Without Boundaries, Religions—and Nations—Can’t Endure

A controversy has broken out within Conservative Judaism as two prominent rabbis have openly rejected the movement’s stance against intermarriage. David Wolpe weighs in:

Among the many arguments on both sides, there is an underlying reality: America is very uncomfortable with particularism. Borders, boundaries, and exclusions make us uneasy. Standards smack of elitism. Saying to someone, “you may not join,” goes against our American ethos.

In the American story, love erases all boundaries. Think of the Disney movies: beauty marries the beast, the mermaid marries the man. The people who stand on the sidelines in such stories and say, “you cannot marry each other, you are from different worlds,” are either clueless or evil. How many American movies, shows, and books tell the story of the outsider who is finally accepted? . . . Today, the fight over immigration takes on this question: what are our rights of exclusion and what are the norms of inclusion?

For Jews, this is a very powerful question. Unlike Christianity, which is a belief-based system (believe in Jesus and you are Christian), Judaism is familial. You are born Jewish. Like any family, you can join (through conversion), but you are expected to “feel” like family. You are implicated in the fate of all Jews. . . .

Yet we know what happens when there are no borders at all. Without boundaries there is no nation, without standards there is no institution, without periodic rejection acceptance means nothing. So on one side religion risks being seen as narrow and exclusionary, and on the other side is the possibility of losing all self-definition.

Read more at RealClearReligion

More about: Conservative Judaism, Immigration, Intermarriage, Judaism, Religion & Holidays


An Israeli Buffer Zone in the Gaza Strip Doesn’t Violate International Law

 The IDF announced on Thursday that it is safe for residents to return to some of the towns and villages near the Gaza Strip that have been abandoned since October 7. Yet on the same day, rocket sirens sounded in one of those communities, Kibbutz Mefalsim. To help ensure security in the area, Israel is considering the creation of a buffer zone within the Strip that would be closed to Palestinian civilians and buildings. The U.S. has indicated, however, that it would not look favorably on such a step.

Avraham Shalev explains why it’s necessary:

The creation of a security buffer along the Gaza-Israel border serves the purpose of destroying Hamas’s infrastructure and eliminating the threat to Israel. . . . Some Palestinian structures are practically on the border, and only several hundred yards away from Israeli communities such as Kfar Aza, Kerem Shalom, and Sderot. The Palestinian terrorists that carried out the murderous October 7 attacks crossed into Israel from many of these border-adjacent areas. Hamas officials have already vowed that “we will do this again and again. The al-Aqsa Flood [the October 7th massacre] is just the first time, and there will be a second, a third, a fourth.”

In 2018 and 2019, Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad organized mass marches towards the Israeli border with the goal of breaking into Israel. Billed by Palestinians as “the Great March of Return,” its name reveals its purpose—invasion. Although the marches were supposedly non-violent, they featured largescale attacks on Israeli forces as well as arson and damage to Israeli agriculture and civilian communities. Moreover, the October 7 massacre was made possible by Hamas’s prepositioning military hardware along the border under false cover of civilian activity. The security perimeter is intended to prevent a reprise of these events.

Shalev goes on to dismantle the arguments put forth about why international law prohibits Israel from creating the buffer zone. He notes:

By way of comparison, following the defeat of Nazi Germany, France occupied the Saar [River Valley] directly until 1947 and then indirectly until reintegration with Germany in 1957, and the Allied occupation of Berlin continued until the reunification of Germany in 1990. The Allies maintained their occupation long after the fall of the Nazi regime, due to the threat of Soviet invasion and conquest of West Berlin, and by extension Western Europe.

Read more at Kohelet

More about: Gaza Strip, Gaza War 2023, International Law, Israeli Security