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Can Israel Be Both Jewish And Democratic?

Can Zionism co-exist with liberal democracy? That depends partly on what you think the state’s job should be: To protect the culture of the majority, or to protect citizens from the culture of the majority if they should so wish. But in the case of Israel, where “the majority’s cultural identity is determined first and foremost by blood”, insisting on the state’s duty to protect the majority culture contradicts liberal values (2,580 words)

What Different Religions Say About Aliens

A cut-out-and-keep reference guide, in case a spaceship arrives and you are wondering what to believe. Catholics are “divided” as to whether aliens would share Original Sin. Judaism is not for Klingons. Islam holds that intelligent beings exist on other worlds and are accountable to Allah. Hindus would need to know where the aliens fitted into the hierarchy of living beings, which has plants at the bottom and gods at the top (505 words)

The Voice Of The Shaman

The Falling Sky, by Yanomami shaman Davi Kopenawa and French anthropologist Bruce Albert, offers a “vivid and authentic account of shamanistic philosophy … The footnotes alone harbor monographs on Yanomami botany and zoology, mythology, ritual, and history.” Kopenawa’s elaboration of shamanic concepts “goes beyond ethnography and becomes a new genre of native philosophical inquiry” (3,460 words)

Ebola: Failures Of Imagination

Americans may be over-reacting to the dangers posed by a few cases of Ebola at home — but they are certainly under-reacting to the prospect of an Ebola pandemic across the developing world. If Ebola arrives in Chicago or London it can probably be contained. But what if it lands in Mumbai or Karachi? Why aren’t we talking more about this? There is a risk of panic; but the greater risk is a lack of preparedness (2,460 words)

Whose Side Is Turkey On?

Lucid explainer of Turkish dilemma. ISIS jihadis besiege the Syrian town of Kobani, a centre for Kurds, on the border with Turkey. Fighters from the PKK, the Kurdish separatist movement in Turkey, flock to defend Kobani. Turkey fears the PKK and ISIS equally. It doesn’t want either to win. But in frustrating a Kurdish victory, Turkey may alienate the West and reignite its domestic conflict with the PKK (3,230 words)

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