How the Culture of Modern-Day Bedouin Illuminates the Bible

In his 50 years of fieldwork among Bedouin in the Negev and the Sinai Peninsula, Clinton Bailey has become one of the leading experts on their law, culture, and poetry. His most recent book argues that these Arab nomads have preserved a way of life that shares much with the cultural milieu of the Hebrew Bible, and can help to understand its text. Moreover, he suggests, Bedouin-like pastoralists were the “key audience” of those biblical books composed before the Babylonian exile in 586 BCE. In conversation with Dru Johnson, Bailey explains how he came to this subject of study through the help of Paula and David Ben-Gurion, how his research sheds light on the stories of Abraham and Lot, and why he thinks a dominant academic theory about Judaism’s origins is wrong. (Audio, 53 minutes.)

Read more at OnScript

More about: Abraham, Bedouin, Hebrew Bible


An American Withdrawal from Iraq Would Hand Another Victory to Iran

Since October 7, the powerful network of Iran-backed militias in Iraq have carried out 120 attacks on U.S. forces stationed in the country. In the previous year, there were dozens of such attacks. The recent escalation has led some in the U.S. to press for the withdrawal of these forces, whose stated purpose in the country is to stamp out the remnants of Islamic State and to prevent the group’s resurgence. William Roberts explains why doing so would be a mistake:

American withdrawal from Iraq would cement Iran’s influence and jeopardize our substantial investment into the stabilization of Iraq and the wider region, threatening U.S. national security. Critics of the U.S. military presence argue that [it] risks a regional escalation in the ongoing conflict between Israel and Iran. However, in the long term, the U.S. military has provided critical assistance to Iraq’s security forces while preventing the escalation of other regional conflicts, such as clashes between Turkey and Kurdish groups in northern Iraq and Syria.

Ultimately, the only path forward to preserve a democratic, pluralistic, and sovereign Iraq is through engagement with the international community, especially the United States. Resisting Iran’s takeover will require the U.S. to draw international attention to the democratic backsliding in the country and to be present and engage continuously with Iraqi civil society in military and non-military matters. Surrendering Iraq to Iran’s agents would not only squander our substantial investment in Iraq’s stability; it would greatly increase Iran’s capability to threaten American interests in the Levant through its influence in Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon.

Read more at Providence

More about: Iran, Iraq, U.S. Foreign policy