January 16, 2019

A Good Year for Israelis. Not So Much for Diaspora Jews

“2018 – Great year for Israel, not so good for Jews

The passing year in Israel and the Diaspora is pretty simple to summarize. For Israelis, 2018 was a bumper year with a blooming economy, now growing for a straight decade, attaining for the first time ever an AA credit rating and with its all-time lowest unemployment figures. On the security front, despite a few scares, no major war or intifada broke out. Gaza nearly boiled over but was pacified with Qatari money. There were a few murders in the West Bank but the corrupt Palestinian Authority kept a lid on any major unrest. And across the northern border, Iran and Hezbollah were kept in check. Nothing was solved, but then no one expected that to happen. But ever-increasing prosperity on the hillside of a volcano has never felt so comfortable.

The numbers don’t lie. This year’s United Nations Happiness Report puts Israelis in the 11th spot. Only Scandinavians, Swiss, Canadians, Australians and Kiwis, are (just slightly) happier than Israelis. It’s not a blip. Israelis are as happy as the citizens of those fair and happy lands, and have been so constantly for the last few years.

I’m not aware of anyone having carried out a survey of the levels of happiness of Diaspora Jews, but the overwhelming impression you get from talking to non-Israeli Jews this year, is far from positive. In the U.S. Jews are contending with a surge in anti-Semitism, which culminated in the worst massacre of Jews in American history in Pittsburgh. With Donald Trump in the White House, the overwhelming majority of them have never felt so estranged from the nation’s leadership. And all around, especially from younger Jews, there’s a feeling of angst over identity, community and continuity which may eventually lead to useful conclusions, but right now comes over mainly as frustration.”

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