A year ago, we were still mired in a coronavirus pandemic that had killed millions and turned the lives of everyone else upside down. At the same time, in the midst of the uncertainty and fear bred by COVID-19, the most bitter and divisive presidential campaign in living memory was also unfolding. In Israel, few were optimistic that a compromise that had seemingly ended two years of electoral stalemate would hold.
What then unfolded was a year in which American polarization got even worse in the aftermath of Joe Biden’s victory over Donald Trump, open expressions of anti-Semitism and hatred for Israel became normalized, and an outbreak of fighting between Israel and Hamas led to violence on the streets of mixed Arab-Jewish cities in Israel and anti-Jewish incidents all the way to American cities.
The arrival of a new Jewish year has us asking what’s in store for 5782, and what could possibly top some of the bizarre and unexpected events we’ve just lived through?
But as we struggle to recover from the pandemic—with the Middle East more explosive than ever and Americans increasingly at each other’s throats in an ongoing political culture war—we shouldn’t 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 for 5782.
So guess, or should I say prognosticate, along with me about the coming year.
As far as last year’s quiz, my predictions were even more inaccurate than usual. I was wrong to predict an Electoral College tie in the presidential election (though flipping 43,000 votes in three states would have produced such an unusual result), wrong about which party would control Congress, over-optimistic about a complete return to pre-COVID normality by this time, wrong about Benjamin Netanyahu holding onto office in Israel and even wrong about the Israeli baseball team winning a medal at the Tokyo Olympics, even though there were only six teams competing! But I will claim at least one correct answer by saying that the rise of anti-Semitism on both the left and right would be the most important issue facing the Jewish people.
My answers to this year’s quiz are at the bottom of the article. Save this column and see which of us was right this time.
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.
- Who will be prime minister of Israel by the start of 5783?
A: Naftali Bennett
B: Yair Lapid
C: Benjamin Netanyahu
D: Benny Gantz
E: Ayman Odeh
- By 5783, Israel’s bizarre left-right-center-Arab coalition will have:
A: Collapsed as a result of the Arab Ra’am Party’s refusal to support efforts to counter terrorist offensives from Hamas and Hezbollah at the behest of Iran.
B: Broken up as a result of Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s efforts to prevent the United States from opening a consulate for the Palestinians in Jerusalem.
C: Been rendered obsolete by Benjamin Netanyahu’s surprise resignation as head of the Likud, which leads to a restoration of a right-wing/religious majority government.
D: Only lasted long enough to pass a budget in November 2021 before being torn apart by its natural divisions.
E: Maintained itself in power since all the parties involved had too much to gain by keeping it alive and far too much to lose by its dissolution.
- During the course of 5782, the Iran nuclear deal will have been:
A: Successfully revived by the Biden administration by making even more concessions to Iran.
B: Kept in limbo as Iran moved closer to building a nuke while still refusing offers of a rapprochement with the United States.
C: Been replaced by a new, stronger agreement that actually prevents Iran from getting a weapon.
D: Trashed as the United States reimposes sanctions on Iran after Tehran torpedoed Biden’s diplomatic option.
E: Eclipsed after Iran’s race to a nuclear breakout prompted military strikes by Israel and its Arab allies to destroy their nuclear facilities.
- By the start of 5783, U.S.-Israel relations will:
A: Be at an all-time low after Bennett’s refusal to allow the opening of a Jerusalem consulate.
B: Be stable after Bennett and Lapid give in to American pressure on a U.S. Jerusalem consulate for Palestinians.
C: Be an increasingly divisive issue in American politics as left-wing Democrats get Biden to push for a revival of talks for a two-state solution.
D: Be largely irrelevant as the U.S. retreat from the Middle East leaves Israel and its Arab allies on their own against Iran.
E: Be back to where they were under Obama as the return of Netanyahu to power prompts more fights with the Biden administration.
- Will the world be back to pre-pandemic normality by Rosh Hashanah 2022?
A: Yes, as vaccinations and booster shots reduce infections to minimal levels.
B: Only for those who have had four shots by then. Everyone else will remain masked and isolated.
C: No, the spread of new variants of the disease will undermine efforts to return to pre-pandemic norms.
D: No, as growing skepticism about vaccines, which while preventing most deaths and serious illness aren’t foolproof, prevents the reaching of herd immunity.
E: No, because despite the success of vaccines, the fear of the virus among many people ensures that the world won’t go back to normal for many years, if indeed it ever does.
- The most important Jewish event of 5782 will be:
A: The corruption trial of Benjamin Netanyahu.
B: Passage of an Israeli law mandating drafting haredim into the military.
C: The outbreak of a new intifada prompted by Palestinian lies about a Jewish plot to blow up the mosques on the Temple Mount.
D: Saudi Arabia’s diplomatic recognition of Israel.
E: Conflict with Iran.
- The most important issue for American Jews in 5782 will be:
B: BDS boycotts of Israel.
C: Acceptance of anti-Zionists into Jewish Community Relations Councils.
D: Immigration reform.
E: Critical race theory’s abetting of anti-Semitism.
- A rising tide of global anti-Semitism leads to:
A: A backlash among liberal Jews against a Democratic Party that continues to fail to hold “The Squad” accountable for its behavior.
B: President Biden’s decision to revive Donald Trump’s policies toward Israel, Iran and efforts to combat Jew-hatred on college campuses.
C: A growing split between politically liberal and conservative Jews over the spread of critical race theory teachings in the schools.
D: An increase in aliyah from the United States.
E: A decline in television ratings for new series produced in Israel.
- Which one of the following things will not happen in 5782?
A: The Anti-Defamation League becomes the nonprofit face of a corporate assault on free expression through its efforts to help PayPal de-monetize conservative groups.
B: Outbreaks of fighting and missile barrages along both Israel’s borders with Lebanon and Gaza.
C: President Joe Biden tells Jewish leaders on a pre-holiday conference call that his retreat from Afghanistan and appeasement of Iran has made Israel safer.
D: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi finally decides to punish Reps. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) and Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) for their open anti-Semitism by stripping them of their committee assignments.
E: The United States moves to appease Iran leads to closer military and security cooperation between Israel and Sunni Arab states.
Tobin answers: 1-a; 2-e; 3-a; 4-b; 5-e; 6-e; 7a-; 8-c; 9-d
Jonathan S. Tobin is editor in chief of JNS—Jewish News Syndicate. Follow him on Twitter at: @jonathans_tobin.