A Theology for Israeli Conservatives

Jan. 27 2023

To Americans, the idea that religious traditionalists should gravitate toward political conservatism seems a natural one, but in Israel such an alignment is a rather more recent phenomenon—and many who would consider themselves both religious and “of the right” would not necessarily choose the term “conservative.” In a recent book, Rabbi Chaim Navon attempts to articulate a Jewish rationale for religious conservatism. Yitzchak Blau writes in his review:

Makim Shorashim lays out much of cultural conservatism’s central themes. (An English title might be something like “Striking Roots: A Jewish Critique of Postmodern Deconstruction”—but there’s a clever double entendre: l’hakot shoresh means to take root, but here . . . Navon examines the consequences of uprooting a tradition.)

Navon includes many classic critiques of modern liberalism. Liberals value the individual and the state but forget about the importance of intervening institutions, such as the family, the congregation, and the neighborhood, that pass on values and make life livable. In fact, they protect against governmental tyranny; it is no accident that the Soviets tried to undermine all these other allegiances.

Navon laments the loss [among the Orthodox] of a desire to mirror the religious behavior of one’s grandparents and attributes this to an absence of religious self-confidence that brings grandchildren back to the books instead of relying on family and community. Interestingly, he critiques both liberals trying to change religious practice significantly and conservatives searching for greater stringency. Each group remains uncomfortable with the natural continuity of family customs. For Navon, there is nothing less authentic than searching for authenticity.

Read more at Tradition

More about: Conservatism, Jewish conservatism, Judaism in Israel


Israel Is Courting Saudi Arabia by Confronting Iran

Most likely, it was the Israeli Air Force that attacked eastern Syria Monday night, apparently destroying a convoy carrying Iranian weapons. Yoav Limor comments:

Israel reportedly carried out 32 attacks in Syria in 2022, and since early 2023 it has already struck 25 times in the country—at the very least. . . . The Iranian-Israeli clash stands out in the wake of the dramatic events in the region, chiefly among them is the effort to strike a normalization deal between Israel and Saudi Arabia, and later on with various other Muslim-Sunni states. Iran is trying to torpedo this process and has even publicly warned Saudi Arabia not to “gamble on a losing horse” because Israel’s demise is near. Riyadh is unlikely to heed that demand, for its own reasons.

Despite the thaw in relations between the kingdom and the Islamic Republic—including the exchange of ambassadors—the Saudis remain very suspicious of the Iranians. A strategic manifestation of that is that Riyadh is trying to forge a defense pact with the U.S.; a tactical manifestation took place this week when Saudi soccer players refused to play a match in Iran because of a bust of the former Revolutionary Guard commander Qassem Suleimani, [a master terrorist whose militias have wreaked havoc throughout the Middle East, including within Saudi borders].

Of course, Israel is trying to bring Saudi Arabia into its orbit and to create a strong common front against Iran. The attack in Syria is ostensibly unrelated to the normalization process and is meant to prevent the terrorists on Israel’s northern border from laying their hands on sophisticated arms, but it nevertheless serves as a clear reminder for Riyadh that it must not scale back its fight against the constant danger posed by Iran.

Read more at Israel Hayom

More about: Iran, Israeli Security, Saudi Arabia, Syria