Should Jews Be Wary of All Transnational Institutions?

When first founded in the aftermath of World War II, the United Nations endeared itself to many Jews, especially after its 1947 approval of the partition of Palestine made possible the creation of the state of Israel. Since then, it has shown itself time and again to be corrupt, ineffective, and best suited for issuing condemnations of the Jewish state. Shalom Carmy finds in rabbinic literature a basic skepticism toward transnational and supranational governments, a category embracing not just the UN but the European Union as well:

[T]he 14th-century [sage] Rabbi Nissim of Gerona . . . took the Tower [of Babel] to be a symbol of the royal seat of sovereignty, which made the builders of the tower advocates of world government run by human beings. This centralization of power, in Nissim’s opinion, need not be a bad thing, as long as political power is held by the righteous. Alas, the dispersed descendants of Noah were, [according to rabbinic tradition], ruled over by [the wicked] Nimrod. Under these circumstances, it is better that the wicked fall short of centralized power, so that the righteous will have a place of refuge. Nissim goes on to remind his . . . audience how often the lack of unity among the nations of the world has allowed Jews to escape persecution, going sometimes from Muslim countries to Christian ones, and vice-versa. The desire for political unity is not inherently sinful, but its consequences in a corrupt world are deplorable. God was acting benevolently when he fragmented the human race into many languages and peoples. . . .

In recent years we hear more and more about the intrusion of the European Union into the laws and social arrangements of its member nations. Jews have particular reasons to be anxious. Animal-rights advocates have pushed for restrictions on religiously required methods for slaughtering animals, and this threatens the observance of kosher laws for meat. Regulations have been proposed that outlaw infant circumcision. If passed, they would make the practice of Judaism illegal. As a small minority, [Jews] cannot prevent individual nations from adopting such policies. . . . But in the absence of centralized EU control, we can hope they will not become continent-wide.

Then there is a broader worry. Progressivism has a strong universalistic trajectory. It also tends to be hostile to traditional religion. . . . It’s not hard to imagine a tightly knit European polity undertaking aggressive means to secure the universal triumph of progressive ideals. Jews and others whose religious practices are deemed “unprogressive” are likely to feel the pressure.

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Read more at First Things

More about: European Union, Freedom of Religion, Judaism, Religion & Holidays, Tower of Babel, United Nations

Terror Returns to Israel

Nov. 28 2022

On Wednesday, a double bombing in Jerusalem left two dead, and many others injured—an attack the likes of which has not been seen since 2016. In a Jenin hospital, meanwhile, armed Palestinians removed an Israeli who had been injured in a car accident, reportedly murdering him in the process, and held his body hostage for two days. All this comes as a year that has seen numerous stabbings, shootings, and other terrorist attacks is drawing to a close. Yaakov Lappin comments:

Unlike the individual or small groups of terrorists who, acting on radical ideology and incitement to violence, picked up a gun, a knife, or embarked on a car-ramming attack, this time a better organized terrorist cell detonated two bombs—apparently by remote control—at bus stops in the capital. Police and the Shin Bet have exhausted their immediate physical searches, and the hunt for the perpetrators will now move to the intelligence front.

It is too soon to know who, or which organization, conducted the attack, but it is possible to note that in recent years, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) has taken a lead in remote-control-bombing terrorism. Last week, a car bomb that likely contained explosives detonated by remote control was discovered by the Israel Defense Forces in Samaria, after it caught fire prematurely. In August 2019, a PFLP cell detonated a remote-control bomb in Dolev, seventeen miles northwest of Jerusalem, killing a seventeen-year-old Israeli girl and seriously wounding her father and brother. Members of that terror cell were later arrested.

With the Palestinian Authority (PA) losing its grip in parts of Samaria to armed terror gangs, and the image of the PA at an all-time low among Palestinians, in no small part due to corruption, nepotism, and its violation of human rights . . . the current situation does not look promising.

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Read more at JNS

More about: Israeli Security, Jerusalem, Palestinian terror