Israel's interests are ranging these days from Nepal to Ethiopia, to a bit of heating up in the north and among the Palestinians.
And yes. There is still politics, with senior Likudniks in high fever at having to scrounge for the jobs left over by Bibi's effort to create a government.
And another call from overseas in behalf of a Palestinian State.
Nepal is one of the popular places for Israelis to go upon their graduation from the IDF. It's also a place for single sex couples to find surrogates to produce their children.
When young Israelis go trekking to exotic but dicey places, many of them buy insurance that will pay for hunters to find those who go missing or otherwise need help, or--G-d forbid--arrange to have their bodies shipped home.
Every once in a while we hear of an insurance company sending its personnel--most likely former trekkers--to the wilds of Peru, Bolivia, Chile, or the innards of Asia to find people who have simply disappeared, fallen into crevices, been on buses that went off the roads, or have taken sick and put in hospitals that fall below acceptable standards.
You've all probably heard what's been happening in Nepal, but it may not be taking as much of your newspace as it is here. Close to half a daily paper and every news report has been devoted to description of the destruction and the plight of Israelis. So far no Israeli has been found dead, but a number haven't been heard from. Hopes are that they are still trekking far from cell phone reception, and may not even know about the earthquake. The greatest drama is being devoted to the 15 or more babies recently born to surrogate mothers, and the efforts of their yet to be finalized adoptive parents to arrange for their care in a setting where there is no electricity or running water.
Israel has sent a number of planes with humanitarian supplies, a field hospital, medical personnel, and experts who have dug people out of previous catastrophes. The return flights are bringing the babies home, along with other Israelis who have decided that their trek is over.
The Interior Ministry has announced special provisions allowing the continuation of adoption procedures here, and the entry of surrogates who have not yet delivered.
My own recollection of Katmandu is dodging an elephant while crossing a street, and riding a tram along with other passengers and a goat.
We're having another spat over the immigration of Ethiopian Jews, or more appropriately those claiming to be Jews or close relationship with Jews.
The Jewishness of Ethiopians has always been murky to historians, but a distinguished rabbi decided some time ago that the community was kosher, and that settled things for the most part. But the other parts concern those who had adopted Christianity, have crosses tattooed on their foreheads, say their families were once Jews and want to return, or claim close relationship to those here. Several times the government has decided that Israel has accepted all those Ethiopians who are qualified, but then has waffled in response to Ethiopian and other activists. Involved are Interior Ministry officials trying to hold the line, and concerns that an untold number of Africans would claim what it takes to arrive in Israel, with the support of inspired Jewish activists, not a few of them overseas Jews, who see Israel as having to be ever more concerned with Jewish homecoming.
On the fringes of these cases are rabbis and others who have adopted the causes of South American Indians, Africans from deep in the continent outside of Ethiopia, and an ethnic group from the Indian sub-continent, all of whom claim Judaic roots. And we shouldn't forget the Black Hebrews, who came from Chicago as tourists, and established themselves in Dimona. Some claim to be the true Jews, intent on rescuing the Promised Land from us colonial interlopers.
There has been an uptick in violence linked to several of the sources that are always on the verge of bothering us. One comes from instances of police or soldiers killing young people alleged to have been violent. Another is associated with air force attacks on munitions said to be on their way from Syria to Hezbollah.
The first is still a long way from what has happened recently in Ferguson, South Carolina, or Balimore, and the second has produced some bloodshed just over the northern border, and IDF alerts on our side..
Still no government. We're getting tired of hearing that the first agreements, with two or three of the five political parties thought likely to become coalition members, will be signed today, tomorrow, or the next day.
Most recently, the angriest politicians have been members of Bibi's own Likud Party. What seems to be developing is that only one prized ministry, Defense, will be going to a Likudnik. Senior party members who have been expecting an upgrade in what they had in the previous government, or their first chance at a ministry, seem likely to be disappointed, if what we hear is true about the positions that will be filled by Moshe Kahlon, Jewish Home, SHAS, Torah Judaism, or Avigdor Lieberman.
There isn't much left.
The Likud Minister of Transportation may stay on, which isn't all that bad, but it's not one of the top slots. Communications is marginal at best. Tourism is for beginners. Immigration isn't much when there is not a large community waiting to come. What has been called Negev and Galilee, Intelligence, Regional Cooperation, and Strategic Affairs are made-up jobs with limited access to the big decisions handled by more established ministries. They may provide a car and driver, personal aide, and a bit of prestige at being a minister, or ridicule due to the so-called ministry being held.
Commentators saw this coming. Election results created a situation where Bibi needed every one of five parties on board, along with Likud. Each of the five has been holding him up for decent jobs, with the result that there isn't much left for his own party. Several of his closest colleagues, who have been Bibi boosters for years, will be sharpening the long knives, or waiting in the shadows for him to become vulnerable. Given the policy demands--perhaps in the hundreds, several of them easy to describe as "extreme"--now being heard from his likely partners, the incipient crisis will not take long in coming.
Wendy Sherman, Undersecretary of State and lead negotiator with Iran, has spoken to a group of Reform American Jews--most likely sympathetic to her line--that America will watch closely the new government for its commitment to the creation of a Palestinian State. Being Jewish may help Ms Sherman in the US, but not likely among Israelis concerned about too much US pressure on what is widely seen--especially among those voting for the parties likely to be in the next government--as a losing proposition.
It's an interesting place.