When a Medieval Jewish Philosopher Wrote a Treatise for a Muslim Governor

Most likely born in Baghdad, the Jewish philosopher Sa’d ibn Mansur Ibn Kammuna died in 1284; his writings, all of which were in Arabic, influenced both Jewish and Muslim thinkers of the era. His thought draws upon Sufism, the Islamic philosophers Ibn Sina and al-Ghazali, and the great Sephardi philosophers Judah Halevi and Moses Maimonides, among many other sources. Describing one of Ibn Kammuna’s books, recently translated into English by Tzvi Langermann, Alan Brill writes:

Ibn Kammuna’s Subtle Insights Concerning Knowledge and Practice is a goldmine of ethics, ritual, piety, and religious thought, [filled with] valuable [information] about the medieval Jewish experience and its culture.

Written for the newly appointed Muslim governor of Isfahan, [a city now in Iran and then ruled by an offshoot of the Mongol empire], this compact treatise and philosophical guidebook includes a wide‑ranging and accessible set of essays on ethics, psychology, political philosophy, and the unity of God.

To Kammuna, [society is composed of] two elements: the common people who follow religion based on the authority of prophecy and the philosopher- intellectuals who have a philosophic religion. This book presents what Langermann calls “Abrahamic philosophic piety,” [based on the twin] principles of God and prophecy. Allah, Theos, and the God of the Hebrew Bible are automatically assumed to be the same universal Deity.

Yet, adds Langermann, in conversation with Brill, the abstract universalism Ibn Khammuna embraces in this book is not, at least on its own, representative of his thought as a whole:

[Ibn Khammuna’s book comparing the three monotheistic religions], Examination of the Three Faiths, has a distinctly pro-Jewish bias, which was not lost on Christian and Muslim readers. It is not overtly polemical; he does not attack any other religion. . . . However, Judaism does come out looking the best of the three in that book. Similarly, his relatively unknown treatise comparing Rabbinic Judaism with Karaism, [a sect that rejected the Talmud and the rabbinic tradition], clearly favors the Rabbinites.

Read more at Book of Doctrines and Opinions

More about: Jewish Philosophy, Jewish-Muslim Relations, Middle Ages, Monotheism

Hizballah Is Learning Israel’s Weak Spots

On Tuesday, a Hizballah drone attack injured three people in northern Israel. The next day, another attack, targeting an IDF base, injured eighteen people, six of them seriously, in Arab al-Amshe, also in the north. This second attack involved the simultaneous use of drones carrying explosives and guided antitank missiles. In both cases, the defensive systems that performed so successfully last weekend failed to stop the drones and missiles. Ron Ben-Yishai has a straightforward explanation as to why: the Lebanon-backed terrorist group is getting better at evading Israel defenses. He explains the three basis systems used to pilot these unmanned aircraft, and their practical effects:

These systems allow drones to act similarly to fighter jets, using “dead zones”—areas not visible to radar or other optical detection—to approach targets. They fly low initially, then ascend just before crashing and detonating on the target. The terrain of southern Lebanon is particularly conducive to such attacks.

But this requires skills that the terror group has honed over months of fighting against Israel. The latest attacks involved a large drone capable of carrying over 50 kg (110 lbs.) of explosives. The terrorists have likely analyzed Israel’s alert and interception systems, recognizing that shooting down their drones requires early detection to allow sufficient time for launching interceptors.

The IDF tries to detect any incoming drones on its radar, as it had done prior to the war. Despite Hizballah’s learning curve, the IDF’s technological edge offers an advantage. However, the military must recognize that any measure it takes is quickly observed and analyzed, and even the most effective defenses can be incomplete. The terrain near the Lebanon-Israel border continues to pose a challenge, necessitating technological solutions and significant financial investment.

Read more at Ynet

More about: Hizballah, Iron Dome, Israeli Security