How Religious Zionism Was Transformed from a Political Movement to a Messianic One

Among the earliest leaders of Zionism were several rabbis who went on to become some of Theodor Herzl’s most dedicated supporters. They eschewed the talk of creating “a new Jew” or revolutionizing Judaism that came from some Zionist thinkers, seeing such an approach as a threat to Orthodoxy. Instead, they saw the movement in practical terms as a way of ensuring the Jews’ physical survival. But this all changed with Abraham Isaac Kook, an Orthodox thinker who argued that Zionism was part of the divine plan and who laid out a vision of the rejuvenation of Judaism. Micah Goodman explains these ideas, how Kook’s ideology rose to prominence in the 1970s, and the threat to these ideas posed by the 2005 disengagement from Gaza. (Video, 70 minutes. Audio is available for streaming and download at the link below.)

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More about: Abraham Isaac Kook, Gaza withdrawal, Israel & Zionism, Judaism, Religious Zionism

An American Withdrawal from Iraq Would Hand Another Victory to Iran

Since October 7, the powerful network of Iran-backed militias in Iraq have carried out 120 attacks on U.S. forces stationed in the country. In the previous year, there were dozens of such attacks. The recent escalation has led some in the U.S. to press for the withdrawal of these forces, whose stated purpose in the country is to stamp out the remnants of Islamic State and to prevent the group’s resurgence. William Roberts explains why doing so would be a mistake:

American withdrawal from Iraq would cement Iran’s influence and jeopardize our substantial investment into the stabilization of Iraq and the wider region, threatening U.S. national security. Critics of the U.S. military presence argue that [it] risks a regional escalation in the ongoing conflict between Israel and Iran. However, in the long term, the U.S. military has provided critical assistance to Iraq’s security forces while preventing the escalation of other regional conflicts, such as clashes between Turkey and Kurdish groups in northern Iraq and Syria.

Ultimately, the only path forward to preserve a democratic, pluralistic, and sovereign Iraq is through engagement with the international community, especially the United States. Resisting Iran’s takeover will require the U.S. to draw international attention to the democratic backsliding in the country and to be present and engage continuously with Iraqi civil society in military and non-military matters. Surrendering Iraq to Iran’s agents would not only squander our substantial investment in Iraq’s stability; it would greatly increase Iran’s capability to threaten American interests in the Levant through its influence in Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon.

Read more at Providence

More about: Iran, Iraq, U.S. Foreign policy