Top 10 things that didn’t happen in 5772

Haredim weren’t drafted, no elections called, no sequel to social justice protests, Israel didn’t attack Iran.

Netanyahu 370 (photo credit: Moshe Milner/GPO)
Netanyahu 370
(photo credit: Moshe Milner/GPO)
Years tend to be remembered for their exciting news developments.
For instance, if you ask your typical Israeli about 1948 or 1967, his eyes will light up because of the historic events of those years.
But 5772, the Jewish calendar year that ends next week, will be remembered not for what happened over its 12 months but for what could have happened but didn’t.
5772 was the year that got away – the year of the almost, but no, not quite.
Israel almost attacked Iran, almost went to elections, almost won an Olympic medal.
With so many anticipated news events that never ended up taking place, it’s no wonder two Israeli newspapers - Ma’ariv and Haaretz – are going through major financial problems and the former is in danger of closing.
Obviously those newspapers’ problems have more to do with the woes of Ma’ariv’s tycoon owner and Haaretz’s detachment from mainstream Israel. And the news will go on in 5773.
But those assigned to compile lists of news items that happened in 5772 had a tougher job than they did in other years. Some of the items that made the two-hour year summary broadcast on Army Radio Thursday morning would not have made the cut in a more exciting year.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu was mocked for putting together his own list of his government’s accomplishments, listing one event for every Jewish month in Sunday’s cabinet meeting. While it is nice to know that in Shvat, the cabinet approved a rail line to Eilat and in Sivan, free dental care was extended to children up to age 12, only the pro-Netanyahu Israel HaYom printed the list.
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Click for more JPost High Holy Day features
When looking back at 5772, it is much easier to compile a list of what did not take place. It was challenging to cut the list down to 10, but here they are:
1. No one attacks Iran There are still three days left in the Jewish year, but it looks like it will end the same way it began: With Iran moving full speed ahead in its nuclear program and the international community not doing enough to stop it. The difference is that Netanyahu is now being less polite and is saying publicly what he had been saying privately to world leaders. He says that time is running out for action to prevent Iran’s nuclearization; But then again, he has been saying that since his speech to Congress – not the one in May 2011, the one in July 1996.
2. Knesset not dispersed; elections don’t happen The year began with Netanyahu reeling from the 2011 summer protests, but he made a deal to bring home IDF soldier Gilad Schalit during Succot and his popularity skyrocketed.
Netanyahu started initiating an election after Independence Day but changed his mind and formed a short-lived national-unity government before Lag Ba’omer. There have been more signs lately that he will initiate an election when the Knesset returns after the fall holidays. But he could still decide that he can pass the 2013 state budget, which could allow him to remain in power through all of 5773 until the official date for the next election, 18 Heshvan, 5774 (October 22, 2013). Other possible political non-headlines: Kadima does not split and Carmel fire comptroller’s report does not result in ministers quitting.
3. No sequel to summer protests The socioeconomic protests that brought 300,000 people to the streets in the summer of 5771 when the economy was at its peak, ironically never got off the ground in the summer of 5772 when the economy was not doing as well. Reasons included in-fighting among the protest movement’s leaders, competition from pro-draft demonstrators, and violence that marred the protests’ reputation.
But the best reason there was no sequel to the summer protests was revealed by the annual Democracy Index, which found that people believed the demonstrations failed to change the government’s priorities.
4. Palestinian state not declared Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas submitted his request for the United Nations Security Council to recognize a Palestinian state when there were still five days left in 5772, but the year the maneuver was blocked was 5773. Palestinian anti-Israel efforts on the world stage failed throughout the year. While “Palestine” did become a member of UNESCO, that move backfired because it resulted in the UN body losing $80 million a year in US funding. There was also speculation that there would be a sequel to the Gaza flotilla of 5770 in 5772, but that, like other possible pro-Palestinian news events, did not materialize.
5. Palestinian election not declared Abbas was elected to a four-year term as president of the Palestinian Authority on January 15, 2005. There was a constitutional dispute in the PA about whether his term really ended in 2009 or 2010. Since then, several dates raised for possible Palestinian elections have come and gone, including two this past year. Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman is pressing the world to give up on Abbas and encourage a Palestinian election, but so far his pleas have fallen on deaf ears. The socioeconomic protests that have started in the West Bank are against PA Prime Minister Salaam Fayyad, not Abbas, but they could end up resulting in a long-awaited Palestinian election.
6. Bashar Assad does not fall Reports say the death toll in Syria has passed 30,000. But the world is letting him stay.
7. Haredim not drafted en masse Some thought that, the day after the July 31 deadline set by the Supreme Court to equalize the burden of military service would pass, the IDF would go straight to Ponovezh Yeshiva in Bnei Brak and hand every student a gun. Instead, the deadline passed without fanfare. A solution is now being worked on behind the scenes. The IDF presented its recommendations to Defense Minister Ehud Barak two week ago. Since then, remarkably, they have not been leaked. Liberman vowed to make sure the issue comes back to the forefront when the Knesset returns from its extended summer recess.
8. Migrant workers not expelled en masse Interior Minister Eli Yishai put on a show worthy of an Oscar when he promised to expel some 50,000 Eritrean migrants who came to the country illegally. But very few of them actually left the country, and Strangers No More, an American documentary about migrant children in Tel Aviv who were facing expulsion, ended up winning an Academy Award. The security fence that has nearly been completed on the border with Egypt has significantly brought down the number of new migrants coming in, but the ones who were already here are still here.
9. Olmert not sent to jail It was seen as a foregone conclusion that either the so-called Rishon Tours or Talansky scandals would result in conviction and jail time for former prime minister Ehud Olmert. But the Jerusalem District Court thought differently and he was acquitted in both cases. He was convicted of the minor crime of breach of trust but because the court ruled that it does not involve moral turpitude, he could still make a political comeback if he emerges unscathed from the ongoing Holyland trial. A Jerusalem Post poll after his acquittal found that his political fortunes were bright if the courts allow him to make a political comeback.
10. Israel does not win medal Windsurfers Lee Korzits and Shahar Tzuberi and pole vaulter Alex Averbuch briefly excited Israelis with hopes of an Olympic medal in London, but they all left empty-handed.
Israeli basketball coach David Blatt won a bronze but he was coaching the Russian team. Some would count gold-medal-winning sailor Jo Aleh of New Zealand because her father lives in Israel and both of her parents served in the IDF. But the first real gold medal Israel won in London belongs to tennis player Noam Gershoni, whose victory enabled “Hatikva” to be played at the Paralympics on Saturday.
Those upset with Israel’s Olympic failure comforted themselves in the success of chess player Boris Gelfand, who finished second in the world championships. He almost finished first. That “almost” makes him the symbol of Israel in 5772, the year when lots of things almost happened.