How Judaism Protects, Rather than Hinders, Israeli Democracy

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.

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

The IDF’s First Investigation of Its Conduct on October 7 Is Out

For several months, the Israel Defense Forces has been investigating its own actions on and preparedness for October 7, with an eye to understanding its failures. The first of what are expected to be many reports stemming from this investigation was released yesterday, and it showed a series of colossal strategic and tactical errors surrounding the battle at Kibbutz Be’eri, writes Emanuel Fabian. The probe, he reports, was led by Maj. Gen. (res.) Mickey Edelstein.

Edelstein and his team—none of whom had any involvement in the events themselves, according to the IDF—spent hundreds of hours investigating the onslaught and battle at Be’eri, reviewing every possible source of information, from residents’ WhatsApp messages to both Israeli and Hamas radio communications, as well as surveillance videos, aerial footage, interviews of survivors and those who fought, plus visits to the scene.

There will be a series of further reports issued this summer.

IDF chief Halevi in a statement issued alongside the probe said that while this was just the first investigation into the onslaught, which does not reflect the entire picture of October 7, it “clearly illustrates the magnitude of the failure and the dimensions of the disaster that befell the residents of the south who protected their families with their bodies for many hours, and the IDF was not there to protect them.” . . .

The IDF hopes to present all battle investigations by the end of August.

The IDF’s probes are strictly limited to its own conduct. For a broader look at what went wrong, Israel will have to wait for a formal state commission of inquiry to be appointed—which happens to be the subject of this month’s featured essay in Mosaic.

Read more at Times of Israel

More about: Gaza War 2023, IDF, Israel & Zionism, October 7