Hamas continues to fire thousands of rockets into southern Israel.
The Palestinian Authority bypassed direct peace talks with Israel to seek formal recognition as a state this week from the United Nations.
Iran continues to sabre rattle against Israel while the world does little beyond sanctions to stop the Islamic republic’s march to become a nuclear power.
And the United States, Israel’s most important ally, is continually demonized from Cairo to Pakistan for the role it plays in the region.
It does sound as though times are bleak for Jews, and we won’t make light of it. The situation is very serious, indeed.
But it’s not desperate.
As we begin 5752 next week, with the holy day of Rosh Hashana, it’s important to keep the recent events in the Middle East in perspective.
First, the Palestinian petition for statehood is nothing more than what the U.N. offered in its 1947 partition plan, which Israel accepted and Palestinians rejected. Even if it passes, it would change nothing on the ground. And as long as Palestinians are divided among themselves, which they are, between Hamas, Fatah and other extremist parties, they are not ready for statehood, and they know it.
Israel’s relations with Egypt, one of two Arab states with which the Jewish state has a peace treaty, are souring; that’s a fact. Yet Israel returned a bare bones staff to its Cairo embassy this week. This happened as the Egyptian newspaper Al-Ahram reported that the mob was paid to attack the embassy.
Hamas continues its rocket attacks, but there is a new factor to consider: Iron Dome, Israel’s new anti-ballistic missile system, which scored an 85 percent success rate in August during clashes with Gaza. Clearly, it didn’t stop all the rockets, but as computer geeks are wont to say, the technology will only get better.
(The current U.S. defense budget, by the way, allocates $205 million for deployment of Iron Dome — on top of the $3 billion in annual aid Israel already receives — a fact that must be considered by those who claim the Obama administration does not support Israel.)
As for Ahmadinejad, one wonders how much power he really has in Iran. He announced just one week ago that two American hikers who have been there for two years on trumped up charges would be released. Twenty-four hours later, cleric-controlled courts said he had no such authority.
We don’t make these points to make light of serious situations, but to remind all that the issues facing Israel are resolvable. Her opponents are vulnerable. Options do exist.
So when we pray for the State of Israel next week — a prayer that is in most mainstream machzurs — let us, according to one of those prayer books, pray as if everything depended on God, and act as if everything depended us. Peace is possible.