A Year in Review: What Can Israel Expect in 2022?

As a wise Jewish politician once said: “I am prepared for the worst but hope for the best.”

By Rachel Avraham |
Photo: Nati Shohat/Flash90

As we speak, 2021 is coming to an end and people around the world are preparing to celebrate the arrival of 2022. The question remains, what can we expect this coming year in Israel? Will it be a year of joy and happiness, or will it be another tragic year dominated by troubles and sorrows?

Unfortunately, I am not a prophet and thus cannot foresee the future, but according to a Turkish saying, “If you don’t know your history, you cannot predict your future.” Thus, developments that occurred over the past year should give us some kind of indication of what we can expect in the year ahead.

 

Sorry, but still corona, corona, corona

For people around the world, the arrival of the Omicron variant has dominated headlines and overshadowed the Christmas and Hanukkah season. Instead of being merry and joyful, flights have been canceled and people are discussing whether there will be a fresh lockdown in the State of Israel after restrictions were already imposed upon traveling abroad, schools in highly-infected towns, and dining in food courts in shopping malls.

We were all looking forward to the end of the pandemic once there was a vaccine, but now it is apparent that the chances that the coronavirus will simply disappear are very slim. For the foreseeable future, we will likely be dealing with COVID-19. The only question we should ask is, will we be able to live somewhat normal lives despite the coronavirus?

The answer remains unknown. Israel’s vaccination campaign has not progressed as fast as many would have liked. There are still one million Israelis who have not gotten their booster shot, around the same number of children who remain unvaccinated, and another 700,000 Israelis who have not been vaccinated at all.

Professor Eran Segal, a scientist at the Weizmann Institute, recently tweeted: “The chance that people will get corona is the highest it has been since the beginning of the pandemic.”

The number of new daily coronavirus cases in Israel topped 3,000 this week. As of this morning, there are 15,487 active cases, of whom 85 are in serious condition. Israel Prime Minister Naftali Bennett stated: “Israel is headed toward an outbreak of coronavirus the scope of which will be larger than any the country has seen thus far.”

This comes as the pandemic already adversely affected lower-income Israelis. According to the Israeli NGO La Tet, 80% of Israelis who receive aid from the organization had their employment status adversely affected by the pandemic, amounting to loss of hours, loss of shifts and getting laid off. This is on New Years Eve 2021, not in the beginning of the pandemic.

According to La Tet: 40.4% of the recipients had their water or electricity cut this past year after they could not pay the bills, 77% said that the food that they bought was not sufficient and they lacked the funds to buy more; 67.% of the recipients said that they had to forego essential medication due to lack of funds and 73.6% said that they could not buy basic school supplies for their children.” The NGO also estimated that 223,000 Israeli households fell into economic hardship this past year due to the virus. And now, with the new restrictions being imposed on shopping malls and the tourism sector, these statistics are likely to worsen.

Early Israeli efforts against the coronavirus were successful, but it’s been unable to prevent successive waves of infection. Photo: Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90

And still more on Iran

Nor is there much optimistic when it comes to the Iranian nuclear threat.

Unfortunately, as America and the rest of the world negotiate with Tehran, even as the mullahs show zero signs that they are willing to curtail their nuclear program, once again it appears that Israel stands alone against the Iranian nuclear threat, as the world just may lift the sanctions in exchange for vague promises that will be broken.

Israel Foreign Minister Yair Lapid recently stated that the Iranian nuclear program is the “main challenge” facing the Jewish state. This is because it constitutes an existential threat to Israel, yet there is no real solution for it.

On the one hand, negotiating with the mullahs only emboldens them, as all cases of appeasement do. In recent days, the Iranian regime performed a missile drill as a warning against the Zionist regimeand Iran has taken steps to enrich uranium to the 90% level. This comes as Iranian Armed Forces spokesman Gen. Abollfazl Shekarchi stated:

“We will not back down one millimeter from [the vision of] the disappearance of the regime occupying Jerusalem, even if we are torn to pieces. The annihilation of the regime occupying Jerusalem is the greatest ideal that we see before our eyes, and the greatest goal whose trail we are following.”

There is no greater enemy than one who would rather die than permit you to continue to exist. For the mullahs, the Soviet-American cold war policy of mutually assured destruction just does not work.

For this reason, some in the Israeli leadership have threatened to put an end to the Iranian nuclear threat by attacking Tehran, even if a deal is reached. Still, most do not think that Israel will actually attack Iran and the Iranian nuclear threat will remain a major issue in 2022, unless the Iranian people manage to overthrow the mullahs and install a democratic regime in its place. As we speak, there are still anti-regime protests, but President Ebrahim Raisi is more than willing to brutally crush them without giving it a second thought, so any struggle to overthrow the mullahs will likely be very bloody. The mullahs respond to protests like Syrian dictator Bashar Al Assad, not the late Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.

New Iran President Ebrahim Raisi has overseen a resurgence in Iranian aggression in the Middle East.
New Iran President Ebrahim Raisi has overseen a resurgence in Iranian aggression in the Middle East. Photo: EPA-EFE/ABEDIN TAHERKENAREH

Palestinian woes

Another issue that is unlikely to go away is the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. Within the past year, the number of terror attacks in Judea and Samaria has risen. According to recently released data, there were 5,532 rock throwing attacks, 1,022 Molotov cocktail attacks, 61 shooting attacks and 18 stabbing attacks over the past year, which killed two Israelis. In fact, this past year the Palestinians and their supporters within Israel-proper were in full conflict with the Jewish state during Operation Guardian of the Walls. During that war, thousands of rockets were launched at Israel, targeting major cities such as Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, killing 11 Israeli citizens.

The incitement within the Palestinian Authority has not died down since then. For example, Palestinian Media Watch reported that the PLO condemned Morocco and the UAE for playing soccer with Israel: “We view this as  an insult to our people’s struggle and the sacrifices it has made, and a belittling of the sensibilities of millions of Arabs.”

In the Gaza Strip, MEMRI reported that Rajaa Al-Halabi, the Head of Hamas’s Women’s Movement, stated recently on Al Aqsa TV: “The women of Hamas, and in fact all the women of Gaza, not just those who belong to Hamas… If they were asked to carry out martyrdom operations, they would not refuse.”

The Meir Amit Intelligence and Information Center claims that these terror attacks that were accompanied by such incitement occurred because of the declining popularity of Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas, which led to Hamas battling to win over the Palestinian street:

“Hamas has been fomenting popular unrest to solidify its position as the Palestinians’ main influencer, with tactics including demonstrations of strength in Judea, Samaria and east Jerusalem to undermine security in the PA territories while maintaining relative calm in the Gaza Strip to advance an arrangement with Israel.”

Considering this, more Islamist terror attacks are to be expected in 2022 in Judea and Samaria in order to weaken Abbas’ grasp over Palestinian society. Furthermore, both Abbas and Hamas will harshen their rhetoric towards Israel, merely so that they can better compete on the Palestinian street. The prospects for an Israeli-Palestinian peace next year are quite bleak and another war could potentially erupt.

Despite this reality, there may be more Arab and Muslim countries that will decide to make peace with Israel, if given the opportunity to do so.

I wish there could be more optimistic reports looking forward, but as the 19th Century British Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli once said: “I am prepared for the worst but hope for the best.”

It looks like this is the best way Israelis (and perhaps all of us) should approach the year 2022.

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