The British Christian Political Theorist Who Found the Answers in the Talmud

June 20 2022

In 1628, the English lawyer, scholar, and parliamentarian John Selden found himself confined to the Tower of London, and allowed access to only one book. He requested a copy of the Babylonian Talmud, knowing that its many volumes could keep him occupied for a lifetime. A man of immense erudition who had mastered Hebrew and Aramaic, despite likely having never met a Jew in his life, Selden henceforth dedicated most of his spare hours to studying this text. As the historian Ofir Haivry explains in conversation with Ari Lamm, he found therein the basis for a political and legal philosophy that could reconcile tradition with reason and universalism with particularism. (Audio, 59 minutes.)

 

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More about: Britain, Christian Hebraists, John Selden, Political philosophy, Talmud

 

Why Is Iran Acquiring Property in Venezuela?

In June Tehran and Caracas concluded a major twenty-year cooperation treaty. One of its many provisions—kept secret until recently—was the transfer of 4,000 square miles of Venezuelan land to Iranian control. Although the territory is ostensibly for agricultural use, Lawrence Franklin suspects the Islamic Republic might have other plans:

Hizballah already runs paramilitary training centers in restricted sections of Venezuela’s Margarita Island, a tourist area northeast of the country’s mainland. The terrorist group has considerable support from some of Venezuela’s prominent Lebanese clans such as the Nasr al-Din family, who reportedly facilitated Iran’s penetration of Margarita Island. . . . The Maduro regime has apparently been so welcoming to Iranian intelligence agents that some of Hizballah’s long-established Latin American network at the tri-border nexus of Brazil, Argentina, and Paraguay has been overtaken by Hizballah activities on Venezuela’s Margarita Island.

Iran’s alliance with Venezuela most importantly provides Tehran with opportunities to target U.S. interests in Latin America and potentially the southern United States. Iran, along with the Chinese Communist Party, is in the process of strengthening Venezuela’s military against the U.S., for instance by deliveries of military drones, which are also considered a threat by Colombia.

While air and seaborne arms deliveries are high-profile evidence of Iran’s ties with Venezuela, Tehran’s cooperation with Venezuelan intelligence agencies, although less visible, is also intense. The Islamic Republic’s support for Hizballah terrorist operations is pervasive throughout Latin America. Hizballah recruits from Venezuela’s ten-million-strong Lebanese diaspora. Iran and Hizballah cooperate in training of intelligence agents and in developing sources who reside in Venezuela and Colombia, as well as in the tri-border region of Brazil, Paraguay, and Argentina.

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More about: Iran, Latin America, Venezuela