Donate

Why Judaism Proves a Threat to Parochialists and Cosmopolitans Alike

Aug. 31 2017

One of the puzzles of anti-Semitism is that it has managed, in its various forms, to attract believing Christians, believing Muslims, secular racists, devotees of the far left and far right, and—in its most modern form, hatred of the Jewish state—progressives who claim to stand for tolerance. Moshe Koppel suggests an answer:

In a word, the Jews are messiah-killers. But not that messiah.

Think about the vibe the world gets from [the traditional Jewish attitude]—and from Israel. It goes something like this: we Jews have our ways. We eat differently, dress differently, pray differently. We’re a tribe with our own hierarchies and we look out for each other. In short, we have our own moral system, including restraints and loyalties. We hold you in contempt for murdering us or, in the best case, remaining indifferent to our murder, but we’re prepared to live and let live. We won’t treat you like family, but we’ll be fair if you’ll be fair. And we’ll live this way for a good long time until our messiah comes.

[Judaism thus rests on the claim that] we can live according to our own distinct moral rules and nevertheless be fair with you.

Almost nobody wants to hear that claim. Not those Christians who wish to bring salvation now through universal acceptance of Jesus. Not Muslims who wish to bring salvation now through the restoration of the caliphate. Not racists who wish to bring salvation now by eliminating inferior races. Not enlightened philosophers who wish to bring salvation now through the triumph of reason over religion. Not post-nationalists who wish to bring salvation now through world government. Not [late-20th-century leftists] who wish to bring salvation now through freedom from the persistent demands of their former communities. Not [today’s leftists] who wish to bring salvation now through liberation from the responsibility of growing up and maintaining civilization.

They all despise [the Jews] for stubbornly standing in the way of salvation. They all share an interest in denying the very possibility of reconciling particularist traditions and loyalties with fairness to others.

Read more at Judaism without Apologies

More about: Anti-Semitism, Judaism, Religion & Holidays, Universalism

How Lebanon—and Hizballah—Conned and Humiliated Rex Tillerson

Feb. 21 2018

Last Thursday, the American secretary of state arrived in Beirut to express Washington’s continued support for the country’s government, which is now entirely aligned with Hizballah. His visit came shortly after Israel’s showdown with Hizballah’s Iranian protectors in Syria and amid repeated warnings from Jerusalem about the terrorist organization’s growing threat to Israeli security. To Tony Badran, Tillerson’s pronouncements regarding Lebanon have demonstrated the incoherence of the Trump administration’s policy:

[In Beirut], Tillerson was made to sit alone in a room with no American flag in sight and wait—as photographers took pictures and video—before Hizballah’s chief allies in Lebanon’s government, President Michel Aoun and his son-in-law the foreign minister, finally came out to greet him. Images of the U.S. secretary of state fidgeting in front of an empty chair were then broadcast across the Middle East to symbolize American impotence at a fateful moment for the region. . . .

Prior to heading to Beirut, Tillerson gave an interview to the American Arabic-language station al-Hurra, in which he emphasized that Hizballah was a terrorist organization, and that the United States expected cooperation from the “Lebanon government to deal very clearly and firmly with those activities undertaken by Lebanese Hizballah that are unacceptable to the rest of the world.” . . . But then, while in Jordan, Tillerson undermined any potential hints of firmness by reading from an entirely different script—one that encapsulates the confused nonsense that is U.S. Lebanon policy. Hizballah is “influenced by Iran,” Tillerson said. But, he added, “We also have to acknowledge the reality that they also are part of the political process in Lebanon”—which apparently makes being “influenced by Iran” and being a terrorist group OK. . . .

The reality on the ground in Lebanon, [however], is [that] Hizballah is not only a part of the Lebanese government, it controls it—along with all of the country’s illustrious “institutions,” including the Lebanese Armed Forces. . . .

[Meanwhile], Israel’s tactical Syria-focused approach to the growing threat on its borders has kept the peace so far, but it has come at a cost. For one thing, it does not address the broader strategic factor of Iran’s growing position in Syria, and it leaves Iran’s other regional headquarters in Lebanon untouched. Also, it sets a pace that is more suitable to Iran’s interests. The Iranians can absorb tactical strikes so long as they are able to consolidate their strategic position in Syria and Lebanon. Not only have the Iranians been able to fly a drone into Israel but also their allies and assets have made gains on the ground near the northern Golan and in Mount Hermon. As Iran’s position strengthens, and as Israel’s military and political hand weakens, the Israelis will soon be left with little choice other than to launch a devastating war.

To avoid that outcome, the United States needs to adjust its policy—and fast. Rather than leaving Israel to navigate around the Russians and go after Iran’s assets in Syria and Lebanon on its own, it should endorse Israel’s red lines regarding Iran in Syria, and amplify its campaign against Iranian assets. In addition, it should revise its Lebanon policy and end its investment in the Hizballah-controlled order there.

Read more at Tablet

More about: Hizballah, Israeli Security, Lebanon, Politics & Current Affairs, Rex Tillerson, U.S. Foreign policy