What Made Western Civilization Great Can Also Save It

Surveying the current state of affairs in American and British politics, as well as the problems facing the West more generally, Daniel Johnson diagnoses a civilizational crisis, of which anti-Semitism is a symptom and neglect of the moral principles of the Hebrew Bible is a cause:

[Currently], neither the right nor the left is doing a good job of defending, representing, or embodying the values of our civilization. Those values come into play if, for example, the state treats human beings merely as a means rather than an end, or if executive authority is elevated above the law, or if the rights of conscience are subordinated to the sensibilities of groups or the imperatives of society. . . .

Our politics would still be recognizable to citizens of the Greco-Roman polis; we have not improved on the Enlightenment’s injunction to be ready to make the supreme sacrifice for the sake of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, just as we still divine the moral law encoded in our hearts and enshrined in the Hebrew Bible. The story of the West is the exegesis of that incomparable, inexhaustible diamond mine of the intellect. . . .

Only those who know what it is to live in exile, under the yoke of servitude, can teach others what tyranny is and what is needed to overcome it. May the leaders of the West, whether they hail from right or left, reach deep into our collective memory, resurrecting and drawing on the bitter experience of an exiled nation. In Psalm 137, perhaps the most memorable of all, the Psalmist sings: . . . “If I forget thee, O Jerusalem: let my right hand forget her cunning.” If we were to forget the origins of the West in [the] great city of God, our right hands, too, would forget their cunning—the conservative cause would be lost and the machinery of capitalism would grind to a halt. Our harps, too, would fall silent, as the cultural achievements of the centuries lose their meaning. If the Bible is the testament of the human race, the Jewish people are the living embodiment of that collective memory. The West’s commitment to Israel’s existence is, or should be, a matter of self-interested survival: we stand or fall together.

Read more at Standpoint

More about: Anti-Semitism, Hebrew Bible, History & Ideas, U.S. Presidential election, United Kingdom, Western civilization


The IDF’s First Investigation of Its Conduct on October 7 Is Out

For several months, the Israel Defense Forces has been investigating its own actions on and preparedness for October 7, with an eye to understanding its failures. The first of what are expected to be many reports stemming from this investigation was released yesterday, and it showed a series of colossal strategic and tactical errors surrounding the battle at Kibbutz Be’eri, writes Emanuel Fabian. The probe, he reports, was led by Maj. Gen. (res.) Mickey Edelstein.

Edelstein and his team—none of whom had any involvement in the events themselves, according to the IDF—spent hundreds of hours investigating the onslaught and battle at Be’eri, reviewing every possible source of information, from residents’ WhatsApp messages to both Israeli and Hamas radio communications, as well as surveillance videos, aerial footage, interviews of survivors and those who fought, plus visits to the scene.

There will be a series of further reports issued this summer.

IDF chief Halevi in a statement issued alongside the probe said that while this was just the first investigation into the onslaught, which does not reflect the entire picture of October 7, it “clearly illustrates the magnitude of the failure and the dimensions of the disaster that befell the residents of the south who protected their families with their bodies for many hours, and the IDF was not there to protect them.” . . .

The IDF hopes to present all battle investigations by the end of August.

The IDF’s probes are strictly limited to its own conduct. For a broader look at what went wrong, Israel will have to wait for a formal state commission of inquiry to be appointed—which happens to be the subject of this month’s featured essay in Mosaic.

Read more at Times of Israel

More about: Gaza War 2023, IDF, Israel & Zionism, October 7