Does Judaism Provide an Antidote for the Current Age of Distraction and Political Polarization?

Contending that the Internet, and social media in particular, have had a corrosive impact on public discourse in democratic countries across the world, Micah Goodman looks to the talmudic tradition for a model of healthy disagreement. The Talmud, after all, is a collection of arguments about the Mishnah, itself a collection of arguments—and it is typically studied along with its medieval commentaries, which argue with one another.

Because many of these opinions—most notably, those of the academy of the ancient sage Shammai—have been rejected by subsequent jurisprudence, Goodman contends that “Jewish tradition expects us to study opinions that we’re not allowed to live by.” (Video, 56 minutes.)


Read more at Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs

More about: Internet, Judaism, Politics, Social media, Talmud

Only Hamas’s Defeat Can Pave the Path to Peace

Opponents of the IDF’s campaign in Gaza often appeal to two related arguments: that Hamas is rooted in a set of ideas and thus cannot be defeated militarily, and that the destruction in Gaza only further radicalizes Palestinians, thus increasing the threat to Israel. Rejecting both lines of thinking, Ghaith al-Omar writes:

What makes Hamas and similar militant organizations effective is not their ideologies but their ability to act on them. For Hamas, the sustained capacity to use violence was key to helping it build political power. Back in the 1990s, Hamas’s popularity was at its lowest point, as most Palestinians believed that liberation could be achieved by peaceful and diplomatic means. Its use of violence derailed that concept, but it established Hamas as a political alternative.

Ever since, the use of force and violence has been an integral part of Hamas’s strategy. . . . Indeed, one lesson from October 7 is that while Hamas maintains its military and violent capabilities, it will remain capable of shaping the political reality. To be defeated, Hamas must be denied that. This can only be done through the use of force.

Any illusions that Palestinian and Israeli societies can now trust one another or even develop a level of coexistence anytime soon should be laid to rest. If it can ever be reached, such an outcome is at best a generational endeavor. . . . Hamas triggered war and still insists that it would do it all again given the chance, so it will be hard-pressed to garner a following from Palestinians in Gaza who suffered so horribly for its decision.

Read more at Washington Institute for Near East Policy

More about: Gaza War 2023, Hamas, Israeli-Palestinian Conflict