From 516 BCE until 70 CE, the rebuilt Temple in Jerusalem was the center of worship for Jews in both the Land of Israel and the Diaspora. The beginning of this era saw the composition of the Hebrew Bible’s latest books; its end saw such early talmudic rabbis as Hillel and Rabban Gamliel, as well as the beginning of Christianity. The interim period, however, is little remembered or understood outside of academic circles. In conversation with Matt Lynch, Malka Simkovich explains what both Jews and Christians get wrong about this pivotal period of Jewish history, how the rabbis built on its intellectual and interpretive legacy, and the dangers of paying excessive attention to the Dead Sea Scrolls. (Audio, 56 minutes.)
The Forgotten Legacy of Second Temple Judaism
An American Withdrawal from Iraq Would Hand Another Victory to Iran
Since October 7, the powerful network of Iran-backed militias in Iraq have carried out 120 attacks on U.S. forces stationed in the country. In the previous year, there were dozens of such attacks. The recent escalation has led some in the U.S. to press for the withdrawal of these forces, whose stated purpose in the country is to stamp out the remnants of Islamic State and to prevent the group’s resurgence. William Roberts explains why doing so would be a mistake:
American withdrawal from Iraq would cement Iran’s influence and jeopardize our substantial investment into the stabilization of Iraq and the wider region, threatening U.S. national security. Critics of the U.S. military presence argue that [it] risks a regional escalation in the ongoing conflict between Israel and Iran. However, in the long term, the U.S. military has provided critical assistance to Iraq’s security forces while preventing the escalation of other regional conflicts, such as clashes between Turkey and Kurdish groups in northern Iraq and Syria.
Ultimately, the only path forward to preserve a democratic, pluralistic, and sovereign Iraq is through engagement with the international community, especially the United States. Resisting Iran’s takeover will require the U.S. to draw international attention to the democratic backsliding in the country and to be present and engage continuously with Iraqi civil society in military and non-military matters. Surrendering Iraq to Iran’s agents would not only squander our substantial investment in Iraq’s stability; it would greatly increase Iran’s capability to threaten American interests in the Levant through its influence in Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon.