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Jewish World Review Sept. 29, 2003 / 3 Tishrei, 5764

Jonathan Tobin

Jonathan Tobin
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Get Out Your Crystal Ball!

Time to take the 5764 Jewish pundit quiz on next year's news | Was 5763 a good year? Let's just say it was worse for some people than others. For instance, if your name was Saddam Hussein, the answer is definitely worse.

As for the rest of us, it had a few ups and a lot of downs. The fall of Saddam's regime was definitely a high point, but another year of terrorist atrocities and failed peace plans (as in George Bush's road map) proved total downers.

The arrival of a new Jewish year has us all asking the same question about what's in store for us in 5764: Can things get worse?

Sure, they can.

But even as we cope with horrible memories of terrorism and a lousy economy in the United States, we shouldn't lose what's left of our sense of humor.

So before the Almighty writes down just how much worse (or better) it will be for all of us in the proverbial Book of Life, I present (with apologies, as always, to New York Times columnist William Safire) the annual Jewish Pundit Quiz for 5764.

For the record, in last year's quiz, I correctly predicted the re-election of Ariel Sharon, the quick ouster of the Ba'athist regime in Baghdad by the United States, a stalemated peace process, steady U.S. support for Israel and an increased focus on the revival of worldwide anti-Semitism. Fortunately, I guessed wrong about the collapse of the Temple Mount.

Save this column and see if I, or you, do as well this time.

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So guess, or should I say prognosticate, along with me about the coming year. My answers are at the bottom of the column. And remember, if you are worried about the outcome, teshuvah ("repentance"), tefillah ("prayer") and tzedakah ("acts of justice and charity") may avert the severe decree! L'Shanah Tovah Tikasevu!

1. The 2004 Democratic nominee for president of the United States will be:

a. Sen. John Kerry.
b. Sen. Hillary Clinton.
c. Gen. Wesley Clark.
d. Howard Dean.
e. Sen. Joseph Lieberman.

2. The presidential candidate who raises the most Jewish money in 5764 will be:

a. Sen. Joseph Lieberman.
b. Howard Dean.
c. Sen. Hillary Clinton.
d. Gen. Wesley Clark.
e. President George W. Bush.

3. The hottest American Jewish politician of 5764 will be:

a. Sam Katz, the newly elected mayor of Philadelphia.

b. Rep. Eric Cantor (R-Va.), the sole Republican Jew in the House.

c. Sen. Joseph Lieberman, who will make history again by winning the Democratic presidential nomination.

d. Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), who will be the first Jewish woman to run for vice president when she is picked by Wesley Clark as his running mate.

e. Columnist Thomas L. Friedman who will leave The New York Times for the campaign trail after he is tapped by Howard Dean as his choice to be the next Secretary of State.

4. By the end of 5764, the Middle East peace process will be:

a. On the brink of success as Yasser Arafat's forced departure from the country leads to the formation of a Palestinian government dedicated to reform and eradication of terrorism.

b. Still stalemated as Arafat retains control of the Palestinian Authority and the United States continues to restrain Israel from taking decisive action.

c. Forgotten amid the general chaos of the region after the overthrow of the Saudi monarchy plunges the Middle East into a general war of radical Islamists vs. pro-American moderates.

5. By the end of 5764, Yasser Arafat will be:

a. Rotting in his grave.

b. Still sitting in his ruined Ramallah compound, calling the shots in the ongoing Palestinian terror war against Israel.

c. Sipping coffee at a cafe in Paris with his wife as he enjoys the pleasures of a celebrity exile.

d. At the United Nations, where he will be preparing to take office as the new U.N. Secretary General after Kofi Anan resigns to become head of the Philadelphia public schools.

6. The most surprising event for American Jews in 5764 will be:

a. The end of Sen. Arlen Specter's political career after his defeat by conservative Rep. Pat Toomey in Pennsylvania's Republican senatorial primary.

b. The release of convicted spy Jonathan Pollard from prison after a federal court overturns his life sentence because of government misconduct during his trial.

c. The failure of Mel Gibson's film "The Passion" to whip up anti-Semitism as the actor's grisly re-enactment of Jesus' death in Aramaic and Latin tanks at the box office and video stores.

d. The decision of The New York Times to buck the journalistic tide and use the word "terrorist," rather than "militant," to describe those who murder Israelis.

e. The victory of think-tank scholar Daniel Pipes on television's "Survivor" reality show, the latest installment of which maroons 16 Middle East experts on a desert island in the Red Sea, where they're forced to read each other's books.

7. The long overdue release of the National Jewish Population Survey 2000-01 leads to:

a. An increased focus of organized Jewry on Jewish education as the most effective way to combat assimilation.

b. An increased focus of organized Jewry on outreach to the intermarried and the non-affiliated.

c. A dramatic rise in fundraising by Jewish federations.

d. More debate about the futility of such surveys and continued lack of national leadership on continuity issues.

8. The most significant event in Jewish history to take place in 5764 will be:

a. A wave of anti-Semitic riots at universities in Europe, inspired by pro-Arab hate-mongers.

b. The vote by the World Jewish Congress' board to oust billionaire Edgar Bronfman as president for his undermining of Israel's government.

c. The continued advance of the neoconservative/Jewish conspiracy to take over the world as Undersecretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz replaces Dick Cheney as President Bush's running mate.

d. The acceptance of gay rabbis and religious weddings for gays and lesbians by the leaders of Conservative Judaism.

e. Israeli Finance Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's austerity budget, which finally kills Israeli socialism and lays the foundation for a free-market economy.

9. The most popular figure on the Jewish lecture circuit in 5764 will be:

a. Former President Bill Clinton.

b. Former Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres.

c. Advice guru and Jewish apostate Dr. Laura Schlessinger.

d. Rev. Al Sharpton, whose public conversion to Judaism will lead to his appointment as Abe Foxman's successor at the Anti-Defamation League.

e. Philadelphia Phillies catcher Mike Lieberthal.

10. The most hotly debated issue among American Jews in 5764 will be:

a. Day schools vs. synagogue Hebrew schools.

b. Whether or not President Bush is a true friend of Israel.

c. Media bias against Israel.

d. Whether America is winning the war on terror.

e. Anti-Semitism on American college campuses.

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

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JWR contributor Jonathan S. Tobin is executive editor of the Philadelphia Jewish Exponent. Let him know what you think by clicking here. This past month Mr. Tobin won first places honors in the American Jewish Press Association's Louis Rapaport Award for Excellence in Commentary as well as the Philadelphia Press Association's Media Award for top weekly columnist. Both competitions were for articles written in the year 2002.

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