J.R.R. Tolkien’s Jewish Dwarves and Their Yearning for Zion

By J.R.R. Tolkien’s own admission, the dwarves are the group in his novels most similar to Jews, and in constructing their language he even drew upon Semitic models. Meir Soloveichik explores Tolkien’s attitudes toward Jews, his friendship with the Jewish historian Cecil Roth, the story of The Hobbit’s translation into Hebrew, and what, if anything, these “short, bearded beings exiled from their homeland, who have dreamed forever of returning” can teach actual Jews about their own experience:

According to the Bible, [Moses told the Israelites], “Not because of your size did God love you, for ye are the smallest of the nations.” We are, you might say, dwarfed by other peoples. And we are, until this day, chosen by God.

At the end of The Hobbit, the dwarves have returned to their mountain, the throne of the dwarf kingdom has been reestablished, and [the wizard] Gandalf tells Bilbo, [the unlikely hero who aids the dwarves in their quest to regain their homeland], of the glory that now surrounds the miraculous mountaintop. Bilbo replies: “Then the prophecies of the old songs have turned out to be true, after a fashion!” . . .

Tolkien was rather instructive here. For the story of the Jews is about a little people who today, and throughout time, have helped bring prophecy about. Yet, all too often, they doubt [prophecy] all the more, refusing to accept that to be a Jew means to be a part of the most miraculous story that could ever be told, a story that is not yet over.

Read more at Commentary

More about: Arts & Culture, Fantasy, J. R. R. Tolkien, Jewish history, Literature

Planning for the Day after the War in the Gaza Strip

At the center of much political debate in Israel during the past week, as well as, reportedly, of disagreement between Jerusalem and Washington, is the problem of how Gaza should be governed if not by Hamas. Thus far, the IDF has only held on to small parts of the Strip from which it has cleared out the terrorists. Michael Oren lays out the parameters of this debate over what he has previous called Israel’s unsolvable problem, and sets forth ten principles that any plan should adhere to. Herewith, the first five:

  1. Israel retains total security control in Gaza, including control of all borders and crossings, until Hamas is demonstrably defeated. Operations continue in Rafah and elsewhere following effective civilian evacuations. Military and diplomatic efforts to secure the hostages’ release continue unabated.
  2. Civil affairs, including health services and aid distribution, are administered by Gazans unaffiliated with Hamas. The model will be Area B of Judea and Samaria, where Israel is in charge of security and Palestinians are responsible for the civil administration.
  3. The civil administration is supervised by the Palestinian Authority once it is “revitalized.” The PA first meets benchmarks for ending corruption and establishing transparent institutions. The designation and fulfillment of the benchmarks is carried out in coordination with Israel.
  4. The United States sends a greatly expanded and improved version of the Dayton Mission that trained PA police forces in Gaza after Israel’s disengagement.
  5. Abraham Accords countries launch a major inter-Arab initiative to rebuild and modernize Gaza.

Read more at Times of Israel

More about: Gaza Strip, Gaza War 2023, Israeli Security, U.S.-Israel relationship