Now, why would anyone be pessimistic in Israel?

January 28, 2010 Leave a comment Go to comments

By Rabbi Dow Marmur

JERUSALEM–For a short while I thought that as a result of sober analysis I had finally tamed my natural propensity for pessimism and that my future comments about events in Israel would be cheerful and pleasing. I felt that I had reasons for the change of heart, e.g.:

            (1) The Iranian threat would come to naught because of the punishing sanctions that America and Europe were about to impose on the regime there, without too much sabotage from China and Russia. The new drone and anti-missile technology that Israel is developing would finally silence the terrorists on the Iranian payroll who have been trying to disrupt life in Israel.

            (2) Following the emphasis on eradicating prejudice pledged by European countries in their speeches to mark International Holocaust Day Jews wouldn’t have to fear anti-Semitism anymore.

            (3) After yet another meeting between Barak of Israel and Mubarak of Egypt, Gilad Shalit would come home and Israelis and Palestinians would return to the negotiating table sure that they could make peace.

            (4) Israel’s prominence in the realm of technological development would finally solve the perennial water shortage for the country and its neighbors and thus bridge that terrible gap between rich and poor that exists in Israel and in the territories.

            (5) After the claim by Hamas that all the rockets they hurled on kindergartens and homes in Sderot, which led to the Gaza war, had only Israeli military installations as their targets, the world would finally recognize how unfair the Goldstone report had been and stop harassing Israeli politicians wishing to travel abroad.

            (6) The quick and effective response to the Haiti disaster by Israeli military and other teams would be another factor in showing the world that Israel isn’t the aggressive military power as depicted but always there to help those in need.

But the earthquake in Haiti also brought back my pessimism about the situation here. For almost as soon as it happened, Israeli experts issued warnings that something similar could happen in their country. Here’s part of the history on record: 1034 an earthquake hit Tiberias and Ramleh; 1068 again Ramleh (15 000 dead); 1202 northern Jordan Valley (thousands died); 1546 Nablus (500 dead); 1759 again northern Jordan Valley (20 000 dead); 1837 Safed (about 2000 dead); 1927 again Nablus (300 dead). So we ask: Where and when next?

The agencies trying to persuade Jews to immigrate to Israel must be thrilled with the news and those seeking foreign investors in Israel’s present booming economy are, of course, equally excited. Relatives abroad are fretting.

Optimists schooled in the hermeneutics of suspicion can tell us perhaps that it’s all a media blitz on the part of university departments that want more research money in fields of earthquake prediction and prevention, but will that really satisfy those of us who are prone to worry even when we don’t have hard facts?

Having reverted to my pessimism, I’ve my doubts that we can explain away this latest scare the way I’ve tried to persuade myself that the other dangers have been taken care of. Therefore, all the experts have left me with is the classical telegraphic message: Bad news. Stop. Letter follows  

Rabbi Marmur is spiritual leader emeritus of Holy Blossom Temple in Toronto.  He now divides his time between Canada and Israel.

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  1. January 28, 2010 at 2:21 pm

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