Jonathan Sacks: A Rabbi Whose Vision of the Jews as a Creative Minority Was a Message to All People of Faith

Nov. 13 2020

The former chief rabbi of England, Jonathan Sacks—who died last Shabbat—was, in Mark Gottlieb’s words: “perhaps the last of [an] increasingly rare breed: the orthodox sage on the world stage; counsel to kings, queens, presidents, and prime ministers.” Examining the hopefulness and wisdom with which Sacks confronted the problems of our age, Gottlieb writes:

Although sometimes depicted as a conservative for certain social-cultural stands, in his politics Rabbi Sacks retained classical liberal loyalties. This was true from his days as an undergraduate at Cambridge to his last publication, Morality, released just last month. His principled aversion to political correctness throughout his life is more a token of his classical liberalism and embrace of epistemological pluralism than any purported conservatism, but he also had definite communitarian leanings, evident especially in his philosophically traditionalist The Home We Build Together.

Tellingly, upon taking his seat in the House of Lords after being awarded a lifetime peerage, Rabbi Sacks was a “crossbencher,” avoiding party allegiances to Labor or Conservative lines. For Rabbi Sacks, as his spiritual mentors Rabbis [Menachem Mendel] Schneerson and [Joseph B.] Soloveitchik emphasized, human experience is dialectical and Orthodoxy must always transcend and absorb right and left, conservative and liberal—or even progressive.

Transcending what he viewed as the false alternatives of cultural secession and assimilation to the deepening demands of secular consumerism, relativism, and anomie, Rabbi Sacks powerfully articulated a third way, what he playfully but seriously dubbed the Jeremiah option. . . . Rabbi Sacks . . . argued for the durability and lasting relevance of the “creative minority,” something all people of faith, and not just Jews, must now identify with.

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Read more at First Things

More about: Jonathan Sacks, Judaism, Religion

Iran’s Dangerous Dream of a Triple Alliance with Russia and China

Aug. 16 2022

Unlike Hamas, which merely receives support from the Islamic Republic, Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ)—with which Israel engaged in a short round of fighting last week—is more or less under its direct control. In fact, the recent hostilities began with a series of terrorist attacks launched by PIJ from Samaria, which might in turn have been a response to Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei’s call “to open a new front in the West Bank against the Zionist enemy.” Amir Taheri writes:

In Gaza, the Islamic Republic has invested heavily in promoting Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad. . . . Islamic Jihad is in a minority in Gaza, hence the attempt by Tehran to help it create a base in the West Bank.

Reliable sources in Baghdad say that [Iran’s expeditionary and terrorist paramilitary] the Quds Force has been “transiting” significant quantities of arms and cash via Iraq to Jordan, to be smuggled to the West Bank. The Jordanian authorities say they are aware of these “hostile activities.” King Abdullah himself has publicly called on Iran to cease “destabilizing activities.”

But such schemes, Taheri explains, are part of a larger strategic vision of creating a grand anti-Western alliance even while engaging in nuclear negotiations with the U.S. and Europe:

Last month, Khamenei praised Vladimr Putin for his invasion of Ukraine. And this month, China’s ambassador to Iran, Chang Hua, praised the Islamic Republic for supporting China in “asserting its sovereignty” over Taiwan.

It is clear that some dangerous pipe-dreamers in Beijing, Moscow, and Tehran have fallen for the phantasmagoric vision of “three great powers” banding together and with help from “the rest,” that is to say, the so-called Third World . . . to destroy an international system created by the “corrupt and decadent.”

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Read more at Gatestone

More about: China, Iran, Islamic Jihad, Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, Russia, West Bank