Tuesday, 20 April 2010

Israel Matzav: Maybe I don't get out enough

Maybe I don't get out enough

Ethan Bronner sends in a 'Memo from Jerusalem' in which he describes the country's mood on this, its 62nd Independence Day as 'dark.'

But there is something about the mood this year that feels darker than usual. It has a bipartisan quality to it. Both left and right are troubled, and both largely about the same things, especially the Iranian nuclear program combined with growing tensions with the Obama administration.

“There is a confluence of two very worrying events,” said Michael Freund, a rightist columnist for The Jerusalem Post in a telephone interview. “One is the Iranian threat, an existential threat. Add to that the fact that for the first time in recent memory there is a president in the White House who is not overly sensitive to the Jewish state and its interests. You put the two together and it will affect anyone’s mood, even an optimist like me.”

Haaretz, the newspaper that serves as the voice of the shrinking political left in this country, is in a truly depressed mood. Its editorial on Monday contended that Israel “is isolated globally and embroiled in a conflict with the superpower whose friendship and support are vital to its very existence.”

“It is devoid of any diplomatic plan aside from holding on to the territories and afraid of any movement,” the editorial said. “It wallows in a sense of existential threat that has only grown with time. It seizes on every instance of anti-Semitism, whether real or imagined, as a pretext for continued apathy and passivity.”


Israelis are profoundly worried — and profoundly divided — about their isolation. The left blames the government for a failure to withdraw from the West Bank, remove Jewish settlements and agree to share Jerusalem with the Palestinians. The right blames Palestinian and Arab intransigence and Western gutlessness, and says Jews have always been resented, so concessions will change nothing.

One thing both left and right have come to believe is that the government’s difficulties with the Obama administration are likely to prove central to the country’s fate in the coming year, especially if Iran gets closer to making a nuclear weapon.

The Jerusalem Post, the voice of the right-leaning English-speaking immigrants here, titled its Monday editorial “62, Under a U.S. Cloud” and fretted that the Obama administration “has diverged from the tone of previous administrations on the status of Jerusalem, and it has damagingly publicly questioned fundamental aspects of our alliance.” It added that Washington needed to understand that “Israel is still resented and rejected by most of the Arab world, not because of this or that policy, or this or that territorial presence, but because of the very fact of our existence here.”

Here are the last few minutes of Monday night's celebration on Mount Herzl (admittedly not great quality because the person taped it off the television). Do you think people are depressed?

Let's go to the videotape.

Maybe I don't get out enough but I don't feel the 'darkness' in our mood here. Maybe it's because I have a basic underlying belief that somehow God will get us through this and something will happen to overcome Iran, which is the existential threat. Yes, I'm upset at the thought that America (or at least its leadership) is abandoning us, but I'm also convinced that's temporary and that things will improve once there's a new occupant in the White House (which I believe will happen in 2013). No, I don't think we will have easy days ahead, but I don't feel 'dark.'

Maybe I need to get out more?

Israel Matzav: Maybe I don't get out enough

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