Bernard-Henri Lévy’s Brilliant but Shallow Judaism

In The Genius of Judaism, France’s premier public intellectual—known simply as BHL—argues that Judaism, or Jewish ideas, decisively shaped French values and literature and, perhaps equally importantly in his mind, the author’s. Neil Rogachevsky, who deems the book “insightful, often charming, and frequently ludicrous,” examines its underlying flaw:

Lévy freely admits that he is not the greatest knower of Jewish things. He barely knows Hebrew, though he offers a few fairly interesting readings of classic texts in the book. But he displays no knowledge of the Judaism of everyday life. His preference for a universalist Judaism is obviously not unrelated to this ignorance, and indeed lack of curiosity, about the ritual life and the practices that are observed by Jews and no others. He thus gives no further thought to how the participation in such practices might prepare the way for a certain kind of “universal though still Jewish” reflection of which he might approve. While Maimonides, whom BHL cites, sought to turn his intelligent readers to universalistic thoughts, he tried to do so through the cultivation of particular practices proper to the Jews. BHL knows nothing of this Maimonides.

Read more at Jewish Review of Books

More about: Bernard-Henri Levy, France, History & Ideas, Judaism, Moses Maimonides, Philosophy

Israel’s Economy Thrives While the Middle East Disintegrates

Jan. 19 2018

Now that the data have come in from 2017, it is clear that the Israeli economy had another successful year, expanding at a rate higher than that of any other advanced country. Israel’s per-capita GDP also grew, placing it above those of France and Japan. Daniel Kryger notes some of the implications regarding the Jewish state’s place in the Middle East:

The contrast between first-world Israel and the surrounding third-world Arab states is larger today than ever before. Israel’s GDP per capita is almost twenty times the GDP per capita of impoverished Egypt and five times larger than semi-developed Lebanon.

Like any human project, Israel is a never-ending work in progress and much work remains to integrate ḥaredi Jews and Israeli Arabs into Israel’s knowledge economy. Properly addressing Israel’s high costs of living requires more economic and legislative reforms and breaking up inefficient oligopolies that keep the prices artificially high. However, by any standard, the reborn Jewish state is a remarkable success story. . . .

Much has changed since OPEC launched its oil embargo against the West after the failed Arab aggression against Israel in October 1973. Before the collapse of the pro-Arab Soviet empire, China and India had no official ties with Israel and many Western and Japanese companies avoided doing business with Israel. Collapsing oil prices have dramatically eroded the power of oil-producing countries. It has become obvious that the future belongs to those who innovate, not those who happen to sit on oil. Israel has today strong commercial ties with China and a thriving partnership with India. Business delegations from Jamaica to Japan are eager to do business with Israel and benefit from Israel’s expertise. . . .

[For its part], the boycott, divest, and sanction (BDS) movement may bully Jewish and pro-Israel students on Western campuses. However, in real life, BDS stands no chance of succeeding against Israel. The reason is simple: reborn Israel has . . . become too valuable a player in the global economy.

Read more at Mida

More about: BDS, Israel & Zionism, Israeli economy, Middle East, OPEC