Jews’ Sense of Themselves Flies in the Face of Today’s Identity Politics

Earlier in his career, Edward Rothstein spent much time criticizing the influence of postmodernism (or “PoMO”)—and its stepchild, postcolonialism (“PoCo”)—on the arts, and on American intellectual life in general. But now, Rothstein writes, the relativism of the 1990s has been supplanted by the moralistic and censorious set of ideas commonly dubbed as “woke,” or, as Rothstein has it, Woko. Woko ideology tends to embrace identity politics, and urges every group (white males excepted) to define itself by how it has been oppressed. Rothstein then asks us to “consider the Jews.”

Why? Because here is an identity that has weathered the millennia by developing a very different perspective on history and memory. In a Woko world of atomistic identities, surely we should find some archetypal characteristics here. Among Jews there are often regional physical resemblances that have remained stable over centuries. Male Jews have been given an indelible mark of their distinction for millennia. The identity has been maintained during extensive interactions with other civilizations and cultures. And if accompanied by religious observance, it affects every aspect of life. Moreover, as in identities celebrated by Woko, those who embrace this identity have also been singled out over centuries for hostility, massacre, and sometimes enslavement.

But to all of these identities and the purposes to which they are put by Woko, the example of the Jews offers a profound systemic challenge. Jewish identity is not created in reaction to the Other or because of a shared fate in encountering the Other. It is based on a set of ideas and beliefs and obligations originating in the Hebrew Bible and the commentaries on it, including a commitment to the land from which the Jews were once exiled, but to which they began to return in numbers beginning in the late-19th century. There is really a different form of memory at work here—and a different kind of self-definition.

Every Passover, Jews are instructed to recall what Pharaoh did in enslaving the Israelites, and how the people were then led to freedom. In many ways, the Exodus tale provides the narrative model for today’s identity museums. The point of the Passover story, though, is quite different. The emphasis is not on the suffering endured. Nor is the end a celebration of the politics of identity. The emphasis is on a process of redemption, which is far from simple and actually imposes obligations on the people.

Read more at Sapir

More about: Jewish identity, Passover, Political correctness, Postmodernism


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