What Orthodox Jews Can Teach Christian Conservatives about Abortion

Oct. 31 2016

Arguing that “conservatives must recognize the imperative of developing a more articulate and coherent position on [the] divisive and sensitive question” of whether abortion should be legal in cases where the pregnancy results from rape, Shlomo Brody believes it would help to contemplate Orthodox Jewish positions on the subject.

Jewish law clearly maintains a generally conservative outlook that rejects the pro-choice mantra of abortion on demand. Based on select verses in Genesis, the talmudic sages concluded that as a general rule feticide is prohibited . . . for Jews and Gentiles alike. As such, it remains prohibited to request or perform abortions not justified by Jewish law.

Yet instead of operating under one dominating moral claim, Jewish law introduces several ethical variables to address the complexities of the dilemma. While Orthodox Judaism has no centralized institution that issues authoritative rulings for its followers, various rulings of leading legal decisors . . . permit abortions in cases of rape, at least in the earlier stages of pregnancy.

This nuanced approach, surveys indicate, reflects the sentiments of many Americans, who see the “pro-life” versus “pro-choice” [categories] as overly simplistic. For this reason, it pays for conservative candidates who are generally averse to abortion on demand to pay attention to a biblically inspired moral perspective that may attract swing voters. . . .

Given the complex balance between competing moral values and the [requirement] to evaluate each case on an individual basis, Orthodox political activists have consistently favored legislation that keeps abortion legal in cases of rape and incest, which matches current Israeli law. . . .

Accordingly, pro-life activists operating with monochromatic guidelines have not found political bedfellows with the Orthodox Jewish community on this issue, in spite of its generally prohibitive stance toward abortions on demand. To my mind, this is unfortunate, as Orthodox Jews should ideally be joining with other pro-life advocates (religion and non-religious alike) in advocating for a more conservative approach to abortion.

Read more at Federalist

More about: Abortion, Halakhah, Orthodoxy, Religion & Holidays, Republicans


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