Can Neighborhoods Restore American Society?

In his book Fragile Neighborhoods, Seth Kaplan argues that the decline of local communities, where people know one another and feel some sense of belonging, has encouraged such social problems as loneliness, the erosion of faith, and the decline of civic life—with all their attendant consequences. Patrick T. Brown writes in his review:

Crucially, Kaplan sees the fragility of American life not just in the low-income neighborhoods of inner-city Philadelphia, but in the isolation of otherwise well-off suburbs. His goal is to resurrect the idea of the neighborhood as a specific place with a distinctive sense of community. It’s a cultural narrative that runs counter to a mentality that prioritizes mobility over stability.

No amount of economic growth, he argues, can paper over the hollowed-out feeling of moving from a “townshipped” society to a “networked one.” We treat neighbors less as friends and more as connections, asking about suspicious footage caught on Ring cameras or posting about local nuisances, instead of getting to know our neighbors as people. Kaplan laments this shift by quoting the late Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks: “The very concept of belonging to a place, a neighborhood, a locality—somewhere we belong and call home—has all but disappeared.”

Elsewhere, Kaplan has held up Orthodox Jewish enclaves, kept together in part by the need to live in walking distance from a synagogue, as a model to be emulated.

Read more at Public Discourse

More about: American society, Civil society

Israel Just Sent Iran a Clear Message

Early Friday morning, Israel attacked military installations near the Iranian cities of Isfahan and nearby Natanz, the latter being one of the hubs of the country’s nuclear program. Jerusalem is not taking credit for the attack, and none of the details are too certain, but it seems that the attack involved multiple drones, likely launched from within Iran, as well as one or more missiles fired from Syrian or Iraqi airspace. Strikes on Syrian radar systems shortly beforehand probably helped make the attack possible, and there were reportedly strikes on Iraq as well.

Iran itself is downplaying the attack, but the S-300 air-defense batteries in Isfahan appear to have been destroyed or damaged. This is a sophisticated Russian-made system positioned to protect the Natanz nuclear installation. In other words, Israel has demonstrated that Iran’s best technology can’t protect the country’s skies from the IDF. As Yossi Kuperwasser puts it, the attack, combined with the response to the assault on April 13,

clarified to the Iranians that whereas we [Israelis] are not as vulnerable as they thought, they are more vulnerable than they thought. They have difficulty hitting us, but we have no difficulty hitting them.

Nobody knows exactly how the operation was carried out. . . . It is good that a question mark hovers over . . . what exactly Israel did. Let’s keep them wondering. It is good for deniability and good for keeping the enemy uncertain.

The fact that we chose targets that were in the vicinity of a major nuclear facility but were linked to the Iranian missile and air forces was a good message. It communicated that we can reach other targets as well but, as we don’t want escalation, we chose targets nearby that were involved in the attack against Israel. I think it sends the message that if we want to, we can send a stronger message. Israel is not seeking escalation at the moment.

Read more at Jewish Chronicle

More about: Iran, Israeli Security