To say these are politically uncertain times is an understatement. And to paraphrase the great economist John Kenneth Galbraith: “The only function of making a forecast is to make astrology look respectable.”
However, here at Jewish News Towers, we’ve had our arms twisted to take part in the mug’s game of predicting what will happen in 2019.
At the end of this year, dear readers, you can judge for yourselves how right/deluded we were…
The world holds its breath as the race is on to be the first government to fall in 2019, Benjamin Netanyahu’s or Theresa May’s. As Netanyahu leads a minority government, he’ll fall first… or May… Probably Belgium’s. Again. No, the winner is Netanyahu, Israel’s Prime, Foreign, Defence, Immigration, Religious Affairs, Health Minister(s) and Lord of the Beasts of the Land and Fish of the Seas.
Beresheet, the first Israeli moon mission lands. As its first act, it holds a moonyan with the locals, a group of Chabad yeshiva students who go around asking if people want to put on tefillin.
It’s BREXIIIIIT (Yay/Boo, depending on your outlook). After months, nay years, of planning for a deal/no deal withdrawal, nothing actually works. Someone suggests turning the country off and on again.
Israel’s election ends in a score-draw, with a replay every few months. Rakusens’ profits are anything but as flat, as its matzah sales go through the roof owing to a Brexit-induced flour shortage. Matzahs are the new flatbread and, despite a rise in imports from Israeli manufacturers, the hipsters of Shoreditch are seen fighting over boxes. Meanwhile, Meghan Markle gives birth to Menachem Moshe Wales.
Or perhaps Rochel Leah Vales.
Seven fire engines from stations in Hackney and Haringey race to the scene of an “inferno” on Ravensdale Road in Stamford Hill after Orthodox Jews celebrating Lag B’Omer with a bonfire in the middle of the street decide to throw their parking tickets on the blaze. A community spokesman says: “Repeated issuing of parking tickets must be added to the list of examples in the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance [IHRA] working definition of antisemitism.” Shares in El Al skyrocket on the Tel Aviv stock market after a snap election in Britain produces a Corbyn victory, leading to a mass exodus of British Jews. English overtakes French as the main language in Netanya.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu triggers a diplomatic firestorm after tweeting about Hamas and Gaza, shortly followed by another tweet saying: “Time to mow the lawn.” The phrase has previously been used by right-wing Israelis to refer to the periodic military bombardment of Gaza. A spokesman later says Netanyahu “really did mean that it was time to mow the lawn, Sara’s been kvetching for weeks about the grass being too long”.
Israel replaces the UK in the EU. European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker says: “If they take part in Eurovision, why not let them be EU members?” In a photoshoot with the other 27 member states, Benjamin Netanyahu says: “We’ve always liked Europe. Sure, we’ve had some blips, but what relationship hasn’t?” UK Ambassador to Israel David Quarrey tweets: “A dozen EU flags, all in good nick, 50 quid job lot, can’t say fairer than that.”
Israel finds that the Hezbollah tunnels from Lebanon and the Hamas tunnels from Gaza have joined up somewhere under Ben Gurion Airport and there are branch tunnels to Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, Nahariya, Haifa and Be’er Sheva. “At least they have a decent train service,” says an irate Israeli commuter who has been waiting three hours for the Jerusalem-Tel Aviv express train. The Israeli Government contacts Hamas and Hezbollah engineers for help building the Tel Aviv underground.
As Rosh Hashanah approaches, it’s time for communal leaders to do a bit of soul-searching. The Board of Deputies’ Marie van der Zyl is seen rummaging for Otis Redding and Aretha Franklin recordings in Reckless Records in Berwick Street. Jonathan Goldstein of the Jewish Leadership Council is seen buying lemon sole in Sam Stollers.
The Community Security Trust (CST) unveils a series of new crisis management training sessions aimed at engaging terrorists in conversation until back-up arrives. The ‘Keep Them Talking’ workshops covers modules such as ‘Is Your Terrorist Susceptible to Negotiation?’ and ‘Finding Your Dual Goal’. CST bosses say: “In those vital minutes when no escape is possible, it’s important not to stay quiet but to talk and engage with terrorists, first empathising, then killing their enthusiasm, before finally dampening their spirits until such a time as they’re shot by snipers,” adding: “It’s fine, we should be good at it.”
Clarence House says a £1million kippah presented to Prince Charles for his 71st birthday will be added to the Crown Jewels collection at the Tower of London. The ostentatious gift, comprising Italian leather, saffron stitching and a Magen David made up of 2019 tiny white diamonds and 71 blue diamonds, is presented to the forever-heir by Russian and Ukrainian Jewish philanthropists based in London “in recognition of his Royal Highness’s dedication to the Jewish cause”. A spokesman for the prince says: “It really is very nice, thanks.”
Organisers deny employer responsibility after Dreidel Man falls down the steps at Trafalgar Square and breaks his leg in three places during the community’s annual Chanukah in the Square celebrations. With Chanukah and Christmas coinciding this year, Limmud Festival goes big on interfaith, with a concert by King’s College Cambridge choir giving rousing renditions of Maoz Tzur and I Have a Little Dreidl. Not to be outdone, the London Jewish Male Choir sings Oy Vey in a Manger and Hark, the Hendon Angels Sing. There are scuffles and protests owing to a world shortage of jacket potatoes. Israel gears up for another election with eight million parties taking part. What else is new?