Israeli Abortion Law Offers an Ideal Compromise between Judaism and Liberalism

Contrary to a spurious opinion piece published in the New York Times, Israeli abortion law is quite liberal. What’s more, writes Evelyn Gordon, it is a model of how compromise can be reached in cases where traditional Jewish values conflict with those of liberalism:

By law, abortions require the approval of a committee comprising two doctors and a social worker. These committees (which all hospitals have) can approve abortions only in the first 24 weeks of pregnancy; after that, a special exceptions committee must authorize the procedure. . . . [I]n practice, . . . 98 percent of all abortion requests are approved; these criteria—especially the one about the woman’s mental health—are flexible enough that some committee can always be found to say yes. Moreover, . . . since abortions that meet the criteria can be approved anytime, they end up being easier to obtain here than in many liberal European countries, where limits on later-term abortions are much stricter.

The result is that while neither the liberal nor the Jewish side gets everything it wants, both get something important. Liberals get the fact that almost anyone who wants an abortion can get one, even in cases where Jewish law wouldn’t permit it; but they don’t get a legal right to an abortion; nor is the fetus deemed merely part of a woman’s body, subject to her full control. Religious Jews get a law which sends a clear message that destroying a potential life is justified only in exceptional circumstances; but, in practice, they must accept many abortions that don’t meet that standard.

Read more at Evelyn Gordon

More about: Abortion, Halakhah, Israel & Zionism, Judaism, Liberalism

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