A Legal Victory for Freedom of Speech, and “Chained Wives”

Sept. 18 2023

Until at least the 18th century, Jewish communities and rabbinic courts could impose consequences on a husband who refused to give his wife a get, or bill of divorce, and thus prevented her from remarrying. Outside of Israel, Orthodox communities today must instead rely on coordinated social pressure. Earlier this month, a New Jersey court overturned a previous ruling that effectively outlawed some of these remedies. Michael A. Helfand explains:

[At present], there are Jewish organizations dedicated to remedying these cases of agunot [wives “chained” to their husbands] who use well-attended rallies, among other tactics, to pressure husbands to give the get and thereby release their wives from the marriage. And in more recent years, a growing number of (largely female) social-media influencers have sought to use their online presence to further encourage husbands to end marriages that, but for the get, have for all intents and purposes ended long ago.

But in the case of S.B.B. v. L.B.B., an initial New Jersey trial court decision held that for a woman to encourage this sort of coordinated pressure could constitute legally prohibited harassment. The defendant in the case had disseminated a video asking members of the Jewish community to “press” her husband to give her a get. . . . In turn, the judge granted the husband a final restraining order because this sort of coordinated campaign could “incite violence.” She also awarded the husband attorney’s fees and monetary damages.

The appeals court, however, reversed the decision, concluding that the First Amendment’s guarantee of free speech protected the dissemination of such videos. . . .  Essential to the appellate court’s decision was the fact that the video was not “directed to inciting or producing imminent lawless action [nor] likely to incite or produce such action.” If it had been, then the protections of the First Amendment might very well have fallen to the wayside. But the video, in the assessment of the appellate court, did no such thing.

Attempts to quash such efforts under the guise of harassment will not withstand constitutional scrutiny.

Read more at Forward

More about: Agunot, American law, Freedom of Speech, Orthodoxy


Israel’s Covert War on Iran’s Nuclear Program Is Impressive. But Is It Successful?

Sept. 26 2023

The Mossad’s heist of a vast Iranian nuclear archive in 2018 provided abundant evidence that Tehran was not adhering to its commitments; it also provided an enormous amount of actionable intelligence. Two years later, Israel responded to international inspectors’ condemnation of the Islamic Republic’s violations by using this intelligence to launch a spectacular campaign of sabotage—a campaign that is the subject of Target Tehran, by Yonah Jeremy Bob and Ilan Evyatar. David Adesnik writes:

The question that remains open at the conclusion of Target Tehran is whether the Mossad’s tactical wizardry adds up to strategic success in the shadow war with Iran. The authors give a very respectful hearing to skeptics—such as the former Mossad director Tamir Pardo—who believe the country should have embraced the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran. Bob and Evyatar reject that position, arguing that covert action has proven itself the best way to slow down the nuclear program. They acknowledge, however, that the clerical regime remains fully determined to reach the nuclear threshold. “The Mossad’s secret war, in other words, is not over. Indeed, it may never end,” they write.

Which brings us back to Joe Biden. The clerical regime was headed over a financial cliff when Biden took office, thanks to the reimposition of sanctions after Washington withdrew from the nuclear deal. The billions flowing into Iran on Biden’s watch have made it that much easier for the regime to rebuild whatever Mossad destroys in addition to weathering nationwide protests on behalf of women, life, and freedom. Until Washington and Jerusalem get on the same page—and stay there—Tehran’s nuclear ambitions will remain an affordable luxury for a dictatorship at war with its citizens.

Read more at Dispatch

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