What Makes Jewish Law Different from Both Ancient and Modern Law—and Other Reflections of a Bible Scholar

In the American legal system, punishments meted out in criminal cases almost never involve compensation for the victim—often leading victims or their families to follow up criminal prosecutions with civil suits. By contrast, notes Jeremiah Unterman, biblical and talmudic law make both punishment for the wrongdoer and restitution for the victim priorities in the sentencing of criminals. Just as stark is the contrast between Jewish law and its ancient competitors: Unterman notes that Hammurabi’s code of 282 laws contain not a single statute for the protection of the poor, while the Pentateuch constantly cites the needs of paupers, widows, orphans, and strangers.

In a wide-ranging interview by Dru Johnson, Unterman discusses these subjects, along with his own career, his experiences in the Six-Day War, and much else.

Read more at Center for Hebraic Thought

More about: American law, Ancient Near East, Hebrew Bible, Jewish law, Judaism


Israel’s Covert War on Iran’s Nuclear Program Is Impressive. But Is It Successful?

Sept. 26 2023

The Mossad’s heist of a vast Iranian nuclear archive in 2018 provided abundant evidence that Tehran was not adhering to its commitments; it also provided an enormous amount of actionable intelligence. Two years later, Israel responded to international inspectors’ condemnation of the Islamic Republic’s violations by using this intelligence to launch a spectacular campaign of sabotage—a campaign that is the subject of Target Tehran, by Yonah Jeremy Bob and Ilan Evyatar. David Adesnik writes:

The question that remains open at the conclusion of Target Tehran is whether the Mossad’s tactical wizardry adds up to strategic success in the shadow war with Iran. The authors give a very respectful hearing to skeptics—such as the former Mossad director Tamir Pardo—who believe the country should have embraced the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran. Bob and Evyatar reject that position, arguing that covert action has proven itself the best way to slow down the nuclear program. They acknowledge, however, that the clerical regime remains fully determined to reach the nuclear threshold. “The Mossad’s secret war, in other words, is not over. Indeed, it may never end,” they write.

Which brings us back to Joe Biden. The clerical regime was headed over a financial cliff when Biden took office, thanks to the reimposition of sanctions after Washington withdrew from the nuclear deal. The billions flowing into Iran on Biden’s watch have made it that much easier for the regime to rebuild whatever Mossad destroys in addition to weathering nationwide protests on behalf of women, life, and freedom. Until Washington and Jerusalem get on the same page—and stay there—Tehran’s nuclear ambitions will remain an affordable luxury for a dictatorship at war with its citizens.

Read more at Dispatch

More about: Iran nuclear program, Israeli Security, Joseph Biden, Mossad, U.S. Foreign policy