Religious Pluralism and Israel’s New Government

Benjamin Netanyahu has brought Israel’s two major ultra-Orthodox (ḥaredi) parties, United Torah Judaism (UTJ) and Shas, into his new governing coalition. Many American Jews would no doubt prefer that Israel display a greater separation of synagogue and state and more religious pluralism; however, writes Jonathan Tobin, they should assess the situation with some realism:

[B]efore [religiously liberal American Jews] start blaming Netanyahu for betraying them, they need to reacquaint themselves with the political realities of Israel and understand that Zionist Union leader Isaac Herzog would have cut the same deals with the Ḥaredim.

In addition to being a windfall for the sub-standard ultra-Orthodox education system, the return of Shas and UTJ to power will impact the effort to enact more liberal rules about conversion [and impede] the minimal progress made toward civil marriage and/or the recognition of non-Orthodox movements and rabbis. It may also undermine the plans to create an egalitarian prayer space at the Western Wall.

These are sore points for American Jews who see the exclusion of Reform and Conservative Judaism from official recognition by the Jewish state as a standing insult. . . . But those crying foul over Netanyahu’s deal with the Ḥaredim need to get their heads out of the clouds and understand that their concerns don’t mean much to most Israelis.

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Read more at Commentary

More about: Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel & Zionism, Israeli politics, Shas, Ultra-Orthodox

As Vladimir Putin Sidles Up to the Mullahs, the Threat to the U.S. and Israel Grows

On Tuesday, Russia launched an Iranian surveillance satellite into space, which the Islamic Republic will undoubtedly use to increase the precision of its military operations against its enemies. The launch is one of many indications that the longstanding alliance between Moscow and Tehran has been growing stronger and deeper since the Kremlin’s escalation in Ukraine in February. Nicholas Carl, Kitaneh Fitzpatrick, and Katherine Lawlor write:

Presidents Vladimir Putin and Ebrahim Raisi have spoken at least four times since the invasion began—more than either individual has engaged most other world leaders. Putin visited Tehran in July 2022, marking his first foreign travel outside the territory of the former Soviet Union since the war began. These interactions reflect a deepening and potentially more balanced relationship wherein Russia is no longer the dominant party. This partnership will likely challenge U.S. and allied interests in Europe, the Middle East, and around the globe.

Tehran has traditionally sought to purchase military technologies from Moscow rather than the inverse. The Kremlin fielding Iranian drones in Ukraine will showcase these platforms to other potential international buyers, further benefitting Iran. Furthermore, Russia has previously tried to limit Iranian influence in Syria but is now enabling its expansion.

Deepening Russo-Iranian ties will almost certainly threaten U.S. and allied interests in Europe, the Middle East, and around the globe. Iranian material support to Russia may help the Kremlin achieve some of its military objectives in Ukraine and eastern Europe. Russian support of Iran’s nascent military space program and air force could improve Iranian targeting and increase the threat it poses to the U.S. and its partners in the Middle East. Growing Iranian control and influence in Syria will enable the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps [to use its forces in that country] to threaten U.S. military bases in the Middle East and our regional partners, such as Israel and Turkey, more effectively. Finally, Moscow and Tehran will likely leverage their deepening economic ties to mitigate U.S. sanctions.

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Read more at Critical Threats

More about: Iran, Israeli Security, Russia, U.S. Security, Vladimir Putin