Don’t Give Up on the Nuclear Family

Feb. 25 2020

In a recent essay, the opinion writer David Brooks argues that the American nuclear family flourished because of a unique set of social and economic factors that took hold from 1950 to 1965. But the nuclear family proved too fragile to withstand subsequent challenges. Therefore, Brooks concluded, the proper response to the current crisis of the family is not to recreate the nuclear family of midcentury America but instead to reach farther back to older and more enduring forms of social and familial relations. Mona Charen is unconvinced:

In his more than 8,000-word essay, Brooks fails to grapple with marriage. Without solid marriages to form the bedrock of families, it is hard to see how the extended families or family alternatives Brooks envisions can flourish.

In what seems an inversion, Brooks lays at the feet of the nuclear family the awful consequences of its collapse. Citing the rise of loneliness among the elderly, for example, Brooks chalks this up to the lack of “extended families.” He neglects to cite the decline of marriage and the rise of divorce. In other words, more elderly Americans are lonely because they are divorced or never married (leaving aside the irreducible percentage who are widows or widowers). It is un-marriage that has contributed to this problem more than the loss of extended families.

While it’s true that the 1950s are not coming back, we don’t need to consult history to find nuclear families that are thriving. As Brooks acknowledges, among the college-educated upper third in America today, marriage remains nearly as universal as it was among all Americans decades ago. Even in our era, . . . Americans with college degrees are managing to make the nuclear-family model work. Not just work, thrive. Interestingly, as [the eminent sociologist] Charles Murray highlighted in [his recent book] Coming Apart, the college-educated are actually more likely to be religiously observant than the less-educated today. That was not the case 50 years ago.

But it isn’t just wealthy families that are clinging to the nuclear model. Among the religiously observant, like Orthodox Jews and Mormons, the nuclear family remains strong. . . . Even among the poor, some are making marriage and the nuclear family a priority. Among immigrants, 76 percent of children live with two parents compared with 62 percent of native-born families—this, despite the fact that a quarter of immigrant parents do not have high-school diplomas.

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More about: Family, Marriage, Religion

Why the Leader of Hamas Went to Russia

Sept. 30 2022

Earlier this month, the Hamas chairman Ismail Haniyeh and several of his colleagues visited Moscow, where they met with Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and other Russian officials. According to Arabic-language media, Haniyeh came seeking “new ideas” about how to wage war against the Jewish state. The terrorist group has had good relations with the Kremlin for several years, and even maintains an office in Moscow. John Hardie and Ivana Stradner comment on the timing of the visit:

For Moscow, the visit likely reflects a continuation of its efforts to leverage the Palestinians and other issues to pressure Israel over its stance on Russia’s war in Ukraine. Russia and Israel built friendly relations in the decades following the Soviet Union’s dissolution. After Russia invaded Ukraine in February, Jerusalem condemned the war, but made sure to tread carefully in order to preserve working ties with Moscow, lest Russian military forces in Syria disrupt Israel’s strategically important air operations there.

Nevertheless, bilateral tensions spiked in April after Yair Lapid, then serving as Israel’s foreign minister, joined the chorus of voices worldwide accusing Russia of committing war crimes in Ukraine. Jerusalem later provided Kyiv with some non-lethal military aid and a field hospital. In response, Moscow hardened its rhetoric about Israeli actions in the Palestinian territories.

The Palestinian issue isn’t the only way that Russia has sought to pressure Israel. Moscow is also threatening, on seemingly spurious grounds, to shutter the Russian branch of the Jewish Agency.

Moscow likely has little appetite for outright conflict with Israel, particularly when the bulk of Russia’s military is floundering in Ukraine. But there are plenty of other ways that Russia, which maintains an active intelligence presence in the Jewish state, could damage Israel’s interests. As Moscow cozies up with Hamas, Iran, and other enemies of Israel, Jerusalem—and its American allies—would do well to keep a watchful eye.

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Read more at Algemeiner

More about: Hamas, Israeli Security, Russia