By Michael Jacobs
Chaos has become the new normal in this world of ours.Michael Jacobs
Russia is waging war with Ukraine through the guise of pro-Moscow rebels, and, thanks to holding the on-off switch on the European Union economy with the natural gas that flows westward from his country, President Vladimir Putin seems to take bareback horse riding more seriously than peace initiatives from Angela Merkel and company.
Four years into a civil war in Syria, an estimated 200,000 people have been killed and 10 million displaced, and none of the various combatants, least of all the government of Bashar Assad, seems ready to stop fighting. The international community’s only accomplishment has been to ensure that the next 200,000 deaths will come from bullets, bombs and artillery shells instead of chemical weapons.
That Syrian war has given us the Islamic State (or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh), which has conquered large swaths of Iraq and turned beheadings into a PR campaign to win recruits among the downtrodden, gullible and vicious around the world while leaving Al-Qaida behind on the most feared terrorist list. Not content with taking the heads of Westerners held for ransoms that were never going to be paid, Islamic State most recently conducted the simultaneous beheadings of 21 Egyptian Christians in Libya in an operation most likely led by an American.
Yemen is in collapse. Bangladesh faces violence. China is trying to crush democratic protests in Hong Kong and Muslim violence in Xinjiang. Health workers fighting Ebola have been attacked in Guinea. A brawl recently broke out in Parliament amid fears of South Africa turning into a police state. Boko Haram keeps creating havoc in Nigeria and its neighbors. Governments in South America are teetering on the brink.
And, as we’re due to be reminded by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in a speech to Congress on March 3, Iran is on the verge of becoming a nuclear-armed nation, not only threatening Israel’s existence, but also compelling Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Turkey to chase their own atomic arsenals.
Even the weather has been crazy.
What does it all mean, other than reminding us that the idea of a post-Cold War Pax Americana was a fantasy and that the Nobel Committee was perhaps premature in awarding Barack Obama the Peace Prize?
Well, it certainly wouldn’t be a bad time for the messiah to make an appearance, but that’s a subject well beyond the scope of a mere newspaper editor (any rabbis who wish to address messianic prophecies, give me a call).
Short of divine intervention, it’s safe to say we’re well into a period of increasing pressure on Jews and Israel. As Rabbi Jonathan Sacks explained at Young Israel of Toco Hills, chaos and the breakdown of the rule of law lead people to target those who are different in their midst, and that’s always us.
The world will increasingly look for scapegoats, and we’re stuck at the top of the list. It’s going to be a bumpy, scary ride.