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

Iran’s Program of Subversion and Propaganda in the Caucasus

In the past week, Iranian proxies and clients have attacked Israel from the West Bank, Gaza, Lebanon, and Yemen. Iran also has substantial military assets in Iraq and Syria—countries over which it exercises a great deal of control—which could launch significant attacks on Israel as well. Tehran, in addition, has stretched its influence northward into both Azerbaijan and Armenia. While Israel has diplomatic relations with both of these rival nations, its relationship with Baku is closer and involves significant military and security collaboration, some of which is directed against Iran. Alexander Grinberg writes:

Iran exploits ethnic and religious factors in both Armenia and Azerbaijan to further its interests. . . . In Armenia, Iran attempts to tarnish the legitimacy of the elected government and exploit the church’s nationalist position and tensions between it and the Armenian government; in Azerbaijan, the Iranian regime employs outright terrorist methods similar to its support for terrorist proxies in the Middle East [in order to] undermine the regime.

Huseyniyyun (Islamic Resistance Movement of Azerbaijan) is a terrorist militia made up of ethnic Azeris and designed to fight against Azerbaijan. It was established by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps . . . in the image of other pro-Iranian militias. . . . Currently, Huseyniyyun is not actively engaged in terrorist activities as Iran prefers more subtle methods of subversion. The organization serves as a mouthpiece of the Iranian regime on various Telegram channels in the Azeri language. The main impact of Huseyniyyun is that it helps spread Iranian propaganda in Azerbaijan.

The Iranian regime fears the end of hostilities between Armenia and Azerbaijan because this would limit its options for disruption. Iranian outlets are replete with anti-Semitic paranoia against Azerbaijan, accusing the country of awarding its territory to Zionists and NATO. . . . Likewise, it is noteworthy that Armenian nationalists reiterate hideous anti-Semitic tropes that are identical to those spouted by the Iranians and Palestinians. Moreover, leading Iranian analysts have no qualms about openly praising [sympathetic] Armenian clergy together with terrorist Iran-funded Azeri movements for working toward Iranian goals.

Read more at Jerusalem Institute for Strategy and Security

More about: Azerbaijan, Iran, Israeli Security