Jews Need Not Fear Religious Freedom

In two recent rulings—one involving a college football coach who wished to pray on the field, the other involving the directing of state funding to religious schools—the Supreme Court decided in favor of an expansive definition of freedom of religion and against the argument that any sign of government favor toward religious practices or institutions should be seen as a violation of the First Amendment’s prohibition on establishing an official state religion. Two prominent mainstream Jewish groups, the Antidefamation League (ADL) and the American Jewish Committee (AJC), condemned these decisions. To Jonathan Tobin, their position reflects the understandable but misguided attitude of many American Jews:

As a religious minority in a country that was overwhelmingly Christian and because of their experiences elsewhere, Jews have always tended to view the public expression of faith as inherently dangerous. Jews had thrived in America in a way that was unmatched in the long history of the Diaspora, and at the core of the safety and acceptance that they found here was the fact that no faith was “established” as the official state religion. Judaism has always been on an equal basis with Christian denominations, whose adherents made up the overwhelming majority of the population. But to many Jews, fear of faith in the public square has led them to see the Constitution’s sensible balance between non-establishment and defense of free exercise as worrisome.

In the 20th century, politically liberal Jews who saw the issue solely through the prism of past fears were part of a movement that sought to rid the public domain of religion. Yet that hasn’t made them any safer or freer. While liberal Jewish groups remain obsessed with a non-existent threat to Jewish rights from religious Christians, who are now more likely to be philo-Semitic than hostile to Jews, they are blind to other more pertinent dangers.

Read more at JNS

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

While Israel Is Distracted on Two Fronts, Iran Is on the Verge of Building Nuclear Weapons

Iran recently announced its plans to install over 1,000 new advanced centrifuges at its Fordow nuclear facility. Once they are up and running, the Institute for Science and International Security assesses, Fordow will be able to produce enough highly enriched uranium for three nuclear bombs in a mere ten days. The U.S. has remained indifferent. Jacob Nagel writes:

For more than two decades, Iran has continued its efforts to enhance its nuclear-weapons capability—mainly by enriching uranium—causing Israel and the world to concentrate on the fissile material. The International Atomic Energy Agency recently confirmed that Iran has a huge stockpile of uranium enriched to 60 percent, as well as more enriched to 20 percent, and the IAEA board of governors adopted the E3 (France, Germany, UK) proposed resolution to censure Iran for the violations and lack of cooperation with the agency. The Biden administration tried to block it, but joined the resolution when it understood its efforts to block it had failed.

To clarify, enrichment of uranium above 20 percent is unnecessary for most civilian purposes, and transforming 20-percent-enriched uranium to the 90-percent-enriched product necessary for producing weapons is a relatively small step. Washington’s reluctance even to express concern about this development appears to stem from an unwillingness to acknowledge the failures of President Obama’s nuclear policy. Worse, writes Nagel, it is turning a blind eye to efforts at weaponization. But Israel has no such luxury:

Israel must adopt a totally new approach, concentrating mainly on two main efforts: [halting] Iran’s weaponization actions and weakening the regime hoping it will lead to its replacement. Israel should continue the fight against Iran’s enrichment facilities (especially against the new deep underground facility being built near Natanz) and uranium stockpiles, but it should not be the only goal, and for sure not the priority.

The biggest danger threatening Israel’s existence remains the nuclear program. It would be better to confront this threat with Washington, but Israel also must be fully prepared to do it alone.

Read more at Ynet

More about: Iran nuclear program, Israeli Security, Joseph Biden, U.S. Foreign policy