Nuclear Semantics

 
October 15

Iran looks set to promise the West that it won’t produce nuclear weapons, but no outsider will be able to know whether it actually has any.

Read more at Begin-Sadat Center

More about: Iran, Israel, Nuclear Bomb, United States

 

Israel Cannot Outsource its Security, Despite what General Allen Thinks

 
October 24

As Washington tries to revive peace talks, a plan developed by General John Allen will likely return to the table. That plan, introduced a year ago, involves a gradual withdrawal of the IDF from the West Bank in favor of “a combination of Palestinian Arab forces, international monitors, and technology.” Whatever its political merits might be, such a plan, argues Colonel Richard Kemp, is strategically foolish, leaving Israel’s eastern border open to attack from Iran, Islamic State, or some other regional enemy. Nor would Allen ever suggest such a plan for the fight against IS, which he currently commands. Kemp writes:

Despite the determination of so many in the West erroneously to view the Israel-Palestine conflict as a mere territorial dispute that could be settled if only the so-called “occupation” ended, the forward defensive measures necessary for other Western nations are necessary for Israel as well. The stark military reality is that Israel cannot withdraw its forces from the West Bank—either now or at any point in the foreseeable future.

For those willing to see with clarity and speak with honesty, that conclusion has been obvious for many years. It is even more obvious, perhaps, for leaders with direct responsibility—such as General MacArthur had in Australia in 1942—than for those who do not have to live with the consequences of their actions—such as General Allen in Israel in 2013.

Read more at Gatestone

More about: Douglas MacArthur, Israeli Security, Peace Process, West Bank

 

The Terror Attacks in Canada Are Not Unexpected, and Are Clearly Linked to IS

 
October 24

Although the most recent acts of terror in Canada came as a surprise to most, they are not unprecedented: a large-scale attack was foiled in 2006, and two more in 2013. Canada is home to at least 80 individuals who returned after joining terrorist organizations abroad. The caliph of Islamic State recently called on Muslims in Canada (and elsewhere) to kill “non-believers,” and an IS video explicitly suggested running people over with cars. As Jonathan D. Halevi writes:

The choice of Canada as a terror target is part of the overall strategy of the Islamic State and the other radical Islamic organizations to weaken the West, dissuade it from a military campaign against radical Islam, and remove all Western presence from the Middle East and Muslim countries. The goal is to expand the caliphate’s borders so as to enable an anti-Western jihad campaign that will bring about global Islamization. The success of the terror attacks in Canada will likely encourage terror groups in the United States, which is Islamic State’s supreme target, to carry out domestic attacks.

Read more at Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs

More about: Canada, ISIS, Terrorism

 

Can the Humanities Survive without Religion?

 
October 24

For some time now, humanities professors have bemoaned the declining interest in their courses, and enrollment statistics back up their complaints. An exception can be found in a small number of Christian colleges, where interest in the humanities seems to be alive and well. Christopher Noble, a literature professor at Azusa Pacific University, writes of his own experience:

When my mostly Protestant students read Dante (or Darwin) in the woods, they are not primarily “appreciating a classic,” “learning to respect otherness,” “gaining a marketable skill,” “cultivating the life of the mind,” or living out some bizarre Thoreauvian fantasy. Any of those things may happen by accident, but their measurable learning outcomes are explicitly religious: (1) I expect them to master basic skills of literary interpretation and rhetorical organization as a prerequisite for biblical and ecumenical dialectics; (2) I expect them to clarify and refine their own theological perspectives by practicing textual confrontation with the past—a practice significant only in communities that affirm that identity emanates from the past. Those two learning outcomes represent competencies that students cannot develop anywhere else, for their churches stopped teaching them long ago.

Read more at Chronicle of Higher Education

More about: Academia, Education, Humanities, Religion

Having Failed to Boycott Israel, the American Studies Association Turns on the Media

 
October 24

Last year, the American Studies Association became the only major U.S. academic organization to endorse a boycott of Israel. It has recently backed down from the boycott, but it is now trying to shield its upcoming annual conference from press scrutiny by making the process of getting a press badge “as complicated, arbitrary, and daunting as getting a press pass for the North Korean Politburo meeting.” This reaction, writes Eugene Kontorovich, only shows how much something is wrong at ASA:

Of course, ASA is well within its rights—it could have entirely excluded journalists. That would have looked much better than creating a byzantine mechanism for cherry-picking those who can attend. It is also understandable that they do not want their conference to be constantly under the microscope for evidence of national-origin discrimination. Of course, the best way to avoid that would have been to not adopt a discriminatory policy.

While the ASA’s original boycott was discriminatory, and possibly illegal, the press policy is something that is arguably worse for a scholarly organization: ridiculous, heavy-handed, and self-parodying. This is an organization whose statement this week defending themselves from discrimination charges boasted of its “spirit of openness and transparency,” and described the conference as a “broad and inclusive event.”

Read more at Washington Post

More about: Academia, American Studies Association, BDS

 

What Were the Bamot, and Why Did They Make the Biblical Prophets Angry?

 
October 24

The prophets repeatedly denounced their fellow Jews for worshiping at bamot (singular bamah), usually translated as “high places.” Yet other biblical passages seem to suggest that worship at bamot is unobjectionable, as long as God (and not some pagan deity) is being venerated. Although the bamot are generally taken to be hilltop shrines, many archaeologists and Bible scholars think they were actually man-made mounds. What was wrong with them?

The most convincing theory is that after the Temple was built in Jerusalem, it was no longer appropriate to worship elsewhere (1 Kings 3:2) . . . However, when exactly this was understood by historical Israel is harder to determine. Richard D. Nelson of the Perkins School of Theology claims that this was to set the worship of Yahweh apart from the worship of Baal: “The plurality of shrines inevitably reflected the local multiplicity of Canaanite Baal worship, implying a Yahweh of Dan and another Yahweh at Bethel.”

Read more at Bible History Daily

More about: Ancient Israel, Archaeology, Idolatry, Prophets, Sacrifice