What Jews Can Teach American Conservatives

Pick
April 24 2019
About Jonathan

Jonathan Silver is the editor of Mosaic and the senior director of Tikvah Ideas, where he is also the Warren R. Stern Senior Fellow of Jewish Civilization.

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

To Save Gaza, the U.S. Needs a Strategy to Restrain Iran

Since the outbreak of war on October 7, America has given Israel much support, and also much advice. Seth Cropsey argues that some of that advice hasn’t been especially good:

American demands for “restraint” and a “lighter footprint” provide significant elements of Hamas’s command structure, including Yahya Sinwar, the architect of 10/7, a far greater chance of surviving and preserving the organization’s capabilities. Its threat will persist to some extent in any case, since it has significant assets in Lebanon and is poised to enter into a full-fledged partnership with Hizballah that would give it access to Lebanon’s Palestinian refugee camps for recruitment and to Iranian-supported ratlines into Jordan and Syria.

Turning to the aftermath of the war, Cropsey observes that it will take a different kind of involvement for the U.S. to get the outcomes it desires, namely an alternative to Israeli and to Hamas rule in Gaza that comes with buy-in from its Arab allies:

The only way that Gaza can be governed in a sustainable and stable manner is through the participation of Arab states, and in particular the Gulf Arabs, and the only power that can deliver their participation is the United States. A grand bargain is impossible unless the U.S. exerts enough leverage to induce one.

Militarily speaking, the U.S. has shown no desire seriously to curb Iranian power. It has persistently signaled a desire to avoid escalation. . . . The Gulf Arabs understand this. They have no desire to engage in serious strategic dialogue with Washington and Jerusalem over Iran strategy, since Washington does not have an Iran strategy.

Gaza’s fate is a small part of a much broader strategic struggle. Unless this is recognized, any diplomatic master plan will degenerate into a diplomatic parlor game.

Read more at National Review

More about: Gaza War 2023, Iran, U.S. Foreign policy