A Mezuzah in Dubai Symbolizes the Normalization of Judaism in Israel

July 15 2021

Although David Ben-Gurion was an enthusiastic reader of the Hebrew Bible, the Labor Zionism he espoused was essentially secular, while cultural Zionists such as Ahad Ha’am likewise sought to overthrow religious traditionalism. Much has changed since then, writes David Eliezrie, and the fact that the current prime minister wears a kippah is only a small part of that story. Perhaps more significant, Eliezrie notes, is an unnoticed gesture by Foreign Minister Yair Lapid, the embodiment of Israel’s secular, liberal, cosmopolitan elite, whose father led a political party that was nakedly anti-religious.

Last week in the United Arab Emirates, Lapid was busy putting up mezuzahs. The first in Dubai, at the new embassy, and the second a day later in Abu Dhabi. It was a full-fledged religious ceremony. Lapid was capped by a kippah and assisted by the local rabbi.

Today no one would think much of this, but it’s a stark contrast to the old Labor Zionist attitude to Judaism. When Menachem Begin became prime minister in 1977, one of the first things he noticed was that the prime minister’s office had no mezuzah. His five predecessors—David Ben-Gurion, Moshe Sharett, Levi Eshkol, Golda Meir, and Yitzḥak Rabin—were not bothered by a door with no mezuzah. [But] Begin wanted a mezuzah affixed. . . . Moments later the new prime minister, [although by no means strictly religious], recited the blessing that he knew by heart and installed a mezuzah.

That blessing represented a new era in Israel, one in which Judaism became more natural to Israeli society.

Subscribe to Mosaic

Welcome to Mosaic

Subscribe now to get unlimited access to the best of Jewish thought and culture

Subscribe

Subscribe to Mosaic

Welcome to Mosaic

Subscribe now to get unlimited access to the best of Jewish thought and culture

Subscribe

Read more at Jerusalem Post

More about: David Ben-Gurion, Judaism in Israel, Labor Zionism, Menachem Begin, Yair Lapid

The End of the Arab-Israeli Conflict, and the Rise of the Arab-Israeli Coalition

Nov. 30 2022

After analyzing the struggle between the Jewish state and its Arab neighbors since 1949, Dan Schueftan explains the current geopolitical alignment and what it means for Jerusalem:

Using an outdated vocabulary of Middle Eastern affairs, recent relations between Israel and most Arab states are often discussed in terms of peace and normalization. What is happening recently is far more significant than the willingness to live together and overshadow old grievances and animosities. It is about strategic interdependence with a senior Israeli partner. The historic all-Arab coalition against Israel has been replaced by a de-facto Arab-Israeli coalition against the radical forces that threaten them both. Iran is the immediate and outstanding among those radicals, but Erdogan’s Turkey in the eastern Mediterranean, Syria—and, in a different way, its allies in the Muslim Brotherhood—are not very far behind.

For Israel, the result of these new alignments is a transformational change in its regional standing, as well as a major upgrade of its position on the global stage. In the Middle East, Israel can, for the first time, act as a full-fledged regional power. . . . On the international scene, global powers and other states no longer have to weigh the advantages of cooperation with Israel against its prohibitive costs in “the Arab World. . . . By far the most significant effect of this transformation is on the American strategic calculus of its relations with Israel.

In some important ways, then, the “New Middle East” has arrived. Not, of course, in the surreal Shimon Peres vision of regional democracy, peace, and prosperity, but in terms of a balance of power and hard strategic realities that can guardrail a somewhat less unstable and dangerous region, where the radicals are isolated and the others cooperate to keep them at bay.

Subscribe to Mosaic

Welcome to Mosaic

Subscribe now to get unlimited access to the best of Jewish thought and culture

Subscribe

Subscribe to Mosaic

Welcome to Mosaic

Subscribe now to get unlimited access to the best of Jewish thought and culture

Subscribe

Read more at Tablet

More about: Abraham Accords, Israel-Arab relations, Middle East, Shimon Peres, U.S.-Israel relationship