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Syndication

In this podcast Jonathan Silver speaks with the Hudson Institute’s Arthur Herman about his November 2016 Mosaic essay, which bucks conventional wisdom with the thesis that much of the world is warming to and developing closer ties with the Jewish State. Despite the impression one might get by observing the attitudes of Western governments toward Israel, this warming phenomenon can be observed from Asia to Africa to parts of Eastern Europe and, perhaps most surprisingly, to the Middle East. The reasons behind these developments are several, ranging from economic and national security interests to an affinity and admiration for Israel’s pluralistic and entrepreneurial society. From Israel’s developing international relations, Herman sees important lessons for the Israel- and Middle East-policy of a new American administration.

Direct download: Arthur_Herman_3.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:43pm EST

In this podcast Tikvah senior director Jonathan Silver speaks with the Hoover Institution’s Peter Berkowitz about what a proper liberal arts education consists of, its betrayal in the American academy, and its complicated relation to Jewish education and religious life. Their conversation is framed by Berkowitz’s 2006 Policy Review article, “Liberal Education: Then and Now.” Elaborating the thought of John Stuart Mill, Berkowitz explains that a liberal arts education does not teach students what to think, but rather pushes them to understand arguments from all sides. It comprises study of the sciences and humanities, roots students more deeply in their own civilizational traditions, and acquaints students with traditions outside of their own culture. But for religious Jews, does an education in intellectual freedom support or undermine the life of commandment and obligation? Should religious Jews, in America, Israel, and elsewhere seek out a liberal education? And what is the role for a liberal education in the Jewish state?

Direct download: Berkowitz_Podcast_Nov_2016_E.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:37pm EST

On Wednesday, September 14, 2016, alumni of Tikvah’s advanced programs and friends of Mosaic came to an intimate discussion between the Israeli philosopher Yoram Hazony and the American author and historian Walter Russell Mead. The subject of their conversation was the same as the title of Yoram Hazony’s essay in Mosaic: “Nationalism and the Future of Western Freedom.”

Hazony argues that the political battle over the fate of the nation is the most consequential struggle of our time—one whose roots extend all the way back to the struggle between the ancient Israelites and the overweening imperial powers of their day. It was in the Hebrew Bible that the national idea was born, an idea whose enduring virtues would in time profoundly shape the emergence of the modern democratic West. But what is the status of the national idea today, and why do so many in the West oppose it? Can it survive if cut off from its religious origins, or can those origins be recovered in the secular West? What does today’s widespread disparagement of national independence mean for the Jewish state, the state of Israel?

In these three episodes, we hear Yoram Hazony speak about the themes from his Mosaic article, a response from distinguished writer and strategist Walter Russell Mead, and a conversation moderated by Tikvah senior director Jonathan Silver.

Direct download: Part_3.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:39am EST

On Wednesday, September 14, 2016, alumni of Tikvah’s advanced programs and friends of Mosaic came to an intimate discussion between the Israeli philosopher Yoram Hazony and the American author and historian Walter Russell Mead. The subject of their conversation was the same as the title of Yoram Hazony’s essay in Mosaic: “Nationalism and the Future of Western Freedom.”

Hazony argues that the political battle over the fate of the nation is the most consequential struggle of our time—one whose roots extend all the way back to the struggle between the ancient Israelites and the overweening imperial powers of their day. It was in the Hebrew Bible that the national idea was born, an idea whose enduring virtues would in time profoundly shape the emergence of the modern democratic West. But what is the status of the national idea today, and why do so many in the West oppose it? Can it survive if cut off from its religious origins, or can those origins be recovered in the secular West? What does today’s widespread disparagement of national independence mean for the Jewish state, the state of Israel?

In these three episodes, we hear Yoram Hazony speak about the themes from his Mosaic article, a response from distinguished writer and strategist Walter Russell Mead, and a conversation moderated by Tikvah senior director Jonathan Silver.

Direct download: Part_2.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:31am EST

On Wednesday, September 14, 2016, alumni of Tikvah’s advanced programs and friends of Mosaic came to an intimate discussion between the Israeli philosopher Yoram Hazony and the American author and historian Walter Russell Mead. The subject of their conversation was the same as the title of Yoram Hazony’s essay in Mosaic: “Nationalism and the Future of Western Freedom.”

Hazony argues that the political battle over the fate of the nation is the most consequential struggle of our time—one whose roots extend all the way back to the struggle between the ancient Israelites and the overweening imperial powers of their day. It was in the Hebrew Bible that the national idea was born, an idea whose enduring virtues would in time profoundly shape the emergence of the modern democratic West. But what is the status of the national idea today, and why do so many in the West oppose it? Can it survive if cut off from its religious origins, or can those origins be recovered in the secular West? What does today’s widespread disparagement of national independence mean for the Jewish state, the state of Israel?

In these three episodes, we hear Yoram Hazony speak about the themes from his Mosaic article, a response from distinguished writer and strategist Walter Russell Mead, and a conversation moderated by Tikvah senior director Jonathan Silver.

Direct download: Part_1.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:07am EST

In this podcast Eric Cohen and Rabbi Meir Soloveichik speak about two artistic geniuses whose works highlight Jews’ humanity, on the one hand, and other-worldliness, on the other. These two sides of the Jewish people—at once part of the human race and God’s chosen people—comprise Jews’ inherently dialectical nature, Soloveichik argues.

Framed by Soloveichik’s recent essay, “Rembrandt’s Great Jewish Painting” (Mosaic, June 2016), the discussion begins with an exploration of the great Dutch painter’s beautiful efforts to depict the humanity of Jews and the Jewishness of biblical scenes. Particular attention is given to Rembrandt’s great painting of Moses receiving the Luchot, which answers and corrects Michaelangelo’s Moses.

In contrast, it is the miraculous nature of the Jewish people, rather than their humanity, that J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings brings out, as Soloveichik argues in “The Secret Jews of the Hobbit” (Commentary, August 2016). Secular and American Jews are uncomfortable with this side of their identity and Soloveichik thinks they can learn something important from the Catholic author’s presentation of the Jewish people as a miraculous people—a trait that remains true today.

The discussion culminates in an exploration of the unique role art can play in understanding and presenting the divine.

Direct download: Meir_Soloveichik_Podcast_Final.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:21pm EST

Britain’s June 23 referendum on independence was the most important vote in a democratic nation in a generation, Yoram Hazony argues in “Nationalism and the Future of Western Freedom,” his September 2016 Mosaic essay. Its outcome, in favor of an exit from the EU, provoked fear, outrage, and despair in elite opinion in both Europe and the United States. At the same time, however, the re-emergence of an independent Britain has rallied profound admiration and enthusiasm among millions of others who still hold fast to the old understanding that the independence and self-determination of one’s nation hold the key to a life of honor and freedom.

In this podcast, Hazony speaks with Eric Cohen about his essay. Their discussion touches on the biblical roots of the nation-state, which combines national self-determination with a moral minimum; liberalism as the great rival of nationalism; and three reactions against the new liberal condition—neo-nationalism, neo-Catholicism, and classical nationalism. It is this latter alternative that Hazony finds most promising, inspired by the Hebrew Bible and informing the nationalism of Great Britain and the United States.


Jewish education is an important source of Jewish continuity in America. This is has been true in all times and places throughout the Jewish diaspora, but it is all the more so in the United States, a nation dedicated to the proposition that all are created equal. In America, with its individual freedoms, the most potent threat to the Jewish community is not anti-Semitic persecution of old, but assimilation. The threat of assimilation in modern America makes an education in Jewish particularism and Jewish peoplehood especially important, and yet the cost of Jewish education is a growing burden on Jewish families—entailing not only a financial burden, but a moral burden as well.

In this podcast, Eric Cohen speaks with Cato Institute policy analyst Jason Bedrick to delve into this issue and the larger question of what possible role the government might play in alleviating the financial burden to families of parochial school. Their conversation centers around Milton Friedman’s 1955 essay “The Role of Government in Education,” which argues that school vouchers promise both efficiency and freedom for families in the education arena. Bedrick and Cohen discuss the history of parochial schools in America, school choice options like vouchers and tax credits, and what these options mean for the Jewish community. What has the establishment of ostensibly “public” schools meant for the religious freedom of families and communities of faith, and what role might government assume in ensuring the blessings of liberty for all its citizens?


In this podcast, Eric Cohen talks with Judaic Studies and History professor Allan Arkush, an expert in modern Jewish history, about Ahad Ha’am and his classic essay, “The Jewish State and Jewish Problem” (1897). In this essay, Ahad Ha’am—pen name of Asher Ginsberg—expounds on the material and moral crises facing the Jewish people. Modern Jews need an identity authentically derived from Jewish ideas and culture—not one simply formed by outside gentile influences. European nationalism is not sufficient to guide the founding of the Jewish state. Rather, Ha’am hopes that political freedom will enable the creation of a unique and genuine Jewish civilization. In this podcast, Arkush discusses the life and ideas of Ahad Ha’am and his relation to his contemporary Jewish and Zionist thinkers.


In this podcast, Eric Cohen speaks with Bret Stephens, Pulitzer Prize winning columnist for the Wall Street Journal, about three of his essays that assess political life in Israel, America, and that analyze the challenges of the Middle East and the the modern West alike. “Born on the Fourth of June,” a Commentary essay from 2012, concerns the lessons and legacy of the 1967 war and what it means for current political challenges. In “Peter Beinart’s False Prophecy,” published in Tablet in 2012, Stephens reviews Peter Beinart’s The Crisis of Zionism, identifying its misleading presentation of the Israeli condition. The final essay was “Israel Alone,” a 2015 Wall Street Journal column in which Stephens examines the dilemmas that Israeli decision-makers now face, given America’s changing role in the Middle East.

Direct download: 160714_Eric_Cohen_and_Bret_Stephens.mp3
Category:Great Jewish Essays and Ideas -- posted at: 2:19pm EST