The Gravest Threats to Israel May Be Internal

April 23 2020

In an in-depth analysis of the Jewish state’s “precarious situation”—written before the COVID-19 epidemic and the country’s 2020 election, and published before a governing coalition was formed—Elliot Jager examines a wide variety of dangers: a powerful and aggressive Iran, a seeming bipartisan U.S. commitment to withdrawal from the Middle East, growing anti-Israel sentiment on the American left, and an increasingly apathetic Diaspora. But he is most concerned about the “corrosive tribalism and the loss of a binding ethos” among Israelis:

In biblical times, this sort of unraveling appeared after King Solomon’s death (ca. 933 BCE), with the breakup of his kingdom into Judah and Israel [a division that continued] until Israel’s fall in 722 BCE and Judah’s in 586 BCE; and later in the lead-up to the destruction of the Second Temple in 70 CE.

The devastating effects of tribalism have been a motif throughout Jewish history. Still, the ancient Israelite tribes shared a meta-identity. Over the ages, the Jewish people weathered the storms of disunity, fragmentation, and factionalism that buffeted their civilization because they all embraced—whether as sacred history or foundational myth—the Abrahamic covenant that established the contractual relationship between the God of Israel, the people of Israel, and the Land of Israel.

Bizarrely, Israel is a house divided by design. To enter first grade, Israeli parents register their children in one of four distinct educational systems: secular Zionist, national-religious Zionist, non-Zionist ultra-Orthodox, and Arab. For much of Israel’s history, the overwhelming majority of Jewish children attended either secular or national-religious [public] schools. [Now only 53 percent do so.] These numbers portend the demise of the country’s tolerantly liberal Zionist character.

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Read more at Israel My Glory

More about: Israeli education, Israeli politics, Israeli society

Condemning Terrorism in Jerusalem—and Efforts to Stop It

Jan. 30 2023

On Friday night, a Palestinian opened fire at a group of Israelis standing outside a Jerusalem synagogue, killing seven and wounding several others. The day before, the IDF had been drawn into a gunfight in the West Bank city of Jenin while trying to arrest members of a terrorist cell. Of the nine Palestinians killed in the raid, only one appears to have been a noncombatant. Lahav Harkov compares the responses to the two events, beginning with the more recent:

President Joe Biden called Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to denounce the attack, offer his condolences, and express his commitment to Israel’s security. Other leaders released supportive statements as well. Governments across Europe condemned the attack. Turkey’s foreign ministry did the same, as did Israel’s Abraham Accords partners the UAE and Bahrain. Even Saudi Arabia released a statement against the killing of civilians in Jerusalem.

It feels wrong to criticize those statements. . . . But the condemnations should be full-throated, not spoken out of one side of the mouth while the other is wishy-washy about what it takes to stave off terrorism. These very same leaders and ministries were tsk-tsking at Israel for doing just that only a day before the attacks in Jerusalem.

The context didn’t seem to matter to some countries that are friendly to Israel. It didn’t matter that Israel was trying to stop jihadists from attacking civilians; it didn’t matter that IDF soldiers were attacked on the way.

It’s very easy for some to be sad when Jews are murdered. Yet, at the same time, so many of them are uncomfortable with Jews asserting themselves, protecting themselves, arming themselves against the bloodthirsty horde that would hand out bonbons to celebrate their deaths. It’s a reminder of how important it is that we do just that, and how essential the state of Israel is.

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Read more at Lahav’s Newsletter

More about: Jerusalem, Palestinian terror