events occasionally occur on the same day, every 30 years or so.
 
This year they came against the background of Gaza, especially prominent murders of Jews by Arabs and an Arab by Jews in the West Bank and Jerusalem, and an escalation in stone throwing, fire bombs and other violence by young Arabs, including that burning of a gas station on the border of Isaweea and French Hill.
 
Yom Kippur demands quiet for the sake of contemplation. Streets are empty; there are no flights; radio and television are off the air for 30 hours. Surveys show that 60 percent or more of Israeli Jews fast.
 
Eid al Adha is a contrast on just about every dimension. The emphasis is celebration and feasting, with travel for family visits, the slaughter of sheep and roasting of its meat, with the aroma going here and there without respect for those nearby who might be hungry.
 
Religious leaders of Jews and Muslims preached tolerance for several days in advance of the holiday, and it passed quietly, without the catastrophe that was feared.
 
There were problems within the Jewish sector, but nothing unusual. As soon as the media began broadcasting in the evening after Yom Kippur, we heard the conventional announcements of how many people collapsed while at prayer and were brought to hospitals,  and how many young bicycle riders clogging the car-free streets managed to injure themselves. One fell off a bridge in Haifa and was in critical condition.
 
Perhaps the Arabic media reported on the incidence of indigestion.
 
We are not out of the woods. A few days after Yom Kippur comes Succoth, and that has its own provocations that have produced communal violence. There has already been an incident on the Temple Mount, in advance of the holiday.
 
During the days between the holidays at the beginning and end of Succoth, groups form throughout the country organize for a modern version of the traditional pilgrimage to Jerusalem. Typically they equip themselves with uniform shirts and hats, carry banners, charter a bus to bring them within a few kilometers of Jerusalem, and walk the rest of the way while singing, smiling, and waving to the cameras. There are large crowds at the Western Wall, some praying, some being blessed by the Kohanim, and others milling around in a festive mood.
 
Above the Western Wall, on the Temple Mount/Haram al Sharif/al Aqsa Mosque there are likely to be counter clusters of young Muslims getting ready to throw stones on the Jews below.
 
The police get ready for this, with the results of  bloody heads, protests from religious and political leaders of both communities about the provocation from their competitors, and several days of further scuffling where Jews and Muslims coexist.
 
Some years pass without incident, and most without serious incident.
 
The larger picture is that Jews have been worried, and unable to assure their security, for all of our history.
 
Our record of generally doing better than others may be one of the elements that threatens our security by fueling anti-Semitism, but ought to be recognized for the benefits it produces.
 
In the most recent 68 years of Jews' 3,000 years as a people, Israel has developed from a tenuous existence to being a regional powerhouse economically and militarily, and having to be reckoned with by just about everyone else.
 
The Jews who are quarreling with one another about Israel and just about everything else have acquired education, wealth, and position unparalleled in history.
 
Weimar Germans said the same. However,  . . . 
 
Israel's principal adversaries have dithered among themselves, and failed to produce a solution for their problems that we can accept. Most recently, Muslims claiming to be the purist, have descended to warfare among themselves and are threatening others by their barbarism, with the result that the most powerful nations of the world have mobilized against them.
 
Our glass may be half empty, or somewhat more than half full. Israeli wine provides a tasty medium to make your estimate.  חג שמח.



 

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