Jewish Lessons for the Age of Social-Media Shaming

Lamenting our current era of “cancel culture” and online mobs, Meir Soloveichik turns to the work of two outstanding Jewish figures of our times: the former prisoner of Zion, and current Jewish leader, Natan Sharansky, and the late British chief rabbi Jonathan Sacks:

Today, Americans are not hunted by the KGB, nor do we come close to enduring the terror and tyranny that marked Sharansky’s childhood [in the Soviet Union]. Yet Sharansky himself suggests that . . . much of America leads a masked life, one in which we feel forced to hide what we truly believe, who we truly are, for fear of social ostracization, or, worse, professional or personal retribution, for offending the wrong people. . . . We are bowing to the power of the online mob.

Sacks, meanwhile, focused on the lack of any idea of forgiveness in our current culture of censoriousness:

[In our day], mistakes made by young people have been used against them years later. We have seen expulsions, school acceptances withdrawn, jobs lost, lives ruined because of an irresponsible comment someone made on social media years before, as a teenager. In our current environment, no apologies for fallibility are accepted, and no allowance is made for the maturation process.

“What happens when an entire culture loses faith in God?” asks Rabbi Sacks. I’ll tell you all that’s left. All that’s left is an unconscious universe of impersonal forces that doesn’t care if we exist or not. In the other direction, all that’s left is a world of Facebook and Twitter and viral videos in which anyone can pass judgment on anyone without regard to the facts or truth or reflective moral judgment. And by the time the person accused has had the chance to explain, or the truth has emerged, the crowd has already moved on. They’re not interested anymore. And what happens in an unforgiving culture? In an unforgiving culture, the people who survive and thrive are the people without shame.

Read more at Sapir

More about: Cancel culture, Jonathan Sacks, Judaism, Natan Sharansky, Social media

Why the White House’s Plan to Prevent an Israel-Hizballah War Won’t Work

On Monday, Hizballah downed an Israeli drone, leading the IDF to retaliate with airstrikes that killed one of the terrorist group’s commanders in southern Lebanon, and two more of its members in the northeast. The latter strike marks an escalation by the IDF, which normally confines its activities to the southern part of the country. Hizballah responded by firing two barrages of rockets into northern Israel on Tuesday, while Hamas operatives in Lebanon fired another barrage yesterday.

According to the Iran-backed militia, 219 of its fighters have been killed since October; six Israeli civilians and ten soldiers have lost their lives in the north. The Biden administration has meanwhile been involved in ongoing negotiations to prevent these skirmishes from turning into an all-out war. The administration’s plan, however, requires carrots for Hizballah in exchange for unenforceable guarantees, as Richard Goldberg explains:

Israel and Hizballah last went to war in 2006. That summer, Hizballah crossed the border, killed three Israeli soldiers, and kidnapped two others. Israel responded with furious airstrikes, a naval blockade, and eventually a ground operation that met stiff resistance and mixed results. A UN-endorsed ceasefire went into effect after 34 days of war, accompanied by a Security Council Resolution that ordered the UN Interim Forces in Lebanon (UNIFIL) to assist the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) in disarming Hizballah in southern Lebanon—from the Israeli border up to the Litani River, some 30 kilometers away.

Despite billions of dollars in U.S. taxpayer support over the last seventeen years, the LAF made no requests to UNIFIL, which then never disarmed Hizballah. Instead, Iran accelerated delivering weapons to the terrorist group—building up its forces to a threat level that dwarfs the one Israel faced in 2006. The politics of Lebanon shifted over time as well, with Hizballah taking effective control of the Lebanese government and exerting its influence (and sometimes even control) over the LAF and its U.S.-funded systems.

Now the U.S. is offering Lebanon an economic bailout in exchange for a promise to keep Hizballah forces from coming within a mere ten kilometers of the border, essentially abrogating the Security Council resolution. Goldberg continues:

Who would be responsible for keeping the peace? The LAF and UNIFIL—the same pair that has spent seventeen years helping Hizballah become the threat it is today. That would guarantee that Hizballah’s commitments will never be verified or enforced.

It’s a win-win for [Hizballah’s chief Hassan] Nasrallah. Many of his fighters live and keep their missiles hidden within ten kilometers of Israel’s border. They will blend into the civilian population without any mechanism to force their departure. And even if the U.S. or France could verify a movement of weapons to the north, Nasrallah’s arsenal is more than capable of terrorizing Israeli cities from ten kilometers away. Meanwhile, a bailout of Lebanon will increase Hizballah’s popularity—demonstrating its tactics against Israel work.

Read more at The Dispatch

More about: Hizballah, Israeli Security, Joseph Biden