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

Read more at Times of Israel

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

The U.S. Should Recognize Israeli Sovereignty over the Golan Heights

July 19 2018

Since the 1970s, American governments have sporadically pressured Jerusalem to negotiate the return of the Golan to Syria in exchange for peace. Had Israel given up this territory, Iranian forces would now be preparing to establish themselves on its strategically advantageous high ground. Michael Doran, testifying before the House of Representatives, argues that for this and other reasons, Congress should recognize Israeli sovereignty over the Golan. (Video is available at the link below.)

Between 1949 and 1967, [the period during which Syria held the Golan], thousands of clashes erupted [there]. By contrast, ever since Israel took control of the Golan Heights in June 1967, they have served as a natural buffer between the two belligerents. The last 70 years serve as a laboratory of real life, and the results [of the experiment conducted therein] are incontrovertible: when in the hands of Syria, the Golan Heights promoted conflict. When in the hands of Israel, they have promoted stability. . . .

From the outbreak of the [Syrian] civil war, Iran and Russia have worked aggressively to shape the conflict so as to serve their interests. The influence of Iran is particularly worrisome because, in the division of labor between Moscow and Tehran, Russia provides the air power while Iran provides much of the ground forces. . . . Thanks to Iran’s newfound ground presence [in Syria], it is well on the way to completing a so-called “land bridge” stretching from Tehran to Beirut. There can be no doubt that a major aim of the land bridge is to increase the military pressure on Israel (and Jordan, too). . . .

Would Americans ever consciously choose to place Iranian soldiers on the Golan Heights, so that they could peer down their riflescopes at Jewish civilians below? Is there any American interest that would be served by allowing Iran to have direct access to the Sea of Galilee, Israel’s primary water reservoir? Would it ever be wise to place Iranian troops [where they could] serve as a wedge between Jordan and Israel? The answer to all of these questions, obviously, is no. And the clearest way to send that message to the world is to pass a law recognizing Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights.

As for the claim that the Jewish state’s seizure of the Golan in 1967 violates international law, Doran notes that Washington undermined this claim with its attempts in the 1990s to broker a deal between Jerusalem and Damascus:

The ready American (and Israeli) acceptance of the June 4, 1967 cease-fire line [as the basis for such a deal] is nothing short of startling. That line . . . leaves Syria in possession of territory along the shores of the Sea of Galilee and elsewhere that it acquired by force in 1948. In other words, to win over its enemy, [Syria], the Clinton administration dispensed with the principle of the impermissibility of the acquisition of territory by force—the very principle that the United States has remained ever-vigilant in applying to its ally, Israel.

You have 1 free article left this month

Sign up now for unlimited access

Subscribe Now

Read more at Hudson

More about: Congress, Golan Heights, Iran, Israel & Zionism, Syrian civil war, U.S. Foreign policy