Convoluted Jewish Arguments in Favor of Abortion Rest on a Misunderstanding of Religious Freedom

June 23 2022

The vast majority of American Jews are pro-choice, and this position is generally reflected in the beliefs of the liberal denominations. And while Orthodox rabbis tend to take a restrictive stance on abortion, they too overwhelming permit—and occasionally mandate—the termination of pregnancies in certain extreme circumstances. But some Jewish groups have gone a step further to claim that state or federal prohibitions on abortion violate Jews’ religious freedom. Howard Slugh and Tal Fortgang explain:

A congregation that purports to follow “Cosmic Judaism” filed a lawsuit against Florida. The complaint challenges restrictions on abortion on two grounds. First, that Jewish law sometimes permits or even requires abortions. Second, that supporters of abortion restrictions are sometimes motivated by Christian beliefs. They claim that, for each of those reasons, the statute violates the First Amendment.

While the complaint purports to describe “Jewish law,” this group is, by its own admission, unique in its practices and was founded by a rabbi who rejects “the God of the Bible.” . . . These arguments are not solely the province of fringe sects, [however]. The Reform rabbi Danya Ruttenberg made similar arguments in a recent Atlantic article. . . . Rabbi Ruttenberg’s positions reflect an emergent view within progressive Judaism.

The legal complaint argues that because some people have religious motivations for restricting abortion, the Florida law violates Jews’ rights by “unconstitutionally establishing religion.” Ruttenberg mirrors this claim when she argues that abortion regulations “enshrine specific Christian concepts” into the law and “trample over other understandings of when life begins.”

These arguments are badly misplaced, to put it mildly. There are secular reasons why someone might support abortion regulation.

Read more at National Review

More about: Abortion, American Judaism, Freedom of Religion, U.S. Constitution

Syria’s Druze Uprising, and What It Means for the Region

When the Arab Spring came to Syria in 2011, the Druze for the most part remained loyal to the regime—which has generally depended on the support of religious minorities such as the Druze and thus afforded them a modicum of protection. But in the past several weeks that has changed, with sustained anti-government protests in the Druze-dominated southwestern province of Suwayda. Ehud Yaari evaluates the implications of this shift:

The disillusionment of the Druze with Bashar al-Assad, their suspicion of militias backed by Iran and Hizballah on the outskirts of their region, and growing economic hardships are fanning the flames of revolt. In Syrian Druze circles, there is now open discussion of “self-rule,” for example replacing government offices and services with local Druze alternative bodies.

Is there a politically acceptable way to assist the Druze and prevent the regime from the violent reoccupation of Jebel al-Druze, [as they call the area in which they live]? The answer is yes. It would require Jordan to open a short humanitarian corridor through the village of al-Anat, the southernmost point of the Druze community, less than three kilometers from the Syrian-Jordanian border.

Setting up a corridor to the Druze would require a broad consensus among Western and Gulf Arab states, which have currently suspended the process of normalization with Assad. . . . The cost of such an operation would not be high compared to the humanitarian corridors currently operating in northern Syria. It could be developed in stages, and perhaps ultimately include, if necessary, providing the Druze with weapons to defend their territory. A quick reminder: during the Islamic State attack on Suwayda province in 2018, the Druze demonstrated an ability to assemble close to 50,000 militia men almost overnight.

Read more at Jerusalem Strategic Tribune

More about: Druze, Iran, Israeli Security, Syrian civil war, U.S. Foreign policy