This year, the Jewish people contended with, and were affected by developments in several main areas:1
Geopolitical developments: the war in Ukraine is intensifying trends that undermine the current “world order,” with implications for the international standing of the United States and the future of Europe. Efforts by the U.S. and its allies to reach a nuclear agreement with Iran continue (the agreement’s contours are not to Israel’s liking). There has been a significant improvement in Israel’s relations with a number of its Arab neighbors, but those states have also had some degree of rapprochement with Iran. A wave of Palestinian terrorism has erupted as well.
Political developments: Israel’s political system has not yet stabilized. At the beginning of November the citizens of Israel will go to the voting booth for the fifth time in less than four years. The American political system is preparing for mid-term elections and the possibility of a divided government, against the background of an expected dramatic Supreme Court ruling on abortion rights, with sociocultural repercussions. In France, the radical right has gained ground.
Societal developments: As in the rest of the world, the influence of social media is also evident in Israel, which erodes trust in governmental institutions, polarizes the public discourse and leads to mutual delegitimization and negation (of the government and the political camps). Wide polarization is also evident in those discursive spaces pertaining to Israel and Israel-Diaspora relations. The involvement of Israeli Arabs in terrorist attacks in Israel, as well as the emphasis on fighting violence in the Arab sector, continues to indicate fragility in relations between Jews and non-Jews. Renewed unrest in the political arena has caused tensions to resurge between right and left and between secular Israelis and religious/ultra-Orthodox Israelis.
Antisemitism: Reports persist of an upsurge in antisemitic incidents around the world. Young Jews report “lowering their Jewish profile” out of fear of compromising their social status. There is controversy within the Jewish community, especially among its younger generation, about what “anti-Zionism” means in the context of antisemitism.
Demographic developments: In the wake of the Ukraine conflict, the pace and rate of immigration from Ukraine and Russia have increased. The immigration rates from most countries are slowly returning to their pre-pandemic levels. The rate of Jewish population increase in the Diaspora is slowing.
The Covid-19 pandemic: There has been significant recovery of trips by individuals and Jewish groups to Israel.
Jewish identity: The crisis in Ukraine reveals a gap between Israel and the Diaspora on issues of morality and Jewish survival. In Israel there was (at least at the beginning of the crisis) a “tribal” orientation, both in terms of maintaining ties with Russia (due to Israel’s national interests), and in terms of refugee absorption (a preference for those eligible for immigration under the Law of Return). In the United States, the American Jewish tradition of resettling refugees and assisting oppressed communities has been renewed. In these communities the distinction between Jew and non-Jew has blurred, and there has been an emphasis on the ethical-universal element of the Jewish obligation to assist persecuted groups.