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Jewish Journal

A painful decade in Jewish history

by Brad A. Greenberg

December 28, 2009 | 4:42 pm

It’s that time when most journalism outlets are reflecting on the biggest stories of the past year and decade. And over the next few days I’ll be linking to a few of these, starting with JTA’s “gloomy decade” of Jews fighting the J2K virus:

Things were going so well through most of 2000—building on positive trends in the 1990s—then matters took a sudden and sharp turn for the worse.

The Israelis and Palestinians finally were hashing out the details of a final peace deal, an Orthodox Jew seemed poised to be elected vice president of the United States, and it was a time of unprecedented wealth and philanthropic activity in the Jewish community. For a few months it seemed that American Jews could have it both ways: full integration without assimilation at home and a Jewish state free of war in the Middle East. The safety and acceptance that had been denied Jews for centuries and then in Israel for decades appeared to be within reach.

Before 2000 was over, however, the convergence of these utopian developments had unraveled. Joe Lieberman was undone by hanging chads and confused Palm Beach, Fla., voters who ended up voting for Pat Buchanan instead of Al Gore. The peace process, meanwhile, collapsed eventually after the Palestinians rejected Israeli proposals for a final deal and launched the second intifada.

So instead of a golden age in Jewish history, the past 10 years ended up bringing waves of unforeseen anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism worldwide, increased scrutiny of Jewish organizations in the United States, and growing threats to Israel and the West from Islamic terrorist organizations and Iran. Not to mention the near collapse of the global financial system, a slumping world economy and a shrinking Jewish philanthropic landscape.

We could start with Bernard Madoff, 9/11 conspiracy theories and burgeoning anti-Semitism in Europe. But the list goes on and on.

More from JTA editor-in-chief Ami Eden’s essay here.

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