A Jewish Charity Devoted to Helping Women Meets an Unlikely Source of Opposition

Sept. 16 2016

Taking its name from one of the biblical midwives who defied Pharaoh’s order to kill newborn Israelite boys, the organization In Shifra’s Arms (ISA) seeks to help pregnant Jewish women in distress, many of whom are victims of domestic abuse. Mona Charen writes:

When ISA debuted, it was greeted with deep suspicion in the Jewish world. Efforts to raise funds proceeded at a glacial pace, though the Jewish community gives generously to charities of nearly every other description. The United Jewish Appeal, for example, boasts that it supports programs for the elderly, the unemployed, the disabled, at-risk children, and the sick, among dozens of other categories.

Perhaps suspecting that In Shifra’s Arms was an anti-abortion group, Nancy Ratzan, president of the National Council of Jewish Women, condemned it, declaring that the NCJW was “greatly concerned about pregnancy-crisis centers and their focus on limiting women’s choice and undermining the rights of women.” Alyssa Zucker, professor of psychology and women’s studies at George Washington University, was equally dismissive: “While these organizations say they are about choice,” she told the Washington Jewish Week, “they are really not. Their goal is to convince women not to have abortions.”

In fact, In Shifra’s Arms was merely attempting to fill a gap. Abortion is readily available. There are even Jewish charities that help women to pay for abortions. What about the Jewish women who were being pressured into abortions? What about those who were abandoned by husbands or boyfriends? Until ISA opened its doors, there was no American Jewish organization dedicated to helping women who wanted their babies. . . .

In Shifra’s Arms does not attempt to discourage women from seeking abortions—some women who have sought ISA’s help have indeed chosen abortion—but does provide critical encouragement and assistance to those who want an alternative. The board of In Shifra’s Arms includes Jewish women who consider themselves pro-life and pro-choice, and their religious identification ranges from Orthodox to unaffiliated. . . . The women ISA has reached have been offered the assistance and the wherewithal to choose their heart’s desire—to give birth. Surely that is an overlooked women’s issue.

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Read more at Weekly Standard

More about: Abortion, Children, Jewish Philosophy, Religion & Holidays

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