The Japanese Prince Who Believes Judaism Could Redeem His Country Turns 100

Takahito Mikasa, Emperor Hirohito’s younger brother, has dedicated much of his life to scholarship of the ancient Near East, is a fluent Hebrew speaker, and appears frequently at Jewish communal events in Tokyo. He traces his interest in Judaism, ultimately, to his experiences in World War II, when, shocked by the horrific behavior of the Japanese army at Nanking, he came to oppose the war and his country’s institutionalized brutality. Menachem Butler presents an overview of Mikasa’s journey:

[Mikasa] deplored the theories, . . . common [in Japan in the 1950s], that the Japanese and the Jews have some mystical affinity or spiritual identity apparent only to the initiated. The real relationship of the two peoples, more contrapuntal than identical, he considered to be more profound. . . .

He said that after the Western powers defeated Japan . . . he had had the on, the obligation, to Westernize himself. He had gone on to learn Western culture. And, he said, in the six years of his study, he discovered one supreme fact; that the Jews were the key to Western civilization. The truth incarnated in Judaism, a truth of being rather than of theory, is the central meaning of history. . . . History had brought him—Prince Mikasa—to the Jew, . . . and Judaism had brought him back to himself. For the Jew is not only the father of the West, he is the scion of the Orient. He is the holy bridge (a traditional and poignant Japanese symbol) between East and West. Through understanding Judaism, the prince regained a sense of his dignity as a member of his people; he was again proud to be Japanese.

Read more at Tablet

More about: History & Ideas, Japan, Judaism, Western civilization, World War II

An American Withdrawal from Iraq Would Hand Another Victory to Iran

Since October 7, the powerful network of Iran-backed militias in Iraq have carried out 120 attacks on U.S. forces stationed in the country. In the previous year, there were dozens of such attacks. The recent escalation has led some in the U.S. to press for the withdrawal of these forces, whose stated purpose in the country is to stamp out the remnants of Islamic State and to prevent the group’s resurgence. William Roberts explains why doing so would be a mistake:

American withdrawal from Iraq would cement Iran’s influence and jeopardize our substantial investment into the stabilization of Iraq and the wider region, threatening U.S. national security. Critics of the U.S. military presence argue that [it] risks a regional escalation in the ongoing conflict between Israel and Iran. However, in the long term, the U.S. military has provided critical assistance to Iraq’s security forces while preventing the escalation of other regional conflicts, such as clashes between Turkey and Kurdish groups in northern Iraq and Syria.

Ultimately, the only path forward to preserve a democratic, pluralistic, and sovereign Iraq is through engagement with the international community, especially the United States. Resisting Iran’s takeover will require the U.S. to draw international attention to the democratic backsliding in the country and to be present and engage continuously with Iraqi civil society in military and non-military matters. Surrendering Iraq to Iran’s agents would not only squander our substantial investment in Iraq’s stability; it would greatly increase Iran’s capability to threaten American interests in the Levant through its influence in Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon.

Read more at Providence

More about: Iran, Iraq, U.S. Foreign policy