A Mezuzah in Dubai Symbolizes the Normalization of Judaism in Israel

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.

Read more at Jerusalem Post

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

The ICJ’s Vice-President Explains What’s Wrong with Its Recent Ruling against Israel

It should be obvious to anyone with even rudimentary knowledge of the Gaza war that Israel is not committing genocide there, or anything even remotely akin to it. In response to such spurious accusations, it’s often best to focus on the mockery they make of international law itself, or on how Israel can most effectively combat them. Still, it is also worth stopping to consider the legal case on its own terms. No one has done this quite so effectively, to my knowledge, as the Ugandan jurist Julia Sebutinde, who is the vice-president of the ICJ and the only one of its judges to rule unequivocally in Israel’s favor both in this case and in the previous one where it found accusations of genocide “plausible.”

Sebutinde begins by questioning the appropriateness of the court ruling on this issue at all:

Once again, South Africa has invited the Court to micromanage the conduct of hostilities between Israel and Hamas. Such hostilities are exclusively governed by the laws of war (international humanitarian law) and international human-rights law, areas where the Court lacks jurisdiction in this case.

The Court should also avoid trying to enforce its own orders. . . . Is the Court going to reaffirm its earlier provisional measures every time a party runs to it with allegations of a breach of its provisional measures? I should think not.

Sebutinde also emphasizes the absurdity of hearing this case after Israel has taken “multiple concrete actions” to alleviate the suffering of Gazan civilians since the ICJ’s last ruling. In fact, she points out, “the evidence actually shows a gradual improvement in the humanitarian situation in Gaza since the Court’s order.” She brings much evidence in support of these points.

She concludes her dissent by highlighting the procedural irregularities of the case, including a complete failure to respect the basic rights of the accused:

I find it necessary to note my serious concerns regarding the manner in which South Africa’s request and incidental oral hearings were managed by the Court, resulting in Israel not having sufficient time to file its written observations on the request. In my view, the Court should have consented to Israel’s request to postpone the oral hearings to the following week to allow for Israel to have sufficient time to fully respond to South Africa’s request and engage counsel. Regrettably, as a result of the exceptionally abbreviated timeframe for the hearings, Israel could not be represented by its chosen counsel, who were unavailable on the dates scheduled by the Court.

It is also regrettable that Israel was required to respond to a question posed by a member of the Court over the Jewish Sabbath. The Court’s decisions in this respect bear upon the procedural equality between the parties and the good administration of justice by the Court.

Read more at International Court of Justice

More about: Gaza War 2023, ICC, International Law