A Theology for Israeli Conservatives

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 Just Sent Iran a Clear Message

Early Friday morning, Israel attacked military installations near the Iranian cities of Isfahan and nearby Natanz, the latter being one of the hubs of the country’s nuclear program. Jerusalem is not taking credit for the attack, and none of the details are too certain, but it seems that the attack involved multiple drones, likely launched from within Iran, as well as one or more missiles fired from Syrian or Iraqi airspace. Strikes on Syrian radar systems shortly beforehand probably helped make the attack possible, and there were reportedly strikes on Iraq as well.

Iran itself is downplaying the attack, but the S-300 air-defense batteries in Isfahan appear to have been destroyed or damaged. This is a sophisticated Russian-made system positioned to protect the Natanz nuclear installation. In other words, Israel has demonstrated that Iran’s best technology can’t protect the country’s skies from the IDF. As Yossi Kuperwasser puts it, the attack, combined with the response to the assault on April 13,

clarified to the Iranians that whereas we [Israelis] are not as vulnerable as they thought, they are more vulnerable than they thought. They have difficulty hitting us, but we have no difficulty hitting them.

Nobody knows exactly how the operation was carried out. . . . It is good that a question mark hovers over . . . what exactly Israel did. Let’s keep them wondering. It is good for deniability and good for keeping the enemy uncertain.

The fact that we chose targets that were in the vicinity of a major nuclear facility but were linked to the Iranian missile and air forces was a good message. It communicated that we can reach other targets as well but, as we don’t want escalation, we chose targets nearby that were involved in the attack against Israel. I think it sends the message that if we want to, we can send a stronger message. Israel is not seeking escalation at the moment.

Read more at Jewish Chronicle

More about: Iran, Israeli Security