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Jewish World Review Sept. 14, 1999 /4 Tishrei, 5760

Jonathan Tobin

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Get Out Your Crystal Ball: It's Time to Take the 5760 Jewish Pundit Quiz! -- HOW WELL DID THE JEWS FARE in 5759? Like many years, it had its tragedies as well as its triumphs. But remember, whether your name is Bill, Boris or Bibi, things can always get worse in the year ahead.

So before the Creator writes down just how much worse (or perhaps better), it will be for all of us in the proverbial great book of judgment, I present (with apologies - as always - to New York Times columnist William Safire), the annual "Jewish Pundit Quiz."

So, guess, or should I say prognosticate, along with me about some important Jewish events in the year 5760. Send in your answers, and a year from now, we'll see who had the clearest crystal ball. (My answers are at the bottom of the column.)

And remember, if you are worried about the coming year, repentance, prayer and tzedakah may avert the severe decree!

Shanah Tovah! Happy New Year!

1. By the end of 5760, the scheduled date for the conclusion of final-status talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, the talks will:

a. Have been successfully concluded with the usual White House lawn signing, as President Clinton, Ehud Barak and Yasser Arafat join hands to usher in a new era of peace.

b. Have been sidetracked by an Israeli-Syrian rapprochement that moves Syria to the front burner of Middle East diplomacy, as Israel trades the Golan Heights for tranquility on its Lebanon border.

c. Have broken down as the death of Yasser Arafat and a subsequent civil war among competing factions of the Palestine Liberation Organization and Hamas, leave Israel considering intervention to prevent a Hamas victory.

d. Still be dragging on without an end in sight, as disagreements over Jerusalem and Palestinian noncompliance with existing agreements torpedo American efforts to broker a deal.

2. By the end of 5760, the most influential political personality in Israel will be:

a. Yossi Sarid, the left-wing Minister of Education, whose confrontations with the Orthodox haredim will boost his poll numbers but plunge Israel into further religious-secular strife.

b. Prime Minister Ehud Barak, whose steady focus on the peace process will win both diplomatic victories and domestic popularity.

c. Former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, whose disastrous term will start to look good as Ehud Barak's government sinks into disarray as increased terrorism is accompanied by economic decline.

d. Rabbi Michael Melchior of Meimad, whose leadership as Minister for Diaspora Affairs helps Israel start down the road to religious pluralism and religious-secular peace.

Leiters Sukkah

3. The human rights issue that should attract the most interest from American Jews in 5760 will be:

a. The plight of the Falash Mora in Ethiopia who continue to wait for Israeli government approval to make aliyah.

b. The plight of the more than 100,000 Serbian refugees from Kosovo who have been chased out of thir homes by the Kosovo Liberation Army.

c. The plight of Palestinian Arab terror suspects who are hoping that the Knesset will not pass legislation overriding an Israeli Supreme Court ruling outlawing torture by the Israeli security services.

d. The plight of paranoid American Jews who actually believe that recent anti-Semitic incidents prove that America is heading for a rerun of Weimar Germany.

e. The plight of millions of religious believers and democracy dissidents suffering in Communist China's gulag - the laogai.

4. The presidential candidate gaining the most Jewish support at the 2000 Republican National Convention (to be held in Philadelphia) will be:

a. Elizabeth Dole, who will parlay support from a dissident faction of the National Council of Jewish Women into a feminist takeover of the GOP.

b. George W. ("the Shrub") Bush, who will use huge contributions from Jewish machers to fund his easy win.

c. John McCain, whose don't-give-a-damn attitude and support for Israel will help him triumph in the first openly contested presidential nominating convention since 1976.

d. Malcom "Steve" Forbes, whose personal fortune, "flat-tax" economics and pious moralism will make Jewish GOPers forget Bush after he crashes in the primaries.

e. Religious fundamentalist Gary Bauer, whose startling conversion to Judaism after his upset victory in the Iowa caucuses will galvanize the race.

5. The Democratic politician with the most Jewish support in 5760 will be: a. Hillary Clinton, whose Hadassah soul mates will take to the streets to aid her bid for a seat in the U.S. Senate from New York.

b. Vice President Al Gore, whose prowess at fundraising in the Jewish community will help him win the Democratic nomination.

c. Sen. Joseph Lieberman, who will be in position to be one heartbeat away from the presidency when Democratic presidential nominee Bill Bradley makes him his surprise choice for vice president.

d. Jesse Jackson, who gains Jewish support for a last-minute presidential candidacy after his successful intervention on behalf of both imprisoned Iranian Jews and American spy Jonathan Pollard.

6.The pivotal issue in the 2000 elections for most Jewish voters will be: a. Support for the Middle East peace process.

b. School choice, or vouchers, for parents of students who attend private or religious schools.

c. Campaign finance reform.

d. Environmentalism.

e. Hillary Clinton's Jewish step-grandfather.

f. Reform Party presidential candidate Pat Buchanan.

7. The most significant event in Jewish history that will occur in 5760 will be:

a. The establishment of a Palestinian state with a Jerusalem suburb as its capital in September 2000.

b. The reunification of the old Soviet Empire by a resurgent Communist party that sets off another massive wave of Jewish immigration to Israel and the United States.

c. Ronald Lauder's decision to hire old pal Benjamin Netanyahu to replace actress Elizabeth Hurley as the model for the Estée Lauder cosmetics advertising campaign.

d. The replacement of the Jewish Agency for Israel by a new philanthropic group solely devoted to funding trips for teens to Israel.

e. A further decline in relations between religious and secular Jews in Israel, as well as the widening of the rift between the Diaspora and Israel over religious pluralism.

8. The most important American Jewish organization in 5760 will be:

a. The Anti-Defamation League, due to fears about a rise in anti-Semitism.

b. The Zionist Organization of America, which will lead efforts to hold the Palestinian Authority accountable as Palestinian terrorism derails the peace process.

c. The Jewish National Fund, which capitalizes on a wave of Jewish environmentalism.

d. The United Jewish Communities (the group formerly known as the United Jewish Appeal), as American Jews finally figure out it is connected to local Jewish federations as well as Israel.

e. The Workman's Circle, as the publishers of the Forward hire Monica Lewinsky to write a weekly "Working Woman" column.

9. Philanthropic support for American Jewish federations will:

a. Rise, as increasing awareness of the importance of Jewish education and other domestic concerns stems the erosion of giving.

b. Decline, as lack of support for Israel and disinterest in American Jewish continuity grows.

c. Remain flat, as the core of the Jewish community becomes more committed, while those on the periphery become more disaffected.

10. The person American Jews will admire the most in 5760 will be:

a. President Clinton

b. Barbra Streisand

c. Menachem Schneerson, the late Lubavitcher Rebbe

d. Radio shock-jock Howard Stern

e. The Dalai Lama

f. Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak

Tobin answers: 1.d 2. b 3. e 4. b 5. a 6. c 7. e 8. d 9. c 10. a

JWR contributor Jonathan S. Tobin is executive editor of the Philadelphia Jewish Exponent. Let him know what you think by clicking here.

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©1999, Jonathan Tobin