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Burkean Zionism?

July 14, 2014

In a discussion of Edmund Burke’s Reflections on the Revolution in France, Tikvah executive director Eric Cohen wonders how modern Zionism relates to the principles of Burkean conservatism. In a time of severe insecurity—like many Jews found themselves at the end of the 19th century—what would Burke have counseled? According to Cohen, the answer is neither pious […]

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Lord Acton famously proposed that “power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” In Jews and Power, Ruth Wisse provides an analysis of Jewish history that suggests the exact opposite.

Join us at 5:30PM to reconsider Jews and Power with its author, Professor Ruth Wisse, Martin Peretz Professor of Yiddish Literature and Professor of Comparative Literature at Harvard University.

Watch the event stream here.

Reviled as a fascist demagogue by his great rival David Ben-Gurion, venerated by Israel’s underclass, the first Israeli to win the Nobel Peace Prize, a proud Jew but not a conventionally religious one, Menachem Begin was both complex and controversial. Begin’s Herut party led the opposition to the Labor governments of Ben-Gurion and his successors until the surprising parliamentary victory of 1977 made him Israel’s Prime Minister.

Watch as Daniel Gordis, author of Menachem Begin: The Battle for Israel’s Soul, discusses Begin’s life, political vision, and his abiding legacy in Zionist thought, Israeli politics, and the Middle East today.

Watch the event here.

On January 8, Tikvah Fund executive director Eric Cohen sat down to talk with George Weigel, Distinguished Senior Fellow and William E. Simon Chair in Catholic Studies at the Ethics and Public Policy Center in Washington, D.C.

Mr. Weigel is one of the country’s most prolific thinkers and writers about religion, ethics, and contemporary culture. His 17 books include a biography of Pope John Paul II and analyses of the “just war” doctrine and the challenges posed by modern jihadism; his most recent work examines evangelical Catholicism in the 21st century.

The Cohen-Weigel conversation gives a sense of the breadth of Mr. Weigel’s interests. It covers just war theory, which Mr. Weigel thinks is in “rather robust shape as an intellectual tradition” but, because of its uncertain reception in the mainline churches, is “not in such good shape” as a politically influential body of thought. The conversation also touches on Christian-Jewish relations, where Mr. Weigel thinks that for the first time in 2,000 years the two religions are able to transcend matters of historical misunderstanding and “reconvene” to talk about fundamental questions of faith. Finally, the conversation touches on the critical question facing modern Islam: whether it can draw on resources of its own to develop modern doctrines of religious tolerance and a separation between religious and political authorities.

You can listen to the conversation here.

Jonathan Yudelman is 2013-2014 Tikvah Fellow. His article, “The Christian Theologian of Zion,” will appear in the February issue of First Things. The article explores the life and thought of Marcel Dubois, an important 20th century Catholic theologian in Israel. In the course of doing so, it raised issues about Jewish-Catholic relations generally:

Israel could not have hoped for as passionate an admirer as Fr. Marcel-Jacques Dubois, this most Israeli of traditionalist Catholic theologians, yet received at the same time almost as passionate a critic. His story and its theological legacy bring into sharp relief some of the permanent obstacles in Jewish–Christian relations.

Read the full article here

Does a liberal arts education have as its final end the training of citizens? Dan Polisar, one of the founders of Shalem College, Israel’s first liberal arts college, maintains that it does. Israel needs institutions of higher learning that strive to make the men and women who pass through their doors more free (the root meaning of “liberal” in “liberal arts”). Only a sustained and serious exploration of the great ideas and texts that formed the polity in which one was raised can meet this lofty goal. So what does this mean about how students at Shalem will learn texts like the Bible and Talmud and topics like Judaism, Zionism, and nationalism generally? And beyond this, what does the future for Israel look like to Dr. Polisar, now that he has reached his long-sought goal?

Listen to the full audio here

Like Dreamers, Yossi Klein Halevi’s masterful history cum biography cum ethnography, has received praise from all quarters. It is a riveting book that presents in vivid colors the development and ideology of two of Israel’s most important movements of the twentieth century: The secular kibbutzim and the religious settlers of Judea and Samaria. It does so through portraits of seven paratroopers who were part of the force that won the battle for Jerusalem in June 1967 – portraits of their life and leadership in the Israel that this war created.

Yossi visited the Tikvah Center recently and sat down with Roger Hertog, Tikvah’s chairman and a supporter of this project for many years. The conversation captured here is worthy of their subject – ranging from behind the scenes discussion of the book’s creation to debate about the implications for the choices Israel faces today.

Listen to the full audio here

Israel is an incredible place, where it is not uncommon for contemporary events to evoke fundamental human questions and fundamental questions about the nature of Judaism. One such event is the opening of Shalem College, the country’s first liberal arts college, which not only puts such great questions front and center in its curriculum but also represents, itself, a statement about Jewish national identity and the vexed question of the universal and the particular.

Princeton Alumni Weekly just ran an excellent profile of Shalem, its history, and its goals.

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Is it possible to justify the existence of a Jewish state? This question, raised with increased frequency in recent years, is not just a theoretical one. Israel will endure as a Jewish state only if it can be defended, in both the physical and the moral sense. Of course, states may survive in the short […]

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One winter after an unusually heavy run of funerals, the rabbi of our Montreal synagogue reminded the congregation that in traditional Judaism, dying was only a minhag (custom); it was not a mitzva. I would like to extend this excellent observation to political catastrophe, which is likewise not a Jewish obligation. Like many other Jews […]

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