What Judaism Can, and Can’t, Learn from Postmodernism

The term postmodernism refers loosely to the ideas of various thinkers of the second half of the 20th century who critically interrogated the philosophical foundations of modernity. Included in this group are Jews such as Jacques Derrida and Emmanuel Levinas; the latter, in fact, received a traditional education and wrote works about the Talmud. But postmodernity also refers to a description of the present era. Thus, Miriam Feldmann-Kaye contends, even those who reject various arguments advanced by postmodern writers must contend with how Judaism can answer the questions they raise. In conversation with J.J. Kimche, she explores what these problems are, and how some postmodern ideas can be fruitfully applied to Jewish texts, citing the example of such thinkers as Rabbi Shimon Gershon Rosenberg. Feldmann-Kaye and Kimche conclude by discussing the thought of Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, who rejected postmodernism while sharing its criticism of the Enlightenment.

Read more at Podcast of Jewish Ideas

More about: Jonathan Sacks, Judaism, Postmodernism

While Israel Is Distracted on Two Fronts, Iran Is on the Verge of Building Nuclear Weapons

Iran recently announced its plans to install over 1,000 new advanced centrifuges at its Fordow nuclear facility. Once they are up and running, the Institute for Science and International Security assesses, Fordow will be able to produce enough highly enriched uranium for three nuclear bombs in a mere ten days. The U.S. has remained indifferent. Jacob Nagel writes:

For more than two decades, Iran has continued its efforts to enhance its nuclear-weapons capability—mainly by enriching uranium—causing Israel and the world to concentrate on the fissile material. The International Atomic Energy Agency recently confirmed that Iran has a huge stockpile of uranium enriched to 60 percent, as well as more enriched to 20 percent, and the IAEA board of governors adopted the E3 (France, Germany, UK) proposed resolution to censure Iran for the violations and lack of cooperation with the agency. The Biden administration tried to block it, but joined the resolution when it understood its efforts to block it had failed.

To clarify, enrichment of uranium above 20 percent is unnecessary for most civilian purposes, and transforming 20-percent-enriched uranium to the 90-percent-enriched product necessary for producing weapons is a relatively small step. Washington’s reluctance even to express concern about this development appears to stem from an unwillingness to acknowledge the failures of President Obama’s nuclear policy. Worse, writes Nagel, it is turning a blind eye to efforts at weaponization. But Israel has no such luxury:

Israel must adopt a totally new approach, concentrating mainly on two main efforts: [halting] Iran’s weaponization actions and weakening the regime hoping it will lead to its replacement. Israel should continue the fight against Iran’s enrichment facilities (especially against the new deep underground facility being built near Natanz) and uranium stockpiles, but it should not be the only goal, and for sure not the priority.

The biggest danger threatening Israel’s existence remains the nuclear program. It would be better to confront this threat with Washington, but Israel also must be fully prepared to do it alone.

Read more at Ynet

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