A Bad Faith Attempt to Put Faith to Use in Defense of Liberal Democracy

In their recent book, Faith, Nationalism, and the Future of Liberal Democracy, four scholars—an American Jew, an American Christian, and two German Lutherans—seek to address, from a religious perspective, what is ailing liberal democracies in Europe an America. Their common mission, writes Daniel Johnson in his review, is “to save their faiths from being co-opted by illiberal nationalists who are hell-bent on undermining liberal democracy. But, Johnson points out, they err in ignoring the close relationship between liberalism and nationalism in the 19th and early 20th centuries, and their assessment of the present is equally flawed:

The present authors . . . see nationalism as a kind of opioid epidemic of the masses and faith, as interpreted by liberal theologians, as a possible remedy. Liberal democracy, they believe, is being threatened as never before, not by external forces such as Chinese Communism or Islamist terrorism, but by a nationalist assault from within. Western civilization is not a phrase that would occur to any of these authors to use, but insofar as they do assume that the West still shares Judeo-Christian values, they see the supreme test of those values in our response to the migration crisis in Europe and America. It is by rejecting any politics that treats refugees and other migrants as “the Other” that biblical faith proves its authenticity.

In Central Europe, where borders had been moved many times over the years, refugees were a familiar sight; Muslim refugees, however, were not. They were unwelcome to many people, not merely on grounds of prejudice, but also of prudence: having observed the multicultural experiments conducted by their neighbors in Western Europe and North America, these culturally homogeneous nations were in no hurry to emulate them.

By refusing to engage directly with the arguments of their foes, are [the authors] not guilty of “othering” the ordinary people who may be susceptible to those arguments? What we have here, then, is a classic case of what Jean-Paul Sartre called mauvaise foi: “bad faith.” Professors Elcott, Anderson, Cremer, and Haarmann profess to have combined to write a manifesto for a liberal fight-back to reclaim the Judeo-Christian legacy from the clutches of religious reactionaries. But they are deceiving themselves. They have not done the intellectual heavy lifting required to refute their opponents. Nor do they take Muslims seriously enough to consider whether they too might have some responsibility for their fate.

So this volume . . . is an example of the very failing that it was written to address: “demonizing opponents by ‘othering’ them.” Faith leaders will gain no traction with the faithful by ignoring their fears and belittling their feelings.

Read more at Law and Liberty

More about: Immigration, liberal democracy, Nationalism, Religion and politics

Hizballah Is Learning Israel’s Weak Spots

On Tuesday, a Hizballah drone attack injured three people in northern Israel. The next day, another attack, targeting an IDF base, injured eighteen people, six of them seriously, in Arab al-Amshe, also in the north. This second attack involved the simultaneous use of drones carrying explosives and guided antitank missiles. In both cases, the defensive systems that performed so successfully last weekend failed to stop the drones and missiles. Ron Ben-Yishai has a straightforward explanation as to why: the Lebanon-backed terrorist group is getting better at evading Israel defenses. He explains the three basis systems used to pilot these unmanned aircraft, and their practical effects:

These systems allow drones to act similarly to fighter jets, using “dead zones”—areas not visible to radar or other optical detection—to approach targets. They fly low initially, then ascend just before crashing and detonating on the target. The terrain of southern Lebanon is particularly conducive to such attacks.

But this requires skills that the terror group has honed over months of fighting against Israel. The latest attacks involved a large drone capable of carrying over 50 kg (110 lbs.) of explosives. The terrorists have likely analyzed Israel’s alert and interception systems, recognizing that shooting down their drones requires early detection to allow sufficient time for launching interceptors.

The IDF tries to detect any incoming drones on its radar, as it had done prior to the war. Despite Hizballah’s learning curve, the IDF’s technological edge offers an advantage. However, the military must recognize that any measure it takes is quickly observed and analyzed, and even the most effective defenses can be incomplete. The terrain near the Lebanon-Israel border continues to pose a challenge, necessitating technological solutions and significant financial investment.

Read more at Ynet

More about: Hizballah, Iron Dome, Israeli Security