How the Law Can Stop Those Who Are Keeping Jews from Keeping Shabbat

July 19 2021

As Orthodox Jews are forbidden from using electricity on the Sabbath, many who live in high-rise apartment buildings rely on Gentile doormen to press the elevator buttons for them. The Orthodox residents at a New Jersey apartment building, all of whom are elderly and some infirm, did the same—until they discovered that the co-op board had instructed the doormen not to help them. In response, they have sued in federal court. Michael A. Helfand writes:

In the present case, Kurlansky v. 1530 Owners Corp., the plaintiffs have alleged building policies and comments from co-op board members that, if proven true, can only be described as discriminatory. Some of the plaintiffs have alleged hearing co-op board members say that they did not want “too many of those types of Jews” in the building.

How can the law respond to [such] injustices? First and foremost, courts can vigorously apply state and federal laws—such as the Fair Housing Act—that prohibit religious discrimination when it comes to housing services and facilities. In recent religious-liberty cases, the Supreme Court has repeatedly emphasized that government agents cannot act with bias and exclude religious institutions from government benefits. Federal and state anti-discrimination laws apply that same logic to various private actors with respect to employment, zoning, and housing. Courts must similarly not hesitate when presented with evidence of such animus to call out those who manipulate local power in the name of religious discrimination.

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Read more at First Things

More about: American Jewry, American law, Freedom of Religion, Shabbat

 

UN Peacekeepers in Lebanon Risk Their Lives, but Still May Do More Harm Than Good

Jan. 27 2023

Last month an Irish member of the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) was killed by Hizballah guerrillas who opened fire on his vehicle. To David Schenker, it is likely the peacekeeper was “assassinated” to send “a clear message of Hizballah’s growing hostility toward UNIFIL.” The peacekeeping force has had a presence in south Lebanon since 1978, serving first to maintain calm between Israel and the PLO, and later between Israel and Hizballah. But, Schenker explains, it seems to be accomplishing little in that regard:

In its biannual reports to the Security Council, UNIFIL openly concedes its failure to interdict weapons destined for Hizballah. While the contingent acknowledges allegations of “arms transfers to non-state actors” in Lebanon, i.e., Hizballah, UNIFIL says it’s “not in a position to substantiate” them. Given how ubiquitous UN peacekeepers are in the Hizballah heartland, this perennial failure to observe—let alone appropriate—even a single weapons delivery is a fair measure of the utter failure of UNIFIL’s mission. Regardless, Washington continues to pour hundreds of millions of dollars into this failed enterprise, and its local partner, the Lebanese Armed Forces.

Since 2006, UNIFIL patrols have periodically been subjected to Hizballah roadside bombs in what quickly proved to be a successful effort to discourage the organization proactively from executing its charge. In recent years, though, UN peacekeepers have increasingly been targeted by the terror organization that runs Lebanon, and which tightly controls the region that UNIFIL was set up to secure. The latest UN reports tell a harrowing story of a spike in the pattern of harassment and assaults on the force. . . .

Four decades on, UNIFIL’s mission has clearly become untenable. Not only is the organization ineffective, its deployment serves as a key driver of the economy in south Lebanon, employing and sustaining Hizballah’s supporters and constituents. At $500 million a year—$125 million of which is paid by Washington—the deployment is also expensive. Already, the force is in harm’s way, and during the inevitable next war between Israel and Hizballah, this 10,000-strong contingent will provide the militia with an impressive human shield.

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Read more at Tablet

More about: Hizballah, Lebanon, Peacekeepers, U.S. Foreign policy