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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

 

Why a Humanitarian Crisis in Gaza Is Unlikely

Feb. 16 2018

High-ranking figures in the IDF, along with some Israeli and foreign officials, have been warning that economic troubles combined with severely deficient public works could lead to an outbreak of starvation or epidemic in the Gaza Strip; their warnings have been taken up and amplified in sensationalist stories in Western media. Hillel Frisch is skeptical:

The most important factor behind real humanitarian crises—mass hunger and contagious disease—is first and foremost the breakdown of law and order, and violence between warring militias and gangs. This is what occurred in Darfur, Somalia, and the Central African Republic. In such situations, the first to leave are the relief agencies. Then local medical staffs evacuate, along with local government officials and anyone professional who can make it out of the bedlam. The destitute are left to fend for themselves. Hospitals, dispensaries, schools, and local government offices are soon abandoned or become scenes of grisly shootouts and reprisals.

Nothing could be farther from such a reality than Gaza. Hamas, which is the main source of [misleading reports] of an imminent humanitarian crisis, rules Gaza with an iron fist. Few developed democracies in the world can boast the low homicide rates prevailing in the Strip. Nor have there been reports of any closings of hospitals, municipal governments, schools, universities, colleges, or dispensaries. . . .

Nor have there been news items announcing the departure of any foreign relief agencies or the closure of any human-rights organizations in the area. Nor is there any evidence that the World Health Organization (WHO), which rigorously monitors the world to prevent the outbreak of contagious disease, is seriously looking at Gaza. And that is for good reason. The WHO knows, as do hundreds of medical personnel in Israeli hospitals who liaise with their colleagues in Gaza, that the hospital system in Gaza is of a high caliber, certainly by the standards of the developing world. . . .

Hamas, [of course], wants more trucks entering Gaza to increase tax revenues to pay for its 30,000-strong militia and public security force, and to increase the prospects of smuggling arms for the benefit of its missile stockpiles and tunnel-building efforts. How Israel should react is equally obvious. You want more humanitarian aid? . . . Free the two mentally disabled Israelis who found their way into Gaza and are imprisoned by Hamas.

Read more at BESA Center

More about: Gaza Strip, Hamas, Israel & Zionism, Palestinian economy