The Biblical Roots of Capitalism

From both the left and the right, the American public conversation has seen growing criticism of capitalism, sometimes based on an appeal to religion. Most recently, anti-capitalists have contended that the coronavirus pandemic has exposed the failures of the free market. Charles Mizrahi argues that such claims are rooted in a misreading of key biblical sources as well as the American political tradition:

Dating all the way back to Abraham, wealth and prosperity were signs of blessings from God. That theme continued throughout the Bible with Isaac, Jacob, and Solomon all achieving wealth that was considered a clear indicator of divine favor. As Deuteronomy 8:18 says, “Remember that it is the Lord your God who gives you the power to get wealth, in fulfillment of the covenant that He made on oath with your fathers, as is still the case.”

But that wealth was not meant to be hoarded or to be used only for self-gratification and advancement. There was an expectation from God concerning wealth and divinely ordained responsibility to be generous. According to the prophet Ezekiel, one of the grievances that God had against Sodom was that the people had wealth and abundance but did not share it with those in need.

Government welfare interferes with man’s responsibility to his God and his direct interaction with his community. . . . The founders of our country understood this. George Washington, on more than one occasion, quoted the prophet Micah when speaking of peace and prosperity. [Moreover], the responsibility of generosity was deeply interwoven into our Founding Fathers’ vision for this nation. And that thread has continued to this day, as America has held the mantle of the most generous and giving people in the world for the last decade.

Read more at RealClear Religion

More about: American founding, Capitalism, Deuteronomy, Hebrew Bible

Iran’s Program of Subversion and Propaganda in the Caucasus

In the past week, Iranian proxies and clients have attacked Israel from the West Bank, Gaza, Lebanon, and Yemen. Iran also has substantial military assets in Iraq and Syria—countries over which it exercises a great deal of control—which could launch significant attacks on Israel as well. Tehran, in addition, has stretched its influence northward into both Azerbaijan and Armenia. While Israel has diplomatic relations with both of these rival nations, its relationship with Baku is closer and involves significant military and security collaboration, some of which is directed against Iran. Alexander Grinberg writes:

Iran exploits ethnic and religious factors in both Armenia and Azerbaijan to further its interests. . . . In Armenia, Iran attempts to tarnish the legitimacy of the elected government and exploit the church’s nationalist position and tensions between it and the Armenian government; in Azerbaijan, the Iranian regime employs outright terrorist methods similar to its support for terrorist proxies in the Middle East [in order to] undermine the regime.

Huseyniyyun (Islamic Resistance Movement of Azerbaijan) is a terrorist militia made up of ethnic Azeris and designed to fight against Azerbaijan. It was established by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps . . . in the image of other pro-Iranian militias. . . . Currently, Huseyniyyun is not actively engaged in terrorist activities as Iran prefers more subtle methods of subversion. The organization serves as a mouthpiece of the Iranian regime on various Telegram channels in the Azeri language. The main impact of Huseyniyyun is that it helps spread Iranian propaganda in Azerbaijan.

The Iranian regime fears the end of hostilities between Armenia and Azerbaijan because this would limit its options for disruption. Iranian outlets are replete with anti-Semitic paranoia against Azerbaijan, accusing the country of awarding its territory to Zionists and NATO. . . . Likewise, it is noteworthy that Armenian nationalists reiterate hideous anti-Semitic tropes that are identical to those spouted by the Iranians and Palestinians. Moreover, leading Iranian analysts have no qualms about openly praising [sympathetic] Armenian clergy together with terrorist Iran-funded Azeri movements for working toward Iranian goals.

Read more at Jerusalem Institute for Strategy and Security

More about: Azerbaijan, Iran, Israeli Security