Year in Review 5771

A comprehensive recap of the past year in the Jewish world and beyond.

(Click the graphic above to download the entire timeline, laid out with photos. Download this story in Microsoft Word format here.)

WikiLeaks Scandal (November 2010) Over 250,000 United States government documents were published by the nonprofit whistle blower, which revealed Saudi officials, in accordance with Israel (and other Arab states) pressuring the U.S. to attack Iran in order to halt its nuclear program; the leak garnered both praise from the public and media, and stern condemnation from the government.

 A wave of massive protests against oppression, sparked by the self-immolation of a Tunisian vegetable seller, spread across the Arab world, eventually leading to the unseating, arrest and trial of President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt. Israel’s 165-mile border with Egypt along the Northern Sinai has since become a lawless region, which Israeli daily Maariv described as “Israel’s security nightmare scenario” and the entry point through which Gaza-based terrorists were able to penetrate Israeli territory in their worst terrorist attack in many years.

Critically injured after being shot at a supermarket where she was meeting with constituents, the Jewish representative for Arizona’s 8th congressional district hasn’t decided about running for re-election amid a well-documented road to recovery, but her neurosurgeon gave her the green light.

President Barack Obama’s former chief of staff, whose name means “high” or “lofty” in Hebrew, returned home to become the first Jewish mayor of the Windy City.

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After 17 years of a highly regarded career in film, this Jewish film star finally nabbed the Oscar for Best Actress for her portrayal of a psychotic ballerina in Darren Aronofsky’s, Black Swan, only weeks before condemning John Galliano, chief designer at Dior (of which she is an endorser), for his anti-Semitic rant.

 Israel was one of the first countries to respond when it mobilized aid nearly an hour after a 9.0-magnitude earthquake and subsequent tsunamis slammed Japan, leading to thousands of deaths, injuries, missing people, and destroyed property.

Itamar Massacre (March 11, 2011) In murders that drew international condemnation, Ehud and Ruth Fogel and three of their six children—Yoav, 11, Elad, 4, and three-month-old Hadas—were stabbed to death in their beds by two Palestinian men in the Israeli West Bank settlement of Itamar. Twelve-year-old Tamar, one of three surviving children, discovered her family’s bodies when she arrived home after a youth outing.

Goldstone Report Retracted (April 1, 2011) Two years after the controversial report was released, inciting outrage across Jewish communities worldwide, Richard Goldstone retracted his claim that the IDF had deliberately targeted civilians during Operation Cast Lead; despite this, U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki Moon has refused to revoke the report, instead blaming Israel for its refusal to cooperate with the authors, which he said led to the inaccuracies.  

Iron Dome Deployed (April 7 2011) In reaction to the nearly 4,000 rockets launched by Hezbollah during the Second Lebanon War and 8,000 rockets launched from Gaza since 2000, Israel began preparations for this short-range rocket defense system. Funded in part by the U.S., it was declared operational in March and intercepted its first rocket (aimed at Ashkelon) in April, marking a first in history.

Nearly a decade after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, shook America to its core, Al Qaeda terrorist mastermind Osama Bin Laden was killed by U.S. Forces and CIA operatives in a firefight in his hideout city of Abbotabad, Pakistan, which Netanyahu lauded as “a resounding victory for justice.”

In a speech delivered at the State Department, President Obama stated his support of the negotiation of Israel’s borders based on the 1967 lines, marking a shift in American Middle East policy. Obama unleashed an onslaught of controversy, earning an impassioned response from Netanyahu, who received 29 standing ovations during his speech to Congress.

Yale shuts down YIISA, launches YPSA (June 8, 2011) Less than three weeks after coming under fire for its decision to shut down its program studying anti-Semitism, Yale University relaunched the initiative under a different title; while the administration claimed that its initial decision was based on YIISA not meeting academic standards, the faculty protested that the decision was purely political. YPSA opens to skepticism, with critics claiming that its focus has changed to the study of past anti-Semitism, and ignores the problems of the present.

The power of social media proved to be the undoing of this New York City congressman, who initially denied that he posted a photo of his best asset on Twitter, but later admitted to exchanging “messages and photos of an explicit nature with about six women over the last three years" and resigned under the weight of pressure from his peers and public shame.

Omri Casspi Traded (June 30, 2011)—In a move that was sure to have thrilled Jews in Cleveland, Omri Casspi—the only Israeli-born player in National Basketball Association history—was traded to the Cavaliers by the Sacramento Kings.

Flotilla (July 7, 2011) A second flotilla to the Gaza blockade, with a ship in Greece and Turkey each, never set sail as the initial thousand activists quickly dwindled to a mere few dozen. The flotilla was opposed by the U.N., U.S., U.K., France, Turkey, E.U., Canada, and Russia, drawing support only from Hamas.

Leiby Kletzky Murder (July 12, 2011) The kidnapping and murder of this 8-year-old Hassidic boy, whose body was found dismembered in a dumpster and the apartment of confessed suspect Levi Aron, stunned Brooklyn and the entire Jewish world.

Eilat Terror Attacks (August 18, 2011) A coordinated attack, the deadliest in two years, left eight Israelis dead, and over 30 injured, when terrorists infiltrated the country through the border with Egypt. While originating in Gaza, the attacks came after weeks of intensified violence in the Sinai area led to far weakened Egyptian control on the border. In the ensuing days, Hamas fired nearly 100 missiles into Southern Israel, with Israel carrying out air strikes against terrorist cells in Gaza in response. The situation quieted with a shaky agreement to a cease fire from both sides.

Palestinians Ask for Statehood (September, 2011) In a move that will violate existing agreements between Israel and the Palestinians, Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maki announced that the Palestinian Authority will indeed ask the U.N. for recognition of an independent state at the 66th General Assembly on Sept. 20.

Deaths:

Yelena Bonner (June 18, 2011) - The widow of Andrei Sakharov, a giant of the human rights movement of the 20th century, Bonner earned a reputation as an influential and powerful activist in her own right, fighting for human rights in Russia and elsewhere.  

JD Salinger (January 27, 2010) - Salinger’s debut novel, The Catcher in the Rye, quickly became an American classic and a source of inspiration for generations of teenagers. Although well appreciated by colleagues, Ernest Hemingway commended him as having “one helluva talent!”, Salinger spent the last 60 years of his life withdrawn from the public eye.

Tony Curtis (September 29, 2010) - Born Bernard Schwartz, Curtis, who is perhaps best known as Marilyn Monroe’s co-star in Some Like it Hot, lit up the screen as one of the most prominent sex symbols of the 1950s, and continued a career that spanned 60 years.

Amy Winehouse (July 23, 2011) - MR - Despite a short career that was marred by problems with addiction, Winehouse was one of the strongest influences in the rise of soul music and resurgence of British music overall, producing two albums that were released to overwhelming critical acclaim.

Posted on November 21, 2011 and filed under Politics.