The Benefits of Modern Orthodoxy’s Political Divisions

Jan. 25 2017

Since the beginning of the millennium, Orthodox Jews have begun to vote for Republicans in increasingly large numbers. The last election showed Modern Orthodox Jews in particular split between the two parties. In the current era of political polarization and growing estrangement between “red” and “blue” Americans, writes Chaim Saiman, Modern Orthodoxy may be having its political moment:

In 1960, about 5 percent of the population cared whether their children married a member of the other political party. There were certainly disagreements about policy, but politics were not constitutive of identity. By 2008 this proportion grew significantly. In that year, 20 percent of Democrats and 27 percent of Republicans reported they would care if a child married a member of the other party. Polarization has continued apace; in 2010, 33 percent of Democrats and 49 percent of Republicans reported caring, and there are good reasons to think the percentages are even higher today.

Political identity has become totalizing as other forms of identity are being folded into it. Tell me if you are concerned about global warming, and I have a good chance of predicting your view on the estate tax, gun control, minimum wage, and healthcare. . . .

[By contrast], Modern Orthodoxy . . . lives between the two Americas. From a demographic perspective, its adherents seem “blue”: they tend to live in or near large, coastal cities, have high rates of college and graduate-school education at elite schools, and are well represented in the learned professions. At the same time, they also have much in common with “red” America. They are religious believers who value faith and faith communities, believe in strong traditional families, and support Israel and its specifically Jewish identity.

[But they are also] a divided community, which in this context is beneficial. Many post-election analyses relate America’s polarization to the fact that we increasingly live, work, and socialize among those we identify with politically. Add in media fragmentation, and red and blue Americans simply live in different ecosystems. In many ways, this applies to American Judaism as a whole, but Modern Orthodoxy is a particularly tight-knit community that divides [relatively] evenly among liberals, moderates, and conservatives. Most Modern Orthodox Jews can identify someone whom they not only know but respect from a moral, religious, and intellectual perspective and who voted for a different candidate [from theirs]. It is precisely because of this mutual respect that they can disagree without impugning the good faith and reasonableness of their interlocutors and without sacrificing admiration, friendship, and trust. In the current climate, this is both rare and valuable.

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Read more at Lehrhaus

More about: American Jewry, Modern Orthodoxy, Politics & Current Affairs, U.S. Presidential election

 

UN Peacekeepers in Lebanon Risk Their Lives, but Still May Do More Harm Than Good

Jan. 27 2023

Last month an Irish member of the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) was killed by Hizballah guerrillas who opened fire on his vehicle. To David Schenker, it is likely the peacekeeper was “assassinated” to send “a clear message of Hizballah’s growing hostility toward UNIFIL.” The peacekeeping force has had a presence in south Lebanon since 1978, serving first to maintain calm between Israel and the PLO, and later between Israel and Hizballah. But, Schenker explains, it seems to be accomplishing little in that regard:

In its biannual reports to the Security Council, UNIFIL openly concedes its failure to interdict weapons destined for Hizballah. While the contingent acknowledges allegations of “arms transfers to non-state actors” in Lebanon, i.e., Hizballah, UNIFIL says it’s “not in a position to substantiate” them. Given how ubiquitous UN peacekeepers are in the Hizballah heartland, this perennial failure to observe—let alone appropriate—even a single weapons delivery is a fair measure of the utter failure of UNIFIL’s mission. Regardless, Washington continues to pour hundreds of millions of dollars into this failed enterprise, and its local partner, the Lebanese Armed Forces.

Since 2006, UNIFIL patrols have periodically been subjected to Hizballah roadside bombs in what quickly proved to be a successful effort to discourage the organization proactively from executing its charge. In recent years, though, UN peacekeepers have increasingly been targeted by the terror organization that runs Lebanon, and which tightly controls the region that UNIFIL was set up to secure. The latest UN reports tell a harrowing story of a spike in the pattern of harassment and assaults on the force. . . .

Four decades on, UNIFIL’s mission has clearly become untenable. Not only is the organization ineffective, its deployment serves as a key driver of the economy in south Lebanon, employing and sustaining Hizballah’s supporters and constituents. At $500 million a year—$125 million of which is paid by Washington—the deployment is also expensive. Already, the force is in harm’s way, and during the inevitable next war between Israel and Hizballah, this 10,000-strong contingent will provide the militia with an impressive human shield.

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Read more at Tablet

More about: Hizballah, Lebanon, Peacekeepers, U.S. Foreign policy