War, elections, pandemic, antisemitism and terrorist attacks. Many people would say this list is a pretty accurate summary of the year that is coming to a close this weekend. That is not to say that this year has not seen some good news, whether it be positive policies, diplomatic achievements, enlightening studies or exciting discoveries.
But why guess? We have got the data all laid out to show you exactly what stories The Jerusalem Post’s dedicated readers read the most this year.
The war in Ukraine was the focus not only for Israel’s news readers, but for news followers throughout the world. Since that fateful day of February 24, when Russian tanks rolled onto Ukrainian land, the war has been a central part of the news. Whether it be the different locational developments of Russia’s invasions and attacks, the results of their actions, the death toll or counter-efforts by Ukraine, the entire world has been glued to the news, to the latest updates about one of the most aggressive actions in recent history – actions that are still ongoing.
While the Post’s readers, like everyone else, have been interested in what’s happening inside the country, they have taken a particularly keen interest in the “Israel angle” of the thing – that is to say, Israel’s involvement in the war, and oftentimes lack thereof.
Ukraine and the country’s supporters have not minced their words when it comes to criticizing Israel – whose defense capabilities are world-renowned – for seemingly not contributing to their side of the war. The Post’s coverage has not missed this, quoting Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in his repeated criticism of Israel’s lack of contribution.
Eventually, Israel seemingly gave Ukraine crucial intelligence, and appreciation for this was expressed by Zelensky accordingly. This is not to be underestimated, considering Israel’s security dependency on Russia in the region due to Russia’s hand in Syria. From that perspective alone, it is not in Israel’s best interests to take sides.
Most notably, in particular by our valued readers, former prime minister Naftali Bennett flew to Russia to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin back in March, less than a month after the war broke out, in an attempt to mediate between Russia and Ukraine and to bring an end to the war. This, in turn, was greatly appreciated by Ukraine, according to Markiyan Lubkivskyi, adviser to Ukraine’s defense minister, who spoke to the Post’s Lahav Harkov shortly thereafter.
Zelensky, the comedian turned politician who is now leading a country at the peak of war, has been featured by our publication quite a bit, notably being named No. 1 in our annual list of the 50 most influential Jews.
While these stories were the most noteworthy within the category of the Ukraine-Russia war, there are some more lighthearted fan favorites worth mentioning, such as our most read story of 2022, “$1 million bounty on Putin offered by Russian businessman” by breaking news writer Tzvi Joffre, who presented a LinkedIn post by Russian entrepreneur Alex Konanykhin offering $1 million for Putin’s arrest.
We can’t blame our readers for starting to get bored with the Israeli political arena. So another round of elections has come and gone; so what?
Nevertheless, while specific policies, comments by politicians and the like have not drawn too much attention, the results of the November 1 elections did bring in quite a few readers worldwide. And it’s no wonder. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s win was a sweeping one, with left-wing parties Meretz and Balad finding themselves below the threshold, and right-wing parties ensuring themselves a record-breaking number of mandates.
Now, heading into 2023, the Israeli public will have to judge for itself whether the choices made were the correct ones. Already, vast criticism has been leveled at the newly formed government – in which only five women are ministers – for an anti-LGBT discriminatory ideology, halachicly inspired proposed changes to the Law of Return, which would significantly limit aliyah, increased powers for political figures within the Israel Police, and other policies.
The Jewish people in the Land of Israel has faced terrorist attacks for over 100 years, and 2022 was no different. Depressingly yet understandably, these stories, too, brought many a reader to the Post to learn of the horrors that have happened.
The terrorist attack that has truly lingered with our readers is the attack that took place this past April in Tel Aviv, leaving three civilians dead and 12 wounded after terrorist Ra’ad Fathi Hazem opened fire outside a Tel Aviv bar near the famed Dizengoff Street.
The story by the Post, written by former military correspondent Anna Ahronheim and Joffre, told of a manhunt for Hazem that took all night before he was eventually found and killed while hiding near a mosque in Jaffa.
Another similar story was that by West Bank correspondent Tovah Lazaroff and Ahronheim, who summed up terrorist attacks in March that, in one week alone, left 11 Israelis dead.
Altogether, 2022 was a deadly year for Israelis, in particular for civilians. Looking ahead, our wish for next year is obvious: for a safer, more secure year for Israelis.
This year was dotted and highlighted by a number of painful antisemitic occurrences as the world progressively produced an influx of anti-Jewish rhetoric on all fronts and from both sides of the political spectrum.
Celebrity rapper Kanye West has deteriorated in his extremist views of the Jewish people, which began by him saying that Jews control the media, and progressed with him expressing appreciation for Adolf Hitler, as well seemingly falling down a rabbit hole of extremist conspiracy theories.
His words have sparked a massive wave of support for him and a resulting increase in antisemitic rhetoric, whether it be online, in pamphlets and posters or even in person, with incidents of heckling and verbal attacks against Jews being reported daily.
There was one incident of antisemitism that left an entire country and people shocked to the core, and that was the hostage situation in Congregation Beth Israel in Colleyville, Texas, in January of this year.
Breaking news manager Ariella Marsden wrote that Rabbi Charlie Cytron-Walker, the spiritual leader of the synagogue – who later spoke to the Post’s Lazaroff and told of the horrific and traumatic experience – and three others had been held at gunpoint within the synagogue for a whole day before an FBI Hostage Rescue Team eventually stormed in, killed the attacker and freeing the three remaining hostages.
The hope is that this wave will end and education about tolerance and antisemitism will more successfully reach the more extreme corners of communities that find it within themselves to hate the Jewish people.
Not everything on this list is negative!
We have been in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic for three years now, and its firm grip on our lives has thankfully loosened, in particular throughout the past year and with the help of the incredible developments that are the COVID-19 vaccines.
Research has continued nevertheless surrounding the virus, and while we may not know everything about it just yet, Israel’s incredible researchers, doctors and medical practitioners have taken unprecedented strides in advancing our understanding, allowing for better and more accurate treatment of each and every patient.
For next year, let’s hope the pandemic is kept under control and the countries still suffering from the illness see calmer, healthier days ahead.
We cannot compile a list of our most-read articles without mentioning one subject that both infuriated our readers, yet kept bringing them back for more, and that is space.
Over the course of the past year – and far before that, as well – we have reported on the careful tracking of asteroids flying by Earth, largely thanks to assistant managing editor of the website Aaron Reich, fondly nicknamed our space correspondent.
But this year saw one special – and, yes, frightening – occurrence, and that was the discovery of an asteroid a mere few hours before it actually impacted the planet.
All in all, this year has not been dull. With terrorist attacks and archaeological finds, cultural events and pandemic swings, Israel is a colorful and multifaceted country. May the new year bring some calmer – and, incidentally, more boring – news for you all to read. Happy New Year.