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.)
Reason, Revelation, and Leo Strauss’s Jewish Commitments
Why the Recent Uptick of Israeli Activity in Syria?
On September 16 and 17, the IDF carried out airstrikes in the vicinity of Damascus, reportedly aimed at Iranian logistical centers there. These follow on an increase in the frequency of such attacks in recent weeks, which have included strikes on the Aleppo airport on August 31 and September 6. Jonathan Spyer comments:
The specific targeting of the Aleppo airport is almost certainly related to recent indications that Iran is relying increasingly on its “air bridge” to Syria and Lebanon, because of Israel’s successful and systematic targeting of efforts to move weaponry and equipment by land [via Iraq]. But the increased tempo of activity is not solely related to the specific issue of greater use of air transport by Teheran. Rather, it is part of a broader picture of increasing regional tension. There are a number of factors that contribute to this emergent picture.
Firstly, Russia appears to be pulling back in Syria. . . . There are no prospects for a complete Russian withdrawal. The air base at Khmeimim and the naval facilities at Tartus and Latakia are hard strategic assets which will be maintained. The maintenance of Assad’s rule is also a clear objective for Moscow. But beyond this, the Russians are busy now with a flailing, faltering military campaign in Ukraine. Moscow lacks the capacity for two close strategic engagements at once.
Secondly, assuming that some last-minute twist does not occur, it now looks like a return to the [2015 nuclear deal] is not imminent. In the absence of any diplomatic process related to the Iranian nuclear program, and given Israeli determination to roll back Iran’s regional ambitions, confrontation becomes more likely.
Lastly, it is important to note that the uptick in Israeli activity is clearly not related to Syria alone. Rather, it is part of a more general broadening and deepening by Israel in recent months of its assertive posture toward the full gamut of Iranian activity in the region. . . . The increasing scope and boldness of Israeli air activity in Syria reflects this changing of the season.