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

How to Save the Universities

To Peter Berkowitz, the rot in American institutions of higher learning exposed by Tuesday’s hearings resembles a disease that in its early stages was easy to cure but difficult to diagnose, and now is so advanced that it is easy to diagnose but difficult to cure. Recent analyses of these problems have now at last made it to the pages of the New York Times but are, he writes, “tardy by several decades,” and their suggested remedies woefully inadequate:

They fail to identify the chief problem. They ignore the principal obstacles to reform. They propose reforms that provide the equivalent of band-aids for gaping wounds and shattered limbs. And they overlook the mainstream media’s complicity in largely ignoring, downplaying, or dismissing repeated warnings extending back a quarter century and more—largely, but not exclusively, from conservatives—that our universities undermine the public interest by attacking free speech, eviscerating due process, and hollowing out and politicizing the curriculum.

The remedy, Berkowitz argues, would be turning universities into places that cultivate, encourage, and teach freedom of thought and speech. But doing so seems unlikely:

Having undermined respect for others and the art of listening by presiding over—or silently acquiescing in—the curtailment of dissenting speech for more than a generation, the current crop of administrators and professors seems ill-suited to fashion and implement free-speech training. Moreover, free speech is best learned not by didactic lectures and seminars but by practicing it in the reasoned consideration of competing ideas with those capable of challenging one’s assumptions and arguments. But where are the professors who can lead such conversations? Which faculty members remain capable of understanding their side of the argument because they understand the other side?

Read more at RealClearPolitics

More about: Academia, Anti-Semitism, Freedom of Speech, Israel on campus