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.

Read more at First Things

More about: Jewish conservatism, Midge Decter, Neoconservatism

Iran’s Four-Decade Strategy to Envelope Israel in Terror

Yesterday, the head of the Shin Bet—Israel’s internal security service—was in Washington meeting with officials from the State Department, CIA, and the White House itself. Among the topics no doubt discussed are rising tensions with Iran and the possibility that the latter, in order to defend its nuclear program, will instruct its network of proxies in Gaza, the West Bank, Lebanon, Syria, and even Iraq and Yemen to attack the Jewish state. Oved Lobel explores the history of this network, which, he argues, predates Iran’s Islamic Revolution—when Shiite radicals in Lebanon coordinated with Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini’s movement in Iran:

An inextricably linked Iran-Syria-Palestinian axis has actually been in existence since the early 1970s, with Lebanon the geographical fulcrum of the relationship and Damascus serving as the primary operational headquarters. Lebanon, from the 1980s until 2005, was under the direct military control of Syria, which itself slowly transformed from an ally to a client of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) following the collapse of the Soviet Union. The nexus among Damascus, Beirut, and the Palestinian territories should therefore always have been viewed as one front, both geographically and operationally. It’s clear that the multifront-war strategy was already in operation during the first intifada years, from 1987 to 1993.

[An] Iranian-organized conference in 1991, the first of many, . . . established the “Damascus 10”—an alliance of ten Palestinian factions that rejected any peace process with Israel. According to the former Hamas spokesperson and senior official Ibrahim Ghosheh, he spoke to then-Hizballah Secretary-General Abbas al-Musawi at the conference and coordinated Hizballah attacks from Lebanon in support of the intifada. Further important meetings between Hamas and the Iranian regime were held in 1999 and 2000, while the IRGC constantly met with its agents in Damascus to encourage coordinated attacks on Israel.

For some reason, Hizballah’s guerilla war against Israel in Lebanon in the 1980s and 1990s was, and often still is, viewed as a separate phenomenon from the first intifada, when they were in fact two fronts in the same battle.

Israel opted for a perilous unconditional withdrawal from Lebanon in May 2000, which Hamas’s Ghosheh asserts was a “direct factor” in precipitating the start of the second intifada later that same year.

Read more at Australia/Israel Review

More about: First intifada, Hizballah, Iran, Palestinian terror, Second Intifada