One of the 20th century’s leading historians of Victorian Britain, Gertrude Himmelfarb was also a penetrating critic of modern society and politics, who thought there was much to be learned from the virtues cultivated by the much-maligned Victorians—virtues that she argued were, in part, Jewish ones as well. Himmelfarb, later in her life, focused her attention on the attitudes of such great English authors as George Eliot and Matthew Arnold toward Jews and Judaism. In a forum sponsored by the Catholic University of Portugal, the political scientist João Carlos Espada and Himmelfarb’s son, the writer and editor William Kristol, discuss her legacy. (Video, one hour. Moderated by Rita Seabra Brito and Marc Plattner. Discussion of some of Himmelfarb’s Jewish interests can be found around the 45-minute mark.)
Gertrude Himmelfarb, the Outstanding Historian of Modern Morality
How Israel and Its Allies Could Have a Positive Influence on the Biden Administration’s Iran Policy
While the president-elect has expressed his desire to return the U.S. to the 2015 nuclear agreement with the Islamic Republic, this should not in itself cause worry in Jerusalem; it has never been the Israeli government’s position that a deal with Tehran is undesirable, only that the flaws of the deal negotiated by the Obama administration outweighed its benefits. Thus Yaakov Amidror, Efraim Inbar, and Eran Lerman urge Israel to approach Joe Biden’s national-security team—whose senior members were announced this week—to urge them to act prudently:
To the greatest extent possible, such approaches should be made jointly, or in very close coordination with, Israel’s new partners in the Gulf. These countries share Israel’s perspectives on the Iranian regional threat and on the need to block Tehran’s path to nuclear weapons.
For Israel, for Iran-deal skeptics in Washington, and for her partners in the region, the first operational priority is to persuade the incoming U.S. national-security team to maintain full leverage on Iran. Sanctions against Iran should not be lifted as a “gesture” without a verified Iranian return to the status quo ante (at the very least) in terms of low-enriched-uranium stockpiles and ongoing enrichment activities.
In parallel, there may emerge a unique opportunity to close ranks with the French (and with Boris Johnson’s government in London) on the Iranian question. On several issues (above all, the struggle for hegemony in the eastern Mediterranean, against Turkey), Jerusalem, Abu Dhabi, and Paris now see eye-to-eye. On Iran, during the negotiations leading to the [deal] in 2015, the position of France was often the most robust. In 2018, President Macron was willing to reach an operational understanding with Secretary of State Pompeo on [key issues regarding the Islamic Republic’s nuclear activities].
Last but certainly not least, it should be clear to the incoming U.S. national-security team that any attempt to negotiate must be, can be, and (as far as Israel is concerned) firmly will be backed by a credible military threat.