The Decline of Biblical Literacy Puts Western Civilization in Jeopardy

I began today’s newsletter by introducing Sarah Rindner’s article on life in Israel while the country is under siege, which contains a moving description of the recitation of Psalms. I’ll end too with the Psalms, and with what’s likely one of the best-known verses of the best-known psalm (23:4): “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil.” This stich was a clue in an episode of Jeopardy! last summer, and not a single contestant could identify which biblical book it came from. Meir Soloveichik comments:

The tragic irony is that the entire story of Western culture is, in a sense, indebted to the Psalms; even if one does not believe in the theology expressed in the biblical book, one cannot understand the history of literature without it. The greatest of English writing—from Shakespeare to the modern novel—provides a window into the interiority of the human psyche. But this was not learned from the works of Homer, or Ovid, or Sophocles. Only in the Bible, and especially in the Psalms, could ancient literature provide such a window on man’s ability and need to look within. It is difficult to believe that the humanist literature of the West would have been possible without David’s inspiration and example. . . .

[T]here are still many millions of Americans who find daily inspiration in the Bible. Students such as my own at Yeshiva University study the sacred scriptures as well as the great Western texts, and a silver lining of societal scriptural ignorance may be that the men and women I teach have an intellectual advantage as contestants on game shows. But still, as I watched that clip, I felt nothing but foreboding; for I realized what that moment on that game show meant, warning us that civilization itself is in jeopardy.

Read more at Commentary

More about: Bible, Psalms, Western civilization

Despite the Toll of War at Home and Rising Hostility Abroad, Investors Are Still Choosing Israel

When I first saw news that Google wasn’t going through with its acquisition of the tech startup Wiz, I was afraid hesitancy over its Israeli founders and close ties with the Jewish state might have something to do with it. I couldn’t have been more wrong: the deal is off not because of Google’s hesitancy, but because Wiz feared the FTC would slow down the process with uncertain results. The company is instead planning an initial public offering. In the wake of the CrowdStrike debacle, companies like Wiz have every reason to be optimistic, as Sophie Shulman explains:

For the Israeli cyber sector, CrowdStrike’s troubles are an opportunity. CrowdStrike is a major competitor to Palo Alto Networks, and both companies aim to provide comprehensive cyber defense platforms. The specific issue that caused the global Windows computer shutdown is related to their endpoint protection product, an area where they compete with Palo Alto’s Cortex products developed in Israel and the SentinelOne platform.

Friday’s drop in CrowdStrike shares reflects investor frustration and the expectation that potential customers will now turn to competitors, strengthening the position of Israeli companies. This situation may renew interest in smaller startups and local procurement in Israel, given how many institutions were affected by the CrowdStrike debacle.

Indeed, it seems that votes of confidence in Israeli technology are coming from many directions, despite the drop in the Tel Aviv stock exchange following the attack from Yemen, and despite the fact that some 46,000 Israeli businesses have closed their doors since October 7. Tel Aviv-based Cyabra, which creates software that identifies fake news, plans a $70 million IPO on Nasdaq. The American firm Applied Systems announced that it will be buying a different Israeli tech startup and opening a research-and-development center in Israel. And yet another cybersecurity startup, founded by veterans of the IDF’s elite 8200 unit, came on the scene with $33 million in funding. And those are the stories from this week alone.

But it’s not only the high-tech sector that’s attracting foreign investment. The UK-based firm Energean plans to put approximately $1.2 billion into developing a so-far untapped natural-gas field in Israel’s coastal waters. Money speaks much louder than words, and it seems Western businesses don’t expect Israel to become a global pariah, or to collapse in the face of its enemies, anytime soon.

Read more at Calcalist

More about: cybersecurity, Israeli economy, Israeli gas, Israeli technology, Start-up nation