The year 5779 brought tragedy and great sorrow to the Jewish community as the Pittsburgh and Poway synagogue shootings by white supremacists represented the worst instances of violent anti-Semitism in American history. The month of January also brought two supporters of the anti-Semitic BDS movement to the House of Representatives, as well as undeserved legitimacy to these Israel-haters. But in spite of these sorrows, it was also a year in which Israel continued to thrive in spite of its dysfunctional politics.
The arrival of a new Jewish year has us asking what’s in store for 5780 …
Still, even as we worry about synagogue safety and argue about President Donald Trump, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel, global anti-Semitism and just about everything else while also accounting for own misdeeds, we shouldn’t lose what is left of our sense of humor.
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 for 5780.
So guess, or should I say prognosticate, along with me about the coming year.
Last year, I correctly predicted that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu would survive in office and the outcome of the midterm congressional elections. But I was wrong about the Trump peace plan being revealed in 5779. My answers to this year’s quiz are at the bottom of the article. Save this column and see which of us was right.
And remember, if you are worried about the outcome, teshuvah (“repentance”), tefillah (“prayer”) and tzedekah (“acts of justice and charity”) may avert the severe decree.
- At Rosh Hashanah 5781, who will be prime minister of Israel?
A. Benjamin Netanyahu
B. Benny Gantz
C. Avigdor Lieberman
D. Gilad Erdan
E. Ayman Odeh
- Will there be a third Israeli election in the next few months?
A. Yes, and Netanyahu will win it.
B. Yes, and Gantz will win it.
C. Yes, and it will be another stalemate.
- Will Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu be indicted on corruption charges in the coming year?
A. Yes, and he will be forced to resign.
B. Yes, but he will continue to govern, despite having to defend himself in court.
C. Yes, but he will already have lost office.
D. No, he will resign in exchange for having the charges dropped.
E. No, Israel’s attorney general chooses not to indict a sitting prime minister on such flimsy charges.
- Will the Trump peace plan be released sometime in the next 12 months?
A. Yes, but it will be quickly shelved.
B. Yes, and it will lead to peace talks championed by Gantz.
C. No, Israeli instability and American presidential politics will wind up spiking it.
D. No, Palestinian rejectionism will persuade Trump not to even try.
- Will there be new negotiations between the United States in Iran in the coming year?
A. Yes, and it will lead to a new and tougher nuclear deal.
B. Yes, but they will quickly fail due to Iranian intransigence and terrorism
C. No, as the Iranians will prefer to wait to see if Trump is re-elected.
D. Secret talks will be launched, as they were by President Barack Obama in 2013 that will only be revealed a year later after formal negotiations begin with a re-elected Trump.
- Will the long-stalled plan for expanding the egalitarian prayer area at Jerusalem’s Western Wall be revived?
A. Yes, as a new unity government without haredi support is formed.
B. No as a right-wing/religious coalition led by Netanyahu wins office after a third Knesset election.
C. No, as Benny Gantz wins support of some of the religious parties by, among other things, guaranteeing that the project will never be resumed.
D. No, as a minority government and the ongoing political stalemate puts the idea on ice.
- Who will win the Democratic presidential nomination in 2020?
A. Joe Biden
B. Elizabeth Warren
C. Bernie Sanders
D. Kamala Harris
E. Pete Buttigieg
F. Marianne Williamson
- Which one of these stands will be part of the Democratic Party Platform in 2020?
A. Support for Jerusalem as the united capital of Israel
B. Opposition to the BDS movement
C. Reinstating the 2015 Iran nuclear deal
D. The need to resist Iranian aggression in the Middle East
E. Support for the principle that Israel is the nation state of the Jewish people.
- The most important issue for American Jewish voters in 2020 will be:
A. Combating anti-Semitism
B. Support for Israel
D. The economy
E. Anger at Trump
F. Gun control
- Which one of these things will happen in 5780?
A. Progress towards Israel-Palestinian peace.
B.The Israel baseball team will win a medal at the Tokyo Olympics.
C. The Anti-Defamation League will maintain a scrupulously nonpartisan stance towards Trump.
D. Trump will be impeached.
E. Iranian-backed Hezbollah and Hamas will launch a new war against Israel.
Tobin answers: 1. B; 2. D; 3. C; 4. A; 5. C; 6. D; 7. B; 8. C; 9. E; 10. B
Jonathan S. Tobin is editor in chief of JNS—Jewish News Syndicate. Follow him on Twitter at: @jonathans_tobin.