Hannukah: Predictions, Politics, the Pandemic, and Accountability
Hanukkah December 2013, Dubai, United Arab Emirates – Stein collection

Professor Ken Stein, President, Center for Israel Education

Do you think any of the Maccabees would have guessed that the one jar of oil would have kept the menorah burning in Mod’in for eight days rather than one? If one had predicted yes or no, there probably would not have been either good or bad consequences in the years after 165 BCE. 

Today if a political prediction is made and found to be wrong, are there consequences to be paid? As a corollary, what if you had critical information and withheld it? Let us suppose a person knew that the pandemic was potentially lethal to many, you intentionally withheld that information from the public, and hundreds of thousands died needlessly. Should that person be found guilty of involuntary manslaughter, with no pre-emptive pardon available? 

What are the consequences of your predicative insights as compared to networks or governments that can and do promote fake news?  Untruths about ethnic groups and minorities when imbibed long enough seep into the political fabric; they can easily evolve into encrusted beliefs. It happened in Germany decades before the Nazis took power. It happened to my German-born Jewish parents and grandparents.

How about the predictions for this year. In the last twelve months, when you read about a Trump Plan for Middle East Peace in January; would you have predicted no-Trump in December? Not one academic or public analyst told you in January that by the end of 2020, five Arab countries not just two from earlier years would recognize Israel’s legitimacy. 

What are some lessons I learned this year about information, predictions, politics, and the pandemic?  Pandemics do not change our prejudices, expectations, or philosophies.  If you disliked Israel before Bahrain, the UAE, and the Sudan recognized Israel, you probably still do. If you believe that other Arab/Muslim states are going to rapidly to embrace Israel, then you possess wildly unrealistic expectations. There is no united Arab world, only Arab states with parochial interests. If you think a change from Trump to Biden will miraculously light up eight candles on a cake to celebrate the coming of a two-state solution at any Hanukah celebration in the next four years, I want to drink what you have been drinking.  According to Palestinian analysts, there is NO chance of political movement of any kind until the PLO and PA are reformed or rebuilt from the inside! The PLO and PA are dysfunctional self-serving entities.

How should you hold me accountable for my predications? Let’s see, did I hurt anyone?  Did I make any money from private access to data that no one else possessed? 

‘A great miracle happened there,’ and we should remember the lessons of sacrifice and commitment from the Maccabees. Consider this prediction, looking back at Hanukkah 2020, a year from now. 

We rightfully dedicated this Hanukkah to our health care, emergency call teams, and vaccine developers.  A great reality is happening here and elsewhere in the world because of them. A miracle can happen, if we too are persistently diligent in wearing masks, washing hands, and socially distancing. For this miracle to occur, we must hold ourselves collectively accountable.