Jews Must Join in the Fight for Religious Freedom

In the past several years, as Christian organizations have found themselves at the forefront of protecting religious freedom in such high-profile cases as that of Masterpiece Cakeshop in Colorado and in a number of low-profile cases as well, many Jews have remained indifferent. To Mitchell Rocklin, Jews ought to realize that the threat to freedom of religion is well on its way to catching up with them, too:

[I]n Europe, [there are already] efforts to ban kosher slaughter, arising from both leftist and rightist circles. Six European countries currently ban kosher and halal slaughter. There have been efforts to ban these rituals in other areas, including Germany and Poland. . . . Until recently, Jews in America have been fortunate enough, most of the time, to be safe from these types of attacks [on their religious freedom]. But recently, the [pre-Yom Kippur] ritual of kapparot, which for many ultra-Orthodox and Persian Jews involves slaughtering chickens, has come under legal attack for the third time in three years. Sometimes, animal-rights organizations have alleged questionable legal compliance or alleged mishandling of animals, and sought to ban the entire practice. . . .

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, meanwhile, has made an all-out attack on kosher slaughter a significant agenda item. . . . Nor will attacks on Jewish religious liberties be confined to how we obtain kosher meat. Circumcision has already faced attacks in Europe and some American local jurisdictions. . . .

It took a courageous attorney named Aryeh Kaufman, along with the University of Houston law professor Josh Blackman and the considerable efforts of the First Liberty Institute—a largely Christian organization that defends the religious liberty of all types of Americans—to defend kapparot in California courts. . . . [More generally], the religious Christians leading this fight against compulsion . . . have not merely focused on Christian problems. Religious-liberty organizations with mainly Christian members defend Jewish civil liberties—not to mention those of Sikhs, Muslims, Native Americans, and others—with equal vigor and determination. Jews ought to take notice, as these issues are already beginning to affect them more than many realize. . . .

Jews ought to understand that, even if they don’t swing chickens around their heads before Yom Kippur, and even if they don’t keep kosher, they should care about their religious freedom as Jews. And in this case, guarding our own freedom necessarily also requires caring about the religious rights of Catholics, Evangelical Christians, Muslims, Hindus, and anyone else whose First Amendment rights to freedom of religion are being threatened.

You have 2 free articles left this month

Sign up now for unlimited access

Subscribe Now

Already have an account? Log in now

Read more at Times of Israel

More about: American Jewry, Freedom of Religion, Kashrut, Politics & Current Affairs

Yasir Arafat’s Decades-Long Alliance with Iran and Its Consequences for Both Palestinians and Iranians

Jan. 18 2019

In 2002—at the height of the second intifada—the Israeli navy intercepted the Karina A, a Lebanese vessel carrying 50 tons of Iranian arms to the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO). But Yasir Arafat’s relationship with the Islamic Republic goes much farther back, to before its founding in 1979. The terrorist leader had forged ties with followers of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini that grew especially strong in the years when Lebanon became a base of operations both for Iranian opponents of the shah and for the PLO itself. Tony Badran writes:

The relationship between the Iranian revolutionary factions and the Palestinians began in the late 1960s, in parallel with Arafat’s own rise in preeminence within the PLO. . . . [D]uring the 1970s, Lebanon became the site where the major part of the Iranian revolutionaries’ encounter with the Palestinians played out. . . .

The number of guerrillas that trained in Lebanon with the Palestinians was not particularly large. But the Iranian cadres in Lebanon learned useful skills and procured weapons and equipment, which they smuggled back into Iran. . . . The PLO established close working ties with the Khomeinist faction. . . . [W]orking [especially] closely with the PLO [was] Mohammad Montazeri, son of the senior cleric Ayatollah Hossein-Ali Montazeri and a militant who had a leading role in developing the idea of establishing the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) once the revolution was won.

The Lebanese terrorist and PLO operative Anis Naccache, who coordinated with [the] Iranian revolutionaries, . . . takes personal credit for the idea. Naccache claims that Jalaleddin Farsi, [a leading Iranian revolutionary]. approached him specifically and asked him directly to draft the plan to form the main pillar of the Khomeinist regime. The formation of the IRGC may well be the greatest single contribution that the PLO made to the Iranian revolution. . . .

Arafat’s fantasy of pulling the strings and balancing the Iranians and the Arabs in a grand anti-Israel camp of regional states never stood much of a chance. However, his wish to see Iran back the Palestinian armed struggle is now a fact, as Tehran has effectively become the principal, if not the only, sponsor of the Palestinian military option though its direct sponsorship of Islamic Jihad and its sustaining strategic and organizational ties with Hamas. By forging ties with the Khomeinists, Arafat unwittingly helped to achieve the very opposite of his dream. Iran has turned [two] Palestinian factions into its proxies, and the PLO has been relegated to the regional sidelines.

You have 1 free article left this month

Sign up now for unlimited access

Subscribe Now

Already have an account? Log in now

Read more at Tablet

More about: Hamas, History & Ideas, Iran, Lebanon, PLO, Yasir Arafat