A fateful year ahead
This time last year, we wondered whether this would be the year in which Israel acted against Iran, whether alone or in concert with the US. A year on and the same question remains foremost in our minds. But it somehow feels that the next few months will be fateful, whatever happens.
There has been much speculation that, if Israel does decide it has to strike, it will do so before the US presidential election in November (which is also before winter sets in). The likelihood of action seems to change by the week; at the moment, it is clear that both the UK and the US are urging the Israeli Prime Minister not to act. That may prove counter-productive.
If Mr Netanyahu feels that President Obama cannot be relied on to stop Iran going crossing the nuclear threshold, it might make him more rather than less likely to act unilaterally. One thing is clear. If Israel does act then, whatever the circumstances, it will unleash a wave of anti-Israel sentiment that will make the existing level of hostility seem tame. Next year could thus prove to be testing in the extreme. As it is, as our political editor points out, we are losing rather than gaining ground to the anti-Israel activists on the left. Typically, this week's TUC had nothing to say about Syria, let alone Iran.
But it had a lot to say about Israel and Gaza - all of it hostile. In seeking to put Israel's case to to the left, Labour Friends of Israel does a sterling job. But it is David against the Goliath of anti-Israel campaigning. And we now have other battles which we must fight, simply to be able to practise our religion. In Germany, of all places, the attacks on Judaism have been ratcheted up through legal action against circumcision. But this will not stop there - and is accompanied by Europe-wide attacks on shechitah, to which we in the UK are also vulnerable.
It is easy to be gloomy, but there have been many good things this past year. Our exposure of the disgraceful way in which still-born and very young babies were treated by some synagogue authorities has resulted in a thoroughgoing transformation. And we are proud of our role in securing a memorial at Auschwitz to British POWs. Whatever the next year brings, the JC wishes you shana tova.