The State Is No Substitute for Personal Responsibility in the Age of the Smartphone

Reflecting on the rush to buy the latest model of the iPhone, and on recent research into the social and psychic effects of the new age of electronic connectedness, Jonathan Sacks sees a problem ultimately rooted not in technology but in the collapse of traditional morality:

Between the Reformation and now, the ethic that bound society together was drawn from religion in one or other of its Judeo-Christian forms. Yes, there was a progressive secularization of power. But religion had a huge influence on society, some of it harsh and hypocritical but much of it admirable and altruistic. It strengthened the bonds of family and community, encouraging personal and social responsibility. It spoke of virtue, fidelity, and service to others. It told stories that made sense of our place in the universe and enacted rituals that inspired humility in the face of eternity.

For 50 years the West has been embarked on an experiment whose true cost we are only beginning to realize, namely the creation of a society without a shared moral code, an ethic known to academics as “expressive individualism,” which roughly means “do whatever you want and can get away with.”

People believed that the collateral damage could be dealt with by the state. It would care for the children of broken or abusive families. Its regulatory bodies would enforce financial and business ethics. Its tax regime would guarantee fairness in the distribution of rewards. But the state is no substitute for an internalized code of honor and personal responsibility. Unfettered freedom still means today what it meant to Thucydides long ago: the strong do what they will and the weak suffer what they must.

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More about: Jonathan Sacks, Religion & Holidays, Technology, Western civilization

Hamas’s Hostage Diplomacy

Ron Ben-Yishai explains Hamas’s current calculations:

Strategically speaking, Hamas is hoping to add more and more days to the pause currently in effect, setting a new reality in stone, one which will convince the United States to get Israel to end the war. At the same time, they still have most of the hostages hidden in every underground crevice they could find, and hope to exchange those with as many Hamas and Islamic Jihad prisoners currently in Israeli prisons, planning on “revitalizing” their terrorist inclinations to even the odds against the seemingly unstoppable Israeli war machine.

Chances are that if pressured to do so by Qatar and Egypt, they will release men over 60 with the same “three-for-one” deal they’ve had in place so far, but when Israeli soldiers are all they have left to exchange, they are unlikely to extend the arrangement, instead insisting that for every IDF soldier released, thousands of their people would be set free.

In one of his last speeches prior to October 7, the Gaza-based Hamas chief Yahya Sinwar said, “remember the number one, one, one, one.” While he did not elaborate, it is believed he meant he wants 1,111 Hamas terrorists held in Israel released for every Israeli soldier, and those words came out of his mouth before he could even believe he would be able to abduct Israelis in the hundreds. This added leverage is likely to get him to aim for the release for all prisoners from Israeli facilities, not just some or even most.

Read more at Ynet

More about: Gaza War 2023, Hamas, Israeli Security