The blood-dimmed tide

The blood-dimmed tide

Things fall apart; the center cannot hold;

Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,

The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere

The ceremony of innocence is drowned…

It’s starting to feel as if we live in that bleak Yeatsian world, or at least as if we are watching it unfold in helpless horror.

It does seem that everything is falling apart, coming to pieces, crumbling to dust, feathering to ash. The anarchy of unleashed chaotic evil seems to creep out of tunnels, and yes, the world is red with blood, and no, innocence is not nurtured. Instead, it is crushed. Blown up.

The nightmare unfolding in Israel now seems to be something from which we can awaken, but we cannot. As Israel is besieged, as its enemies hide among children and innocent civilians, making clear that they value their own babies’ lives far less than they value killing ours, the world, in a display of blatant anti-Semitism, turns its collective back, tweeting its smug superiority to us.

As the shambling, lantern-jawed, gaffe-prone secretary of state, John Kerry, makes his unwanted way back to the Middle East, ready to fail at another round of hapless diplomacy, the noose around Israel tightens. (If the unfolding situation calls inexorable, bloody Shakespearean tragedy to mind, Mr. Kerry seems to have stepped into the scene from a Jane Austen novel. He is the pompous, bumbling, brown-nosed, entirely appalling Mr. Collins come to life.)

For now, as we write on Tuesday, Israelis and visitors can neither leave nor enter the country. They are frozen in place.

Meanwhile, almost directly north of Israel, the Russians and the Ukrainians are enacting a piece of very bad performance art that might be considered black comedy were it not so resolutely not funny. Having most likely shot a passenger jet out of the sky – whoops! – the Russians and their puppets now try to hide it. That’s bad, but not surprising. But to cart the rapidly decomposing bodies around rather than investigating the crash and allowing the grieving families to bury their dead shows not only an extraordinary callousness but also a complete indifference to world opinion.

Vladimir Putin, in fact, seems entirely immune to anything anyone else might think of him. Thug-bodied and ferret-faced, he is a classic bully, a blend of autocratic Russian evil and bland Soviet apparatchik malice. It is an unappealing combination.

And then, of course, between Israel and Ukraine, between Israel and the world, the rest of the Middle East is blowing up as well, united only in its loathing for the Jewish state.

What will happen? Who knows? We, the Jewish people, have been around forever. No one has managed to kill us. As this time of year reminds us, we have been through suffering many times, and we have always risen from it. We will survive and we will flourish. But it will be good when this particular nightmare is over.