Uncertainty is the human condition.

 
Perhaps a bit more for the Jews than most others, but we've managed, most of the time, despite our worries.
 
It ain't all that bad. If we are uncertain, so are others, and we are not the weakest or the lowest in the pile.
 
Governments exist to deal with uncertainties. Now they are joined by international organizations. However, many, perhaps most of the issues that get to their agendas are so uncertain, and so complex, with so many contending interests, that no solution emerges.
 
Hold on to what you've got is a prime rule in politics as well as economics.
 
Currently most uncertain items on our agenda are the big issue of who will govern us from March 17 onward, and the small issue of whether the Palestinians will get anything close to what they want from the UN Security Council.
 
The latter is a small issue, despite the headlines, because the Palestinians are not likely to get anything tangible. Not now, nor at the end of the two year deadline when they are demanding Israel's surrender. 
 
Israel's political parties, some of them created solely for the purpose of this election, will battle one another on the field of platitudes, with none of them likely to emerge with more than a couple of dozen seats in the Knesset, while 61 are required for a majority. That means that a middle sized party will lead the next government along with four to six even smaller parties, but not small in the size of the egos of those claiming to lead them. Each will be large enough in the coalition to make life difficult for the others.
 
If the Labor Party emerges at the top, it is likely to have problems within itself. Old Laborites will be waiting with sharp knives to cut down the aspirations of the new Laborites, who have come on board from a variety of political backgrounds, some of them antithetical to Labor's socialist traditions.
 
Likud's primary is still a couple of weeks away, but it's equally hard to imagine a party firmly in the grasp of the pragmatists around Benyamin Netanyahu, without the nationalist-religious ideologues who want the whole of the Promised Land, doing who knows what to the Arabs in the sizable cities of the West Bank.
 
The American team of Obama and Kerry will do what they can to avoid an outright veto of the Palestinians' preferred UN solution of demanding a total Israeli withdrawal from everything over the 1967 borders within two years. Actually less than two years, insofar as the resolution started counting time in November.
 
What may emerge is a resolution calling on the parties to negotiate assiduously, perhaps even aiming for a framework of two years, or a time line to be agreed upon by the parties.
 
We've been there and done that, and know how to do it again without substantial damage.
 
No doubt that many of the world's worthies are tired of us, or our problems with the Palestinians, and feel more comfortable pressuring us than the Palestinians. Perhaps few of the worthies take the Palestinians seriously, or think they can get a meaningful agreement from a cluster of old men seeped in corruption, who know only how to demand and not to concede. 
 
It has become politically correct to pressure the Israelis. And like much that is politically correct, it ain't worth much beyond the headlines.
 
In the background are ideologues or political groupies who think--or at least say or chant--that Israel is a colonial outpost or some other kind of evil, and feel that the Palestinians deserve justice.
 
The pursuers of justice and other fine things have their weight in the world, but not likely as much as governments who are more concerned to avoid tangible problems than to decide about justice and actually work to achieve it.
 
Power is not everything. Values do count, but must compete among themselves. Palestinian claims of justice come up against Israel's claims of its own justice. Palestinian and Israeli claims have some leverage over the other, but the relative weights are very much in Israel's favor.
 
When push comes to shove, it is Israel that supplies substantial proportions of Palestinians' electricity and water, and controls the entrances and exits to Palestine, as well as many of the roads within Palestine.
 
A UN declaration by itself will not untangle those realities.
 
Whoever emerges victorious from Israel's election will only be partly victorious, and will not have found the key to solve the problems with Palestine.
 
Getting rid of Bibi is a campaign theme with some capacity to motivate voters.
 
It's also a smoke screen excusing the parties from clarifying what they will do if they succeed.
 
There are lots of small adjustments that can be made to improve things for the Palestinians and Israelis, and it's easier to manage them if the great powers are not posturing to advance what they currently see as the ideal solution. And insofar as each of the great powers has its own conception of the ideal for them and for Palestine, the feeling of uncertainty is widely shared.
 
There is an irony in the Jews' association with the most estimable values of the Biblical Prophets, and Israel's current place as the target of so many people claiming its injustice.
 
The prophets wrote their great thoughts in a context of powerlessness. Then another Jewish radical, a native of Bethlehem or Nazereth, got a lot of credit for preaching the values of the prophets, also in a context of being powerless.
 
Great values seem to emerge in situations of no power. Having one's hands on the levers of government requires the wrestling with contending issues, and having to decide where to put the money of the budget, what laws to enact, how to enforce them, and how to deal with other governments.
 
Jews of the left who acquired their values from the aspirations of the 1940s and 1950s, when Israel was pretty close to powerless and dependent on the Jews of the Diaspora and one or another government that saw reasons for aiding the new state. Jewish idealists, like Theodore Herzl before them, could articulate the values of equality for all, Arab and Jew, and an absence of violence in the Promised Land.
 
Since 1967, Israel has been saddled with the problems that come along with power, and the need to govern, including the government of Palestinians who have demonstrated time and again that they can't be dragged to the table and made to see realities, and messianic Jews who see their future in settling all of the Promised Land. Those who actually read the Bible, rather than quote the most desirable passages, should know that the Holy Book includes multiple and conflicting definitions of the Promised Land, but such details are not likely to penetrate the political debates. 
 
In the context of governmental authority, the great values take second place to the maneuvers appropriate to managing a complex society, with conflicting interests, in the context of an equally complex international setting where foreign powerholders are maneuvering to advance their own interests.
 
We can enjoy the intellectual nuances in the disputes, along with the tangible goodies which we possess. Both are likely to be around for a while.
 
Chanukah is also an uncertain thing. It is not, technically, a holiday (חג), insofar as it is not mentioned in the Torah, or any other book of the Hebrew Bible. Its roots are in the Books of Maccabees, not allowed into the Canon due largely to the rabbis' antipathy to what came from the descendants of Judah. American Jews, with a prominent push by Chabad, have made it a major event, as the Jews' best competitor with Christmas.
 
Stories associated with Chanukah provide inspiration for the power of the Almighty (the miracle of one day's supply of oil lasting for eight days), as well as nationalist heroism against a foreign oppressor.
 
Anthropologists tell us that Christmas and Chanukah are essentially winter festivals, each with their pagan equivalents, bringing light and feasting to the darkness and cold. Pity the Muslims, without a leap year, whose holidays rotate from one season to another. Also our friends in Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and lower South America, where the weather does not fit the traditions.
 
Whatever, enjoy. Go light on the latkes and sophganiot, neither of which adds to one's good health. 
 
Recognizing uncertainties is good for the mind, and one's tolerance of the political babble, but it doesn't taste good. 
חג חנוכה שמח

 

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