A Vigorous Defense of Liberalism Leaves No Room for the Religious

In the realm of ideas, Charles Lesch finds much to praise about The Struggle for a Decent Politics, the Jewish political philosopher Michael Walzer’s new defense, and reconceptualization, of liberalism. Walzer argues for “liberal” to be understood not as a dogma but as an attitude or disposition that all kinds of different people—with different beliefs, concerns, and affiliations—can adopt. All but some, that is:

Religious groups, however, occupy their own special category: for them, the adjective liberal often does mean “not radical.”

Walzer offers several reasons for excluding at least some committed religionists from the ranks of those who can pursue their ideals wholeheartedly, even radically, while still being considered liberal. Religions, to begin with, are often “greedy”: they ask a lot of us in terms of time and belief. They make “radical and exclusive claims on their members’ emotions and on their everyday commitments.” They might make us be somewhere on weekends—or every day, or several times a day. They might demand that we only eat certain things. They might tell us to marry our own. They might mandate different roles for men and women. They might require that we think certain things, or at least publicly affirm a certain creed.

Most damningly, they usually insist that they are right—and by extension, that those of other faiths, or differently practicing coreligionists, are wrong. Yet this is precisely how billions of people experience religious life. It’s the norm, not the exception. Walzer’s arguments would leave whole continents of humanity outside the liberal tent.

Walzer’s stance here poses a special challenge for Orthodox Jews, particularly those who are citizens, as I am, of the state of Israel. Many Orthodox Israelis, to be sure, wish to have as little to do as possible with a society governed by liberal principles, but many others wish to find their place in it.

Read more at Jewish Review of Books

More about: Liberalism, Michael Walzer, Political philosophy, Religion and politics


Despite the Toll of War at Home and Rising Hostility Abroad, Investors Are Still Choosing Israel

When I first saw news that Google wasn’t going through with its acquisition of the tech startup Wiz, I was afraid hesitancy over its Israeli founders and close ties with the Jewish state might have something to do with it. I couldn’t have been more wrong: the deal is off not because of Google’s hesitancy, but because Wiz feared the FTC would slow down the process with uncertain results. The company is instead planning an initial public offering. In the wake of the CrowdStrike debacle, companies like Wiz have every reason to be optimistic, as Sophie Shulman explains:

For the Israeli cyber sector, CrowdStrike’s troubles are an opportunity. CrowdStrike is a major competitor to Palo Alto Networks, and both companies aim to provide comprehensive cyber defense platforms. The specific issue that caused the global Windows computer shutdown is related to their endpoint protection product, an area where they compete with Palo Alto’s Cortex products developed in Israel and the SentinelOne platform.

Friday’s drop in CrowdStrike shares reflects investor frustration and the expectation that potential customers will now turn to competitors, strengthening the position of Israeli companies. This situation may renew interest in smaller startups and local procurement in Israel, given how many institutions were affected by the CrowdStrike debacle.

Indeed, it seems that votes of confidence in Israeli technology are coming from many directions, despite the drop in the Tel Aviv stock exchange following the attack from Yemen, and despite the fact that some 46,000 Israeli businesses have closed their doors since October 7. Tel Aviv-based Cyabra, which creates software that identifies fake news, plans a $70 million IPO on Nasdaq. The American firm Applied Systems announced that it will be buying a different Israeli tech startup and opening a research-and-development center in Israel. And yet another cybersecurity startup, founded by veterans of the IDF’s elite 8200 unit, came on the scene with $33 million in funding. And those are the stories from this week alone.

But it’s not only the high-tech sector that’s attracting foreign investment. The UK-based firm Energean plans to put approximately $1.2 billion into developing a so-far untapped natural-gas field in Israel’s coastal waters. Money speaks much louder than words, and it seems Western businesses don’t expect Israel to become a global pariah, or to collapse in the face of its enemies, anytime soon.

Read more at Calcalist

More about: cybersecurity, Israeli economy, Israeli gas, Israeli technology, Start-up nation