Is There Room for Non-Christian Holidays on the American Civic Calendar?

A school district in Maryland recently decided to remove all references to religious holidays from its calendar, including those days on which there is no school. The decision came as a response to petitioning from Muslim groups (including the Muslim Brotherhood-linked CAIR) to close schools on certain Islamic holidays. The conundrum, argues Eugene Kontorovich, is the inevitable result of the “Menorah Principle,” which presents a misunderstanding of religious equality:

[T]he demise of conventional, innocuous Christian public observances, the obvious consequence of what I have called the “Menorah Principle”—the notion that religious minorities must share equal, not pro-rata, space with the majority religion—makes public (i.e., governmental) religious symbolism effectively unworkable. In a nation with a multitude of religions followed by less than one percent of the population, giving everyone a turn will in the long run render public religious displays of any kind either meaningless, incoherent, or excessive. . . . If Christmas is an official national holiday, then why not the twelve days of Kwanzaa and the month-long Muslim festival of Ramadan? Even the calendar year is a scarce resource: if we honor all the special claims of the diverse U.S. populace, the many holidays would leave little time left for work or school. Unless society draws a line—and the only obvious place to draw it is at Christianity—an unmanageable tumult will ensue: gridlock in the public square.

Read more at Washington Post

More about: American Jewry, American Muslims, Christmas, Freedom of Religion

Why Egypt Fears an Israeli Victory in Gaza

While the current Egyptian president, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, has never been friendly to Hamas, his government has objected strenuously to the Israeli campaign in the southernmost part of the Gaza Strip. Haisam Hassanein explains why:

Cairo has long been playing a double game, holding Hamas terrorists near while simultaneously trying to appear helpful to the United States and Israel. Israel taking control of Rafah threatens Egypt’s ability to exploit the chaos in Gaza, both to generate profits for regime insiders and so Cairo can pose as an indispensable mediator and preserve access to U.S. money and arms.

Egyptian security officials have looked the other way while Hamas and other Palestinian militants dug tunnels on the Egyptian-Gaza border. That gave Cairo the ability to use the situation in Gaza as a tool for regional influence and to ensure Egypt’s role in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict would not be eclipsed by regional competitors such as Qatar and Turkey.

Some elements close to the Sisi regime have benefited from Hamas control over Gaza and the Rafah crossing. Media reports indicate an Egyptian company run by one of Sisi’s close allies is making hundreds of millions of dollars by taxing Gazans fleeing the current conflict.

Moreover, writes Judith Miller, the Gaza war has been a godsend to the entire Egyptian economy, which was in dire straits last fall. Since October 7, the International Monetary Fund has given the country a much-needed injection of cash, since the U.S. and other Western countries believe it is a necessary intermediary and stabilizing force. Cairo therefore sees the continuation of the war, rather than an Israeli victory, as most desirable. Hassanein concludes:

Adding to its financial incentive, the Sisi regime views the Rafah crossing as a crucial card in preserving Cairo’s regional standing. Holding it increases Egypt’s relevance to countries that want to send aid to the Palestinians and ensures Washington stays quiet about Egypt’s gross human-rights violations so it can maintain a stable flow of U.S. assistance and weaponry. . . . No serious effort to turn the page on Hamas will yield the desired results without cutting this umbilical cord between the Sisi regime and Hamas.

Read more at Washington Examiner

More about: Egypt, Gaza War 2023, U.S. Foreign policy