Israel’s Challenges as 2012 is already filling up its plate


2012 has thus far brought a lot of activity to Israel that could be indicative of the year it is expected to have.  The growing internal strife that has become very public between the religious right and most others to the left of them is threatening the foundation of Israel’s society.  In addition to the social difficulties it poses, the squeeze of the widening financial burden on those who produce income and those who rely on the State for services is taking its toll on the patience of the general society.
Adam Kaufman, of Adam B. Kaufman & Associates, PLLC and longtime Woodmere resident said, “What’s been happening between the religious and secular communities is disheartening.  Israel and Jews have enough people wishing harm without us wanting to harm one another.  Sadly, at times we can be our own worst enemies.” To Mr. Kaufman’s point, the internal conflict would be enough to keep such a small society busy.  Yet, that could be viewed as a minor bump in the road when looking at it in the context of the world it exists in. 
This week brought news that Egypt’s leading presidential contender, former Arab League Chief Amr Moussa said that he would maintain the peace treaty with Israel, but in a modified version. He would seek to increase troop deployment in the Sinai, but what’s possibly more troubling is that he would reconsider supplying Israel with natural gas.  Moussa would do this to appease the naysayers within Egypt who are opposed to Egypt’s assistance to Israel in any practical way.  Cutting off the gas supply would be a hard hit for Israel and would affect the lives of its citizens in a real way.
“It’s for exactly reasons like Egypt’s gas supply to Israel why Jews need to act as a unified people inside the state,” Mr. Kaufman said.
Then there is the issue of Gaza.  The December 2008 “Cast Lead” campaign did not yield the results Israel needed.  In fact, a member of the IDF General Staff said that “Gaza is possibly Israel’s most volatile front today... It is a front that can explode at any given moment.” 
According to the Jerusalem Post, the IDF’s Southern Command was just directed to prepare for a possible large Gaza incursion in coming months.  It could be a major battle which would likely raise the ire of its tentative peace partner in Egypt and possibly effect looming decisions there, but it will also draw more unneeded attention from Iran, which is seemingly the looming issue for many western nations.
So nervous about Iran is the United States that it sent a delegation of U.S. defense and military leaders to Israel this week lead by Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Martin Dempsey.  Dempsey, on his first official trip to Israel since his September appointment will be meeting the Israeli army chief, Benny Gantz, defense minister Ehud Barak and other military leaders.  The point of this trip seems intended to stave off a possible Israeli military strike on Iran’s nuclear ambitions.
Already the trip is having its effect on circumstances.  With Tehran’s threats to close the Strait of Hormuz, the conduit for 20% of the world’s energy resources, a scheduled joint military exercise between Israel and the United States was postponed.  Whether it was the Obama Administration’s doing or as reports suggests, the request of Ehud Barak, it is evident that tensions are high and no one seems to want to provoke a dangerous action.
On the Jordanian front, the unrest brewing within the Hashemite Kingdom is weighing on Kind Abdullah.  Not wanting to see his country fall into the chasm Syria is in, Abdullah dismissed his cabinet, claims to have increased government subsidies to the needy and is pushing for corruption investigations and trials to appease the angry protestors.  Not as rocky as Syria, but it is something Israel is paying attention to as well.
Syria’s civil unrest, and president Bashar al-Assad’s attempt to grasp power in the face of growing demands from Arab nations for him to step aside and stop the killings of civilians, Israel is watching the front, hoping it does not boil over its borders.
Rounding Israel’s full plate are the slow moving peace talks with a Palestinian delegation.  King Abdullah commented this week that “the intent, I believe, is there from both sides,” but admits it is in infancy stages.  Hanan Ashrawi is not as optimistic saying that Israel is “not going to cooperate with the Jordanians.”
Israelis must contend with every front being busy and unsure, including the internal strife among its own citizens.  Mr. Kaufman said, “January has not yet ended and it already looks as if it will be a long year for the Jewish nation.  We hope and pray it will all be good, but we all must work to come together as a people and prepare for whatever comes our way”.

Juda is an executive with the New York PR firm, 5W Public relations. He can be reached at