A Great Jewish Scholar’s Rediscovered Lecture on Civil Religion and the American Constitution

March 16 2021

In the 1950s and early 1960s, the German-born scholar of political philosophy Leo Strauss gave a series of lectures for Jewish students at the University of Chicago’s Hillel House. These talks focused primarily on what Strauss called the theological-political problem: the question of how to reconcile the demands of God with the demands of secular citizenship. In “Religion and the Commonweal,” which he delivered in 1963, Strauss expounded on the nature of the civil religion, beginning with such thinkers as Aristotle and Thomas Hobbes, but then addressing the problem of church and state in the American founding and thereafter. Samuel Goldman explores this essay, which was only recently published. (Interview by Will Lombardo and Bradley Davis. Audio, 85 minutes. A recording of Strauss’s lecture can be found here.)

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More about: Civil religion, Leo Strauss, Political philosophy, Religion and politics


Israel’s Covert War on Iran’s Nuclear Program Is Impressive. But Is It Successful?

Sept. 26 2023

The Mossad’s heist of a vast Iranian nuclear archive in 2018 provided abundant evidence that Tehran was not adhering to its commitments; it also provided an enormous amount of actionable intelligence. Two years later, Israel responded to international inspectors’ condemnation of the Islamic Republic’s violations by using this intelligence to launch a spectacular campaign of sabotage—a campaign that is the subject of Target Tehran, by Yonah Jeremy Bob and Ilan Evyatar. David Adesnik writes:

The question that remains open at the conclusion of Target Tehran is whether the Mossad’s tactical wizardry adds up to strategic success in the shadow war with Iran. The authors give a very respectful hearing to skeptics—such as the former Mossad director Tamir Pardo—who believe the country should have embraced the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran. Bob and Evyatar reject that position, arguing that covert action has proven itself the best way to slow down the nuclear program. They acknowledge, however, that the clerical regime remains fully determined to reach the nuclear threshold. “The Mossad’s secret war, in other words, is not over. Indeed, it may never end,” they write.

Which brings us back to Joe Biden. The clerical regime was headed over a financial cliff when Biden took office, thanks to the reimposition of sanctions after Washington withdrew from the nuclear deal. The billions flowing into Iran on Biden’s watch have made it that much easier for the regime to rebuild whatever Mossad destroys in addition to weathering nationwide protests on behalf of women, life, and freedom. Until Washington and Jerusalem get on the same page—and stay there—Tehran’s nuclear ambitions will remain an affordable luxury for a dictatorship at war with its citizens.

Read more at Dispatch

More about: Iran nuclear program, Israeli Security, Joseph Biden, Mossad, U.S. Foreign policy