In the year 2000, some 170 Jewish scholars produced a statement, published in the Christian magazine First Things, that articulated the supposed shared principles of Judaism and Christianity and was meant to serve as the basis for further interfaith dialogue. The statement served in part as a Jewish response to Nostra Aetate, the Vatican’s seminal 1965 reassessment of its attitude toward religious tolerance, which removed many anti-Jewish teachings from Catholic doctrine. In an essay in Commentary, Jon Levenson sharply criticized the Jewish statement, warning that its emphasis on the commonalities of Jewish and Christian belief threatened to elide or suppress the differences, and thus undermine the very reasons for retaining those things that make Judaism unique. He revisits these arguments in conversation with Alan Rubenstein. (Audio, 30 minutes. Options for download and streaming are available at the link below.)
The Danger and Opportunity of Jewish-Christian Dialogue
Germany’s Bid to Keep Israel off the UN Security Council
The Jewish state has never held a temporary seat on the United Nations Security Council. For the first 50 years of its existence, it was denied membership in any of the UN’s regional groups, which control candidacies for these rotating seats. Then it was finally admitted to the Western European and Others Group, which promptly agreed to wait another twenty years before approving Jerusalem for a Security Council candidacy. Now, Benny Avni notes, Germany is poised to block action:
As a good-faith gesture, the Western European and Others Group promised Israel that it and Belgium would run uncontested for the two open 2019-20 [Security Council] seats. Then, in 2016, Germany announced it would also run—even though it already served as a council member [multiple times, including] as recently as 2011-12. . . . [U]nless Belgium yields, Israel’s hopes for UN respect seem doomed for now—and maybe for the foreseeable future.
Why? Diplomats have been telling me Israel violates too many Security Council resolutions to be a member—as in the one passed during the last weeks of Barack Obama’s presidency, which marked Jewish holy sites as occupied Palestinian territory. But is building a porch in [the West Bank town of] Ma’ale Adumim really such a huge threat to world peace?
How about, then, a report released last week by UN experts on the Security Council’s North Korea sanctions? It found Germany violated a council ban on sparkling wines, exporting $151,840 worth of bubbly and other luxury goods to Kim Jong Un’s cronies. Or how about, as the Jerusalem Post’s Benjamin Weinthal reports, German companies exporting to Iran banned materials that were later used in chemical attacks in Syria?
Never mind. Germany (and Belgium) will surely benefit from the UN’s habit of magnifying Israel’s violations beyond all proportion. Thus, Israel’s petition to join the most prestigious UN club will likely be rejected, thanks to a late entry by a shameless [and] cynical German power play against the Jewish state.