Here it is impossible to go to a public place in the evening without hearing a blessing on the Chanukah lights. Chabad has placed a large Chanukiah (9-armed menorah) in the most prominent of French Hill''s traffic circles, along with other efforts to make the festival more important than its ancient roots. So far Israel radio hasn''t provided us with the music indicative of that other holiday coming in a few days.
May all of you enjoy whatever you are celebrating, or not suffer too greatly in your efforts to close you mind and ears to the celebrations of others.
Meanwhile, on the political front we are hearing from the left and other worriers here and elsewhere new proof of Israel''s isolation. Not only the United Nations Security Council, but those critical allies Britain, France and even Germany joined in the condemnation of continued building in the "settlements" (including East Jerusalem), and the failure of Israel to deal with extremists who desecrate mosques and commit other indecencies.
It didn''t take Israel''s Foreign Ministry more than a few hours to respond with its own condemnation. It would be better for the United Nations to focus on the slaughter of civilians a few miles to the northeast, and the lack of democracy coming on the heels of Arab Spring. The sharpest words spoke of the organization and those governments voting against Israel making themselves irrelevant in whatever political process may occur, and reminded the critics that Israel has the only serious judiciary in the region, which is doing what is necessary to apply the rule of law.
On this occasion the United States joined Israel rather than those condemning it. One of the tantalizing questions is whether that reflects anything more than the Administration''s eye on the coming elections, or if it is a serious indication that Europeans and others had gone too far in their lip service, sycophancy, or fear with respect to their Muslim residents and Muslim partners in international organizations.
There is also continued reason for pessimism on overseas campuses. There are daily indications that the far left, anti-Israel camp has taken possession of social science and humanities faculties. Serious work may still be occurring elsewhere in the universities, but the teachers and students concerned with politics, society, and values seem obsessed with Israel''s inhumanity.
What to do?
Best to begin by considering other indications about Israel''s situation.
The sky is not falling. Just now, glancing out of my window looking east toward the Jordan Valley, there is a great sunrise in process.
We can take pleasure for a bit longer about yet another Nobel Prize, more investments by major firms in Israel''s technology, and even that apology by nemesis Thomas Friedman for comments that came too close to classic anti-Semitism.
Other news is that several hundred new immigrants arrived. Some had their first taste of sufganiot (oil-soaked jelly donuts) and the music of Ma''oz Tzur (Rock of Ages). It may take them a while to learn about the dietary dangers of Chanukah, and acquire the capacity to keep celebrations and health in proper balance.
The news from the United Nations is no more pleasant than usual, and even a bit more depressing, but it''s not the end of things. Neither a condemnation of Syria nor serious steps to retard Iran''s pursuit of nuclear weapons should be no surprise. The lack of concern with continued bloodshed in Syria and the post-election killings in Egypt may reflect nothing more than Europeans not expecting much from those who many of them view as beyond the pale, and likely to be barbaric. Westerners may think that criticism of Israel may have some effect, insofar as this country aspires to hold on to its membership in the club of the decent.
Condemnation of Israel may also be an expression of diplomats'' temper directed against what they view as the excesses of Benyamin Netanyahu and Avigdor Lieberman.
Not a few Israeli centrists also view Netanyahu and Lieberman as excessive. The North Korean style introduction of the Prime Minister at the memorial ceremony for those dying in last year''s forest fire provided a couple of days'' material for comics among Knesset members and media personalities. The prime minister got what he deserved. He has conceded the excesses. It is not yet apparent that the ridicule will hurt him politically or affect his policies.
Israel media made its own contribution to Palestinian irrelevancy by emphasizing the warm encounter between Mahmoud Abbas and the women released and exiled to Turkey as part of the exchange for Gilad Shalit. Amina Mona committed one of the ugliest of actions in the latest intifada, using the Internet to entice an Israeli teenager to Ramallah and his death.
One should worry about the nonsense heard from faculty and students at some of the world''s most distinguished universities. Not only is it offensive. It may affect Israel''s standing in years to come as today''s students become tomorrow''s officials and investors.
Campus radicalism augers even worse for Jews and others overseas who continue to view those propaganda mills as sources of decent education. The obvious targets of pity are parents who gnawed their fingernails for years about their offsprings'' chances of admission, and pay upwards of $50K per year for tuition and other expenses in a time of economic uncertainty.
Israel also has its nutty academic extremists, but their incidence is less than in prestigious Western campuses. Moreover, it is difficult for them to impress undergraduates who have already been educated by two or three years in the IDF, as well as by parents and grandparents who have seen worse.
Remember the epigram that a young person who is not a socialist lacks a heart, while an older person who is still a socialist lacks a head. Something like that may work on the anti-Israel graduates of distinguished colleges. And there are graduates who never catch the anti-Israel bug. Who knows the proportions of those taught to hate, or those who admire a feisty state whose people argue about what is the proper way to stay within the norms of Western civilization that their ancestors formulated while dealing with difficult neighbors who are occasionally vicious.