At America’s Best Universities, Biblical Religion Is a Curiosity, if Not a Menace

At the time of Columbia University’s founding in 1784, notes Meir Soloviechik, the leader of the local synagogue, Gershom Mendes Seixas, was made a member of its board of regents. A Jewish student even gave a commencement address, composed by Seixas, in Hebrew. In the 20th century, Columbia attracted numerous Jews with the relaxation of quotas, and was the first secular university to create a chair in Jewish history. Barnard College, Columbia’s all-women’s school, was itself founded by a Jewish woman, and today has a large number of Orthodox Jewish students.

This year, a few hours before Rosh Hashanah began, Cynthia Yang, a senior administrator at Barnard, sent an email to Orthodox students telling them that they would have to violate the holiday’s restrictions to report any positive coronavirus tests. Soloveichik comments:

Yang’s email is remarkable, and revealing, because it betrays her own opinion of Jewish traditional faith. For Orthodox Jews, the Sabbath laws, like the rest of the Torah, are kept first and foremost because we are commanded to keep them, because we must keep them. But not for Yang; that these “traditions” were anything other than cultural curiosities, easily discarded at her command, seems never to have occurred to her.

Her email further reflects the fact that in an institution purportedly committed to multiculturalism, the faith of Jewish students is unworthy of equal respect. Would Yang have considered composing such a nonchalant note to other ethnic or religious groups on the Barnard and Columbia campuses? The answer is obvious; indeed, it is likely that in this parallel case, Yang’s job would have been in danger. . . . In the age of intersectionality, it is specifically traditional Jews whose difference Yang considered unworthy of celebration and protection.

Yang soon after sent an apology, and an alternative solution was devised for devout students. “But,” Soloveichik writes,

it is impossible to avoid the feeling that, as a reflection of the ethos of the academic elite, Yang’s note provides an ominous omen. Jews encountered a unique embrace in America because of its love of the Hebrew Bible. A society suddenly hostile to biblical faith will become an entirely different America for adherents of Judaism; . . . many of those overseeing the most celebrated schools in America no longer see traditional faith as essential to the pursuit of knowledge and consider biblical belief a curiosity at best—and a menace at worst.

Read more at Commentary

More about: American Jewry, American Religion, Columbia University, Orthodoxy, University

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