Reading Josephus with Jewish Women, and Roman History with George Patton

In a scene in the movie Patton, the titular general, coming across the site of an ancient battle between Romans and Carthaginians, tells a fellow officer, “The Carthaginians were proud and brave, but they couldn’t hold. Two thousand years ago. I was here.” While the dialogue is the work of the screenwriters, the real Patton, a sincere believer in reincarnation, made many similar statements. Meir Soloveichik comments on the scene:

The point is to stress the strangeness of a man who personally identifies with a battle that took place nearly two dozen centuries earlier. Patton had himself written some terrible things about the Jewish people; but for Jews, this scene in particular should not be that odd. We remember, commemorate, and mourn moments that took place in the ancient past, some of them intimately involving defeats at the hands of the very same Romans themselves.

This was brought home to me over the past few months, as I have been teaching a seminar on Josephus’ The Jewish War at Yeshiva University’s Stern College for Women. . . . If one were to teach a seminar to American students on the Punic or Peloponnesian Wars, one would have to describe a geography utterly unfamiliar to the students. But these young women are entirely aware of the sites being discussed. If I describe where a specific battle around Jerusalem took place, I merely refer to a current location in the Old City, where these students have been many times. Similarly, when the rest of the Holy Land is described, they have a sense of the layout of the land.

Not through personal reincarnation, but as a people, the Jews did endure “the travail of ages.”

Read more at Commentary

More about: Jewish history, Josephus, World War II

While Israel Is Distracted on Two Fronts, Iran Is on the Verge of Building Nuclear Weapons

Iran recently announced its plans to install over 1,000 new advanced centrifuges at its Fordow nuclear facility. Once they are up and running, the Institute for Science and International Security assesses, Fordow will be able to produce enough highly enriched uranium for three nuclear bombs in a mere ten days. The U.S. has remained indifferent. Jacob Nagel writes:

For more than two decades, Iran has continued its efforts to enhance its nuclear-weapons capability—mainly by enriching uranium—causing Israel and the world to concentrate on the fissile material. The International Atomic Energy Agency recently confirmed that Iran has a huge stockpile of uranium enriched to 60 percent, as well as more enriched to 20 percent, and the IAEA board of governors adopted the E3 (France, Germany, UK) proposed resolution to censure Iran for the violations and lack of cooperation with the agency. The Biden administration tried to block it, but joined the resolution when it understood its efforts to block it had failed.

To clarify, enrichment of uranium above 20 percent is unnecessary for most civilian purposes, and transforming 20-percent-enriched uranium to the 90-percent-enriched product necessary for producing weapons is a relatively small step. Washington’s reluctance even to express concern about this development appears to stem from an unwillingness to acknowledge the failures of President Obama’s nuclear policy. Worse, writes Nagel, it is turning a blind eye to efforts at weaponization. But Israel has no such luxury:

Israel must adopt a totally new approach, concentrating mainly on two main efforts: [halting] Iran’s weaponization actions and weakening the regime hoping it will lead to its replacement. Israel should continue the fight against Iran’s enrichment facilities (especially against the new deep underground facility being built near Natanz) and uranium stockpiles, but it should not be the only goal, and for sure not the priority.

The biggest danger threatening Israel’s existence remains the nuclear program. It would be better to confront this threat with Washington, but Israel also must be fully prepared to do it alone.

Read more at Ynet

More about: Iran nuclear program, Israeli Security, Joseph Biden, U.S. Foreign policy