A Religious Conservative Reflects on the U.S. Election

Not on election night, but when the Republican primaries were concluded, the Orthodox rabbi and philosopher Shalom Carmy “knew that . . . conservatives had lost, and ‘bigly.’” Herewith, his thoughts for his fellow religious conservatives, Jewish and non-Jewish alike:

The most painful aspect of the last presidential campaign is the disgusting rhetoric and the deterioration of political debate. The winner of the Electoral College majority set new lows for abusive national political discourse. Yet it will not do to pretend such coarsening was unexpected. Review the past 50 years: the elegant Kennedy, whose exchanges with Nixon seem, in retrospect, a golden age of engagement with substance, had more skeletons in his closet than almost any contemporary politician, even if he was shielded by a sycophantic media. . . .

The fault, dear friends, is not in one of our reality-TV stars, but in ourselves and in our culture. . . . Yet each of us in his or her respective sphere can try to foster a culture of yirat shamayim (fear of Heaven) in which human dignity and responsible behavior can survive.

One small suggestion: Judaism enjoins respect for the established civil authorities. There is no grounds to believe that Roman emperors and high officials were, as a rule, more admirable human beings, or wiser than our democratic leaders today. But without such respect, human society cannot be sustained.

Contemporary democracy, by dissolving the element of dignity and majesty in our political transactions, has replaced the prestige of authority with the magnetism of notoriety and insouciance, with results even more evident and predictable than the much-talked-of climate change. . . . Is it necessary for us . . . to call [politicians] by their first names, as if fantasizing them as our pals or aspiring to intimacy with their aura? Does doing so add to their professional dignity or detract from it? Let us stop fueling the baleful identification of the statesman with the celebrity.

Read more at Kol Hamevaser

More about: Conservatism, Donald Trump, Jewish conservatism, Politics & Current Affairs, U.S. Presidential election


Why Arab Jerusalem Has Stayed Quiet

One of Hamas’s most notable failures since October 7 is that it has not succeeded in inspiring a violent uprising either among the Palestinians of the West Bank or the Arab citizens of Israel. The latter seem horrified by Hamas’s actions and tend to sympathize with their own country. In the former case, quiet has been maintained by the IDF and Shin Bet, which have carried out a steady stream of arrests, raids, and even airstrikes.

But there is a third category of Arab living in Israel, namely the Arabs of Jerusalem, whose intermediate legal status gives them access to Israeli social services and the right to vote in municipal elections. They may also apply for Israeli citizenship if they so desire, although most do not.

On Wednesday, off-duty Israeli soldiers in the Old City of Jerusalem shot at a Palestinian who, it seems, was attempting to attack them. But this incident is a rare exception to the quiet that has prevailed in Arab Jerusalem since the war began. Eytan Laub asked a friend in an Arab neighborhood why:

Listen, he said, we . . . have much to lose. We already fear that any confrontation would have consequences. Making trouble may put our residence rights at risk. Furthermore, he added, not a few in the neighborhood, including his own family, have applied for Israeli citizenship and participating in disturbances would hardly help with that.

Such an attitude reflects a general trend since the end of the second intifada:

In recent years, the numbers of [Arab] Jerusalemites applying for Israeli citizenship has risen, as the social stigma of becoming Israeli has begun to erode and despite an Israeli naturalization process that can take years and result in denial (because of the requirement to show Jerusalem residence or the need to pass a Hebrew language test). The number of east Jerusalemites granted citizenship has also risen, from 827 in 2009 to over 1,600 in 2020.

Oddly enough, Laub goes on to argue, the construction of the West Bank separation fence in the early 2000s, which cuts through the Arab-majority parts of Jerusalem, has helped to encouraged better relations.

Read more at Jerusalem Strategic Tribune

More about: East Jerusalem, Israeli Arabs, Jerusalem