Jonathan Sacks on Whether Islam Can Get Past Its Violent Streak

Sharing his views on the resurgence of religion in modern society, Jonathan Sacks, the UK’s chief rabbi emeritus, also discusses how Judaism and Christianity have learned to shun gratuitous violence and how Islam might someday do the same. But Muslims, he argues, must reform their religion themselves, not least by wrestling with its “hard” texts; devotees of other religions can provide little help. (Interview by Douglas Murray):

There is no way that one religion can prescribe for another. I think that change of heart has to come from within. Judaism went through that crisis in the first century C.E. Josephus, who was an eyewitness to those events, said that the Jews inside the besieged Jerusalem were more intent on killing each other than Vespasian and Titus and their forces outside. Within two centuries, Jews and Judaism had become a pacific religion—not a pacifist religion but a pacific religion—so that in the third century or around then, when faced with a verse about military virtues, they could no longer understand the process. You can trace it. The same thing happens with Christianity in Europe between the 16th and the 17th centuries . . . Out of that there emerges again a formal or substantive separation of the religion and power. Religion moved from power to influence. It follows that it takes a civil war within a religion in the broadest sense to make that religion realize that it must divest itself of power.

Read more at Spectator

More about: Islam, Jonathan Sacks, Judaism, Religion, Religious liberty


The IDF’s First Investigation of Its Conduct on October 7 Is Out

For several months, the Israel Defense Forces has been investigating its own actions on and preparedness for October 7, with an eye to understanding its failures. The first of what are expected to be many reports stemming from this investigation was released yesterday, and it showed a series of colossal strategic and tactical errors surrounding the battle at Kibbutz Be’eri, writes Emanuel Fabian. The probe, he reports, was led by Maj. Gen. (res.) Mickey Edelstein.

Edelstein and his team—none of whom had any involvement in the events themselves, according to the IDF—spent hundreds of hours investigating the onslaught and battle at Be’eri, reviewing every possible source of information, from residents’ WhatsApp messages to both Israeli and Hamas radio communications, as well as surveillance videos, aerial footage, interviews of survivors and those who fought, plus visits to the scene.

There will be a series of further reports issued this summer.

IDF chief Halevi in a statement issued alongside the probe said that while this was just the first investigation into the onslaught, which does not reflect the entire picture of October 7, it “clearly illustrates the magnitude of the failure and the dimensions of the disaster that befell the residents of the south who protected their families with their bodies for many hours, and the IDF was not there to protect them.” . . .

The IDF hopes to present all battle investigations by the end of August.

The IDF’s probes are strictly limited to its own conduct. For a broader look at what went wrong, Israel will have to wait for a formal state commission of inquiry to be appointed—which happens to be the subject of this month’s featured essay in Mosaic.

Read more at Times of Israel

More about: Gaza War 2023, IDF, Israel & Zionism, October 7