Reason, Revelation, and Leo Strauss’s Jewish Commitments

Jan. 15 2018

The German Jewish political philosopher Leo Strauss  (1899-1973) sought in his many works both to reanimate and to transform the study of the Western political tradition. Using her own assessment of Strauss’s career, as well as one written by Milton Himmelfarb in 1974, as her points of departure, Leora Batnitzky clears up some common misconceptions about his ideas and delves into what he saw as the primary tension in Western philosophy: that between reason and revelation. She then explores the distinctively Jewish aspects of his understanding of revelation, and suggests that he believed Judaism and Islam, in contradistinction to Christianity, shared much in their approach to law and revelation. (Interview by Alan Rubenstein. Audio, 34 minutes. Options for download and streaming are available at the link below.)

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More about: History & Ideas, Islam, Judaism, Leo Strauss, Reason, Revelation

Nikki Haley Succeeded at the UN Because She Saw It for What It Is

Oct. 15 2018

Last week, Nikki Haley announced that she will be stepping down as the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations at the end of the year. When President Trump appointed her to the position, she had behind her a successful tenure as governor of South Carolina, but no prior experience in foreign policy. This, writes Seth Lispky, turned out to have been her greatest asset:

What a contrast [Haley provided] to the string of ambassadors who fell on their faces in the swamp of Turtle Bay. That’s particularly true of the two envoys under President Barack Obama. [The] “experienced” hands who came before her proceeded to fail. Their key misconception was the notion that the United Nations is part of the solution to the world’s thorniest problems. Its charter was a vast treaty designed by diplomats to achieve “peace,” “security,” and “harmony.”

What hogwash.

Haley, by contrast, may have come in without experience—but that meant she also lacked for illusions. What a difference when someone knows that they’re in a viper pit—that the UN is itself the problem. And has the gumption to say so.

This became apparent the instant Haley opened her first press conference, [in which she said of the UN’s obsessive fixation on condemning the Jewish state]: “I am here to say the United States will not turn a blind eye to this anymore. I am here to underscore the ironclad support of the United States for Israel. . . . I am here to emphasize that the United States is determined to stand up to the UN’s anti-Israel bias.”

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More about: Nikki Haley, U.S. Foreign policy, United Nations, US-Israel relations