2021: the crown continues and wins


The first year of the next decade passed in Israel under the sign of the “ crown '' and a new government. Both have proven their ability to survive, but the virus is clearly leading in all directions so far. It is he who sets the tone for the confrontation between the epidemic and the authorities, and how this struggle will end, no one can predict. We hoped for the end of the pandemic in 2021, now we are promised its completion in 2022, but in the end the situation will be determined by another strain.

Nevertheless, Israel is still ahead of the rest of the world: we were the first to introduce tough measures and closed the country in connection with the omicron, vaccinated with a booster third dose, began to vaccinate children and are also the first to gradually move to the fourth vaccine. All the same, other countries are watching our experiment, drawing appropriate conclusions. True, this glory of the pioneers no longer pleases the people of Israel; we feel more and more like guinea pigs, a testing ground for the rest of the world. The only hope remains that, having entered these tests before anyone else, we will be the first to get out of them.

Restrictions continue to undermine the economy, particularly hitting tourism, small businesses and the leisure sector. The adoption of antiquated measures is complicated by the fact that the new government is trying in everything to demonstrate its difference from the previous government, which sometimes contradicts logic. And of course, the natural result of two years of semi-quarantine existence was that we began to fear the rules descended from above more than the disease itself. Here, however, one should also pay tribute to the success of medicine & ndash; mortality from the “ crown '' in Israel has decreased.

For the government, despite all the difficulties, it was a year of success, in which many frankly did not believe. The coalition of right, left, centrists and Arabs, assembled from various political scraps, is still managing to maintain balance on the thin ice of compromises and ideological differences. As before, the first uniting factor of this alliance is the opposition of the opposition led by the Likud and Netanyahu and the desire to retain power. Perhaps, as self-confidence grows, the government will suffer more and more from internal contradictions.

The overthrow of 'King Bibi', whose rule seemed to be unshakable, was Israel's major political upheaval. From that moment on, we see the decline of his popularity; even Netanyahu's criminal cases are no longer of interest to the public, and the question of who will lead the Likud and what awaits the party in the future comes to the fore. It can be debated for a long time about which leadership is “ best for the Jews, '' but the fact is that Israel escaped the perilous fate of placing its destiny in the hands of a sole ruler.

The main breakthrough in the economy & ndash; adoption of the draft state budget, without which the country lived for two years. How bad or good this budget is will be shown in the near future, but thanks for the fact that it exists. As for the plans to increase social pensions and benefits and lower inflation, they still remain on paper. The government has been unable to reduce the price of dairy products due to corporate opposition, but it may be able to lift restrictions on imports of fruits and vegetables. What will come of this (if any), won't such unfavorable competition kill our agriculture? Let's wait & ndash; we'll see. The fact is that food prices in the 'land flowing with milk and honey' are unreasonably high, and something needs to be done about it.

An important step of the new government & ndash; the attack on the monopoly of the Chief Rabbinate in the field of conversion and kashrut, as well as the decision to open a section of the Western Wall for joint prayer of men and women. These steps could be the beginning of a global turn towards a redistribution of influence in the religious sector. However, the cabinet, apparently, is not yet ready to completely alienate the Haredi and abandon the idea of ​​their joining the coalition. In any case, the budget of the ultra-Orthodox sector remained practically intact, and the issue of universal conscription did not budge.

The outgoing year forced Israel to recognize crime as a national problem & ndash; and at the same time sign the impossibility to solve it. The general public finally learned that the country is divided between large mafia clans and ordinary citizens are increasingly becoming victims of their showdowns. Police have very little ability to combat racketeering, drug trafficking and arms trafficking, especially in the Arab and Bedouin sectors. The main danger lies in the close link between crime and terrorist groups. Next year, the government will either have to challenge the underworld & ndash; and it will not be a very easy fight, or continue to pretend that the situation is under control until something really terrible happens.

In May, we had to endure open clashes between Arabs and Jews in Israeli cities with a mixed population, pogroms in Lod and Haifa, police storming of the Al-Aqsa mosque and other riots, initially provoked by the dispute over Jerusalem's Sheikh Jarrah quarter. Shelling from Gaza, an IDF retaliatory operation and an Egyptian peacekeeping mission soon followed. At the end of the year, attacks by lone terrorists and attacks in Judea and Samaria increased. As always, Jerusalem remains a special target of terrorist attacks, primarily the Old City.

In short, in the security sphere it was an ordinary year for Israel, not the worst and not the best. From the new, it can be noted that the Arab members of the coalition generally supported the state's right to self-defense. Another gratifying moment & ndash; simplification of the rules for opening fire to kill for the IDF.

Next year, the main question remains the same: what will happen to the virus and to us? Will the epidemic end and will the government survive? Since no one knows the answers, it is almost impossible to make predictions. However, some unhappy tendencies are obvious, which will only intensify & ndash; first of all, the growth of disunity and internal contradictions in society, up to mutual hatred. It is possible that it was after the victory over the “ crown '' these discord will come to the fore and become the main problem of the coming year.

Author: Irina Petrova.

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