Religion and the British Prime Ministers

Whereas the religious commitments of American presidents rarely go unnoticed, comparatively little attention has been paid to the faith (or lack thereof) of the prime ministers of Great Britain. Mark Vickers seeks to change that in his recent book God in Number 10. Calling the book, “well-researched, well-written, and unflaggingly lively,” Edward Short writes in his review:

Arthur Balfour presents a good case study of a prime minister who desperately wished to believe but somehow could never swing it. Vickers quotes Caroline Jebb, the American wife of the Cambridge don, who saw only “sadness” in the prime minister’s faith—arising, as she said, “from the fact that the spirit of the age prevents him, a naturally religious man, from being religious except on the humanitarian side.”

Churchill . . . was also plagued with skepticism, though Vickers reveals what few may know: that the question that most consumed Churchill in his old age was whether there was any truth to the Christian faith.

For Vickers, not even a practical atheist is an uncomplicated atheist. As for Margaret Thatcher and Tony Blair, Vickers treats both as sui generis, the one subscribing to an evangelicalism without charismatic fervor and the other subscribing to a Catholicism without any adherence to the Roman Church’s more controversial moral teachings.

Read more at City Journal

More about: Arthur Balfour, Margaret Thatcher, Religion and politics, United Kingdom, Winston Churchill

Hamas’s Hostage Diplomacy

Ron Ben-Yishai explains Hamas’s current calculations:

Strategically speaking, Hamas is hoping to add more and more days to the pause currently in effect, setting a new reality in stone, one which will convince the United States to get Israel to end the war. At the same time, they still have most of the hostages hidden in every underground crevice they could find, and hope to exchange those with as many Hamas and Islamic Jihad prisoners currently in Israeli prisons, planning on “revitalizing” their terrorist inclinations to even the odds against the seemingly unstoppable Israeli war machine.

Chances are that if pressured to do so by Qatar and Egypt, they will release men over 60 with the same “three-for-one” deal they’ve had in place so far, but when Israeli soldiers are all they have left to exchange, they are unlikely to extend the arrangement, instead insisting that for every IDF soldier released, thousands of their people would be set free.

In one of his last speeches prior to October 7, the Gaza-based Hamas chief Yahya Sinwar said, “remember the number one, one, one, one.” While he did not elaborate, it is believed he meant he wants 1,111 Hamas terrorists held in Israel released for every Israeli soldier, and those words came out of his mouth before he could even believe he would be able to abduct Israelis in the hundreds. This added leverage is likely to get him to aim for the release for all prisoners from Israeli facilities, not just some or even most.

Read more at Ynet

More about: Gaza War 2023, Hamas, Israeli Security