It’s that time of year – when columnists make predictions about the year ahead.
The ones found below were written before this writer, and this newspaper, were targeted by an army of trolls – and some we considered friends – accusing us of anti-Semitism. Us, arguably the most pro-Israel newspaper on the continent. Friendly fire does not begin to describe it. It left a sour taste.
I may come back to the Israel-Gaza subject, but I am taking a break from it on social media for the next while. In the meantime, here are ten predictions about Israel, Gaza and the Middle East.
1. Benjamin Netanyahu is toast. He was in trouble before October 7. He’s in more trouble now, for failing to prevent October 7. He promised to keep Israel secure. He didn’t deliver.
2. Netanyahu still faces three corruption prosecutions, which he has so far been unsuccessful in getting dismissed. Unlike Donald Trump – who is just one or two indictments away from winning the Republican presidential nomination – Netanyahu has not been helped by the prosecutions.
3. Netanyahu has also been revealed – by a huge, multi-part New York Times investigation- to have known Qatar was funding Hamas, to the tune of millions. He didn’t just do nothing about it – he encouraged it. In Israel, that too is unlikely to be forgiven anytime soon.
4. Israel cannot run post-war Gaza and doesn’t want to. Neither does the US or any of the surrounding Arab states. That leaves just one candidate for the job – the (corrupt, inefficient) Palestinian Authority. As imperfect as they are, no one else can be found to do the job.
5. Thousands of Gazans worked in Israel before October 7. After October 7, that’s unlikely to ever happen again. Some of them, it is clear, gave Hamas intel on Israeli military, communications and civilian weaknesses – and that’ll never be forgiven. So they’ll need massive foreign aid for infrastructure and to survive, because they’re not going to be working in Israel (or any neighboring Arab country) anytime soon.
6. Hamas will be destroyed, much in the way that ISIS was. But there’ll be some new monster to take their place, soon enough. Islamic terror organizations come and go. But their hatred for Israel and the West never seems to go away. We need to stop believing that it will, and prepare accordingly.
7. Western politics is going to swing dramatically to the Right. It’s already started. “Pro-Palestine” extremism will fuel anti-immigrant sentiment – and result in some limits being placed on some liberties. Few will object, initially.
8. Universities and colleges – the publicly-funded ones, at least – will pay a steep price for permitting anti-Semitism and violence to flourish on their campuses. It’ll take a decade or more to fix. It has become an institutional problem, and is deep-rooted.
9. There has been a yawning demographic divide – generational, racial – on Israel/Gaza. Social consensus has seemingly fractured, and former allies now seem to deeply hate each other. We ignore that divide at our peril.
10. A military solution cannot be imposed on Israelis and Gazans. There are millions of them, and they all live side-by-side. Once Hamas is eliminated – and it must be – the people of Israel and Gaza must find a way to live in peace. Themselves. No one else can do it for them.
Those predictions aren’t particularly sunny, but neither is the post-October 7 world in which we all now live.
Here’s hoping that peace – and an elimination of terror – awaits Israel and Gazans in the new year.