Don't Worry, Be Happy

Hey, I heard that there's "worry in Jerusalem" again.

What else is new? There's always "worry in Jerusalem." Just like the Ta'ami hummus restaurant is there, and a store called Maayan Stub - there's "worry" in Jerusalem. In Jerusalem, there are more "worries" than ATM machines.

But this time, I worry, the worry is a serious one: the dissipation of the worry over the Iranian nuclear threat.

Don't worry - We'll never be left without worries. It's an inexhaustible mine. Many worried, for instance, that after the fall of Saddam Hussein and the "elimination of the eastern front," that we'd be left without a worry. They were greatly mistaken, of course, as our friend Ahmadinejad will attest. As will Haman and his sons, Khmelnytzky and Co.

What's that phrase? "In every generation enemies rise up to destroy us..."

In every generation? In the distant past, maybe, existential worries occurred at the rate of one per generation. But since the founding of the state, we've made huge progress: The frequency of worries, threats and fears is up to an annual intimidation, a semi-annual existential threat, a weekly worry and a daily concern. So banish any worry from your mind: Like the song says: Next year, too, we'll sit on the balcony and count migrating worries.

Worry over the Saudi plan? Over the Syrian peace initiative? Over the hudna proposed by Hamas?

Don't forget Pakistan. And the major earthquake that's bound to happen - I wouldn't call that chopped liver, either. But luckily for Israel: "Worry" is only one of a dozen or so alternate or permanent states among which political "Jerusalem" is tottering.

Could you list them?

Okay, in alphabetical order: anger in Jerusalem, astonishment in Jerusalem, concern in Jerusalem, confusion in Jerusalem, consternation in Jerusalem, dismay in Jerusalem, doubt in Jerusalem, euphoria in Jerusalem, franticness in Jerusalem, obfuscation in Jerusalem, outright rejection in Jerusalem, scorn in Jerusalem, shock in Jerusalem, skepticism in Jerusalem, trauma in Jerusalem, worry in Jerusalem ... But "worry" - more than the others - is the default; it's the regular cruise-control setting for "Jerusalem."

So the idea is "Praiseworthy is the man that always fears"?

No, it's more like: "What would we do without it"? Worry is our drug, our fuel, the joint, the reefer; it's the source of livelihood for our pushers: without our daily toke of worry, we'd start climbing the walls. Without the external-threat-of-the-week - what would become of the IDF, Galgalatz, the defense budget, the Sherutrom fundraiser, the coalition, the government? Without a clear and immediate danger - everything would fall apart, kind of like the way the Minister for Strategic Threats fell apart this week on "London & Kirschenbaum": "The Iranian threat remains," "The threat from Iran remains" - "And also the Philadelphi corridor" - "Annapolis isn't leading anywhere, and therefore I am relaxed, beyond relaxed ..."

So then, what the Americans did to us a week ago is really very simple: To quote Shalom Hanoch: It's the end of the orange season. Someone shut off the flow at the main branch.

You could call it "the Yom Kippur War of Worry." Sixteen American intelligence agencies crossed the paranoia canal and took us by surprise. We were caught with our gadgetry down. No words can describe the utter stupefaction in Jerusalem. It even made some fear for the fate of the Third Temple, it was that bad!

Out of worry that a nuclear bomb will fall on us?

No, out of worry that there's no such bomb on the horizon - and if so, then what will become of us? How did the mournful-faced military analysts put it? "The American intelligence report will curtail American action against Iran, but worse than that - Israel will also find it very hard to carry out an offensive in Iran."

Wait a minute, but if Iran doesn't have a bomb - then anyway there's no reason to attack its facilities, right?

Don't be naive. And what about the conventional rockets Iran will launch in response to our attack? And besides: Since when do actual findings affect our worries - excuse me, I mean our intelligence assessments? Remember all those Amos Gilads who promised to find Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction? You just wait - the search is still ongoing. And even if the Iranians don't really have a bomb - the intention still remains. And do you have any idea how many Palestinians have been arrested or assassinated just because they had an intention? It's consciousness-searing by means of strategic prevention. And the fact is it works: Why do you think the Iranians don't have a bomb?

It's like that joke about the man who was standing there waving his hands and explained that he was keeping elephants away. When people told him that there were no elephants, he replied: "Nu, you see? It's helping."

It's no joke. That about sums up the entirety of Israel's deterrence policy: over-worry about over-complacency, which demands an over-reaction. Our behaving like a crazy country is the only thing that can reassure the crazy countries around us, as Khomeini said to Saddam. And why? Because of the worry, that's why.

How is Israel planning to react to the American report? We've already wasted the sorties over Bashar's palace ...

As in every situation of sudden loss, Jerusalem has had to go through all the familiar stages within a short time: First there's the shock and disbelief, then the anger, and finally the melancholy acceptance. Looked at this way, the visit to Israel of the U.S. military chief was really a condolence visit. He came to strengthen us - and came away strengthened, as usually happens. But what about us? To leave us like that, in the cold, without an existential threat to warm us? The television correspondent was nearly in tears when he reported: "The American chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff has gone, leaving behind a lot of worry."

Worry that there won't be a war?

What did Groucho Marx say? "I can't cancel the war now. I already put a deposit on the battlefield." And really, what do you propose we do with dozens of long-range bomber jets? With the Minister for Strategic Threats? With the NIS 50 billion of the defense budget, plus the NIS 18 that was collected in the Sherutrom? What will Netanyahu do without "the Iranian issue"? What will the Foreign Ministry do? Or military intelligence?

Actually, military intelligence recovered fairly quickly from the assault of the American report and went on the offensive: This week it launched the worry that a quarter of a million Israelis will be within range of the rockets in the coming year, may it be a blessed one.

Nu, and you were worried. Worry, my friend, is the rock of our existence; it's the conceptual basis upon which the state was founded: worry about anti-Semitism, which was replaced by security worries. That's the whole story right there. We might withdraw from territories, we might release prisoners. But we will not let them take away our worry. Without it - we have no defense policy, no foreign policy, no public relations policy. Without it, we're nothing.

And I thought that the country was actually founded on hope ...

Hope? Us? You know, I think the time has come to update the national anthem - especially the name: What's wrong with "The Worry"? "The 2,000-year-old worry"? But the line about "the soul of a Jew yearns" - that I'd leave in.