What Jews Can Teach American Conservatives

Jonathan Silver
pick
April 24 2019
About Jonathan

Jonathan Silver is the editor of Mosaic.

Responding to a brief essay calling upon political conservatives in the U.S. to rethink their ideological priorities, Jonathan Silver argues that there is much to be learned from Jewish thought:

My own community of Jewish conservatives has its own work to do, which begins with encouraging Jewish Americans to embrace Judaism. But beyond our own small community the contributions we can make to the American public square are large. American mythology was once understood against the backdrop of the Exodus story—Americans, too, saw themselves as having fled oppression, crossed the wilderness, and arrived in a new promised land overflowing with providence. That foundational Hebraic contribution to the moral imagination of the West needs to be imbued with new energy and vitality.

Another Jewish contribution to the conservative future is the idea of covenant. Unlike a contract—such as the fabled “social contract” supposedly at the root of liberal politics—a covenant is a form of solidarity that does not depend exclusively on self-interest, and in which the human person is a responsible agent but not a masterless, sovereign self. Forgotten intellectual guides like Daniel Elazar are ripe for us to rediscover the significance of covenant. The truths of the Hebrew Bible are at the foundation of our American practice of liberty under the law, of liberty tempered by order, and they will be necessary for the future of American freedom.

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Read more at First Things

More about: Conservatism, Covenant, Hebrew Bible, Jewish conservatism

How the Death of Mahsa Amini Changed Iran—and Its Western Apologists

Sept. 28 2022

On September 16, a twenty-two-year-old named Mahsa Amini was arrested by the Iranian morality police for improperly wearing a hijab. Her death in custody three days later, evidently after being severely beaten, sparked waves of intense protests throughout the country. Since then, the Iranian authorities have killed dozens more in trying to quell the unrest. Nervana Mahmoud comments on how Amini’s death has been felt inside and outside of the Islamic Republic:

[I]n Western countries, the glamorizing of the hijab has been going on for decades. Even Playboy magazine published an article about the first “hijabi” news anchor in American TV history. Meanwhile, questioning the hijab’s authenticity and enforcement has been framed as “Islamophobia.” . . . But the death of Mahsa Amini has changed everything.

Commentators who downplayed the impact of enforced hijab have changed their tune. [Last week], CNN’s Christiane Amanpour declined an interview with the Iranian president Ebrahim Raisi, and the Biden administration imposed sanctions on Iran’s notorious morality police and senior officials for the violence carried out against protesters and for the death of Mahsa Amini.

The visual impact of the scenes in Iran has extended to the Arab world too. Arabic media outlets have felt the winds of change. The death of Mahsa Amini and the resulting protests in Iran are now top headlines, with Arab audiences watching daily as Iranian women from all age groups remove their hijabs and challenge the regime policy.

Iranian women are making history. They are teaching the world—including the Muslim world—about the glaring difference between opting to wear the hijab and being forced to wear it, whether by law or due to social pressure and mental bullying. Finally, non-hijabi women are not afraid to defy, proudly, their Islamist oppressors.

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Read more at Nervana

More about: Arab World, Iran, Women in Islam