Today Jews Have Their Own State and the Freedom to Return from Exile. So Why Do We Continue to Mourn the Temples’ Destruction?

In 1977, Menachem Begin made his first visit to the U.S. as Israel’s prime minister—a visit that coincided with Tisha b’Av, the ancient day of mourning over the destruction of the two Temples, along with other calamities that have befallen the Jewish people throughout history. Not only did Begin take time out from his official activities to attend Tisha b’Av eve services at a synagogue, but, appearing the next day on Meet the Press, explained the day’s significance to his American audience. Meir Soloveichik, using Begin’s comments as his point of departure, seeks to answer the question of why we still mourn Jerusalem’s destruction some 2,000 years ago when the Jewish state is restored, Jerusalem is in our hands, and we have so much to celebrate.

Read more at Tikvah

More about: Judaism, Menachem Begin, Tisha b'Av

Iran’s President May Be Dead. What Next?

At the moment, Hizballah’s superiors in Tehran probably aren’t giving much thought to the militia’s next move. More likely, they are focused on the fact that their country’s president, Ebrahim Raisi, along with the foreign minister, may have been killed in a helicopter crash near the Iran-Azerbaijan border. Iranians set off fireworks to celebrate the possible death of this man known as “butcher of Tehran” for his role in executing dissidents. Shay Khatiri explains what will happen next:

If the president is dead or unable to perform his duties for longer than two months, the first vice-president, the speaker of the parliament, and the chief justice, with the consent of the supreme leader, form a council to choose the succession mechanism. In effect, this means that Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei will decide [how to proceed]. Either a new election is called, or Khamenei will dictate that the council chooses a single person to avoid an election in time of crisis.

Whatever happens next, however, Raisi’s “hard landing” will mark the first chapter in a game of musical chairs that will consume the Islamic Republic for months and will set the stage not only for the post-Raisi era, but the post-Khamenei one as well.

As for the inevitable speculation that Raisi’s death wasn’t an accident: everything I have read so far suggests that it was. Still, that its foremost enemy will be distracted by a succession struggle is good news for Israel. And it wouldn’t be terrible if Iran’s leaders suspect that the Mossad just might have taken out Raisi. For all their rhetoric about martyrdom, I doubt they relish the prospect of becoming martyrs themselves.

Read more at Middle East Forum

More about: Ali Khamenei, Iran, Mossad