Every year at this time, we assess the events of the previous 12 months and wonder whether things could possibly get worse. The answer—when it comes to the state of the world, as well as the situation of the Jewish people and Israel—is almost always, “You bet they can.”
This certainly applied to 5783.
The good news is that Israel ended a three-year-long electorate stalemate when Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud and its religious party allies won a majority in the election held last November. The bad news is that no sooner than it was sworn in then a full-scale civil revolt broke out over the new government’s plan for a much-needed program of judicial reform. What followed were months of unrest that has virtually paralyzed the country as Netanyahu’s critics claim that democracy is in peril even as they seek to kill democracy in the name of secular, liberal values. At the same time, there has been a surge in Palestinian terrorism, coupled with the fact that Iran is getting closer to a nuclear weapon.
Elsewhere, the war in Ukraine not only dragged on but has now become mired in World War I-style trench warfare stalemate. China continued to pose a growing threat to the West as its genocide against the Uyghurs continued while it sought to take advantage of the Biden administration’s alienation of Saudi Arabia.
In the United States, while the economy and devastating inflation didn’t get worse, the flood of illegal immigration across a porous southern border continued with devastating effects for border communities as well as urban areas elsewhere. But a sense of political crisis prevailed there too as indictments of former President Donald Trump—and accusations of corruption against President Joe Biden and his family—had both sides of the political divide thinking the worst of each other.
But as Americans and Israelis wage political warfare amid ideological culture battles tearing apart communities, let’s not lose what is left of our sense of humor, even as we try to account for our misdeeds.
So, before the Almighty writes down just how much worse (or better) it will be for us in the proverbial Book of Life, I present (with apologies, as always, to the late New York Times columnist William Safire) the latest edition of my annual Jewish Pundit Quiz.
So, guess (or should I say prognosticate?) along with me about the coming year.
For a change, my predictions made in last year’s quiz were more right than wrong! I was correct about Donald Trump and Joe Biden both being their party’s frontrunners for 2024 by this Rosh Hashanah, Netanyahu’s coalition winning a majority in the November 2022 election and that he would still be prime minister by 5784. I was also right that the vile Mahmoud Abbas and his Islamist rivals in Hamas would still be in power among the Palestinians and that New York Times’ coverage of Jewish issues would remain incorrigibly antisemitic. I was also right that Netanyahu wouldn’t be convicted on corruption charges while Biden would be putting pressure on Israel to acquiesce to appeasement of Iran and concessions to the Palestinians; that American Jews would overwhelmingly vote for Democrats in the midterms; critical race theory would continue to impact U.S. education; and more than a million illegal immigrants would enter the United States in 5783.
But I was dead wrong about the GOP winning the Senate, that there would already be a new Iran deal in place and also wrong about inflation being the key issue in the midterms.
My answers to this year’s quiz are located at the bottom of the article. Save it until next year to see which of us was right this time.
And remember, if you are worried about the outcome, teshuvah (“repentance”), tefillah (“prayer”) and tzedakah (“acts of justice and charity”) may avert the severe decree.
1. The Republican presidential nominee in 2024 will be:
A: Donald Trump
B: Ron DeSantis
C: Vivek Ramaswamy
D: Nikki Haley
E: None of the above
2. The Democratic presidential nominee in 2024 will be:
A: Joe Biden
B: Robert F. Kennedy Jr.
C: Gavin Newsom
D: Michelle Obama
E: None of the above
3. By Rosh Hashanah next year, how many times will Donald Trump have been convicted of crimes:
C: Two or three
D: Three or four
E: More than four
4. By Rosh Hashanah next year, what will be the outcome of investigations into Biden family corruption:
A: More evidence of the president’s role in his son’s influence peddling will be uncovered.
B: Hunter Biden will be charged with crimes; however, the Department of Justice and the corporate legacy media will ignore his father’s role in his business.
C: The House of Representatives will impeach Biden on corruption charges as well as violations of the Constitution. The Senate will acquit him.
D: All of the above
5. The prime minister of Israel on Rosh Hashanah next year will be:
A: Benjamin Netanyahu
B: Benny Gantz
C: Yair Lapid
D: Yariv Levin
E: Esther Hayut
6. By Rosh Hashanah next year, the controversy over Israeli judicial reform will:
A: Be put permanently on hold after a unity government is formed between Netanyahu and Gantz.
B: Continue as the two sides refuse to back off with increasing damage to the economy, security and the rule of law as the Knesset and the court remain stalemated.
C: Be resolved as the Netanyahu government sticks to its principles and passes its plan while the court decides it doesn’t have the power to invalidate a basic law.
D: Be resolved as the Israeli Supreme Court overturns all efforts at reform, and the Knesset is unable to override their decisions.
E: Be forgotten as a devastating war with Iran, Hezbollah and Hamas becomes the only concern of Israelis.
7. By 5785, Iran will have:
A: Announced that it had produced a nuclear bomb.
B: Officially renounced its nuclear quest after anti-regime protesters toppled the Islamist theocracy.
C: Not signed a nuclear deal but refined enough nuclear material so that the world acknowledges it as a threshold nuclear power.
D: Concluded a new nuclear deal with the Biden administration guaranteeing it will get a bomb by the end of the decade.
8. By 5785, the war in Ukraine will have:
A: Concluded as Biden pressures Ukraine to agree to a compromise settlement with Russia.
B: Concluded in a Ukrainian victory after the fall of the regime of Russian President Vladimir Putin.
C: Concluded in a Russian victory after a Ukrainian military collapse that massive Western aid could not avert.
D: Remained stuck in a stalemate with neither side nor Ukraine’s Western allies being willing to concede that the war is unwinnable.
9. By 5785, Saudi Arabia will have:
A: Normalized relations with Israel after the United States agrees to massive military and nuclear aid and Israel is made to make concessions to the Palestinians.
B: Become just one of several Muslim and Arab states that join the Abraham Accords during the course of the year and expand the circle of peace.
C: Be in a state of chaos after an Islamist coup aided by Iran succeeds in toppling the Saud dynasty.
D: Abandoned its tacit alliance with Israel and have grown closer to Iran and Russia after being further alienated by Biden.
E: Not altered the status quo as it continues to have close, under-the-table relations with Israel.
10. The following event will NOT happen in 5784:
A: The efforts of the U.N. Commission of Inquiry on Palestine will continue to fuel the antisemitic BDS movement.
B: Big Tech companies will collude with liberal corporate news outlets to skew data searches and social-media algorithm filters to aid Biden’s re-election.
C: The New York Times will devote major resources and space to an investigative series about antisemitism at the City University of New York.
D: The public-health establishment, Big Pharma, legacy media and the Biden administration will seek to spread fear about a revival of the COVID pandemic.
E: The Anti-Defamation League will continue to support the woke catechism of diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) that acts as a permission slip for antisemitism.
Tobin answers: 1-a; 2-a; 3-d; 4-d; 5-a; 6-b; 7-c; 8-d; 9-e; 10-c
Jonathan S. Tobin is editor in chief of JNS—Jewish News Syndicate. Follow him on Twitter at: @jonathans_tobin.