I ran into former New York Gov. George Pataki the other day, and I thought to myself how close Congressman Lee Zeldin came to duplicating Pataki’s feat from 1994. In fact, Zeldin got more votes than Pataki (2,703,401 vs. 2,538,702) but still lost. By amassing so many votes, Zeldin brought four new Republican congressmen to New York State. This helped the Republican Party claim the majority in the House.
Although many factors could be blamed for the lack of a robust red wave in the latest midterm elections, the Supreme Court’s decision to strike down Roe v. Wade on June 24 and the preceding leak on May 3 contributed the most. Given runaway inflation and a crime wave plaguing America, there should have been a better outcome for Republicans across the board. This did not materialize.
In contrast, Israel’s Nov. 1 election produced a solid right-wing victory. The main factor that swayed Israeli voters was the significant uptick in terrorism. There were over 280 terrorist attacks in 2022, with 254 occurring in September. There were also 1,100 rockets fired by Islamic Jihad in August. Over 50% of Israeli Arabs wanted and supported an armed confrontation with Israel.
Although both the American and Israeli elections gained substantial media coverage, the Russian invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24, with the rising death toll on both sides, was the main story of 2022. Unfortunately, it does not appear that an end to this war is in sight. The Russian-Iranian alliance has only deepened. The chance of an attack on Kyiv from Belarus is increasing. The war seems to be escalating.
On Sept. 16, protests broke out in Iran after the death in police custody of Mahsa Amini. The protests are continuing, with high-profile individuals joining daily. Over 550 people have been killed thus far. There is a real chance that the current Iranian regime will be overthrown.
North Korea continued to sow fear and dread this year with the launch of at least 88 ballistic missiles. On one day alone (Nov. 2) it fired 25 missiles of various kinds. Later that month, North Korea launched its second ICBM, which covered 620 miles and reached an altitude of 3,700 miles. It could reach the United States if fired from a different angle.
China has continued to ratchet up its threats against Taiwan. It is looking very carefully at the Russia-Ukraine war.
The crisis on America’s southern border is about to get worse, as Title 42 will expire on Dec. 21. Over two million people entered the United States from Mexico in 2022. That number will balloon post-Title 42.
Although deaths from Covid-19 are down from 2020 and 2021, the disease is still the third-leading cause of death in America after heart disease and cancer. In Jan. 2022, 73,000 Americans died from the initial Omicron wave. Despite President Joe Biden’s statement in September on 60 Minutes that “the pandemic is over,” it is still a major problem.
Overall, 2022 was better than 2020 and 2021, with Covid restrictions being lifted and people able to travel freely again, but society has a long way to go to confront all of the challenges on the world stage that I outlined. Hopefully, we will indeed overcome.
Dr. Joseph Frager is a lifelong activist and physician. He is chairman of Israel advocacy for the Rabbinical Alliance of America, chairman of the executive committee of American Friends of Ateret Cohanim and executive vice president of the Israel Heritage Foundation.