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
The Trump Administration Has Said the Right Things about Syria, but Words Are Not Enough
While praising the White House for recognizing that Iran poses a major threat to American interests in Syria, Jennifer Cafarella argues that Washington still needs a strategy for countering the Islamic Republic and its allies:
The Trump White House identifies Iran as a primary threat. It has verbally committed to the departure from power of Bashar al-Assad. It claims to prioritize repairing relations with Turkey, seeks to destroy al-Qaeda, and wants to refocus the U.S. on Syria’s humanitarian catastrophe. These are the correct goals toward which American policy should strive. . . . The problem is that the strategy Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has outlined [in a January 17 speech] will not accomplish these goals. . . .
American policy in Syria, regardless of any tough administration statements, is to accept Assad and his regime de-facto. . . . The “de-escalation” agreement that President Trump signed in November 2017 with Russia is a surrender not only to Russia, but also to Iran. It heavily favors Assad. In that deal, Russia promised to compel Iran to withdraw its forces from southern Syria. It never happened. Pro-regime forces violate the de-escalation zone with impunity. . . .
Tillerson uses vague terms like “deny their dreams” to describe our strategy against Iran in Syria. He identifies no clear goal against which the U.S. can measure success. He states that the U.S. must deliver an “enduring defeat” to al-Qaeda—and we certainly must. Yet the U.S. Defense Department has offered no vision of how to do that. The strategy Tillerson outlines—and that the U.S. is pursuing—amounts to outsourcing the problem to Turkey, which is actually working with al-Qaeda in Syria. . . .
Two administrations have sought to substitute rhetoric for action and to outsource American interests to local partners. The U.S. must abandon this approach and recognize Syria’s importance to American security.