As the ancient Jews go into exile following the destruction of their kingdom, the prophet Jeremiah urges them to “build houses and settle down” and, what’s more, to “seek the peace and prosperity” of their new homes. Jonathan Sacks finds in these words the “revolutionary” notion that Judaism’s values can endure despite political collapse and geographical relocation. Revisiting a lecture he gave in 2013, Sacks discusses how the Jews’ success not only in preserving their religion, but in rebuilding after repeated cataclysms, can provide a lesson and a model for contemporary Western society. Moreover, he urges Jews not to choose isolation but to play an active role in today’s needed process of renewal. (Interview by Eric Cohen. Audio, 35 minutes. Options for download and streaming are available at the link below.)
The Jews’ Role in Renewing the Vitality of Western Civilization
Israel Is Courting Saudi Arabia by Confronting Iran
Most likely, it was the Israeli Air Force that attacked eastern Syria Monday night, apparently destroying a convoy carrying Iranian weapons. Yoav Limor comments:
Israel reportedly carried out 32 attacks in Syria in 2022, and since early 2023 it has already struck 25 times in the country—at the very least. . . . The Iranian-Israeli clash stands out in the wake of the dramatic events in the region, chiefly among them is the effort to strike a normalization deal between Israel and Saudi Arabia, and later on with various other Muslim-Sunni states. Iran is trying to torpedo this process and has even publicly warned Saudi Arabia not to “gamble on a losing horse” because Israel’s demise is near. Riyadh is unlikely to heed that demand, for its own reasons.
Despite the thaw in relations between the kingdom and the Islamic Republic—including the exchange of ambassadors—the Saudis remain very suspicious of the Iranians. A strategic manifestation of that is that Riyadh is trying to forge a defense pact with the U.S.; a tactical manifestation took place this week when Saudi soccer players refused to play a match in Iran because of a bust of the former Revolutionary Guard commander Qassem Suleimani, [a master terrorist whose militias have wreaked havoc throughout the Middle East, including within Saudi borders].
Of course, Israel is trying to bring Saudi Arabia into its orbit and to create a strong common front against Iran. The attack in Syria is ostensibly unrelated to the normalization process and is meant to prevent the terrorists on Israel’s northern border from laying their hands on sophisticated arms, but it nevertheless serves as a clear reminder for Riyadh that it must not scale back its fight against the constant danger posed by Iran.