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

Yasir Arafat’s Decades-Long Alliance with Iran and Its Consequences for Both Palestinians and Iranians

Jan. 18 2019

In 2002—at the height of the second intifada—the Israeli navy intercepted the Karina A, a Lebanese vessel carrying 50 tons of Iranian arms to the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO). But Yasir Arafat’s relationship with the Islamic Republic goes much farther back, to before its founding in 1979. The terrorist leader had forged ties with followers of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini that grew especially strong in the years when Lebanon became a base of operations both for Iranian opponents of the shah and for the PLO itself. Tony Badran writes:

The relationship between the Iranian revolutionary factions and the Palestinians began in the late 1960s, in parallel with Arafat’s own rise in preeminence within the PLO. . . . [D]uring the 1970s, Lebanon became the site where the major part of the Iranian revolutionaries’ encounter with the Palestinians played out. . . .

The number of guerrillas that trained in Lebanon with the Palestinians was not particularly large. But the Iranian cadres in Lebanon learned useful skills and procured weapons and equipment, which they smuggled back into Iran. . . . The PLO established close working ties with the Khomeinist faction. . . . [W]orking [especially] closely with the PLO [was] Mohammad Montazeri, son of the senior cleric Ayatollah Hossein-Ali Montazeri and a militant who had a leading role in developing the idea of establishing the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) once the revolution was won.

The Lebanese terrorist and PLO operative Anis Naccache, who coordinated with [the] Iranian revolutionaries, . . . takes personal credit for the idea. Naccache claims that Jalaleddin Farsi, [a leading Iranian revolutionary], approached him specifically and asked him directly to draft the plan to form the main pillar of the Khomeinist regime. The formation of the IRGC may well be the greatest single contribution that the PLO made to the Iranian revolution. . . .

Arafat’s fantasy of pulling the strings and balancing the Iranians and the Arabs in a grand anti-Israel camp of regional states never stood much of a chance. However, his wish to see Iran back the Palestinian armed struggle is now a fact, as Tehran has effectively become the principal, if not the only, sponsor of the Palestinian military option though its direct sponsorship of Islamic Jihad and its sustaining strategic and organizational ties with Hamas. By forging ties with the Khomeinists, Arafat unwittingly helped to achieve the very opposite of his dream. Iran has turned [two] Palestinian factions into its proxies, and the PLO has been relegated to the regional sidelines.

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More about: Hamas, History & Ideas, Iran, Lebanon, PLO, Yasir Arafat