What does it take to be mensch? What does a liberal education have to offer those immersed in the Jewish tradition? What can the Hebrew Bible and Judaism teach that a robust liberal education can’t? And do Jews have something to learn from Gentiles when it comes to appreciation for sports? In conversation with his one-time student Eric Cohen, Leon Kass addresses these and other questions while telling of his intellectual progression from a Yiddish-speaking socialist home in Chicago to (metaphorically speaking) Athens and from there, both literally and figuratively, to Jerusalem. (Audio, 48 minutes. Options for download and streaming are available at the link below.)
Judaism, Liberal Education, and a Life Spent Searching for the Worthy Life
Will Tensions Rise between the U.S. and Israel?
Unlike his past many predecessors, President Joe Biden does not have a plan for solving the Israel-Palestinian conflict. Moreover, his administration has indicated its skepticism about renewing the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran. John Bolton nevertheless believes that there could be a collision between the new Benjamin Netanyahu-led Israeli government and the Biden White House:
In possibly his last term, Netanyahu’s top national-security priority will be ending, not simply managing, Iran’s threat. This is infinitely distant from Biden’s Iran policy, which venerates Barrack Obama’s inaugural address: “we will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist.”
Tehran’s fist is today otherwise occupied, pummeling its own people. Still, it will continue menacing Israel and America unless and until the internal resistance finds ways to fracture the senior levels of Iran’s regular military and the Revolutionary Guards. Netanyahu undoubtedly sees Iran’s growing domestic turmoil as an opportunity for regime change, which Israel and others can facilitate. Simultaneously, Jerusalem can be preparing its military and intelligence services to attack Tehran’s nuclear program, something the White House simply refuses to contemplate seriously. Biden’s obsession with reviving the disastrous 2015 nuclear deal utterly blinds the White House to the potential for a more significant victory.
To make matters worse, Biden has just created a Washington-based position at the State Department, a “special representative for Palestinian affairs,” that has already drawn criticism in Israel both for the new position itself and for the person named to fill it. Advocated as one more step toward “upgrading” U.S. relations with the Palestinian Authority, the new position looks nearly certain to become the locus not of advancing American interests regarding the failed Authority, but of advancing the Authority’s interests within the Biden administration.