How Judaism Protects, Rather than Hinders, Israeli Democracy

March 23 2015

The proposed bill to declare Israel “the nation-state of the Jewish people,” put before the Knesset last fall, engendered much discussion about the need to reconcile Israel’s democracy with its Jewish character, as if Judaism and democracy were fundamentally at odds. They are not, argues Joel Fishman:

The politically correct wisdom which has become part of the present debate asserts that Judaism and democracy are inherently antithetical, but this is not necessarily true. Several great political thinkers have argued that under decentralized conditions, both religion and democracy can work together quite well. For example, in his classic, Democracy in America, Alexis de Tocqueville argued that Christianity made a positive contribution toward creating a climate of good sense and moderation which permitted democratic habits to thrive. From the colonial period, Protestant Christianity held a preeminent status in the United States which encouraged a positive civic culture and the responsible exercise of freedom. Not least, religion fostered inner restraint and limited excesses of behavior. In his famous conclusion, Tocqueville warned that if the state possessed the tools of supervision, it might introduce a “democratic tyranny” which would bring an end to personal freedom.

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Read more at Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs

More about: Alexis de Tocqueville, Israel & Zionism, Israel's Basic Law, Israeli democracy, Judaism, Religion and politics

 

UN Peacekeepers in Lebanon Risk Their Lives, but Still May Do More Harm Than Good

Jan. 27 2023

Last month an Irish member of the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) was killed by Hizballah guerrillas who opened fire on his vehicle. To David Schenker, it is likely the peacekeeper was “assassinated” to send “a clear message of Hizballah’s growing hostility toward UNIFIL.” The peacekeeping force has had a presence in south Lebanon since 1978, serving first to maintain calm between Israel and the PLO, and later between Israel and Hizballah. But, Schenker explains, it seems to be accomplishing little in that regard:

In its biannual reports to the Security Council, UNIFIL openly concedes its failure to interdict weapons destined for Hizballah. While the contingent acknowledges allegations of “arms transfers to non-state actors” in Lebanon, i.e., Hizballah, UNIFIL says it’s “not in a position to substantiate” them. Given how ubiquitous UN peacekeepers are in the Hizballah heartland, this perennial failure to observe—let alone appropriate—even a single weapons delivery is a fair measure of the utter failure of UNIFIL’s mission. Regardless, Washington continues to pour hundreds of millions of dollars into this failed enterprise, and its local partner, the Lebanese Armed Forces.

Since 2006, UNIFIL patrols have periodically been subjected to Hizballah roadside bombs in what quickly proved to be a successful effort to discourage the organization proactively from executing its charge. In recent years, though, UN peacekeepers have increasingly been targeted by the terror organization that runs Lebanon, and which tightly controls the region that UNIFIL was set up to secure. The latest UN reports tell a harrowing story of a spike in the pattern of harassment and assaults on the force. . . .

Four decades on, UNIFIL’s mission has clearly become untenable. Not only is the organization ineffective, its deployment serves as a key driver of the economy in south Lebanon, employing and sustaining Hizballah’s supporters and constituents. At $500 million a year—$125 million of which is paid by Washington—the deployment is also expensive. Already, the force is in harm’s way, and during the inevitable next war between Israel and Hizballah, this 10,000-strong contingent will provide the militia with an impressive human shield.

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Read more at Tablet

More about: Hizballah, Lebanon, Peacekeepers, U.S. Foreign policy