Overturning “Roe vs. Wade” Doesn’t Threaten Jews’ Religious Freedom

July 10 2018

With the fate of Roe vs. Wade again in question following the retirement of Anthony Kennedy from the Supreme Court, some Jews have argued in favor of upholding the decision based on claims of religious liberty. That is, since halakhah—even in the eyes of the most Orthodox—not only permits but requires abortion in certain circumstances, a ban on abortion would threaten Jews’ freedom to practice their religion. Mitchell Rocklin and Howard Slugh contend that this line of reasoning perverts the meaning of religious liberty:

The irony of this particular pro-choice argument is that liberal Jews are advancing it even as they are quick to accuse traditional proponents of “religious liberty” of seeking to impose their religious views on America. . . .

The Supreme Court’s Hobby Lobby case illustrates this [point]. The plaintiff, an arts-and-crafts store named Hobby Lobby privately owned by the Green family, sought an exemption from a regulation requiring employers to provide health insurance that covered abortion-inducing drugs. The Greens argued that providing such insurance would violate their religious liberty, and they therefore requested a religious-liberty-based exemption.

The Greens did not argue that abortion-inducing drugs should be outlawed, that their employees should be prohibited from buying such drugs, or that the government could not require other employers to purchase such insurance. The Greens made a much more modest claim: they should not be required to participate in a process that they considered sinful. The Supreme Court ruled in favor of Hobby Lobby, finding that the government had not proved that exempting employers with sincere religious objections would prevent it from achieving its goal: ensuring that women had access to the drugs in question. The law continued to apply to the vast majority of Americans, and the government was free to fill the gaps through other methods. . . .

This brings us back to abortion. Too many Jewish pro-choicers have, in contrast [to the Greens], demanded a blanket constitutional right to abortion in virtually all circumstances. They insist upon such a permissive abortion regime because, in some circumstances, Jewish law may permit or require a mother to procure an abortion. But they are not arguing that they would need specific religious liberty-based exemptions from an abortion ban. Nor are they arguing that a state may achieve its goal of protecting the life of the unborn, so long as it does not unnecessarily infringe on their religious beliefs.

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More about: Abortion, Freedom of Religion, Hobby Lobby, Politics & Current Affairs, Supreme Court

Israel Should Try to Defang Hamas without Toppling It

Feb. 22 2019

For the time being, Hamas has chosen to avoid outright war with the Jewish state, but instead to apply sustained, low-intensity pressure through its weekly border riots and organizing terrorist cells in the West Bank. Yet it is simultaneously engaged in a major military build-up, which suggests that it has not entirely been deterred by the previous three Gaza wars. Yaakov Lappin considers Jerusalem’s options:

In recent years, the Israel Defense Force’s southern command, which is responsible for much of the war planning for Gaza, identified a long-term truce as the best of bad options for Israel. This is based on the understanding that an Israeli invasion of Gaza and subsequent destruction of the Hamas regime would leave Israel in the unenviable position of being directly in charge of some two-million mostly hostile Gazans. This could lead to an open-ended and draining military occupation. . . .

Alternatively, Israel could demolish the Hamas regime and leave Gaza, putting it on a fast track to a “Somalia model” of anarchy and violence. In that scenario, . . . multiple jihadist armed gangs lacking a central ruling structure would appear, and Israel would be unable to project its military might to any single “return address” in Gaza. This would result in a loss of Israel’s deterrent force on Gaza to keep the region calm. This scenario would be considerably worse than the current status quo.

But a third option, in between the options of leaving Gaza as it is and toppling Hamas in a future war, may exist. In this scenario, the IDF would decimate Hamas’s military wing in any future conflict but leave its political wing and police force in place. This would enable a rapid Israeli exit after a war, but avoid a Somalia-like fate for Gaza with its destructive implications for both Israelis and Gazans. . . .

On the one hand, Hamas’s police force is an intrinsic support system for Gaza’s terrorist-guerrilla forces. On the other hand, the police and domestic-security units play a genuine role in keeping order. Such forces have been used to repress Islamic State-affiliated cells that challenge Hamas’s rule. . . . Compared to the alternative scenarios of indefinite occupation or the “Somalia scenario,” a weakened Hamas might be the best and most realistic option.

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More about: Gaza Strip, Hamas, Israel & Zionism, Israeli Security