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Podcast: Yuval Levin on Rebuilding American Institutions

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Traditional Jewish communities are countercultural in a great many ways. But in our age of expressive individualism, one of the characteristics that most sets observant Jews apart is their rich communal life. From crowded Shabbat tables to volunteer ambulance and community watch groups to the close-knit communities that form around synagogues and day schools, the life of a committed Jew is usually embedded within a thick network of formative institutions.

Of course, American Jewish life is far from perfect, and Jewish communities must contend with the same forces of radical individualism that have done damage to a wide array of American institutions, from government and the media to schools and civic organizations. This breakdown of public life lies at the heart of what ails contemporary America, argues the political thinker Yuval Levin in his new book, A Time to Build, which not only examines the failures of these institutions but also how we might work to rebuild them.

In this podcast, Dr. Levin joins Jonathan Silver for a discussion of his book—released just this week. They explore why institutions matter, what their collapse means for the country, and what communities of faith can do to contribute to American renewal.

Musical selections in this podcast are drawn from the Quintet for Clarinet and Strings, op. 31a, composed by Paul Ben-Haim and performed by the ARC Ensemble.

This podcast was recorded in front of a live audience of Tikvah Society members at the Tikvah Center in New York City. If you want to learn more about joining the Tikvah Society, click here.


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Podcast: Neil Rogachevsky on Israeli Electoral Reform

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Israeli politics are a mess. After its second election in six months failed to produce a governing coalition, Israelis are scheduled to head back to the polls for the third time in a single year’s time this coming March. In the Jewish state’s short history, this kind of political crisis is a first, but its seeds may have been planted at the very founding of the state.

Since its very first election, Israel has chosen leaders through a system of proportional representation (PR). At election time, Israelis vote for parties, not individual candidates, and seats are then distributed in the 120-member Knesset in proportion to each party’s share of the vote. The system is simple and democratic, but, argues Neil Rogachevsky in a recent article in Tablet, it is also the source of Israel’s chronic political instability and recent electoral chaos.

In this podcast, Rogachevsky joins Jonathan Silver to discuss his piece and make the case for reforming Israel’s electoral system. He explains why PR systems routinely fail to produce political stability, how they reduce lawmakers’ accountability to the public, and why a “first-past-the-post” system would make Israeli politics healthier and more representative.

Musical selections in this podcast are drawn from the Quintet for Clarinet and Strings, op. 31a, composed by Paul Ben-Haim and performed by the ARC Ensemble, as well as “We Are Your Friends” by Mocha Music.


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Podcast: Yuval Levin on the Remarkable Legacy of Gertrude Himmelfarb

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When Gertrude Himmelfarb passed away on December 30, 2019, a great Jewish voice was lost. An eminent historian of Victorian Britain, Professor Himmelfarb—or, as she was known to her friends, Bea Kristol—analyzed and defended the moral and political virtues necessary for a healthy democratic society. She was interested in how the Victorians consciously built up England’s moral capital and civic confidence when they were in short supply. And drawing from her meticulous historical research, she brought her conclusions to bear on the United States, arguing that Americans too can accomplish what the Victorians did, if we can only learn from their achievements. She also wrote numerous essays on Jewish topics, and especially on the novelist George Eliot’s ideas about Jews and Judaism.

To discuss the legacy of this great historian and theorist of American remoralization, we are joined on this week’s podcast by Yuval Levin, director of Social, Cultural, and Constitutional Studies at the American Enterprise Institute, and editor-in-chief of National Affairs.

Musical selections in this podcast are drawn from the Quintet for Clarinet and Strings, op. 31a, composed by Paul Ben-Haim and performed by the ARC Ensemble, as well as “We Are Your Friends” by Mocha Music.


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Podcast: Best of 2019 at the Tikvah Podcast

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In 2019, 40 different guests came on the Tikvah Podcast to engage in serious conversations about Jewish ideas, Jewish texts, and Jewish public affairs. This year we covered everything from diplomacy to defense, from Jewish philosophy to Jewish food, from anti-Semitism to Jewish heroism.

On this retrospective episode, you’ll hear highlighted selections from our conversations with Israel’s U.N. Ambassador, Danny Danon, Hudson Institute foreign-policy analyst Michael Doran, Swedish journalist Annika Hernroth-Rothstein, author Matti Friedman, philosopher Micah Goodman, professor Jacob Howland, Rabbi Meir Soloveichik, commentator Jonah Goldberg, editors Avital Chizik-Goldschmidt and Batya Ungar-Sargon, and Secretary Pompeo’s special envoy to combat anti-Semitism, Elan Carr.

All of our past episodes are available, for free, at tikvahfund.org. Thanks for listening, and here’s to a bright 2020!

Musical selections in this podcast are drawn from the Quintet for Clarinet and Strings, op. 31a, composed by Paul Ben-Haim and performed by the ARC Ensemble, as well as “We Are Your Friends” by Mocha Music.


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Podcast: Arthur Herman on China and the U.S.-Israel “Special Relationship”

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In both Israel and the United States, most politicians, foreign-policy experts, and citizens desire a strong and ever-closer relationship between the two nations. Israel and America share values, interests, and a deeply rooted biblical heritage that ties them inextricably together. But lately, U.S.-Israel relations have hit an impasse of sorts. As the Jewish state pursues greater economic ties with the People’s Republic of China, it has created new friction with America, which views China—rightly—as a geopolitical and economic rival.

In his December 2019 Mosaic essay, Hudson Institute scholar Arthur Herman delves into the sources of the U.S.-Israel tension caused by China and suggests a path forward. This new piece follows up on his 2018 essay, “Israel and China Take a Leap Forward-but to Where?” In this podcast, Herman joins host Jonathan Silver to discuss the evolving nature of Israel’s relationship with China, how that relationship has strained relations with Israel’s most reliable ally, and how Israel and the United States can best preserve their special relationship as they both seek to meet the challenge of China’s rise.

Musical selections in this podcast are drawn from the Quintet for Clarinet and Strings, op. 31a, composed by Paul Ben-Haim and performed by the ARC Ensemble, as well as “We Are Your Friends” by Mocha Music.


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Podcast: Walter Russell Mead on Israel and American Foreign Policy

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Three years into the Trump Administration, how is America doing? What does Israel’s current political instability mean for its foreign policy? How should the rise of China affect how the U.S. thinks about projecting global power? It can be hard to penetrate the news cycle and think deeply about the many facets of politics and world affairs from a strategic point of view. But that’s exactly what Walter Russell Mead does week after week in the Wall Street Journal and as a scholar at the Hudson Institute and Bard College.

This week, Walter Russell Mead joins the Tikvah Podcast to discuss Israel, American foreign policy, Christian Zionism, and much more. This conversation is both broad and deep and covers everything from Israeli-Turkish relations and Chinese cyberwarfare to what Trump means for our political culture and the story of how Theodor Herzl met the Kaiser.

Musical selections in this podcast are drawn from the Quintet for Clarinet and Strings, op. 31a, composed by Paul Ben-Haim and performed by the ARC Ensemble, as well as the original Broadway cast recording of Fiddler on the Roof and “Above the Ocean” by Evan MacDonald.

This podcast was recorded in front of a live audience of Tikvah Society members at the Tikvah Center in New York City. If you want to learn more about joining the Tikvah Society, click here.


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Podcast: Senator Joseph Lieberman on American Jews and the Zionist Dream

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This past October, the former U.S. senator Joseph Lieberman was a keynote speaker at the inaugural Herzl Conference on Contemporary Zionism, held on Mount Herzl in Jerusalem. His speech was published on November 7 in Mosaic in essay form as “What American Jews Can Do to Help Keep Herzl’s Dream Alive.” In it, Senator Lieberman reflects on the miracle of the modern Jewish state, the meaning of Jewish self-determination for American Jews, and some of his concerns about the future of bipartisan support for Israel, especially among the young.

Senator Lieberman has had a long, distinguished, and strikingly independent career in public service. Elected to the Senate as a Democrat, he was his party’s nominee for Vice President in the 2000 election—the first American Jew to be nominated on a major party ticket. In 2008, he endorsed the Republican nominee for president, his longtime friend John McCain. But as the political terrain shifted around him, Senator Lieberman has always remained a steadfast supporter of the Jewish state, and it was a privilege to have him join Tikvah Senior Director Jonathan Silver on this podcast.

As you listen, you’ll here the senator discuss the history of his personal relationship to Israel, how he thinks Zionism can help American Jews be better citizens, and his thoughts of whether the longstanding bipartisan support for Israel is fraying as a rising progressive movement grows at the expense of the Democratic center.

Musical selections in this podcast are drawn from the Quintet for Clarinet and Strings, op. 31a, composed by Paul Ben-Haim and performed by the ARC Ensemble, as well as the original Broadway cast recording of Fiddler on the Roof and “Above the Ocean” by Evan MacDonald.


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Podcast: Avital Chizik-Goldschmidt & Batya Ungar-Sargon on Why No One Cares about Attacks on the Orthodox

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A Jewish man hit in the face with a brick. An observant woman’s wig pulled off her head. An Orthodox mother and her baby assaulted in the street.

These incidents took place not in 19th-century Russia or pre-war Germany, but in Brooklyn—which has one of the densest Jewish populations in America—in 2019. The recent spike in anti-Semitic attacks in New York against the most visibly Jewish members of our community, the ultra-Orthodox, is a worrying sign in a nation experiencing rising levels of Jew-hatred. Yet the mainstream press and many on the political Left, groups otherwise worried about the supposed rise of racism and bigotry in America, seem blithely unconcerned.

In this podcast, Tikvah’s Jonathan Silver is joined by two Jewish journalists who have given these attacks the attention they deserve. Avital Chizik-Goldschmidt is the life/features editor at the Forward and Batya Ungar-Sargon is the Forward’s opinion editor. Founded in 1897, the Forward has long been a voice of the Jewish Left. Yet among progressives, few have been as honest and clear-eyed as our guests about the ideology that blinds the many on the Left to anti-Semitism directed at the ḥaredi community. In this conversation, Chizik-Goldschmidt and Ungar-Sargon discuss the nature of the recent violence in Brooklyn and Monsey, what might be causing it, and why so many in the media have ignored this slow-moving pogrom.

Musical selections in this podcast are drawn from the Quintet for Clarinet and Strings, op. 31a, composed by Paul Ben-Haim and performed by the ARC Ensemble, as well as the original Broadway cast recording of Fiddler on the Roof and “Above the Ocean” by Evan MacDonald.


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Podcast: Eugene Kontorovich on America and the Settlements

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On November 18, 2019, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo made a momentous announcement: The United States does not consider Israeli settlements in Judea and Samaria—the West Bank—illegal or illegitimate. The conventional wisdom, of course, is that Israeli building in the territories it captured in 1967 is a violation of international law. But after a process of many months, the Trump State Department has decided to return to an understanding of the Geneva Convention once embraced by the Reagan Administration, and to recognize that the status of Israeli building in Judea and Samaria is a political and diplomatic question, not a legal one.

In this podcast, Tikvah’s Jonathan Silver is joined by one of the world’s foremost scholars on Israel and international law. Eugene Kontorovich is a professor at the Antonin Scalia Law School at George Mason University, a director at the Kohelet Policy Forum, and author of “Pompeo Busts the ‘Occupation’ Myth,” published in the Wall Street Journal on November 9, 2019. In this conversation, he makes the case for the legality of Israeli settlements and explains how an erroneous and hypocritical interpretation of international law became the conventional wisdom about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Musical selections in this podcast are drawn from the Quintet for Clarinet and Strings, op. 31a, composed by Paul Ben-Haim and performed by the ARC Ensemble, as well as the original Broadway cast recording of Fiddler on the Roof and “Above the Ocean” by Evan MacDonald.


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Podcast: David Makovsky—What Can We Learn from Israel’s Founders?

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The establishment of a sovereign Jewish state just three years after the Holocaust is both a miracle and the achievement of some remarkable women and men. Now that the founding generation has passed on, it falls to those living today to sustain that achievement. But how? In thinking about the careers of prominent Israeli leaders, what lessons, particularly in courage, can we, and today’s leaders, learn from them?

To ponder this question, Tikvah’s Jonathan Silver is joined by David Makovsky, a fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, a former editor of the Jerusalem Post, and the co-author with Dennis Ross of Be Strong and of Good Courage. Through the biographies of four Israeli leaders, Makovsky and Ross invite us to think about the purposes of Zionism and the qualities of judgment and character needed to act for the sake of Israel’s strategic interests.

In this conversation, Makovsky and Silver discuss—and debate—the decisions and the legacy of two of these remarkable figures: Ben-Gurion and Menachem Begin.

Musical selections in this podcast are drawn from the Quintet for Clarinet and Strings, op. 31a, composed by Paul Ben-Haim and performed by the ARC Ensemble, as well as the original Broadway cast recording of Fiddler on the Roof and “Above the Ocean” by Evan MacDonald.


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