According to the book of Leviticus, the purpose of the festival of Sukkot—which began last Friday evening—is, “That your generations may know that I made the children of Israel to dwell in booths [sukkot], when I brought them out of the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God.” Rabbi Jonathan Sacks observed that this straightforward explanation for what might seem like a simple harvest festival raises a host of questions. Why aren’t these booths mentioned elsewhere in the Bible? Why is this aspect of the Exodus celebrated at this time of year? Why did Solomon merge Sukkot with a festival for the dedication of the Temple? To answer these questions and many others, Sacks, in a 2016 lecture, turned to the book of Ecclesiastes, which many Jewish communities read in synagogue on the Sabbath that falls during the holiday. (Video, 53 minutes.)
Unlocking the Mystery of Sukkot through the Book of Ecclesiastes
To Save Gaza, the U.S. Needs a Strategy to Restrain Iran
Since the outbreak of war on October 7, America has given Israel much support, and also much advice. Seth Cropsey argues that some of that advice hasn’t been especially good:
American demands for “restraint” and a “lighter footprint” provide significant elements of Hamas’s command structure, including Yahya Sinwar, the architect of 10/7, a far greater chance of surviving and preserving the organization’s capabilities. Its threat will persist to some extent in any case, since it has significant assets in Lebanon and is poised to enter into a full-fledged partnership with Hizballah that would give it access to Lebanon’s Palestinian refugee camps for recruitment and to Iranian-supported ratlines into Jordan and Syria.
Turning to the aftermath of the war, Cropsey observes that it will take a different kind of involvement for the U.S. to get the outcomes it desires, namely an alternative to Israeli and to Hamas rule in Gaza that comes with buy-in from its Arab allies:
The only way that Gaza can be governed in a sustainable and stable manner is through the participation of Arab states, and in particular the Gulf Arabs, and the only power that can deliver their participation is the United States. A grand bargain is impossible unless the U.S. exerts enough leverage to induce one.
Militarily speaking, the U.S. has shown no desire seriously to curb Iranian power. It has persistently signaled a desire to avoid escalation. . . . The Gulf Arabs understand this. They have no desire to engage in serious strategic dialogue with Washington and Jerusalem over Iran strategy, since Washington does not have an Iran strategy.
Gaza’s fate is a small part of a much broader strategic struggle. Unless this is recognized, any diplomatic master plan will degenerate into a diplomatic parlor game.