In the year 2000, some 170 Jewish scholars produced a statement, published in the Christian magazine First Things, that articulated the supposed shared principles of Judaism and Christianity and was meant to serve as the basis for further interfaith dialogue. The statement served in part as a Jewish response to Nostra Aetate, the Vatican’s seminal 1965 reassessment of its attitude toward religious tolerance, which removed many anti-Jewish teachings from Catholic doctrine. In an essay in Commentary, Jon Levenson sharply criticized the Jewish statement, warning that its emphasis on the commonalities of Jewish and Christian belief threatened to elide or suppress the differences, and thus undermine the very reasons for retaining those things that make Judaism unique. He revisits these arguments in conversation with Alan Rubenstein. (Audio, 30 minutes. Options for download and streaming are available at the link below.)
The Danger and Opportunity of Jewish-Christian Dialogue
The Syrian Civil War May Be Coming to an End, but Three New Wars Are Rising There
With both Islamic State and the major insurgent forces largely defeated, Syria now stands divided into three parts. Some 60 percent of the country, in the west and south, is in the hands of Bashar al-Assad and his allies. Another 30 percent, in the northeast, is in the hands of the mostly Kurdish, and American-backed, Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF). The final 10 percent, in the northwest, is held by Sunni jihadists, some affiliated with al-Qaeda, under Turkish protection. But, writes Jonathan Spyer, the situation is far from stable. Kurds, likely linked to the SDF, have been waging an insurgency in the Turkish areas, and that’s only one of the problems:
The U.S.- and SDF-controlled area east of the Euphrates is also witnessing the stirrings of internal insurgency directed from outside. According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, “236 [SDF] fighters, civilians, oil workers, and officials” have been killed since August 2018 in incidents unrelated to the frontline conflict against Islamic State. . . . The SDF blames Turkey for these actions, and for earlier killings such as that of a prominent local Kurdish official. . . . There are other plausible suspects within Syria, however, including the Assad regime (or its Iranian allies) or Islamic State, all of which are enemies of the U.S.-supported Kurds.
The area controlled by the regime is by far the most secure of Syria’s three separate regions. [But, for instance, in] the restive Daraa province in the southwest, [there has been] a renewed small-scale insurgency against the Assad regime. . . .
As Islamic State’s caliphate disappears from Syria’s map, the country is settling into a twilight reality of de-facto division, in which a variety of low-burning insurgencies continue to claim lives. Open warfare in Syria is largely over. Peace, however, will remain a distant hope.