Finding the Key to Israeli Happiness

Since 2005, when the UN began collecting international statistics on happiness, the Jewish state consistently has appeared near the top of the list. In the most recent rankings, it came in fourth after Finland, Denmark, and Iceland. Jonah Cohen, drawing on general trends in psychological research on happiness, identifies many reasons why, among them:

[A] spirit of neighborliness, of honest and wholesome day-to-day connection, is palpably evident in Israeli society. I recall, for example, when I took my wife on her first visit to Israel she was deeply moved by the way strangers would stop us on the sidewalk to play with our newborn baby, while others would crowd around to give us unsolicited parenting advice. Childhood innocence commands Israeli attention. Mothers are honored. Strollers are everywhere. Big families with loud, lively kids fill restaurants and cafés and then they stroll together with parents and grandparents for peaceful evening walks. Not every country is like that; I’d say much of [Israel itself] isn’t like that. But these seemingly small, ordinary instances of human connection combine to give the impression that the Israelis are happy because they are, each in his own way, fully present to the people around them.

Wise recollection of their grandparents’ suffering has helped younger Israelis to keep their own worries in perspective. That poisonous psychological temptation to measure oneself against those who are better off, to tally constantly who is getting ahead, has been properly restrained in Israeli consciousness, thanks to their shared memory of those who were once far worse off and left behind. Careful awareness of past Jewish miseries, such as the Holocaust or the Farhud in Iraq, has resulted in the Israeli inclination to appreciate what they have rather than to obsess over what they do not.

Unlike Arab nationalists and Western anti-Israel activists who burn inwardly for complete Palestinian control “from the river to the sea,” the less utopian Israelis have tended to make do with whatever national sovereignty that fate has afforded them.

Read more at Fathom

More about: Happiness, Israeli society


Israel’s Covert War on Iran’s Nuclear Program Is Impressive. But Is It Successful?

Sept. 26 2023

The Mossad’s heist of a vast Iranian nuclear archive in 2018 provided abundant evidence that Tehran was not adhering to its commitments; it also provided an enormous amount of actionable intelligence. Two years later, Israel responded to international inspectors’ condemnation of the Islamic Republic’s violations by using this intelligence to launch a spectacular campaign of sabotage—a campaign that is the subject of Target Tehran, by Yonah Jeremy Bob and Ilan Evyatar. David Adesnik writes:

The question that remains open at the conclusion of Target Tehran is whether the Mossad’s tactical wizardry adds up to strategic success in the shadow war with Iran. The authors give a very respectful hearing to skeptics—such as the former Mossad director Tamir Pardo—who believe the country should have embraced the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran. Bob and Evyatar reject that position, arguing that covert action has proven itself the best way to slow down the nuclear program. They acknowledge, however, that the clerical regime remains fully determined to reach the nuclear threshold. “The Mossad’s secret war, in other words, is not over. Indeed, it may never end,” they write.

Which brings us back to Joe Biden. The clerical regime was headed over a financial cliff when Biden took office, thanks to the reimposition of sanctions after Washington withdrew from the nuclear deal. The billions flowing into Iran on Biden’s watch have made it that much easier for the regime to rebuild whatever Mossad destroys in addition to weathering nationwide protests on behalf of women, life, and freedom. Until Washington and Jerusalem get on the same page—and stay there—Tehran’s nuclear ambitions will remain an affordable luxury for a dictatorship at war with its citizens.

Read more at Dispatch

More about: Iran nuclear program, Israeli Security, Joseph Biden, Mossad, U.S. Foreign policy