These Honored Dead


The battle at Gettysburg took place 150 years ago: a blink of an eye in the millennia since Sinai. Such uncanny intimacy with the far past is what Jewish culture brings to American history.

Read more at Forward

More about: American Civil War, American Jewish Heritage Month, American Jewish History, Gettysburg, July 4


Should the U.S. Care about Iran’s Eliminationist Anti-Semitism?


Hatred of Jews and the goal of annihilating Israel are key elements of the Iranian regime’s ideology. By reconciling with that regime, what message, asks Lee Smith, is the U.S. sending, and to whom?

For 36 years now, Iranian officials have threatened to annihilate Israel. As Basij commander Mohammad Reza Naqdi said recently, “Destroying Israel is non-negotiable.” There may be different centers of power throughout the regime, as Iran experts posit, but everyone agrees with the Supreme Leader [Ali Khamenei] that Israel—the “Zionist cancer”—has got to go.

Middle East experts and experienced Iran watchers in the West typically dismiss such threats as instrumental rhetoric. . . . The Iranians, [say the experts,] wouldn’t ever really use the bomb. In fact, they’re very clever, rational people. . . .

[But] of course Iran is irrational. It is irrational in its very essence, for anti-Semitism is the form that unreason takes in modern political life. Disregarding the regime’s anti-Semitism is not a way of politely papering-over stray rhetoric or a barely relevant superstition that is not of any conceivable relevance to grand matters of state. It is to ignore willfully the nature of the regime. Seen from this perspective, the White House’s key foreign-policy initiative—to strike a deal with such a regime—is willfully perverse. . . .

The winners then include not just the White House and the American voices of reason who want peace with Iran, but also the fringe characters who are now welcome to air their views about the tentacle octopus of Jewish power. . . . The White House has opened the door to this freak show by striking a deal with a regime that embodies anti-Semitism of the most virulent sort, at a moment when Jews are being abused and gunned down on the streets of Europe. Whom does that kind of message embolden?

Read more at Tablet

More about: American Jewry, Anti-Semitism, Barack Obama, Iran, Israel & Zionism, U.S. Foreign policy

Will Evangelicals Continue to Support Israel?


A small but growing number of American evangelical Christians have criticized their movements’ pro-Israel stance, and there is even a George-Soros-funded organization that supports them. Mark Tooley gives the background and points the way forward:

A new generation of evangelical leaders is more reluctant to wade into the [Israeli-Palestinian] controversy. Some old religious-Right figures were believers in dispensationalism, a 19th-century movement . . . stressing various end-times events, including the restoration of Israel, before Christ’s return. . . . [M]illions of sincere Christians adhere to some version of [dispensationalism]. Critics of Christian Zionism often critique dispensationalism as apocalyptic and imply it is the main force for evangelical support for Israel. They also claim that dispensationalism is on the decline, with little pull among young evangelicals.

But most pro-Israel Christians, including evangelicals, have never been full-throttle dispensationalists. They instead focus on sympathy for world Jewry after the Holocaust, the ongoing threat of anti-Semitism, nasty anti-Israel regimes like theocratic Iran, Israel’s thriving democracy, Israel’s alliance with America, and more recently, Israel as an oasis of protection for Middle East Christians, under siege nearly everywhere else.

Many evangelicals and other Christians also mystically believe . . . in an ongoing organic, familial tie between Christianity and Judaism, of which the land of Israel is a not insignificant part. . . .

Neither providence nor the Bible is neutral between a people striving to survive [and those] many others who hope for their elimination. Effectively explaining why requires both good political and theological judgment.

Read more at Washington Examiner

More about: Christian Zionism, Evangelical Christianity, Israel & Zionism, Jewish-Christian relations, Messianism

A First-Hand Report on Stanford's Bizarre BDS Debate


The Stanford University student senate recently debated a resolution calling on the university “to divest from companies violating human rights in occupied Palestine.” After rejecting the resolution in an initial vote, the senate reconvened and passed it. (The university’s trustees chose to ignore the resolution.) Subsequently, a Jewish candidate for the student senate was reportedly questioned about how her Jewish identity might influence her perspective on the issue of divestment. Miriam Pollock describes the bizarre campus political dynamic that led to the resolution being considered in the first place, the session of the senate in which the resolution was debated, and what happened in the re-vote:

Most candidates are elected because they secure important endorsements from campus organizations. Around a dozen student groups endorse candidates for the senate each year, but only three really matter: SOCC (Students of Color Coalition), FLIP (First-Generation Low-Income Partnership), and JSA (Jewish Student Association). The endorsement process is opaque, but students do tend to trust that candidates they endorse will represent them and their political beliefs. The four candidates who received the most votes last year were endorsed by all three of the organizations listed above. . . .

SOCC endorsements carry the most weight. . . . Every student group in SOCC is also in SOOP, or Students Out of Occupied Palestine, the coalition responsible for bringing the divestment proposal to Stanford. . . .

When, [at the senate session,] a pro-Israel student started discussing BDS . . . [the university administrator] Sally Dickson, . . . told him to “talk about the bill.” Yet later on, a representative of Stanford Students for Queer Liberation talked about her involvement in queer activism, and a member of Fossil Free Stanford talked about how oil drilling had led him to support the Palestinians. But Dickson did not instruct these students to simply “talk about the bill.”

After the resolution was rejected, the second vote went somewhat differently:

There was no official notice that the senate would be holding a re-vote on divestment. Apparently some of the senators claimed that they were overwhelmed by all the people present at the debate. After thinking it over, they decided they wanted to change their votes.

Read more at Tower

More about: Anti-Semitism, BDS, Israel & Zionism, Israel on campus, University

Charles Krauthammer on Judaism and Jewish Identity


The journalist Charles Krauthammer speaks about his Jewish upbringing, the Talmud, Zionism, secular Judaism, and his own faith. (Interview by William Kristol; video, 22 minutes.)

Read more at Kristol Conversations

More about: Jewish conservatives, Judaism, Religion & Holidays, Secular Judaism, Talmud, Zionism

A Midwestern Protest against the Dreyfus Verdict


In 1899, a “young and beautiful Jewess” came close to winning a pageant in Wichita, Kansas. Why? Mississippi Fred MacDowell reproduces a contemporary newspaper report and explains:

Wichita, Kansas very nearly elected Miss Sadie Joseph queen of the Flower Parade at the fall carnival because they really didn’t like the verdict against Captain Alfred Dreyfus in France. Some of the history books say she was elected, but I checked, and she just could not beat Miss Mayme Mahaney. However, many hearts were in the right place in this corner of Music Man-era America.

Read more at On the Main Line

More about: Alfred Dreyfus, American Jewish History, French Jewry, History & Ideas, Philo-Semitism