What Jews Can Teach American Conservatives

Pick
April 24 2019
About Jonathan

Jonathan Silver is the editor of Mosaic, the host of the Tikvah Podcast, the Warren R. Stern Senior Fellow of Jewish Civilization, and the Chief Programming officer of Tikvah.

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.

Read more at First Things

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

What Is the Biden Administration Thinking?

In the aftermath of the rescue of four Israeli hostages on Friday, John Podhoretz observes some “clarifying moments.” The third strikes me as the most important:

Clarifying Moment #3 came with the news that the Biden administration is still calling for negotiations leading to a ceasefire after, by my count, the seventh rejection of the same by Hamas since Bibi Netanyahu’s secret offer a couple of weeks ago. Secretary of State Blinken, a man who cannot say no, including when someone suggests it would be smart for him to play high-school guitar while Ukraine burns, will be back in the region for the eighth time to urge Hamas to accept the deal. Why is this clarifying? Because it now suggests, here and for all time, that the Biden team is stupid.

Supposedly the carrot the [White House] is dangling in the region is a tripartite security deal with Saudi Arabia and Israel. Which would, of course, be a good thing. But like the stupid people they are now proving to be, they seem not to understand the very thing that led the Saudis to view Israel as a potential ally more than a decade ago: the idea that Israel means business and does what it must to survive and built itself a tech sector the Saudis want to learn from. Allowing Hamas to survive, which is implicitly part of the big American deal, will not lead to normalization. The Saudis do not want an Iranian vassal state in Palestine. Their entire foreign-policy purpose is to counter Iran. I know that. You know that. Everybody in the world knows that. Even Tony Blinken’s guitar is gently weeping at his dangling a carrot to Israel and Saudi Arabia that neither wants, needs, nor will accept.

Read more at Commentary

More about: Antony Blinken, Gaza War 2023, Joseph Biden, Saudi Arabia, U.S.-Israel relationship