Understanding the Bible’s Political Teachings

July 16 2018

Although it is rarely taught in political-science courses, the Hebrew Bible has had a profound impact on Western political thought, from medieval Christian Europe to the American founders and to the present. Yoram Hazony, who has written extensively on this subject, here discusses the Bible’s political doctrines, arguing that Genesis and Exodus contrast the pastoral and nomadic life of the patriarchs with the sophisticated and all-powerful governments found in the empires of Mesopotamia and Egypt. Furthermore, he finds in Judges and Samuel a doctrine of the monarchy, the social contract, and the consent of the governed utterly unlike the notion of “divine right” claimed by many premodern rulers. (Interview by Jonathan Silver. Audio, 39 minutes. Options for download and streaming are available at the link below.)

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Read more at Tikvah

More about: Hebrew Bible, Jewish political tradition, Political philosophy, Religion & Holidays, Religion and politics

 

How European Fecklessness Encourages the Islamic Republic’s Assassination Campaign

In September, Cypriot police narrowly foiled a plot by an Iranian agent to murder five Jewish businessman. This was but one of roughly a dozen similar operations that Tehran has conducted in Europe since 2015—on both Israeli or Jewish and American targets—which have left three dead. Matthew Karnitschnig traces the use of assassination as a strategic tool to the very beginning of the Islamic Republic, and explains its appeal:

In the West, assassination remains a last resort (think Osama bin Laden); in authoritarian states, it’s the first (who can forget the 2017 assassination by nerve agent of Kim Jong-nam, the playboy half-brother of North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un, upon his arrival in Kuala Lumpur?). For rogue states, even if the murder plots are thwarted, the regimes still win by instilling fear in their enemies’ hearts and minds. That helps explain the recent frequency. Over the course of a few months last year, Iran undertook a flurry of attacks from Latin America to Africa.

Whether such operations succeed or not, the countries behind them can be sure of one thing: they won’t be made to pay for trying. Over the years, the Russian and Iranian regimes have eliminated countless dissidents, traitors, and assorted other enemies (real and perceived) on the streets of Paris, Berlin, and even Washington, often in broad daylight. Others have been quietly abducted and sent home, where they faced sham trials and were then hanged for treason.

While there’s no shortage of criticism in the West in the wake of these crimes, there are rarely real consequences. That’s especially true in Europe, where leaders have looked the other way in the face of a variety of abuses in the hopes of reviving a deal to rein in Tehran’s nuclear-weapons program and renewing business ties.

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Read more at Politico

More about: Europe, Iran, Israeli Security, Terrorism