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American Jews Should Join Christians in Defending Religious Liberty

Dec. 27 2017

Responding to a recent essay accusing Orthodox organizations of “embracing Christian values” by supporting the rights of employers to decline to pay for abortion and contraception, Aylana Meisel and Mitchell Rocklin write:

[A]s progressive ideas have become more mainstream, . . . many progressives have chosen to demonize . . . those with religious and cultural positions that are now in the minority. . . . In this climate, it’s not surprising that traditionalists of various faiths are solidifying alliances among themselves and with others who care deeply about individual liberty more generally, since increasingly both religious and secular progressives seem to be indifferent or even hostile to religious freedom. . . .

The sad truth of the progressive argument is that it has abandoned liberalism—claiming the mantle of promoting liberty while in fact trampling individual rights. Liberals once believed that a good society is a free society that fiercely guards individual liberties from dictatorial majorities. As members of a persecuted people, and as true believers in the justice of this position, Jews joined this fight wholeheartedly. At the time of the Constitution’s ratification, Jews and Baptists (the latter a group that then faced much intolerance) were some of the most enthusiastic opponents of established religion. . . .

The defense of religious freedom adopted by many Orthodox Jews today is consistent with this honorable legacy. It also conforms both to the Founders’ vision for America and to our need as Jews to safeguard our own rights. . . . It’s high time that all Jews realize that the freedom of other religious communities to follow the dictates of their respective faiths and maintain their unique identities is the same freedom that Jews enjoy as well. We must fight together to preserve something distinct for each of us, and we stand or fall together.

Read more at Forward

More about: Christians, Freedom of Religion, Jewish-Christian relations, Orthodoxy, Religion & Holidays, U.S. Politics

How the U.S. Can Strike at Iran without Risking War

In his testimony before Congress on Tuesday, Michael Doran urged the U.S. to pursue a policy of rolling back Iranian influence in the Middle East, and explained how this can be accomplished. (Video of the testimony, along with the full text, are available at the link below.)

The United States . . . has indirect ways of striking at Iran—ways that do not risk drawing the United States into a quagmire. The easiest of these is to support allies who are already in the fight. . . . In contrast to the United States, Israel is already engaged in military operations whose stated goal is to drive Iran from Syria. We should therefore ask ourselves what actions we might take to strengthen Israel’s hand. Militarily, these might include, on the passive end of the spectrum, positioning our forces so as to deter Russian counterattacks against Israel. On the [more active] end, they might include arming and training Syrian forces to engage in operations against Iran and its proxies—much as we armed the mujahedin in Afghanistan in the 1980s.

Diplomatically, the United States might associate itself much more directly with the red lines that Israel has announced regarding the Iranian presence in Syria. Israel has, for example, called for pushing Iran and its proxies away from its border on the Golan Heights. Who is prepared to say that Washington has done all in its power to demonstrate to Moscow that it fully supports this goal? In short, a policy of greater coordination with Jerusalem is both possible and desirable.

In Yemen, too, greater coordination with Saudi Arabia is worth pursuing. . . . In Lebanon and Iraq, conditions will not support a hard rollback policy. In these countries the goal should be to shift the policy away from a modus vivendi [with Iran] and in the direction of containment. In Iraq, the priority, of course, is the dismantling of the militia infrastructure that the Iranians have built. In Lebanon, [it should be] using sanctions to force the Lebanese banking sector to choose between doing business with Hizballah and Iran and doing business with the United States and its financial institutions. . . .

Iran will not take a coercive American policy sitting down. It will strike back—and it will do so cleverly. . . . It almost goes without saying that the United States should begin working with its allies now to develop contingency plans for countering the tactics [Tehran is likely to use]. I say “almost” because I know from experience in the White House that contingency planning is something we extol much more than we conduct. As obvious as these tactics [against us] are, they have often taken Western decision makers by surprise, and they have proved effective in wearing down Western resolve.

Read more at Hudson

More about: Iran, Israeli Security, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Syria, U.S. Foreign policy, Yemen