Can a Progeny-Obsessed Religion Make Room for the Childless?

Jan. 28 2016

In his recent book, The Pater, Elliot Jager reflects on his relationship with his father, who abandoned him in childhood, and on his own experience as an adult unable to have children. David Wolpe writes in his review:

Judaism, with its first commandment to “be fruitful and multiply,” its anxiety about numbers and continuity, and its central prayer, the sh’ma, commanding us to “teach these words to our children” . . . doesn’t merely imply progeny. It is obsessed with it. . . .

Jager ultimately abandons his religious orthodoxy as a sort of “reprimand to God.” If the Jewish tradition is about children, and God refuses to cooperate, how can one maintain reverence? . . .

Jewish tradition, however, [also] has its consolations—even if they don’t always manage to soothe. . . . While Judaism instructs that teaching someone is equivalent to giving birth to him, Jager notes that many people say it is having children, more than anything else, that gives their own lives meaning.

In the end, perhaps, [this] book is the author’s stand-in creation. . . . Jager may not have a child, but he has enabled those who do have children to understand better the trials of the childless.

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Read more at Commentary

More about: Children, Family, Fertility, Judaism, Religion & Holidays

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