Midge Decter Fought Hard for Cultural Sanity, Sound Politics, and Freedom

July 22 2022

“America today,” writes George Weigel, “badly needs the wisdom and example of a Midge Decter,” referring to the legendary writer and editor who died last May. He reflects on her rare combination of virtues:

And while Midge was a happy Jewish warrior for cultural sanity, sound politics, and a society that lived freedom in solidarity, she was also clear-eyed and unsentimental about the enduring effects in public life of what her Christian friends—and there were many of them—called “original sin.” I once complained to Midge about some political perfidy or other, some betrayal of principle or trust, and she replied, with a kind of grim smile, “Think low, George. You’ll rarely be disappointed.”

As a matter of prudential judgment, she was right: the human capacity to muck things up is virtually limitless. But while hard experience and the cardinal virtue of prudence might dictate “thinking low” and not expecting too much in the political arena, Midge also challenged us to aim high: to live and organize and argue for the good things, the permanent things, the noble things. Thinking low didn’t mean aiming low. And while Midge fought hard, she also fought clean, with a joie de combat and brio that kept those of us fortunate to be in her orbit energized.

A true daughter of Israel who loved her Christian friends and helped them make better Christian arguments in the public square, she now rests in the bosom of Abraham. As Elisha asked of Elijah, may we be blessed with a portion of her spirit.

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Read more at First Things

More about: Jewish conservatism, Midge Decter, Neoconservatism

UN Peacekeepers in Lebanon Risk Their Lives, but Still May Do More Harm Than Good

Jan. 27 2023

Last month an Irish member of the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) was killed by Hizballah guerrillas who opened fire on his vehicle. To David Schenker, it is likely the peacekeeper was “assassinated” to send “a clear message of Hizballah’s growing hostility toward UNIFIL.” The peacekeeping force has had a presence in south Lebanon since 1978, serving first to maintain calm between Israel and the PLO, and later between Israel and Hizballah. But, Schenker explains, it seems to be accomplishing little in that regard:

In its biannual reports to the Security Council, UNIFIL openly concedes its failure to interdict weapons destined for Hizballah. While the contingent acknowledges allegations of “arms transfers to non-state actors” in Lebanon, i.e., Hizballah, UNIFIL says it’s “not in a position to substantiate” them. Given how ubiquitous UN peacekeepers are in the Hizballah heartland, this perennial failure to observe—let alone appropriate—even a single weapons delivery is a fair measure of the utter failure of UNIFIL’s mission. Regardless, Washington continues to pour hundreds of millions of dollars into this failed enterprise, and its local partner, the Lebanese Armed Forces.

Since 2006, UNIFIL patrols have periodically been subjected to Hizballah roadside bombs in what quickly proved to be a successful effort to discourage the organization proactively from executing its charge. In recent years, though, UN peacekeepers have increasingly been targeted by the terror organization that runs Lebanon, and which tightly controls the region that UNIFIL was set up to secure. The latest UN reports tell a harrowing story of a spike in the pattern of harassment and assaults on the force. . . .

Four decades on, UNIFIL’s mission has clearly become untenable. Not only is the organization ineffective, its deployment serves as a key driver of the economy in south Lebanon, employing and sustaining Hizballah’s supporters and constituents. At $500 million a year—$125 million of which is paid by Washington—the deployment is also expensive. Already, the force is in harm’s way, and during the inevitable next war between Israel and Hizballah, this 10,000-strong contingent will provide the militia with an impressive human shield.

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Read more at Tablet

More about: Hizballah, Lebanon, Peacekeepers, U.S. Foreign policy