A British Sephardi Rabbi in the Age of Enlightenment, Deism, and False Messianism

Born in Venice in 1654, David Nieto obtained rabbinic ordination in Livorno as well as a medical degree from the University of Padua. In 1701, Nieto (who used the Sephardi rabbinic title ḥakham) settled in London, where he became the rabbi of the newly established Spanish and Portuguese congregation. A contemporary of Isaac Newton, he was fascinated by the recent advances of the Scientific Revolution, and likely by the effort of British churchmen to come to terms with its theological implications. In conversation with Nachi Weinstein, Matt Goldish explains the intellectual world of one of England’s most important rabbis, his thought, and his involvement in controversies surrounding both religious skeptics and followers of the false messiah Shabbetai Tsvi. (Audio, 85 minutes.)

Read more at Seforim Chatter

More about: Anglo-Jewry, Italian Jewry, Judaism, Science and Religion, Shabbetai Tzvi


Only Hamas’s Defeat Can Pave the Path to Peace

Opponents of the IDF’s campaign in Gaza often appeal to two related arguments: that Hamas is rooted in a set of ideas and thus cannot be defeated militarily, and that the destruction in Gaza only further radicalizes Palestinians, thus increasing the threat to Israel. Rejecting both lines of thinking, Ghaith al-Omar writes:

What makes Hamas and similar militant organizations effective is not their ideologies but their ability to act on them. For Hamas, the sustained capacity to use violence was key to helping it build political power. Back in the 1990s, Hamas’s popularity was at its lowest point, as most Palestinians believed that liberation could be achieved by peaceful and diplomatic means. Its use of violence derailed that concept, but it established Hamas as a political alternative.

Ever since, the use of force and violence has been an integral part of Hamas’s strategy. . . . Indeed, one lesson from October 7 is that while Hamas maintains its military and violent capabilities, it will remain capable of shaping the political reality. To be defeated, Hamas must be denied that. This can only be done through the use of force.

Any illusions that Palestinian and Israeli societies can now trust one another or even develop a level of coexistence anytime soon should be laid to rest. If it can ever be reached, such an outcome is at best a generational endeavor. . . . Hamas triggered war and still insists that it would do it all again given the chance, so it will be hard-pressed to garner a following from Palestinians in Gaza who suffered so horribly for its decision.

Read more at Washington Institute for Near East Policy

More about: Gaza War 2023, Hamas, Israeli-Palestinian Conflict