There’s No War on Religion—Yet

Last week, the social-media outrage of the moment focused on Elizabeth Bruenig, a left-wing and devoutly Catholic New York Times columnist who wrote an article discussing her satisfaction with her own decision to have a child at the relatively young age of twenty-five. Examining the angry reaction at Bruenig’s benign personal essay, Ross Douthat reflects on what it says about the growing suspicion—and sometimes outright hostility—toward religion among certain segments of the highly educated elite:

Under current circumstances there are social and professional costs for the public expression or endorsement of a few particularly unpopular, understood-as-bigoted teachings that are common to Christianity, Judaism, and Islam. But those same costs don’t apply to practicing and participating in those traditions, even in their more conservative expressions. Whereas under the emergent, new-progressive circumstances, . . . the costs would increasingly apply more broadly: thus simply to attend Mass, even under the auspices of a liberal Catholic chaplaincy, would become an act of association with bigotry.

But I think it isn’t a coincidence that so many readers (or at least Twitterers) took an essay written by a Catholic woman that conspicuously did not champion specifically Catholic ideas about family and marriage, but merely described a way of being in the world that’s clearly influenced by the author’s faith, and read into it some sort of . . . chauvinism against other women’s choices. I think that kind of reading-into is an expression of the [a] tendency . . . in which you are judged by the progressive reading of your faith tradition’s doctrines, their unacceptable conservatism or misogyny or patriarchy, rather than anything you yourself have explicitly said or done.

Thus a lot of anti-Bruenigism boils down, basically, to this: You say you’re just describing your own experience, but you’re a practicing Catholic so we know what you really think—about this and everything else—and we’re going to punish you for that.

Except that at this point Bruenig’s punishment is—being offered a job at the Atlantic. . . . So whatever is happening around her on the Internet is not the dominant force in elite liberalism as yet. But can trends on Twitter or in the academic hothouse suddenly stage a larger takeover? Yes, we know they can. So does the tendency bear watching? Yes, I think it does.

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Read more at Reactions

More about: American Religion, Children, Secularism

The End of the Arab-Israeli Conflict, and the Rise of the Arab-Israeli Coalition

Nov. 30 2022

After analyzing the struggle between the Jewish state and its Arab neighbors since 1949, Dan Schueftan explains the current geopolitical alignment and what it means for Jerusalem:

Using an outdated vocabulary of Middle Eastern affairs, recent relations between Israel and most Arab states are often discussed in terms of peace and normalization. What is happening recently is far more significant than the willingness to live together and overshadow old grievances and animosities. It is about strategic interdependence with a senior Israeli partner. The historic all-Arab coalition against Israel has been replaced by a de-facto Arab-Israeli coalition against the radical forces that threaten them both. Iran is the immediate and outstanding among those radicals, but Erdogan’s Turkey in the eastern Mediterranean, Syria—and, in a different way, its allies in the Muslim Brotherhood—are not very far behind.

For Israel, the result of these new alignments is a transformational change in its regional standing, as well as a major upgrade of its position on the global stage. In the Middle East, Israel can, for the first time, act as a full-fledged regional power. . . . On the international scene, global powers and other states no longer have to weigh the advantages of cooperation with Israel against its prohibitive costs in “the Arab World. . . . By far the most significant effect of this transformation is on the American strategic calculus of its relations with Israel.

In some important ways, then, the “New Middle East” has arrived. Not, of course, in the surreal Shimon Peres vision of regional democracy, peace, and prosperity, but in terms of a balance of power and hard strategic realities that can guardrail a somewhat less unstable and dangerous region, where the radicals are isolated and the others cooperate to keep them at bay.

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Read more at Tablet

More about: Abraham Accords, Israel-Arab relations, Middle East, Shimon Peres, U.S.-Israel relationship