October 10, 2023

The events of the past several days have provided a tragic reminder of the enduring threats to Israel and the Jewish people. We pray for the safety of Israel’s soldiers and civilians of all backgrounds who are under attack, for the safe return of captives, for healing of the injured, and for the success of the IDF.

As a friend in Israel told us, “It is not enough to go back to Yom Kippur or ’48 — one must return to 1903, to Kishinev, where 50 Jews were slaughtered, and then think of Kibbutz Be’eri, where 108 were slaughtered out of 1000.” We pray that these acts of terror and barbarism finally bring moral clarity to those who have been confused or deluded about the intentions of Hamas and all those who have always been explicit about their intent to destroy the State of Israel and the Jews.

In the coming days and weeks we will publish articles and host conversations with those who are thinking deeply on these issues. The first will be this Thursday, October 12, at 9:00am ET, a conversation between Editor-in-Chief Bret Stephens and Reuel Marc Gerecht, senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, on the threat of Iran to Israel and the region. Gerecht is the author of “What Will Stop the Islamic Republic of Iran” in Sapir’s Aspiration issue. Update: Listen to their discussion here. Join us for our next event, American Jewry and the War in Israel: What Do We Do Now? with Bret Stephens, Rabbi Elliot Cosgrove, and Rachel Fish of Boundless, Tuesday, October 17 at 7pm. Register here.

We invite you to read or reread some of the many Sapir articles that place recent events in the context of long-term conflicts and developments. These include the continuing dangers posed by Iran; the common pitfalls in many people’s understanding of the region — often promulgated by the media and the academy; and the importance of long-term support for Israel among the American public. Some examples:

  • Reckoning with the bloodiest single-day attack on Jews since the Holocaust, which many are calling the worst day in Israel’s history, reminds us of the importance of Jewish power — an exception to the rule, historically speaking. As Bret Stephens details in “The Necessity of Jewish Power”: “That the State of Israel was born, raised, and remains under fire isn’t a sign of the failure of Zionism. It’s a reminder of its necessity.”
  • Hamas’ barbaric attacks are linked to recent regional steps toward realignment. Observers expect efforts toward Israeli-Saudi normalization to be halted, at least in the short term, by the war between Israel and Hamas. We pray that they are not. But Hamas’ invasion emphasizes the dangers of the Islamic Republic’s sponsorship of terrorism. Reuel Marc Gerecht, who will by interviewed by Editor-in-Chief Bret Stephens on Thursday, examines these issues in “What Will Stop the Islamic Republic of Iran,” while in our most recent issue, on Antisemitism, Roya Hakakian recounts her imperiled upbringing in Iran.
  • Last year, Eli Lake envisioned a dystopian future in which Israel was under attack in “a devastating missile war […] with Iranian support.” “The barrages overwhelmed […] Israel’s multitiered missile-defense systems, and Israel suffered the worst military and civilian casualties in any of its wars since 1948.” Lake’s vision takes place in 2042, however — not a year after he wrote it.
  • With the United States poised to send increased military aid to Israel, we are reminded of the importance of sustaining an enduring U.S.-Israel alliance with a broad base of popular support. Nigel Savage considers this challenge in “Israel and the Empathy Deficit,” while Einat Wilf explains “How Not to Think About the Conflict” and Matti Friedman offers “Eight Tips for Reading About Israel.”
  • These challenges extend to campuses across the United States. Ari Blaff describes issues in academia in “Israel Studies Has an Israel Problem,” while Alyza D. Lewin explains why “Anti-Zionist Harassment is Against the Law, Too.”

In these dark days we are reminded of the never-ending work to secure the Jewish state and the Jewish people, and we approach our mission — building a thriving Jewish future — with renewed dedication. Our commitments are not only unshaken, they are redoubled.

What we ask from you is to use the ideas you encounter in Sapir to help refine and clarify your own thinking on these vitally important issues. We ask that you take heart from the clear articulations of the importance of the basic values of humanity, truth, freedom, and human thriving that run through every page of Sapir. And we ask that you take every opportunity to speak up on behalf of Israel and the Jewish people.

More soon,
The Sapir editors