The Secular Zionist Who Insisted on Mourning the Destruction of the Temples—Even in the Land of Israel

Aug. 10 2022

As it does every year, the Fast of Tisha b’Av last Sunday sparked arguments over whether it is still necessary to spend a day weeping over the ruin of Jerusalem when Jews have returned to their homeland and reestablished sovereignty there. To the non-religious in particular, such a commemoration can seem almost like a rejection of the accomplishments of Zionism. Gil Troy notes that Berl Katznelson, a leading theorist of Labor Zionism and a committed socialist, sharply criticized his comrades who wished to turn the Ninth of Av into a day of celebration:

For socialist Zionists, he insisted, the Ninth of Av has the same significance as it has for every Jew. We all lost our land, our freedom, our hope when the Romans destroyed the Second Temple in 70 CE, triggering the 1.900-year-exile Zionists sought to end.

Ultimately, Katznelson forgave these young amnesiacs [who wanted to jettison the day]. But, he warned, there is no [chance for success in the] movement for national salvation for those with “no instincts for the national spirit, for historic symbols, for enduring cultural values.” . . . Katznelson soon decided to confront the intellectual rot underlying this canceling of history. The result was what may be his most memorable essay, “Revolution and Tradition.”

“A renewing and creative generation does not throw the cultural heritage of ages into the dustbin,” he preached. “It examines and scrutinizes, accepts and rejects. At times it may keep and add to an accepted tradition. At times it descends into ruined grottoes to excavate and remove the dust from that which had lain in forgetfulness, to resuscitate old traditions which have the power to stimulate the spirit of the generation of renewal. If a people possesses something old and profound, which can educate man and train him for his future tasks, is it truly revolutionary to despise it and become estranged from it?”

“The Jewish year,” he reasoned, “is studded with days which, in depth of meaning, are unparalleled among other peoples. Is it advantageous—is it a goal—for the Jewish labor movement to waste the potential value stored within them?”

Read more at JNS

More about: Berl Katznelson, Labor Zionism, Secular Judaism, Tisha b'Av

Israel’s Covert War on Iran’s Nuclear Program Is Impressive. But Is It Successful?

Sept. 26 2023

The Mossad’s heist of a vast Iranian nuclear archive in 2018 provided abundant evidence that Tehran was not adhering to its commitments; it also provided an enormous amount of actionable intelligence. Two years later, Israel responded to international inspectors’ condemnation of the Islamic Republic’s violations by using this intelligence to launch a spectacular campaign of sabotage—a campaign that is the subject of Target Tehran, by Yonah Jeremy Bob and Ilan Evyatar. David Adesnik writes:

The question that remains open at the conclusion of Target Tehran is whether the Mossad’s tactical wizardry adds up to strategic success in the shadow war with Iran. The authors give a very respectful hearing to skeptics—such as the former Mossad director Tamir Pardo—who believe the country should have embraced the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran. Bob and Evyatar reject that position, arguing that covert action has proven itself the best way to slow down the nuclear program. They acknowledge, however, that the clerical regime remains fully determined to reach the nuclear threshold. “The Mossad’s secret war, in other words, is not over. Indeed, it may never end,” they write.

Which brings us back to Joe Biden. The clerical regime was headed over a financial cliff when Biden took office, thanks to the reimposition of sanctions after Washington withdrew from the nuclear deal. The billions flowing into Iran on Biden’s watch have made it that much easier for the regime to rebuild whatever Mossad destroys in addition to weathering nationwide protests on behalf of women, life, and freedom. Until Washington and Jerusalem get on the same page—and stay there—Tehran’s nuclear ambitions will remain an affordable luxury for a dictatorship at war with its citizens.

Read more at Dispatch

More about: Iran nuclear program, Israeli Security, Joseph Biden, Mossad, U.S. Foreign policy