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In contrast to Orthodox Judaism, religious-Zionist rabbis seek to become involved in the decision-making processes of the State in the international arena. This process, which is based on hawkish attitudes, began modestly in the wake of the Six Day War (1967), gathering momentum following the Yom Kippur War and especially after the Likud party came to power and the peace agreement with Egypt was signed, which entailed giving up biblical territory. It was also reinforced with the signing of the Oslo Agreement in 1992, growing following Rabin's assassination by a radical rightwinger in 1995. At this juncture, the voices of the moderates in this camp also began to be heard. In recent years, religious-Zionist rabbis have begun writings books about biblical history, focusing primarily on political aspects. These present a number of polemics linked to the political governing of ancient Israel. One of the most prominent, which I shall discuss as a test case, is the dilemma faced by Ahaz, king of Judah (735 b.c.e.), whether to join an antiAssyrian coalition or become an Assyrian vassal. At his side stood the prophet Isaiah, who preached a third option, calling on the king not to act recklessly but adopt a policy of “sitting on the fence” until the crisis had passed. Ahaz spurned his advice, however, choosing vassaldom. This issue is discussed in three books written by religious-Zionist rabbis—Yigal Ariel, Yuval Cherlow, and Dr. Benny Lau and Yoel Ben-Nun. These writers analyze the incident in the light of their contemporary political views, using it and other similar cases to anchor their religio-political opinions while turning the biblical history of Israel into a “useful past.” In the test case I shall discuss, it is possible to discern how Ariel and Cherlow—who hold hawkish views—perceive Ahaz as a hesitant king incapable of standing on his principles who allows Judah to become an Assyrian vassal. In contrast, Lau and Ben-Nun do not clear Ahaz completely, pointing to a pragmatic non-messianic stance intended to deliver the kingdom. In this lecture, I shall present the way in which an ancient polemic from the kingdom of Judah is used and illustrate how it is employed as a “useful past” in contemporary political polemics.
|Original language||American English|
|State||Published - 2014|
|Event||The British Association of Jewish Studies Annual Conference 2014: Jews and Political Discourse - The British Association for Jewish Studies (BAJS), Trinity College, Dublin, Ireland|
Duration: 13 Jul 2014 → 15 Jul 2014
|Conference||The British Association of Jewish Studies Annual Conference 2014: Jews and Political Discourse|
|City||Trinity College, Dublin|
|Period||13/07/14 → 15/07/14|
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- 1 Invited talk
Idan Brayer (Invited speaker)13 Jul 2014 → 15 Jul 2014
Activity: Talk or presentation › Invited talk