Love Your Neighbor as Yourself—Whatever His Religion

In his book The God Delusion, the evolutionary biologist and New Atheist polemicist Richard Dawkins proclaims that the commandment in Leviticus 19:18 to “love your neighbor as yourself” originally meant “only ‘love another Jew.’” Not so, argues the Bible scholar Richard Elliott Friedman, mustering significant contextual and linguistic evidence:

[First], the text already directs Jews/Israelites to love foreigners: “The stranger who resides with you shall be to you as one of your citizens; you shall love him as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt” (Leviticus 19:34). What [then] would be the point of saying to love only Jews—and in the very same chapter! So who is our “neighbor”?

The Hebrew term here for “neighbor” is re’a. The first occurrence of re’a in the Torah is in the story of the tower of Babel (Genesis 11:3), the Bible’s story of the origin of different nations and languages. The term refers to every human, without any distinctions by group. . . [T]he next occurrence of the word [is] in the story of [Jacob’s son] Judah and [his daughter-in-law] Tamar. Judah has a re’a named Hirah the Adullamite (Genesis 38:12, 20). Hirah is a Canaanite, . . .  from the then-Canaanite city of Adullam. He cannot be a member of Judah’s clan because, at this point in the story, that clan, the Israelites, consists only of Jacob and his children and any grandchildren.

In the Exodus story the word appears in both the masculine and feminine, [when] Moses instructs the Israelites to ask their Egyptian neighbors for silver and gold items before they leave Egypt (Exodus 11:2): “each man will ask of his neighbor and each woman of her neighbor . . .”. The word there refers precisely to non-Israelites. . . .

In short, the word re’a is used to refer to an Israelite, a Canaanite, an Egyptian, or to everyone on earth.


More about: Hebrew Bible, Morality, New Atheists, Religion & Holidays, Richard Dawkins


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