Why Jews Should Be Wary of Attacks on a Supreme Court Nominee’s Religion

Today, the Senate begins deliberations over the confirmation of Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court. Drawing on George Washington’s famous letter to Moses Seixas, leader of the synagogue in Newport, Rhode Island, Meir Soloveichik explicates the importance of not allowing religion to determine who is or is not fit for public office:

Much attention has been paid to Judge Barrett’s faith, and to “People of Praise,” a religious community of both Catholics and Protestants to which she belongs. Articles have described the oath, or “covenant,” taken by its members to act in loving service to one another. Another topic raised was a speech delivered by Barrett, describing her ultimate aspiration as serving “the kingdom of God.” These stories insinuate that her religion marks her as out of the mainstream, or unable to serve fairly as a Supreme Court justice.

Traditional Jews in America who read these broadsides against Judge Barrett can easily imagine similar ones about themselves. We might wonder what the reaction would now be were a member of our own religious community appointed to a position of prominence. After all, the Jewish liturgy’s expressed aspiration, in an existence filled with injustice, is “to fix the world through the kingship of God.” We believe ourselves bound by a covenant to other Jews, and many of our observances mark us as different, just as they did in Seixas’s day. Like Muslims, Sikhs, and other minority faith communities, we dream of our daughters and sons experiencing American equality without suffering for their beliefs. We continue to celebrate Seixas’s legacy, and work for an America where what Justice Elena Kagan, [speaking of the correspondence at Seixas’s synagogue] said about her grandparents will be true about our grandchildren: that their Jewishness, “strange as it may seem to some, would prove no barrier to their accomplishments.”

A judge’s jurisprudence—as well as the propriety of such a nomination so close to an election—are worthy matters of debate, and they are appropriate reasons to oppose or support Judge Barrett’s nomination. But her faith is not.

Read more at New York Times

More about: American Jewish History, Freedom of Religion, George Washington, Supreme Court, Touro Synagogue


Why Egypt Fears an Israeli Victory in Gaza

While the current Egyptian president, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, has never been friendly to Hamas, his government has objected strenuously to the Israeli campaign in the southernmost part of the Gaza Strip. Haisam Hassanein explains why:

Cairo has long been playing a double game, holding Hamas terrorists near while simultaneously trying to appear helpful to the United States and Israel. Israel taking control of Rafah threatens Egypt’s ability to exploit the chaos in Gaza, both to generate profits for regime insiders and so Cairo can pose as an indispensable mediator and preserve access to U.S. money and arms.

Egyptian security officials have looked the other way while Hamas and other Palestinian militants dug tunnels on the Egyptian-Gaza border. That gave Cairo the ability to use the situation in Gaza as a tool for regional influence and to ensure Egypt’s role in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict would not be eclipsed by regional competitors such as Qatar and Turkey.

Some elements close to the Sisi regime have benefited from Hamas control over Gaza and the Rafah crossing. Media reports indicate an Egyptian company run by one of Sisi’s close allies is making hundreds of millions of dollars by taxing Gazans fleeing the current conflict.

Moreover, writes Judith Miller, the Gaza war has been a godsend to the entire Egyptian economy, which was in dire straits last fall. Since October 7, the International Monetary Fund has given the country a much-needed injection of cash, since the U.S. and other Western countries believe it is a necessary intermediary and stabilizing force. Cairo therefore sees the continuation of the war, rather than an Israeli victory, as most desirable. Hassanein concludes:

Adding to its financial incentive, the Sisi regime views the Rafah crossing as a crucial card in preserving Cairo’s regional standing. Holding it increases Egypt’s relevance to countries that want to send aid to the Palestinians and ensures Washington stays quiet about Egypt’s gross human-rights violations so it can maintain a stable flow of U.S. assistance and weaponry. . . . No serious effort to turn the page on Hamas will yield the desired results without cutting this umbilical cord between the Sisi regime and Hamas.

Read more at Washington Examiner

More about: Egypt, Gaza War 2023, U.S. Foreign policy