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

Why the Leader of Hamas Went to Russia

Sept. 30 2022

Earlier this month, the Hamas chairman Ismail Haniyeh and several of his colleagues visited Moscow, where they met with Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and other Russian officials. According to Arabic-language media, Haniyeh came seeking “new ideas” about how to wage war against the Jewish state. The terrorist group has had good relations with the Kremlin for several years, and even maintains an office in Moscow. John Hardie and Ivana Stradner comment on the timing of the visit:

For Moscow, the visit likely reflects a continuation of its efforts to leverage the Palestinians and other issues to pressure Israel over its stance on Russia’s war in Ukraine. Russia and Israel built friendly relations in the decades following the Soviet Union’s dissolution. After Russia invaded Ukraine in February, Jerusalem condemned the war, but made sure to tread carefully in order to preserve working ties with Moscow, lest Russian military forces in Syria disrupt Israel’s strategically important air operations there.

Nevertheless, bilateral tensions spiked in April after Yair Lapid, then serving as Israel’s foreign minister, joined the chorus of voices worldwide accusing Russia of committing war crimes in Ukraine. Jerusalem later provided Kyiv with some non-lethal military aid and a field hospital. In response, Moscow hardened its rhetoric about Israeli actions in the Palestinian territories.

The Palestinian issue isn’t the only way that Russia has sought to pressure Israel. Moscow is also threatening, on seemingly spurious grounds, to shutter the Russian branch of the Jewish Agency.

Moscow likely has little appetite for outright conflict with Israel, particularly when the bulk of Russia’s military is floundering in Ukraine. But there are plenty of other ways that Russia, which maintains an active intelligence presence in the Jewish state, could damage Israel’s interests. As Moscow cozies up with Hamas, Iran, and other enemies of Israel, Jerusalem—and its American allies—would do well to keep a watchful eye.

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Read more at Algemeiner

More about: Hamas, Israeli Security, Russia