What Israel’s Memorial Day Can Teach Americans

Americans, Gil Troy notes, are accustomed to associating Memorial Day with sales and barbecues. In Israel, it is altogether different. As Troy writes, “Spurred by two moments of silence—first at 8 p.m., then at 11 a.m.—the entire nation mourns together.” Alongside other rituals, both local and national, the sirens create the sense of living memory that defines virtually all Jewish holidays. These observances also help form a kind of civil religion, which “needs sacred moments that mute partisanship by consecrating shared memory.”

A popular Zionist yarn claims that in 1954, then-Secretary of State John Foster Dulles dismissed Israel’s founding prime minister, David Ben-Gurion, asking, “After 2,000 years of exile, can you honestly speak about a single nation, a single culture?” Noting that the Mayflower landed in America merely 300 years earlier, Ben-Gurion invited Dulles to find any “ten American children” and ask them, “What was the name of the captain of the Mayflower? How long did the voyage take? What did the people who were on the ship eat?”

Yet, Ben-Gurion noted, even though the Jews left Egypt 3,000 years earlier, thanks to the Passover holiday, which emphasizes educating one’s children about what happened—and ritualizing the teaching and learning—most Jewish kids know that Moses led the Jews, that they wandered 40 years before reaching Israel, and that they ate unleavened matzah on the run.

Jews kept Judaism and Jewish memory alive by reliving history through ritual.

With theaters closed, concert halls silenced, restaurants shuttered, radios playing somber songs, and every television station broadcasting martyrs’ tales, this new holy day enshrouds the whole country in a sacred silence.

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: Israeli society, Judaism, Yom Ha-Zikaron

 

How China Equips the Islamic Republic to Repress Its People

In its dedication to bringing totalitarianism into the 21st century, the Chinese Communist party has developed high-tech forms of surveillance using facial-recognition software, a vast system of “social credit,” and careful control over its subjects’ cellular phones. Even stricter and more invasive measures are applied to the Uyghurs of the northwestern part of the country. Beijing is also happy to export its innovations in tyranny to allies like Iran and Russia. Playing a key role in these advances is a nominally private company called Tiandy Technologies. Craig Singleton describes its activities:

Both Tiandy testimonials and Chinese-government press releases advertise the use of the company’s products by Chinese officials to track and interrogate Uyghur Muslims and other ethnic minorities in China’s Xinjiang province. According to human-rights groups, Chinese authorities also employ Tiandy products, such as “tiger chairs,” to torture Uyghurs and other minorities.

Iran has long relied on China to augment its digital surveillance capabilities, and Tehran was an early adopter of Beijing’s “social-credit” system, which it wields to assess citizens’ behavior and trustworthiness. . . . Iranian government representatives have publicized plans to leverage smart technologies, including AI-powered face recognition, to maintain regime stability and neutralize dissent. Enhanced cooperation with China is central to those efforts.

At present, Tiandy is not subject to U.S. sanctions or export controls. In light of Tiandy’s operations in both Xinjiang and Iran, policymakers should consider removing the company, its owner, and stakeholders from the international financial system and global supply chains.

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 FDD

More about: China, Human Rights, Iran, Totalitarianism, U.S. Foreign policy