Looming possibilities

Currently we're living well. By an important measure of the economy (GDP/c), Israel is ahead of Japan, Britain, France, and Italy. Our enemies are still at one another. Iranians are demonstrating their own problems. Palestinians are making one absurd declaration after another, but doing nothing to prevent more than 100,000 of their workers finding employment in Israel and keeping their economy from collapse.
So far so good is about as good as it gets in the history of Jews.
As Jews, however, we worry about what's next? And there are several things to excite our Jewish nerves.
Rockets and mortars keep coming from Gaza.
So far there have been no Israeli casualties, except for a few anxiety attacks. The IDF may have increased the severity of its responses, but this is a game to be played with utmost delicacy. Senior military officers and politicians, including the Prime Minister, realize that there is no solution for Gaza. The Gazans are not going to go away, and their leaders show no inclination to accommodate themselves to either Israel or Egypt. Israel provides what's necessary to keep their standard of living arguably above the African average, so we shouldn't be overly concerned. A massive incursion by the IDF will cause Israeli casualties, and won't solve the problem. But it may have to come.
There are occasional attacks by individuals from the West Bank or Israel, and some of them cause casualties. More often, the only--or most severe--casualties are among the attackers.
Bibi and his friends are in trouble, but the Israeli left may not be able to replace Likud.
We seem close to an indictment of the man who had been Bibi's lieutenant in charge of the Knesset coalition, and that--along with continuing revelations about other key aides, as well as the personal quirks of Bibi, his son and wife, are ramping up popular pressure against the Prime Minister.
However, polls and possible scenarios aren't optimistic about replacing a Likud-centered coalition. Labor's current leader (their ninth since 2000) is trying to move rightward, but is provoking nastiness from his party's leftists. Yair Lapid sometimes scores as the country's most popular politician, but is poison in the eyes of ultra-Orthodox parties that remain too strong to be ignored.
Bibi's colleagues continue to legislate nonsense, seemingly in desperation, feeling they must do something. They produce nothing more than condemnation or ridicule.
We'll have to select our party from the alternatives available, but the recent nuttiness of Likudniks and their coalition partners makes us wonder about the folks still leading in the polls.
Their legislative accomplishments and proposals include restricting the police in its investigation of crooked politicians, declaring Israel's intention to annex Jewish settlements or the entire West Bank, procedural barriers against the division of Jerusalem for the sake of a deal with Palestinians, a death penalty for terrorists, and naming a planned and symbolically important railroad station for the world's most prominent Tweeter.
The Prime Minister is also calling for legislation against the recording of officials' conversations by guards and driver's. It ain't clear if this proposal is going anywhere, or if it will recoup the damage from Yair.
That none of these actions or proposals seem likely to add a smidgen of significance to what already exists makes us even less impressed with the efforts. They appear nothing more than the rants of politicians who see their leader heading for jail, and are doing what they can to firm up their credentials somewhere to the right of center.
What is part of the pathos in all of this is that the leader in question--Benjamin Netanyahu--may deserve what he, his wife, and son get from the cops, prosecutors, judges, commentators, and political activists. However, Bibi is in practice more moderate and more successful as a policymaker than his political colleagues preaching and legislating at the height of Jewish extremism.
The ultra-Orthodox are doing what they can to firm up their connections with the ultra-faithful, including overseas contributors, by legislation pretending to increase controls over what the Jews cannot do on the Sabbath.
The politician who is leading this fight may be facing his second term in prison: for lining his pocket while claiming to do the Lord's work.
The measure enacted is full of holes, and unlikely to be enforced.
Competing with Likudniks and their partners, as well as the Palestinians, for the title of the craziest of characters capable of affecting us is the reigning President of the United States.
His Tweets and extemporaneous bursts would do nothing more than provoke cartoonists if they were not also worrisome.
There's been great excitement over Fire and Fury, but reviews suggest that it's a lousy book about a presidency we already knew to be ridiculous and dangerous.
We'll hope for the best from his minders among the White House staff and key Cabinet Members. So far they have kept him from provoking a catastrophe from North Korea.
Don't make things worse is the First Commandment for government officials, and what Trump has yet to learn.
There's no end in sight to what can worry or frighten us. Hopefully there will remain enough good sense in those with significant power to get us through the craziness from our enemies, friends, and fellow Jews.
Comments welcome
Ira Sharkansky (Emeritus)
Department of Political Science
Hebrew University of Jerusalem