Never Again?

 

Raphael Lemkin intended his Genocide Convention, adopted by the UN in 1948, as a legal instrument to prevent another Holocaust. He is a forgotten prophet, and the convention has never been enforced.

Read more at Chronicle of Higher Education

More about: Genocide, Genocide Convention, Holocaust, International Law, Raphael Lemkin, Rene Cassin, United Nations

 

The Perversity of Barack Obama’s Foreign Policy

 

For some time now, the Obama administration has been committed to a policy of abandoning its friends and cozying up to its enemies. Yet only recently, writes John Podhoretz, with the opening to Iran, has the full extent of this doctrine become evident:

In making clear his desire to establish a working relationship with a nation that does not abide by any standards of civilized conduct, a nation that oppresses in medieval fashion at home and that is the worst state sponsor of terrorism abroad, the president is tacitly accepting the everyday behavior and casting a blind eye on the plain language of one of the world’s most monstrous regimes. . . .

The overall purpose here is to remake the geopolitical map and include Iran among the nations with which we can and should do business. From this perspective, Iran’s systematic record of anti-Americanism and anti-Semitism and its role as the world’s most active state sponsor of terrorism are not bugs but features: Iran is important not only because it is an oil-rich state with religious and ideological ambitions, but also because it has set itself against the United States and the West. And so it must be attended to, its concerns taken seriously, its desires and wishes accorded respect. In Obama’s view, it is with adversaries that America must enmesh itself to find some form of common ground. . . .

[T]he danger an Iranian nuke poses to the good working order of the world is profound. It will reorder military and strategic priorities in a profoundly destabilizing way over the course of this century. But the danger a deployed Iranian nuke poses to millions of Israelis is instantaneous. . . .

[Yet the White House] is threatening to cease protecting Israel from the jackals at the United Nations and other international organizations. These words from the Obama administration came the same week that the UN’s Commission on the Status of Women singled out Israel—alone among the UN’s 193 member nations—as the worst abuser of women’s rights in the world. In brief, Obama is signaling his desire to Europeanize American policy toward Israel.

Read more at Commentary

More about: Anti-Semitism, Barack Obama, Iran nuclear program, Politics & Current Affairs, U.S. Foreign policy, US-Israel relations

 

The Myth of the Religious-Zionist Settler

 

In both the Israeli and Western media, “settlers”—i.e., Jewish residents of the West Bank—are often depicted as politically and religiously homogeneous and generally assumed to be fanatics. As Akiva Bigman explains, however, settlers are split nearly evenly among ultra-Orthodox, religious-Zionist, and secular camps:

No one doubts that religious Zionists played a large part in the settlement movement and that they are worthy of great praise for this. But we need to keep the bigger picture in mind and fit the image to the facts and not the other way around. As a truly national project, various populations took part in the settlement movement, and most of those who live in Judea and Samaria live in settlements and towns established on government initiative or at least outside the settlements [founded by the Gush Emunim movement].

Religious Zionist leaders . . . understood reality, realizing that the settlement project must be a national, not a sectorial affair. They didn’t say that secular Jews wouldn’t come. Instead, they built settlements open to all—and they came, so much so that religious Zionists are a minority across the Green Line. The story of settlement in Judea and Samaria is one of a national, joint effort of religious Zionists, secular right-wingers, and many ḥaredi Jews besides. But something happened along the way. The focus on narrow sectorial interests turned a national project into one identified solely with one sector. This is a historical error of the first magnitude, a misrepresentation of the facts and a political blunder.

Read more at Mida

More about: Israel & Zionism, Israeli politics, Religious Zionism, Settlements, West Bank

Britain’s Green Party Puts Anti-Semitism on Its Agenda

 

A recent gathering in London of neo-Nazis and other anti-Semites received some attention in the British press. Despite the event’s ugly rhetoric, including calls for a boycott of Jewish-owned businesses, Douglas Murray points to a different group as the primary cause for concern:

[The neo-Nazis are] not the only people calling for boycotts. An anti-Israel boycott is part of Green-party policy. . . .

Natalie Bennett, the Green party’s Australian-born leader, has . . . told the Jewish Chronicle that she not only supports an economic boycott of Israel but a cultural boycott, too. This presumably means that Bennett believes British citizens should not listen, for instance, to a performance by a Jewish pianist who has been born in the historic homeland of the Jewish people. Or visit an exhibition by a painter from Israel or receive medical assistance from a Jewish surgeon who has migrated (isn’t the Green party in favor of open borders?) to the historic homeland of the Jewish people 70 years after the creation of the state of Israel.

I suppose that for the time being Bennett would still allow us to hear a Jewish pianist so long as the said pianist had not asserted their right to go to live in the world’s one and only Jewish state. But it is striking that the only type of migrant Bennett thinks we should boycott and disdain are Jewish migrants. . . .

A lot of people will be thinking of voting Green next month. Many of them will be fed up with the other parties or have no idea what the Green party stands for. As I say—a few discredited old Nazis are no problem whatsoever beside these people.

Read more at Spectator

More about: Anti-Semitism, BDS, Britain, British Jewry, Holocaust denial, neo-Nazis

Indiana, Gay Marriage, and James Madison’s Ideal of Religious Freedom

 

Yuval Levin argues that the particular liberty being protected by Indiana’s version of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act isn’t the First Amendment’s guarantee of free exercise of religion; it’s the Amendment’s prohibition of the establishment of a church by the state. Levin explains why James Madison added the latter guarantee to the Amendment, and why it applies here:

[Madison believed] that no one ought to be compelled to affirm as true a religious tenet he took to be false and that no one should be compelled to participate in a religious rite that violated his own understanding of his religious obligations. This is not exactly an extension of the traditional Anglo-American case for toleration. It is a Madisonian correction to the Lockean ideal of religious toleration in a society with an established church.

But this is also the essence of the argument that a wedding vendor who wants to remain free to refrain from participating in a same-sex wedding would advance. The question of the definition of marriage is, for many people, a fundamentally religious question. It is, of course, also a civil question in our country. But some religiously orthodox wedding vendors are finding themselves effectively compelled by the civil authorities to affirm an answer to that question that violates their understanding of their religious obligations. They would like to be relieved of that compulsion, but they are being told they can’t be because the larger society’s understanding of the proper answer to the question should overrule the answer prescribed by their religious convictions, and if they want to participate as business owners in the life of the larger society they must give ground.

They are in this sense more like religious believers under compulsion in a society with an established church than like believers denied the freedom to exercise their religion. Liberals are in this respect right to say they’re not trying to kill religious liberty. They’re trying to take it back to something like the form it had in the Anglo-American world when the Anglo-American world had a formal state religion—except now the state religion is supposed to be progressive liberalism.

Read more at National Review

More about: American politics, First Amendment, Freedom of Religion, Gay marriage, Politics & Current Affairs, Religious Freedom Restoration Act

Angelic Astrology in the Dead Sea Scrolls

 

Among the Dead Sea Scrolls are books telling elaborate stories—based loosely on biblical narratives—about angels. Helen R. Jacobus examines a small number of these scrolls with a particular focus on mathematics (free registration required):

Angels are often associated with secret knowledge but not usually with authentic mathematics. In several of the Dead Sea Scrolls there is a complicated network of parallel stories in which angels impart secret knowledge of the calendar, astronomy, astrology, and divination to humans before the Flood. These secrets were important for Jews and early Christians, among other things, to know about current scientific knowledge around them that had been developed to an advanced level by their neighbors in the ancient Near East and Mediterranean.

The myths are expansions of Genesis 5:23–24, the after-life of [Adams’s descendant] Enoch whose days ended at 365 years, and Genesis 6:4, the appearance of nefilim—[rendered as] giants in the Septuagint—benign progeny of divine beings and the daughters of humans. In early Jewish writings these short passages have been woven into epic, “rewritten Bible” sagas.

Nothing in these manuscripts indicates they are part of mythological books. When reconstructed it can be seen that they contain real astronomical calendars, and actual mathematical material. But angels are at the forefront. . . . An understanding of astronomy and mathematics ensured that people prayed at the correct time with the angels, a theme in several of the Dead Sea Scrolls.

Read more at ASOR

More about: ancient Judaism, Angels, Astrology, Dead Sea Scrolls, History & Ideas