Jewish Organizations Shouldn’t Be Fighting against Religious Liberty

Yesterday, the Supreme Court heard the case of the Little Sisters of the Poor, a convent that wishes for the state of Pennsylvania to exempt it from providing employees with health-insurance plans that cover abortifacients, sterilizations, and contraceptives. (The nuns had proposed a workaround that would ensure employees had access to such treatments if so desired.) Among the signatories to an amicus brief filed in favor of Pennsylvania were several Jewish groups, including the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), the Union of Reform Judaism, and the Jewish Council for Public Affairs. Howard Slugh and Mitchell Rocklin write:

According to the ADL, [whose lawyers were among the brief’s main authors], the burden of religious liberty cannot be imposed on the public. Nonbelievers cannot be forced to “underwrite objector’s religious choices,” the brief states. “When nonbeneficiaries would be detrimentally affected, religious exemptions are forbidden.”

It’s a problematic argument for the simple fact that if . . . taken seriously, it would invalidate most religious accommodations. When an accommodation benefits one party, it almost always burdens someone else. Take, for example, kosher food, which can cost prisons or the military in excess of three times the cost of non-kosher meals. [N]o one would argue that Jewish prisoners or military personnel should not have their religious liberties protected by having kosher food provided to them.

The ADL’s position would turn this proud tradition on its head and declare that America only protects religious liberty when it is easy and inconsequential to do so.

Furthermore, the brief’s position would significantly harm American Jews. To support its view that the Supreme Court rule against accommodating the Sisters’ religious liberty, the brief cites a 1985 Supreme Court case striking down a Connecticut law that required employers to accommodate people who observe the Sabbath, . . . on the grounds that the Constitution does not give anyone the right to force nonbelievers to conform to their needs. But for the Supreme Court to consider expanding this precedent would undermine the work of Jewish groups, which have long sought more robust protections for Jewish employees who wish to observe the Sabbath.

Read more at Forward

More about: ADL, American Jewry, American law, Freedom of Religion, Supreme Court

Why the White House’s Plan to Prevent an Israel-Hizballah War Won’t Work

On Monday, Hizballah downed an Israeli drone, leading the IDF to retaliate with airstrikes that killed one of the terrorist group’s commanders in southern Lebanon, and two more of its members in the northeast. The latter strike marks an escalation by the IDF, which normally confines its activities to the southern part of the country. Hizballah responded by firing two barrages of rockets into northern Israel on Tuesday, while Hamas operatives in Lebanon fired another barrage yesterday.

According to the Iran-backed militia, 219 of its fighters have been killed since October; six Israeli civilians and ten soldiers have lost their lives in the north. The Biden administration has meanwhile been involved in ongoing negotiations to prevent these skirmishes from turning into an all-out war. The administration’s plan, however, requires carrots for Hizballah in exchange for unenforceable guarantees, as Richard Goldberg explains:

Israel and Hizballah last went to war in 2006. That summer, Hizballah crossed the border, killed three Israeli soldiers, and kidnapped two others. Israel responded with furious airstrikes, a naval blockade, and eventually a ground operation that met stiff resistance and mixed results. A UN-endorsed ceasefire went into effect after 34 days of war, accompanied by a Security Council Resolution that ordered the UN Interim Forces in Lebanon (UNIFIL) to assist the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) in disarming Hizballah in southern Lebanon—from the Israeli border up to the Litani River, some 30 kilometers away.

Despite billions of dollars in U.S. taxpayer support over the last seventeen years, the LAF made no requests to UNIFIL, which then never disarmed Hizballah. Instead, Iran accelerated delivering weapons to the terrorist group—building up its forces to a threat level that dwarfs the one Israel faced in 2006. The politics of Lebanon shifted over time as well, with Hizballah taking effective control of the Lebanese government and exerting its influence (and sometimes even control) over the LAF and its U.S.-funded systems.

Now the U.S. is offering Lebanon an economic bailout in exchange for a promise to keep Hizballah forces from coming within a mere ten kilometers of the border, essentially abrogating the Security Council resolution. Goldberg continues:

Who would be responsible for keeping the peace? The LAF and UNIFIL—the same pair that has spent seventeen years helping Hizballah become the threat it is today. That would guarantee that Hizballah’s commitments will never be verified or enforced.

It’s a win-win for [Hizballah’s chief Hassan] Nasrallah. Many of his fighters live and keep their missiles hidden within ten kilometers of Israel’s border. They will blend into the civilian population without any mechanism to force their departure. And even if the U.S. or France could verify a movement of weapons to the north, Nasrallah’s arsenal is more than capable of terrorizing Israeli cities from ten kilometers away. Meanwhile, a bailout of Lebanon will increase Hizballah’s popularity—demonstrating its tactics against Israel work.

Read more at The Dispatch

More about: Hizballah, Israeli Security, Joseph Biden