Back in the prattle again.

An American pun.

Not a very good one, perhaps. But neither is my single Christmas pun, now made available to my American readers with all due good cheer:

“What are Santa’s helpers officially called?”

Answer at bottom.

Hint: Not elves. What is their official job title?

Be that as it may, and it is, before getting into “The Next New Zion,” a blessing once again on the Israeli medical system and especially the good folks at Clalit. After five years of more contact with Israeli medicine than I ever expected or wanted to have, I remain convinced – it’s the best in the world. And it’s hard to know that, and to look around at all the other accomplishments, and not think:

Israel has so much to offer the world. What a tragedy it would be if the world, for reasons ranging from pathological hatred of Jews to pathological adoration of others, should let it all go by.

And while we’re mentioning excellence, a blessing also on the good folks at Betuach Leumi. I’ve read and heard the standard horror stories. But in my experience, I’ve been treated with nothing but courtesy, consideration and competence. Of course, it’s the horror stories that make the rounds. But likely there are many, many more people who share my experience, and who see no reason to mention it.

There is a reason to mention it. People who do good work under difficult conditions always deserve mention.

Now to the Next New Zion.

It is not necessary to recount the horrific events of the last few weeks and months here, in Europe and, in a different way, in America. What concerns me more is the high-decibel reaction, as expressed in the media, the social media, and in such personal contacts as we all have. Nearly all these reactions, Israeli, European, American, seem to share a common trait. Four common traits, actually.

Everybody knows their lines.

Everybody seems to be talking about themselves.

Nobody cares to go beyond the “what” to the “how.”

And everybody gets huffed-up when you notice any or all of the above.

One at a time.

Is it really true that, in the matter of Israel and of Islamism’s war upon humanity, everything has already been said? Must the human race be reduced to hurling pre-formatted diatribes/sermonettes against each other, messages that mean nothing because they’re not intended to change anybody’s mind, merely . . .

Demonstrate the superiority of those who hurl them. On the Right (insofar as such antiquated terms still have meaning) it’s a sound-tough posturing opportunity. Look how realistic, hard-nosed, even ruthless I am. Or want to seem to be.

On the Left, look how morally superior, how sensitive and concerned, how righteous, or at least self-righteous I am. As for how I or anybody can implement my own or anybody else’s ideas . . .

That’s not the point of the exercise. The point is to prove that I’m superior, not practical. From those who demand that Israel wipe out, not the hate and discontent, but the haters and the discontented, to those who demand that everybody “take in” unlimited numbers of refugees, and even compare those poor souls to the victims of a governmental campaign of extermination . . .

To quote the Beatles: We’d all love to see the plan.

But there ain’t no plan beyond posturing and – it must be mentioned – Prime Minister Netanyahu’s ongoing exercise in presenting Israel as Uncle Sam’s Spoiled Brat, until such time as he and his kith can shove into power a more compliant Uncle.

So that’s where we are. Recent events, and those that await, become for all sides a precious moral resource, proving that they and they alone are clear-minded, righteous and right. And that’s what matters. That’s all that matters.

I can think of no greater recipe for disaster. For Israel, for Europe, for America, for the world.

But as things stand now, it’s hard to expect much more. Not from Netanyahu’s Israel, or Obama’s America, or that clueless concatenation that, to borrow an American lyric, “ain’t got no future and never made no past,” the European Union.

So what’s the world’s only Jewish nation-state (Why can’t there be a start-up competitor somewhere to juice the game?) to do? Some might say, nothing will change until Mr. Netanyahu retires to write his mega-bucks memoirs, harvest additional big bucks on the lecture circuit, and maybe co-host a reality TV show with Barack Obama. I’m not so sure. The man may yet redeem himself by some magnificent miracle of statesmanship. And anyway, no one to the left of Mr. Netanyahu seems interested, let alone capable, of taking up the challenge.

Israelis may love to scream and shout, but we’ve got the quietest political opposition in this or any Jewish nation-state.

Still, none of the above can keep those of us who wish to speak to each other in words of meaning and respect, from at least making the attempt. So let’s begin.

What might the next new Zionism espouse? And what might the next new Zion be like?

Perhaps we would do well to consider the political and other applicabilities of Hillel’s great dictum.

If I am not for myself, who will be for me?

If I am only for myself, what am I?

And if not now, when? 

We’re for ourselves. No doubt about that. But are we only for ourselves? And if we want to look beyond ourselves, to what? And when?

Back in chemo tomorrow. Next installment, hopefully Friday.

Answer to pun:

What are Santa’s helpers officially called?

Subordinate Clauses.