Religious Zionism, Women, and the Hamas Kidnapping

Rachelle Fraenkel, whose son Naftali was murdered by Hamas this past summer, has become a living symbol of Israel’s collective feelings during the recent war. In her professional life, she also exemplifies a major transformation within Israel’s religious Zionist community: the unprecedented number of women engaged in traditional Jewish study, especially of the Talmud. Perhaps, writes Beth Kissileff, there is a connection between Fraenkel’s vocation and her newfound role in Israel’s public sphere:

[Fraenkel] brought everything she learned as a scholar and teacher to her unwanted role as a personification of, and spokesperson for, Israeli grief and national unity. This was particularly apparent during her speech to the United Nations in Geneva, which she infused with spiritual and theological meaning, emphasizing her deep understanding of what it means to wait for salvation. She consistently expressed her thanks to those praying around the world for her son’s safe return. . . . The “wisdom and encouragement” Fraenkel exhibited on the public stage was no accident, but something Fraenkel has practiced and taught over many years.

Read more at Tower

More about: Israel, Protective Edge, Religious Zionism, Torah study, Women in Judaism

If Iran Goes Nuclear, the U.S. Will Be Forced Out of the Middle East

The International Atomic Energy Agency reported in May that Iran has, or is close to having, enough highly enriched uranium to build multiple atomic bombs, while, according to other sources, it is taking steps toward acquiring the technology to assemble such weapons. Considering the effects on Israel, the Middle East, and American foreign policy of a nuclear-armed Iran, Eli Diamond writes:

The basic picture is that the Middle East would become inhospitable to the U.S. and its allies when Iran goes nuclear. Israel would find itself isolated, with fewer options for deterring Iran or confronting its proxies. The Saudis and Emiratis would be forced into uncomfortable compromises.

Any course reversal has to start by recognizing that the United States has entered the early stages of a global conflict in which the Middle East is set to be a main attraction, not a sideshow.

Directly or not, the U.S. is engaged in this conflict and has a significant stake in its outcome. In Europe, American and Western arms are the only things standing between Ukraine and its defeat at the hands of Russia. In the Middle East, American arms remain indispensable to Israel’s survival as it wages a defensive, multifront war against Iran and its proxies Hamas and Hizballah. In the Indo-Pacific, China has embarked on the greatest military buildup since World War II, its eyes set on Taiwan but ultimately U.S. primacy.

While Iran is the smallest of these three powers, China and Russia rely on it greatly for oil and weapons, respectively. Both rely on it as a tool to degrade America’s position in the region. Constraining Iran and preventing its nuclear breakout would keep waterways open for Western shipping and undermine a key node in the supply chain for China and Russia.

Diamond offers a series of concrete suggestions for how the U.S. could push back hard against Iran, among them expanding the Abraham Accords into a military and diplomatic alliance that would include Saudi Arabia. But such a plan depends on Washington recognizing that its interests in Eastern Europe, in the Pacific, and in the Middle East are all connected.

Read more at National Review

More about: Iran nuclear program, Israeli Security, Middle East, U.S. Foreign policy