Why American Jews Should Take a Stand against Anti-Catholic Bigotry in the Senate

In recent hearings for the confirmation of Brian Buescher to a federal judgeship, two senators questioned the nominee over his membership in the Knights of Columbus, a Catholic fraternal and philanthropic organization. Citing the organization’s opposition to abortion, gay marriage, and contraception, the senators chose to paint its members, Buescher included, as “extremists.” Jonathan Tobin comments:

[R]ather than probing Buescher’s qualifications for the bench, the question [about the Knights of Columbus] seemed aimed at creating a religious test that could potentially brand anyone who subscribed to Catholic teachings as off-limits for high office. That is something specifically prohibited by Article VI, Clause 3, of the U.S. Constitution. . . . Nor is this the first time that recent questions for a judicial nominee crossed the line into religious tests. At a September 2017 judicial-confirmation hearing for Amy Comey Barrett, Senator Dianne Feinstein told the nominee that she was troubled by her religious beliefs because “the dogma lives loudly within you, and that’s a concern.” . . .

We hear a great deal from many in the Jewish world about their concerns about anti-Semitism, as well as their worries about Islamophobia. But silence when members of Congress treat Catholicism as if it were a branch of Islamic State.

The point is that you don’t have to agree with the Knights of Columbus or the [Catholic] Church about any of the hot-button social issues on which the views of many Americans have changed in recent years. But no one who pretends to believe in religious freedom and the rights enumerated in the Constitution can stand by quietly while confirmation hearings increasingly are used to debate whether adherents of a mainstream faith—or any faith—should be allowed to hold office.

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More about: American Jewry, Catholicism, Politics & Current Affairs, U.S. Constitution

Why Israel Pretends That Hamas Fired Rockets by Accident

March 21 2019

Israeli military and political officials have repeated Hamas’s dubious claim that the launching of two rockets at Tel Aviv last week was inadvertent. To Smadar Perry, accepting Hamas’s story rather than engaging in further retaliation is but a convenient, and perhaps necessary, way of aiding Egyptian efforts to broker a deal with the terrorist group. But even if these efforts succeed, the results will be mixed:

The [Israeli] security cabinet has met in Tel Aviv and decided that they would continue indirect negotiations with Gaza. A message was sent to Egypt, whose delegation is going back to Gaza to pass on the Israeli demands for calm. The Egyptians also have to deal with the demands from Hamas, which include, among other things, an increase in aid from $15 million to $30 million per month and an increase in the supply of electricity.

The requests are reasonable, but they do leave a sour taste in the mouth. Israel must ensure that this financial aid does not end up in the pockets of Hamas and its associates. [Israel] also knows that if it says “no” to everything, the Iranians will step in, with the help of their Gazan friends in Islamic Jihad. They are just waiting for the opportunity.

Hamas also must deal with the fallout from a series of massive handouts from Qatar. For when the citizens of the Gaza Strip saw that the money was going to the Hamas leadership, who were also enjoying a fine supply of electricity to their own houses, they took to the streets in protest—and this time it was not Israel that was the focus of their anger. . .

[But] here is the irony. With Egyptian help, Israel can reach understandings for calm with Gaza, despite the lack of a direct channel. . . . In the West Bank, where the purportedly friendlier Fatah is in charge, it is more complicated, at least until the eighty-three-year-old Mahmoud Abbas is replaced.

As evidence for that last statement, consider the murder of two Israelis in the West Bank on Sunday, and the Palestinians who threw explosives at Israeli soldiers at Joseph’s Tomb in Shechem yesterday.

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More about: Egypt, Gaza Strip, Hamas, Israel & Zionism, West Bank