Remembering Ruth Gavison, a Great Zionist Thinker

Ruth Gavison, one of Israel’s foremost jurists and political theorists, died last week at the age of seventy-five. Allan Arkush remembers her not only for her intellectual accomplishments, passionate commitment to Zionism, and her deep moral sense, but also for her “approachability” and other personal qualities:

Ruth was effortlessly eloquent, in English no less than in Hebrew, but she didn’t rely solely on her words. What she did with her hands was simply incredible. I won’t even try to describe it. Go to YouTube, watch one of the dozens of her lectures that have been posted there. You’ll see that it’s possible to gesticulate mellifluously.

Watching Ruth in action, I felt like I was watching a colorized version of an old newsreel of a Zionist Congress. I half-expected that any minute Chaim Weizmann would show up and give me a glimpse of his own inimitable magic. Ruth embodied the bottomless and tireless devotion to the cause that made the state of Israel possible and that sustains it to this day.

[But] I don’t want to leave the impression that Ruth was single-mindedly focused on Jewish questions. She was deeply rooted, but she was also very cosmopolitan. When she came to the United States, she met with many and diverse friends, Jewish and non-Jewish, including prominent political theorists and legal scholars who had no particular interest in Israel. In [an] email [to me] last month, . . . she added that she was playing the piano and reading a lot about early 20th-century personalities and events. She singled out Stefan Zweig, and Muhammad Asad and The Road to Mecca, and “assimilationist Jews facing the challenges of Eastern and Western Europe. Fascinating. Something altogether different from Zionism.” Knowing that this might surprise me, she added a last word: “N’daber” (We’ll talk). I wish we still could.

Read more at Jewish Review of Books

More about: Jewish political tradition, Political philosophy, Ruth Gavison, Zionism

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