No, the Bible Isn’t Socialist. But It’s Hardly Capitalist, Either

With the return of self-described socialists to the American political scene, some have taken to reaching for Scripture to justify their political preferences. Scott Shay, while rejecting their readings of the Bible, explains that its prescriptions can’t easily be pigeonholed into modern categories:

The Bible . . . favors partial economic redistribution and legal regulations on the economy. . . . Unlike any other sacred text of its time, the Bible commands Israelites, who were overwhelmingly farmers, to set aside part of their harvest to be gathered by the poor, and to pay compulsory taxes, which were then redistributed to support the less fortunate. If a farmer did not follow these biblical laws, his crops were not kosher for buying or eating.

Further, the Bible required that farmers leave their land fallow every seventh year and allow anyone to harvest from it. [It also] required the release in the sabbatical year of Jews who had sold themselves into slavery to pay debts. But in a most astonishing directive to prohibit income inequality, the Bible instituted the return of all purchased properties to their original families every 50th year (the jubilee), so that everyone would have a more or less equal share. This provision applied to the king as well.

However, . . . the Bible [simultaneously] advocates a free market. The jubilee was not only a law of economic redistribution. It is more fundamentally a law against monopoly. Indeed, the jubilee ensured that Israelites would remain independent farmers, privately owning the means of production. Within this framework, farmers, like the patriarchs [of Genesis], took business initiatives, entered into contracts, and had no qualms about making money. In some cases, for example, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and some talmudic rabbis accumulated [considerable] wealth.

Perhaps most importantly, writes Shay, the Bible cautions that government leaders

are always susceptible of corruption, as recent socialist economies, such as Venezuela’s, have tragically shown. Even the wise King Solomon became corrupted by too much wealth and power. And sadly, today’s leaders are no King Solomons.

Read more at Jewish Week

More about: Capitalism, Hebrew Bible, King Solomon, Religion and politics, Socialism

 

Iran’s Program of Subversion and Propaganda in the Caucasus

In the past week, Iranian proxies and clients have attacked Israel from the West Bank, Gaza, Lebanon, and Yemen. Iran also has substantial military assets in Iraq and Syria—countries over which it exercises a great deal of control—which could launch significant attacks on Israel as well. Tehran, in addition, has stretched its influence northward into both Azerbaijan and Armenia. While Israel has diplomatic relations with both of these rival nations, its relationship with Baku is closer and involves significant military and security collaboration, some of which is directed against Iran. Alexander Grinberg writes:

Iran exploits ethnic and religious factors in both Armenia and Azerbaijan to further its interests. . . . In Armenia, Iran attempts to tarnish the legitimacy of the elected government and exploit the church’s nationalist position and tensions between it and the Armenian government; in Azerbaijan, the Iranian regime employs outright terrorist methods similar to its support for terrorist proxies in the Middle East [in order to] undermine the regime.

Huseyniyyun (Islamic Resistance Movement of Azerbaijan) is a terrorist militia made up of ethnic Azeris and designed to fight against Azerbaijan. It was established by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps . . . in the image of other pro-Iranian militias. . . . Currently, Huseyniyyun is not actively engaged in terrorist activities as Iran prefers more subtle methods of subversion. The organization serves as a mouthpiece of the Iranian regime on various Telegram channels in the Azeri language. The main impact of Huseyniyyun is that it helps spread Iranian propaganda in Azerbaijan.

The Iranian regime fears the end of hostilities between Armenia and Azerbaijan because this would limit its options for disruption. Iranian outlets are replete with anti-Semitic paranoia against Azerbaijan, accusing the country of awarding its territory to Zionists and NATO. . . . Likewise, it is noteworthy that Armenian nationalists reiterate hideous anti-Semitic tropes that are identical to those spouted by the Iranians and Palestinians. Moreover, leading Iranian analysts have no qualms about openly praising [sympathetic] Armenian clergy together with terrorist Iran-funded Azeri movements for working toward Iranian goals.

Read more at Jerusalem Institute for Strategy and Security

More about: Azerbaijan, Iran, Israeli Security