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After Two Millennia, Christians Begin to Appreciate the Jewish Love of Law

Ever since the apostle Paul referred to “the law”—meaning the prescriptions of the Torah—as a “curse,” Christians have been perplexed, to say the least, by Judaism’s enthusiasm for legality. Meir Soloveichik believes this has started to change:

The Torah—a rigorous and complex code containing 613 commandments, to which the rabbis later added a myriad of further prohibitions and obligations—is for Jews an exquisite source of happiness, the ultimate embodiment of the Almighty’s love, and God’s greatest gift. . . .

Christian thinkers have been startled by the fact that law—in all its multifarious details—can be a source of delight. In his Reflections on the Psalms, C.S. Lewis admits he was confounded by the Psalmist’s description of the Torah as sweeter than honey. “One can easily understand,” Lewis asserts, how laws may be important, even critical, but “it is very hard to find how they could be, so to speak, delicious, how they exhilarate.” . . .

In the past two decades, however, a stunning new genre of religious writing has appeared: Christian appreciation of the Jewish love of the law. These sensitive reflections are not only instructive to Christians but also, in certain ways, very interesting to Jews, as we can learn a great deal when we see ourselves through an outsider’s insightful eyes. . . . In an age of libertinism, Christians are coming to appreciate the role rigorous adherence to law plays in Jewish character formation—and in an age when they are now cultural outsiders, Christians are beginning to seek the secret of Jewish survival through the centuries, and are discovering it in the Jewish love of the law.

Read more at Commentary

More about: Christianity, Halakhah, Jewish-Christian relations, Judaism, Paul of Tarsus, Religion & Holidays

The Palestinian Authority Should Be Held Responsible for Palestinian Refugees

April 25 2018

For aid and assistance with resettlement, most of the world’s displaced persons look to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees. Only Palestinian refugees and their descendants are consigned to the bloated, corrupt, and terrorist-infiltrated UN Relief Works Agency (UNRWA), which aims to keep its wards in a permanent state of refugeehood. Alex Joffe argues that UNRWA should be abolished, and its responsibilities handed over to the Palestinian Authority (PA):

The PA [should] be responsible for the Palestinians within its own territories as well as those who reside in other Arab states. It would [thus] be forced to act like a state and defend the rights and interests of its own citizens. Externally, foreign aid to a state can also—in theory—be subject to more rigorous donor oversight. Unlike UNRWA’s internal assessments, which rarely find problems except in the allegedly inadequate scale of aid and programs, external review by donor countries would examine metrics and efficiencies, spot corruption, determine the success or failure of programs, and assess the overall level of need. External review is designed to encourage self-sufficiency, not dependency. . . .

UNRWA is an iconic and sacrosanct entity. Without it, aid to the Palestinians would no longer be a sacralized demonstration of support for their narratives of displacement and return, or of support for the international system itself and for the UN. The Palestinian issue would be put into proportion while other needs and issues, like the genuine refugee crises in Syria and Yemen, would receive proper attention and resources.

Finally, by transferring responsibility, two cultural-political requirements would be addressed. First, a final-status issue would be at least partially taken off the table [of Israel-Palestinian negotiations]: that of who bears responsibilities for Palestinian “refugees.” It is the PA. Even without formally repudiating the “right of return,” which UNRWA supports and the PA cannot at this point conceivably abandon, the issue would be incrementally quashed in theoretical and practical terms.

The PA’s taking responsibility, and the end of UNRWA, would also go a long way toward forcing Palestinians to give up the centrality of refugee-ness in their own culture. They are not refugees, much less internationally supported ones. They are a people with their own nascent state.

Read more at BESA Center

More about: Israel & Zionism, Palestinian Authority, Palestinian refugees, UNRWA