As is traditional at this time of year I thought I would comment on what has been a big year for me personally but which has also seen major changes in Israel and England.
Of course the biggest moment for me in 2009, was making aliyah in March. After nine months I am to say that I think that my wife and I made the right decision. Whilst life is not always easy when you move to a new country and need to find a place to live, learn a language, find a new job and settle into a new community, these challenges can be overcome and lead to a better life, which I believe we are achieving here in Israel.
Moving to a new country also gave me a new perspective on the country I left behind and the one which I have now moved to.
The year kicked off with the dramatic events of the Gaza war, when the Israeli Government finally set about stopping the daily barrarge of missiles shot by Hamas into Israel. This war was a military success for Israel so that instead of the tens of thousands of the Sderot region had to suffer every year for eight years, this year since the end of the war they have only suffered about 200 missiles, so that the residents can now almost now live normal lives.
However, while the Gaza war was a military success, it has led to the worst anti-semitism around the world and in England since World War Two (sadly something which has been said every year for the past few years).
Israel also had an election earlier this year in February, when the right-wing parties received a majority and at the beginning of April Benjamin Netenyahu was able to form a government. Over the past eight months Netenyahu has proved to be a success and has been able to lead a strong Government (something unsual in Israel) in his work to ensure Israel has a strong economy, make sure he can achieve peace in Israel - something our neighbours - don't seem to be as supportive of, and ensured Israel has a good civil society while trying to play an importnat part in this world.
In comparison , in my last few years living in England I thought it was deteriorating but now when I view it from abroad I see it in an even worse situation. The economy is of course in a terrible mess and is a country verging on bankruptcy, according to foreign press, while being mocked as one of the few countries still to be in recession.
However, more worrying in my view is the rising levels of anti-semitism which I have written about before and yet I have been criticised for exagerating the problems but just look at the evidence.
- 609 reginstered anti-semitic attacks in the UK in the first half of the year.
- Jews attacked on the streets of Golders Green
This is also seen at official level when the Government seems not to care about Israel and to see it as more of a threat than an ally where just this month, Israel's former foreign secretary was not able to enter Britain - just like many Israeli Ministers - because the courts have agreed to their arrest warrants, something for dictators, not leaders of democratic allies.
I hope 2010 is a good year and I will be posting my predictions tomorrow.