Editorial | My 5777 Prediction: Little to Fear


So on the eve of 5777, I will not make any forecast as to what may befall — in either a positive or negative sense — the Jewish people here at home or abroad.

A previous editor of this publication had the tradition of making predictions for the coming Jewish year in the days before Rosh Hashanah. But I am no prognosticator and will not presume to have the requisite wisdom or guts to hitch my reputation to the probability of future events.

So on the eve of 5777, I will not make any forecast as to what may befall — in either a positive or negative sense — the Jewish people here at home or abroad.

I will, however, offer one prediction of what will positively not happen between the last shofar blast on Tuesday and the first of 5778: The United States of America will not crumble.

It’s a hard concept to grasp, I know, especially for those of us who have a lot invested emotionally, intellectually and ideologically in the outcome of the presidential election on Nov. 8, but come Nov. 9 — regardless of who wins on Election Day — the nation will remain.

Come Jan. 21 — regardless of who takes the oath of office on Inauguration Day — there will be no civil war, no collapse of our national infrastructure, no mass exodus to Canada. The entire government of Philadelphia stands a better chance of being netted in a massive FBI sting than the United States has of becoming insolvent because of the election of either Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton.

How I wish we could dispense, once and for all, with the doomsday scenarios envisioned by the diehards on both the left and the right promising imminent demise should the other candidate prevail.

America is secure and will likely remain so for a long time. I can say that based upon historical precedent and political theory. But when I look across the Atlantic Ocean at the American-Jewish community’s other guiding light — the state of Israel — I cannot invoke such objective foundations.

A year from now, the United States will remain, largely because of the benefits of its size, government and strength. Israel, however, will only remain because of the hand of Providence, making any prediction of its continued health one of faith, not political science.

As a Jewish American, that reality has me constantly apprehensive when it comes to anything that affects Israel, whether it’s a military aid package, a speech at the United Nations or the hint of a new peace push, all issues in the news of late.

Living here, it’s so easy to forget how precarious Israel’s position is, bounded on two sides by hostile Palestinian populations and surrounded by Arab states with a long historical record — if not an outright present policy — of belligerence to their Jewish neighbors.

We hold Israel up as an example of a nation state adept at making something out of nothing, the Startup Nation that made the desert bloom and practically invented cybersecurity. It’s mythic, but it’s based on truth.

In the years prior to the country’s founding in 1948, the Jewish community in what would become Israel was not a secure one, even as the remnant of a once-vibrant European Jewish community emerged from the Holocaust in search of a homeland. When it gained independence, Israel was shut off from the usual modes of procuring defensive weapons, even as its Arab neighbors declared war against it.

A pariah on the world stage for much of its existence, Israel nevertheless grew out of the club of developing nations to emerge as a developed, first-world one. The only proper description of its successes — from its victory in the Six Day War to the growth of its IT industry — is miraculous.

Miracles, of course, can neither be relied on nor earned. They’re bestowed, a gift from the Almighty. So, while we do our part to aid in Israel’s survival, we also pray, and on Rosh Hashanah more than most other days.

The last few weeks and months, there’s been a lot of talk on the airwaves about how dire things have gotten for the United States, but if we put things in perspective, we’d find that it’s not all that bad living in one of the greatest countries the world has ever seen.

For most of us, our children can go to school free from the worries of imminent attack, but the same cannot be said for our Israeli brothers and sisters. Instead of fearing the calamity of electoral loss, perhaps we should instead focus more of our attention on making things better for them.

May each of us enjoy a happy, healthy, sweet and peaceful new year.

Joshua Runyan is the editor-in-chief of the Jewish Exponent. He can be reached at jrunyan@jewishexponent.com


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