Why Keep Mourning on Tisha b’Av?

On the ninth day of the Hebrew month of Av, falling this year on Saturday night and Sunday, Jews will fast and commemorate historic national tragedies—most importantly, the destruction of the First and Second Temples, the loss of national sovereignty, and the exile. David Wolpe explains why, with national sovereignty restored and Jews free to return to their land, this day of mourning remains as important as ever:

There is wisdom in remembering, for it is the unremembered past, as psychoanalysts teach us, that controls us. What we remember we can integrate and understand. The destruction of the Temple inaugurated the wandering of the Jews. Many other tragedies have attached themselves to this date. . . . But it was the initial destruction that propelled the subsequent history, glorious and tragic, of a homeless people. . . .

This day of sadness also affirms that we live in an unredeemed world. As a people convinced the messiah has not come, we recognize that the human drama is a story without an ending. . . .

Cicero, the Roman orator who lived a century before his people burned the Second Temple, taught that not to remember your past is to remain forever a child. The Jewish people have lived too long to remain children. We will sit and weep for what was and hope for what might be. We will continue, in a turbulent world, to cherish the prayer that one day their tears will be wiped away. And to hope that there will be peace on God’s holy mountain, for knowledge of the Lord will fill the earth as the waters fill the sea.

Read more at Time

More about: Mourning, Psychoanalysis, Religion & Holidays, Tisha b'Av


If Iran Goes Nuclear, the U.S. Will Be Forced Out of the Middle East

The International Atomic Energy Agency reported in May that Iran has, or is close to having, enough highly enriched uranium to build multiple atomic bombs, while, according to other sources, it is taking steps toward acquiring the technology to assemble such weapons. Considering the effects on Israel, the Middle East, and American foreign policy of a nuclear-armed Iran, Eli Diamond writes:

The basic picture is that the Middle East would become inhospitable to the U.S. and its allies when Iran goes nuclear. Israel would find itself isolated, with fewer options for deterring Iran or confronting its proxies. The Saudis and Emiratis would be forced into uncomfortable compromises.

Any course reversal has to start by recognizing that the United States has entered the early stages of a global conflict in which the Middle East is set to be a main attraction, not a sideshow.

Directly or not, the U.S. is engaged in this conflict and has a significant stake in its outcome. In Europe, American and Western arms are the only things standing between Ukraine and its defeat at the hands of Russia. In the Middle East, American arms remain indispensable to Israel’s survival as it wages a defensive, multifront war against Iran and its proxies Hamas and Hizballah. In the Indo-Pacific, China has embarked on the greatest military buildup since World War II, its eyes set on Taiwan but ultimately U.S. primacy.

While Iran is the smallest of these three powers, China and Russia rely on it greatly for oil and weapons, respectively. Both rely on it as a tool to degrade America’s position in the region. Constraining Iran and preventing its nuclear breakout would keep waterways open for Western shipping and undermine a key node in the supply chain for China and Russia.

Diamond offers a series of concrete suggestions for how the U.S. could push back hard against Iran, among them expanding the Abraham Accords into a military and diplomatic alliance that would include Saudi Arabia. But such a plan depends on Washington recognizing that its interests in Eastern Europe, in the Pacific, and in the Middle East are all connected.

Read more at National Review

More about: Iran nuclear program, Israeli Security, Middle East, U.S. Foreign policy