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December 21, 2014 / 29 Kislev, 5775
 
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Posts Tagged ‘abortion’

The Obama Birth Control Imbroglio

Wednesday, February 15th, 2012

In many respects President Obama’s imposition of a federal mandate calling for free contraception and certain abortion procedures on demand – and the uproar it has caused – is emblematic of the problems inherent in the way he sees his role. It will be recalled that his election campaign was built around a mantra of change. Indeed, as soon as he entered office he sought to change the way the U.S. had conducted its foreign policy around the world for more than a century. He said that much of the discord in the world was a function of American arrogance and greed, and declared his intention to reach out to those nations that supposedly had received short shrift from America in an effort to bring them into the U.S. orbit. And of course he set out to redefine U.S.-Israel relations with a view toward improving America’s relations with the Muslim world.

Predictably, he fell flat on his face. Entrenched and thoroughly corrupt Third World leaders were amused by this newly elected Boy Scout confessing his country’s errors though they certainly were not interested in making nice to him just because he asked. If anything, they viewed his efforts as naïve and as signaling an opportunity to take advantage of a vulnerable, self-conscious American administration.

The point of it all was  Mr. Obama’s profound  belief in his vision and the efficacy of his ability to bring it about despite all the years of experience and tradition preceding  his arrival on the national scene that suggested otherwise. Significantly, it was not too long ago in this country that abortion was illegal and contraception frowned upon. Yet Mr. Obama plunged headlong into those issues seeking to establish the availability of birth control as a matter of right – and free of charge to boot.

That his efforts in this regard ran against religious institutions opposing abortion and contraception as a matter of religious doctrine protected by the First Amendment only served to highlight the real issue.

Typically, President Obama was overtaken with his vision largely to the exclusion of religious rights. This is of a piece with his reshaping the American health care system, of which contraception and abortion issues are only a part. He has arrogated to the federal government the right to decide whether or not Americans will have health insurance coverage as well as the nature of that coverage. The notion that the competitive market would no longer inform products offered by insurance carriers represented a profound change in American domestic affairs and a breathtaking power grab by the federal government.

As we enter the presidential election season, some issues of concern readily present themselves. It seems clear that President Obama backtracked on the  inclusion of religious institutions only because of the furious reaction from the Catholic Church. His  first inclination was to ride roughshod over the rights the church enjoyed under the First Amendment. Indeed, he showed similar single-mindedness on the overall issue of health care reform when he was not concerned about an imminent reelection campaign.

In a similar vein, with a view toward securing a breakthrough between Israel and the Palestinians that had eluded his predecessors, Mr. Obama came down disproportionately heavy on Israel regarding the settlements issue and the 1967 lines serving as the framework for negotiations – until key members of his own party revolted and expressed their fears for the 2010 midterm congressional elections.

Barack Obama seems to be someone with a revisionist vision for a broad array of public issues he is determined to pursue unless and until it turns out he cannot. One wonders what he has in store for the nation after November should he win reelection – a possibility that grows more likely by the day as the remaining Republican presidential candidates continue to underwhelm.

Letter to a Progressive Friend

Thursday, January 12th, 2012

Dear _________,

I’m not sure exactly how to put this. I need to tell you that you have been taken in by an audacious and massive hoax. Please — don’t stop reading. It isn’t that you’re stupid or uncaring. Actually I think you fell for it to a great extent because of your intelligence, as well as your highly developed ability to empathize with the situations of people less fortunate than yourself — your essential humaneness.

You are a person who has always dedicated a great deal of energy to helping others, who gives to organized charities and to beggars on the street, who often supports policies that will be disadvantageous to you personally because you believe they will bring us closer to a just society. You have even placed yourself at some risk by participating in demonstrations in which someone (not you) might provoke the police to arrest participants, even handle them somewhat roughly.

I am not speaking with tongue in cheek. I admire you. The world would be a far uglier place without people with your kind of sensibility.

The hoax in question has been developed over the past 40 years or so and is calibrated to be effective on people like you. Its objective is to make you believe that in a particular context, black is white, evil is good, lies are truth and genocide is justice.

Of course you know what I’m talking about. “Here he comes again with his obsession about Jews and Israel,” you think. But today I am not going to try your patience with all of the usual arguments — the appeals to the real history of the Middle East, the discussion of who is and isn’t ‘indigenous’, the analyses of international law, the exposure of this or that anti-Israel lie, the revelations of the true intentions of some of the players, the predictions of the possible consequences of various courses of action. I do that in my blog every day, and there are many others who do it better.

No, I just want to try to plant a seed of doubt in the elaborate garden of falsehood — of deliberate falsehood with the most evil of aims — that has flourished around good people like you, nourished by those who are, shall we say, not such good people.

The source of this garden is a Big Lie. It’s complicated, but the main part of it is that Israel a powerful Western colonialist power doing the kind of evil things colonialists do, and being resisted by the people it exploits.

The truth is that Israel is a small nation surrounded by enemies who, for religious, racial and ideological reasons, have been trying to snuff it out since the beginning.

So what do I have to do to make this apparent?

More than 40 years ago I met a woman who would have described herself as a radical leftist. She occupied public buildings (they did that back then, too) and was registered to vote on the Peace and Freedom ticket. One day — I don’t know how the subject came up — she mentioned  that she was strongly opposed to legalized abortion.

I was surprised. Naturally, she was a strong feminist, and abortion rights (I don’t think they had invented the euphemism “pro-choice” yet) was part of the left-wing and feminist catechism (so to speak!). I had always favored legal abortion myself. Almost everyone I knew — except Catholics whom I believed were brainwashed by their Church — thought that “a woman has a right to control her body.”

My friend wasn’t a Catholic, wasn’t brainwashed by anybody, and she explained her position logically. It was obvious to me that she was right and I was wrong. I had simply never entertained such ideas before.

I think this is how it is with progressives and Israel.

Back in the 1960′s, Israel’s enemies had lined up with the Soviet Union, and the conflict was a proxy for the Cold War. At that time, Arab leaders were fond of saying things like “the sands of the desert will be drenched with Jewish blood” and this didn’t endear them to most Westerners. But Yasser Arafat took the advice of those who understood us a bit better, and who had developed propaganda to a fine art. Instead of a struggle to cleanse Arab land of the Jewish presence, it was recast as a War of Liberation. The ‘Palestinian people’ — an entity that some Arabs had recently insisted did not exist — was presented as an oppressed indigenous people and Israel as a colonial power.

Click. Suddenly the Jews, who had shortly before had been the very paradigm case of an oppressed minority, were the oppressors. It was just like Vietnam!

Actual history was forgotten as whole structures of myth were built. These myths developed primarily in academic environments, where a neo-Marxist point of view constituted the political conventional wisdom. For psychological reasons, a whole generation of Jewish and Israeli scholars embraced and adumbrated this position. Some, like Ilan Pappé, were astonishingly dishonest; others, like Tom Segev, were more subtle and simply placed more emphasis on certain facts than others.

In A Language Of Lies, Don’t Lose To Wordplay

Wednesday, November 17th, 2010

Americans understand the power of wordplay. When pro-abortion activists were fighting an uphill battle in the ’90s, trying to gain public support for their cause, a very shrewd marketing company insightfully changed the language of their debate. The debate was no longer about abortion; now it was about “choice.” The contentious question, “Are you pro-abortion?” had a new compelling answer: “No, I’m pro-choice.” Language effectively changed the abortion issue, successfully focusing on the mother while disregarding the plight of the child. There is another roiling debate, this time concerning Israel, and you can help reframe it.

 

“Hakol kol Yaakov – Our voice is the voice of Jacob.” This power of the voice that was granted to us, that defines us, and that we as a people are known to use, is a real and powerful tool. It is far more effective than the sword, more potent that Esau’s hands. Reality is created by the words we use. This is our tool, and the Arabs are using it to their advantage. And what is even more distressing is that we are using it to their advantage too. It’s time we reclaim our voice, our power – and effectively the debate.

 

Jordanians had smoothly adopted a label and nationality that comes from biblical times, which was used universally for Jew or Arab living in Palestine before 1948. Their jargon is so cunning that it continues to make the liberal and unassuming layman believe that these Jordanians are the same people who lived in Israel proper some 3,000 years ago, and are thus entitled to a country called Palestine.

In 1967, Jordan attacked Israel and lost the war. Accordingly, under all international pretenses, Judea and Samaria were now officially back under Jewish control, as they had biblically been for 3,000 years. So what to do now with all these ex-Jordan Arab residents of Judea and Samaria? Not a single Arab country was about to absorb their Arab brethren, so a different idea had to be implemented. Not interested in being responsible for their own refugees, Jordan decided that any Arab living in Judea and Samaria was a separate people – not of Jordan or Israel, but of Palestine. Though Judea and Samaria were under Israeli, and not Jordanian, rule at the time, Jordan unilaterally declared that, “Every person residing in the West Bank before the date of 31/7/1988 will be considered as [a] Palestinian citizen and not as Jordanian” (Article 2, Amendment to the Jordanian Nationality Law). And henceforth, through the stroke of a Jordanian pen, a Palestinian people were born – in 1988.

But a nation also needs a homeland, a territory they can call their own. Luckily for Jordan, in 1950, almost 40 years before the new Palestinian existed, Jordan coined the term, “West Bank.” In 1948, after the State of Israel was created, Jordan kicked Jews out from Judea and Samaria and renamed the territory. The term “West Bank,” which the international community has embraced, is so important to the Palestinian cause that now, in 2010, Wikipedia no longer allows edits which refer to the West Bank as Judea and Samaria. A Palestinian West Bank is more convenient for a Palestinian cause than a Judea and Samaria that is populated by over 350,000 Jewish Israelis.

This subconscious, persuasive vernacular is evident in every phase of the conflict and has encroached into our everyday speech, affecting the way we perceive the conflict. But more important, it influences the reality on the ground and our position when making a case for Israel.

The following phrases creatively implanted the false notion that Israel does not rightfully belong in her own territories: Words such as “occupied,” “occupation,” and “settlements” now refer to Israelis rather than the true Arab occupiers and settlements. “Giving away land for peace” that Israel has won is now “giving back land for peace.” “Displaced” or “disowned” Jordanians with the help of the uninformed and ignorant have effectively become a “Palestinian people.”

Israel cannot occupy her own country. There is no justifiable reason to continue using phrases that merely empower falsehoods. I invite people to send me more misleading semantics.

*   *   *

Action Alerts: Watch Your Words!

In A Language Of Lies, Don’t Lose To Wordplay

Wednesday, November 17th, 2010

Americans understand the power of wordplay. When pro-abortion activists were fighting an uphill battle in the ’90s, trying to gain public support for their cause, a very shrewd marketing company insightfully changed the language of their debate. The debate was no longer about abortion; now it was about “choice.” The contentious question, “Are you pro-abortion?” had a new compelling answer: “No, I’m pro-choice.” Language effectively changed the abortion issue, successfully focusing on the mother while disregarding the plight of the child. There is another roiling debate, this time concerning Israel, and you can help reframe it.

 

Hakol kol Yaakov – Our voice is the voice of Jacob.” This power of the voice that was granted to us, that defines us, and that we as a people are known to use, is a real and powerful tool. It is far more effective than the sword, more potent that Esau’s hands. Reality is created by the words we use. This is our tool, and the Arabs are using it to their advantage. And what is even more distressing is that we are using it to their advantage too. It’s time we reclaim our voice, our power – and effectively the debate.

 

Jordanians had smoothly adopted a label and nationality that comes from biblical times, which was used universally for Jew or Arab living in Palestine before 1948. Their jargon is so cunning that it continues to make the liberal and unassuming layman believe that these Jordanians are the same people who lived in Israel proper some 3,000 years ago, and are thus entitled to a country called Palestine.


In 1967, Jordan attacked Israel and lost the war. Accordingly, under all international pretenses, Judea and Samaria were now officially back under Jewish control, as they had biblically been for 3,000 years. So what to do now with all these ex-Jordan Arab residents of Judea and Samaria? Not a single Arab country was about to absorb their Arab brethren, so a different idea had to be implemented. Not interested in being responsible for their own refugees, Jordan decided that any Arab living in Judea and Samaria was a separate people – not of Jordan or Israel, but of Palestine. Though Judea and Samaria were under Israeli, and not Jordanian, rule at the time, Jordan unilaterally declared that, “Every person residing in the West Bank before the date of 31/7/1988 will be considered as [a] Palestinian citizen and not as Jordanian” (Article 2, Amendment to the Jordanian Nationality Law). And henceforth, through the stroke of a Jordanian pen, a Palestinian people were born – in 1988.


But a nation also needs a homeland, a territory they can call their own. Luckily for Jordan, in 1950, almost 40 years before the new Palestinian existed, Jordan coined the term, “West Bank.” In 1948, after the State of Israel was created, Jordan kicked Jews out from Judea and Samaria and renamed the territory. The term “West Bank,” which the international community has embraced, is so important to the Palestinian cause that now, in 2010, Wikipedia no longer allows edits which refer to the West Bank as Judea and Samaria. A Palestinian West Bank is more convenient for a Palestinian cause than a Judea and Samaria that is populated by over 350,000 Jewish Israelis.


This subconscious, persuasive vernacular is evident in every phase of the conflict and has encroached into our everyday speech, affecting the way we perceive the conflict. But more important, it influences the reality on the ground and our position when making a case for Israel.


The following phrases creatively implanted the false notion that Israel does not rightfully belong in her own territories: Words such as “occupied,” “occupation,” and “settlements” now refer to Israelis rather than the true Arab occupiers and settlements. “Giving away land for peace” that Israel has won is now “giving back land for peace.” “Displaced” or “disowned” Jordanians with the help of the uninformed and ignorant have effectively become a “Palestinian people.”


Israel cannot occupy her own country. There is no justifiable reason to continue using phrases that merely empower falsehoods. I invite people to send me more misleading semantics.


*   *   *


Action Alerts: Watch Your Words!


·         Say “giving back land” instead of the incorrect “giving away land.”


·         Refer to the “disputed territories,” not the inaccurate “occupied territories.”


·         Call them “displaced” or “disowned” Jordanians, not the historically unrelated “Palestinians.”


Yossi Cukier is

 co-founder of The Activist Network, along with Dina Kupfer and Ari Lieberman. Please note that all petitions, letters, phone numbers, etc., can be found at theactivistnetwork.wordpress.com. The group welcomes suggestions for pro-Israel and pro-Jewish projects and events.

A Torah Perspective on Educating Our Children About Sexuality (Part IX)

Wednesday, October 21st, 2009

As we have discussed over the past few weeks, it is essential, especially in these times, that parents take an active role in teaching their children Torah ideas in regards to sexuality and modesty.

One of the reasons this is necessary is because of the invasive exposure they experience from secular sources and culture, and also because we can no longer afford to be naive about the existence of sexual predators in our midst. If children do not possess clear knowledge and age-appropriate understanding of the parts of their body and how they can be used or misused it is hard for them to protect themselves from those who seek to abuse them?

To quiet those who think it is forbidden to expose children and adolescents to sexual ideas, we referenced a halachic ruling from the Ezer Mekodesh (Shulchan Aruch, E.H. 23:3) where he states that it is permitted even for a young man to study parts of the Torah related to sexuality.

Sex Education with Older Children:

Obviously, the older a child gets, the more cognitive and emotional abilities he has. Furthermore, at a certain point children, particularly adolescents may be embarrassed to discuss sex with their parents. Yet, this is the time in their lives when guidance is needed. Therefore there may be times where it is appropriate for a parent to raise the topic of sexuality, and as the children get older, they must look for opportunities to segue into these discussions. Ironically, the media that we fear may be a corrupting influence on children can be actually helpful in giving us opportunities to “break the ice” with your adolescent about sex.

Keep in mind; sex education is about more than facts and biology, it’s about emotions and ethics. This is even truer from a halachic perspective, where parents are not only charged to educate their children about the facts but also to guide them about the morals and ethics. The issues addressed so often in the media – unwanted pregnancy, abortion, rape, sexual abuse, spousal abuse and the like are important to discuss with our adolescents.

Goals for Halachic Sex education:

To serve as a guide for parents who hopefully will talk to their children about sex on their own, a list of the cognitive, moral, and developmental goals of halachic sex education could be useful. A parent should help his child acquire:

An understanding of the mechanics of sexuality, which includes the sexual act as well as the process of conception and childbirth.

An understanding of the biological changes associated with the onset of puberty and the differences between males and females.

Halachic and moral responsibilities regarding modesty, pre-marital chastity and laws of family purity.

Comparison of secular values vs. religious values and how they relate to the modern world in areas such as sexually transmitted diseases, dangers of rape and molestation, teenage pregnancy and abortion. (Readers might be wondering why they would need to teach their children about this, assuming their children remain frum and on the derech. Unfortunately, anyone who believes there is no such thing as promiscuity and teenage pregnancy in the frum community, is mistaken. Experienced therapists tell a different story. In addition, such a belief is in contradiction to Chazal, who state explicitly that there always will be a minority in every community who are sexual immoral. See Bava Basra 165a, and the Rambam’s Mishne Torah, Isurrei Biah, 22:19.)

Develop an appreciation for the wonders of creation and the wisdom of the Creator by studying the fascinating aspects of the miracle of reproduction. (See the Rambam’s Mishne Torah, Yesode Hatorah, 2:2.)

Healthy attitudes toward the body, pleasure and abstention, and particularly how it is expressed in the Jewish halachic code.

Knowledge of what is good touch and bad touch, and who is allowed to be alone in a room with them and who is not. An awareness of the existence of sexual predators, how they groom victims by seducing them and then preying on their need for attention, and how they induce feelings of shame or fear that a child will get in trouble if he or she tells an adult.

Next week, the conclusion

Letters to the Editor

Wednesday, November 24th, 2004

Misguided Endorsement

Your endorsement of George W. Bush for a second term is misguided.

Have you forgotten that from the beginning of 2001, the administration has taken a laissez faire position with regard to Israel? This exacerbated the tension of September 2000 when Sharon went to the wall and Arafat began his Intifada while the attention of the American public was focused on the election that November.

Now you endorse George W. Bush. Well, “W” is wrong. He is a theocrat who has no plan to address the central issues of Islamic violence other than to assert American influence in the region while doing nothing more than establishing laissez faire inattention – a de-facto result of his lack of a strategy to ensure security in Iraq.

Is this due to the guidance he receives from his higher power? We hold that America is built upon Judeo-Christian foundations. I do not see “Judeo” amongst the values that this president espouses.

Douglas Paul Mendel
Atlanta, GA



Fears Another Bush Term

If you want to endorse George Bush, that is certainly your right. But to distort John Kerry’s positions in doing so is beneath contempt. Furthermore, the religious right’s “love” of Israel has nothing to do with God’s promise to us, but what they see as their inheritance as “completed Jews.”

I am no less a Zionist than you. Very possibly more so. Yet I do not fear for Israel’s safety and security under a Kerry administration. I do fear for my personal safety, and liberties, under a continued Bush administration. Identity cards. Guilty until proven innocent. An attorney general who believes all non-saved are going to hell and has no problem imposing his religious beliefs on the country as a whole. Their version of the Ten Commandments in the schools and government buildings. Their “Sabbath” day kept holy. Their rules about termination of pregnancy made the law of the land, in direct contradiction of halacha.

You know what? It may be your right to endorse Bush, but that you would do so, and claim he is a better choice for Jews and for Israel, takes chutzpah to a new level.

Deborah Levinson
(Via E-Mail)



Bad Bush

Shame on you for endorsing George W. Bush. He is by no means a “friend to Israel” and has only served to further alienate it from the rest of the world. His foreign policies have directly contributed to the rise of anti-Semitism, and in turn, anti-Israel sentiments. He has failed to put the necessary pressure on the Israeli government needed for continuing the peace process. He has failed to curb Saudi support for Palestinian terror. His ultra-conservative domestic policies have gone against progressive Jewish ideology.

Dan J. Berger
New York, NY



Kerry Unfit For Presidency

Reader Richard Schwartz tries to convince us to view John Kerry through his eyes and support Kerry’s run for the presidency (Letters, Oct. 22).

“Bush misled us into a dangerous quagmire in Iraq,” he writes. Really? Mr. Schwartz, Saddam Hussein is safely quagmired in our prison and his sadistic, bloodthirsty sons are dead and no longer a threat to Israel or anyone else. The Iraqi people are liberated with an opportunity to build a free society. Beats me how you can interpret those important developments as Bush misleading us.

As for Mr. Schwartz’s concern for the increased cost of hiring additional police and other security forces, common sense tells us that the preferred solution is the aggressive pursuit and elimination of the terrorist menace. The nature of our enemies is one of total, uncivilized savagery, Mr. Schwartz – and like it or not, there is no other way to deal with them, whatever it costs. Fortunately, this president understands that and is dealing with it.

Mr. Schwartz does not mention any of Kerry’s accomplishments (because there aren’t any). Curious, isn’t it, how someone can favor a man of unproven, even doubtful, character and no accomplishments and trust him with the awesome task of the presidency.

Mr. Schwartz contents himself with issuing dire warnings that reelecting Bush will bring about the extinction of many species of wildlife, destroy the tropical rain forests, and pollute the water and soil, and any other absurdity he can imagine.

I recommend that Mr. Schwartz read (or read again) the Oct. 22 Jewish Press editorial endorsement of George Bush, and then carefully and seriously reconsider his position.

Norman Shine
Brooklyn, NY



Hated Because He Does Right

As a conservative Christian, I was so happy to see you supporting President Bush for reelection. You are right. John Kerry will not be a friend of Israel. He will also not be a friend of conservatives, particularly Christian evangelicals.

I hope all your readers will vote for President Bush. Never in American history has a president been so hated. You have to ask yourselves why. I’ll tell you why – it’s because he stands up for what is right and he supports Israel.

Deborah Porter
Worthington, OH



Kerry’s ‘Shatnez Jews’

In the 1930′s, Zeev Jabotinsky referred to socialist Zionists as ‘shatnez Jews.’ He correctly realized that the attempt to blend the two ideologies would, in the end, present a dilemma for the socialist Zionist, especially when the agenda of socialism clashed with the needs of Zionism. The socialist Zionist would have to make a decision as where his loyalty lay, and unfortunately the decision would not always be the interest of Zion.

The more things change, the more they remain the same. I was recently sitting at a Shabbat table with three other frum Jews. When the discussion turned to the upcoming election and I opined that we should vote for the candidate who is best for Israel, I was accused by one person of being a ‘one-issue voter.’ Another declared, “We are living in the United States; there are other issues.”

I take being called a ‘one-issue voter’ as a compliment. But the discussion made me think. Has Judaism and our practice of it become nothing more than mindless activity and hypocrisy? Do we now take the existence of Israel for granted?

For two thousand years we cried ‘Im lo aaleh et Yerushalayim al rosh simchati’ (If I do not raise up Jerusalem over my greatest joy…). Yet here were three religious Jews who put other agendas above Yerushalayim, and here I was, trying to convince them of the need to choose a candidate based on his backing of Israel. The fact that the overwhelming majority of Jews vote Democrat only makes Bush’s actions more commendable. Whatever happened to the mitzvah of hakarot hatov?

Jews readily understand when other minorities vote for their own agendas. Blacks who don’t vote the black agenda are called Uncle Toms; Jews understand that. Muslim- Americans are going to vote their agenda as ‘one-issue voters,’ and I can guarantee you their agenda is not ours.

The United States can survive four or even eight years with a bad president, but can Israel tolerate a hostile president in the White House? Why have many Jews placed affiliation to the Democratic Party above Yerushalayim? Unfortunately, shatnez Jews still exist.

Aaron Kinsberg
(Via E-Mail)



Duty To Support Bush

Back in August I had the opportunity to attend the Republican National Convention. I met numerous politicians including Governor Pataki, Mayor Bloomberg, and former Mayor Ed Koch. I wore my yarmulke and figured it would be a kiddush Hashem. I got more than I bargained for when Utah Senator Orrin Hatch came over to express his support for Israel and even showed me a mezuzah he wears around his neck.

At the Democratic convention there was barely a mention of Israel, or of Kerry’s plan for ‘peace.’ If John Kerry is elected president, Israel will lose a tremendous amount. Kerry has made it clear that he will not act internationally without the express consent of the United Nations.

This will be one of the most significant presidential elections in U.S. history. We as Jews must support Israel, and therefore it is our duty and responsibility to support George W. Bush.

Shmuel Ungar
Far Rockaway, NY


Liberal Thinking

I recently spoke with an old friend who is an ardent Zionist – albeit one who lives in the United States. He is a liberal Jewish Democrat and I am sure his thinking is a good barometer of what’s on the mind of other Jewish Democrats.

“So, for whom are you voting?” he asked me, an American who’s lived in Israel for 12 years. I thought the question was a little absurd.

“Bush of course.” I said.

“What!” was the answer I received followed by an expletive. I tried to explain over his protests but since it seemed to me that what I was saying was going in one ear and out the other, I put it in terms as simply as I could.

“George Bush has allowed us to fight the terrorists in the best way possible, by going after them on their own turf. Also, we’ve built a wall almost to completion, ending the daily attacks on our civilians. As a matter of fact, incidents of terror today are few and far between.”

“But Joe” he said, “Bush has destroyed any credibility as an even-handed arbiter and has allowed the destruction of the peace process by giving Sharon a free hand in the territories.”

Now I understood. Israel shouldn’t have carte blanche to do what it feels is necessary to protect its citizens from being slaughtered in cold blood – in the hope that the United States will gain the good graces of the Palestinians. It is a ridiculous argument, one I had heard many times before, though not from a fellow Jew. Most of the people who propagate this idea are European leftists who are no friends of Israel.

Think about the reasoning behind it. One man in history jumps to mind. Neville Chamberlain, prime minister of Great Britain, bargained away Czechoslovakia to Hitler thinking it would bring “peace in our time.” It didn’t. Have we learned nothing?

Joseph Yudin
(Via E-Mail)

Editor’s Note: Mr. Yudin is an occasional op-ed contributor to The Jewish Press.



Kerry’s Abortion Stance

Reader Moshe Resnick accuses John Kerry of straddling the fence on the abortion issue. (Letters, Oct. 22). On the one hand, says Mr. Resnick, Kerry is a practicing Catholic who believes that abortion is morally wrong. On the other hand, Kerry believes in legalized abortion, saying, “I can’t take what is an article of faith for me and legislate it for someone who doesn’t share that article of faith, whether they be agnostic, atheist, Jew, Protestant, whatever.”

Mr. Resnick asserts that Kerry has forgotten about the commandment ‘Thou shalt not murder,’ and that he ignores the fact that the Ten Commandments were given to the Jewish people. Mr. Resnick thus assumes that Judaism considers abortion murder. Furthermore, he implies that a pro-choice public policy is inconsistent with Judaism. Finally, he believes that one cannot hold a personal moral opinion while simultaneously supporting public policy that conflicts with that opinion.

Mr. Resnick is wrong on all of these counts. Judaism does not categorize abortion as murder. While generally proscribing abortion, Jewish law is considerably more liberal than Catholicism on the matter. The fact that Judaism demands abortion in the case of danger to the mother’s life, while Catholic doctrine opposes abortion in that instance, should in itself lead Jewish anti-choicers to reconsider their position. However, halacha does not necessarily limit the right to abortion to such an extreme case. With the proviso that every case must be submitted to a competent Orthodox rabbi for consideration, I will cite two instances where leading rabbis permitted abortion absent a danger to the mother’s life.

Rabbi Eliezer Waldenberg, in his responsa work Tzitzis Eliezer, rules that if a fetus is ill with Tay-Sachs, abortion would be permitted even in the seventh month of pregnancy. In a much earlier ruling, Rabbi Yaakov Emden held that abortion might be allowed as late as the fifth month when the pregnancy resulted from an adulterous union. He reasoned that the adverse psychological impact that the birth would have had upon the mother was sufficient reason to permit an abortion.

In neither of these cases was the mother’s life in danger. It is quite evident that if abortion were tantamount to murder, one could not contemplate destroying a fetus afflicted with Tay-Sachs. The same is true of a fetus conceived by an act of adultery.

I believe that Jews would not be well-served if Roe v. Wade were overturned. Even within Judaism itself, there are many opinions. Do we want the government to tell us when abortion is permitted and when it is forbidden? Would Mr. Resnick risk the possibility that the Catholic view will hold sway, so that a Jewish woman needing a life-saving abortion would be unable to procure one legally? I am unwilling to take that risk.

In light of the above, John Kerry is absolutely correct in splitting his private beliefs from his public stance on abortion. Our moral laws are founded upon the principles of Judaism and Christianity, and where there is broad accord, we have the right to legislate based upon that consensus. For example, all major religious streams concur that theft is wrong, and it is proper to create laws that make theft illegal. However, there is no consensus when it comes to abortion, and we are best served by laws that leave this weighty decision to individuals, not to government.

Avi Goldstein
Far Rockaway, NY


U.T.J. And Gay Clergy: A Clarification

We were saddened by your negative editorial response to the position taken by the Union for Traditional Judaism on ending our support of a shul we had nurtured from inception (‘The Jewish Week and Homosexual Clergy,’ Oct. 8). The editorial quoted heavily from an article in the Jewish Week that had a definite subjective slant to it, and we’d like to respond to that article and your editorial.

Controversy was the last thing we wanted a week before Rosh Hashanah. But it was only then that the Union for Traditional Judaism learned secondhand that a congregation we had founded, funded, nurtured and guided had invited an outspoken advocate of homosexuality to occupy its High Holiday pulpit. We were stunned. For us, this was not a matter of gender issues. It was a question of fidelity to Jewish law. Had the congregation invited an activist on behalf of interfaith marriage or eating on Yom Kippur we would have been no less shocked.

We refer, of course, to the recent incident involving the Montauk Minyan in Brooklyn, New York that invited well known gay activist Rabbi Steven Greenberg, an Orthodox musmach, (ordained rabbi), to serve as guest rabbi for Rosh Hashanah.

The U.T.J. found itself propelled into a hapless quandary. Our desire to avoid embarrassing any individual or community was now in conflict with our responsibility to defend the integrity of Jewish law. Since the minyan did not feel it could rescind the invitation, it was with heartache that we dissolved the relationship we had lovingly created with them.

While some may charge that our decision was politically incorrect, we believe that it was true to Jewish tradition. We remained consistent in our loyalty to religious and moral integrity as well as ahavat Yisrael (love of our fellow Jews). As stated in the U.T.J.’s Declaration of Principles (see www.utj.org) “Both as it pertains to our relationship with God and to our relationship with others, halacha is binding upon us even when it conflicts with popular trends in contemporary society.”

We believe that all Jews, regardless of their personal lifestyles, should be welcome in synagogues to pray, learn, and come closer to God and Torah. Our issue with the Montauk Minyan was its choice of a rabbi who had publicly broken with halacha in print and on screen. We would have made the same decision had the rabbi they had chosen openly supported defying any Jewish law.

There are those who might argue that advocates of intermarriage or other ritual infractions are not the same as advocates of homosexuality in that the other religious breaches are matters of convenience, conviction or appetite, whereas homosexuality is genetically locked-in. They believe that some people are simply born gay and, accordingly, have no more choice in determining their sexual practice than they do in selecting their eye color.

Judaism would disagree. It recognizes that some people may be more strenuously challenged by certain kinds of impulses than are other people, but it believes that human beings are ultimately able to meet those challenges and control such drives (Genesis 4:7). No one underestimates the difficulty of doing so, but the Torah is based on the conviction that when it comes to behavior, God has invested us with the ability to choose (Deuteronomy 30:19).

Science concurs. Genetics do not fully explain homosexual drives. There are other contributing factors. Moreover, no evidence indicates that people with such impulses are less capable of controlling them than those with strong heterosexual drives who do not find a mate. It is a painful struggle. But no one has the right to declare the forbidden permitted and then expect to occupy a traditional pulpit. A person who falls short of keeping core Torah values may still be seen in the broader context of the good things he does, but he forfeits the privilege of speaking on behalf of halachic Judaism.

The U.T.J. did not seek a conflict over homosexuality and the pulpit. We would have preferred to handle this incident discreetly in order to limit embarrassment to anyone. But having been swept into a difficult set of circumstances, we have done the best we can and hope that all parties concerned will come to understand and respect our decision.

Rabbi Bruce Ginsburg, President
Rabbi Ronald D. Price, Executive Vice President
The Union for Traditional Judaism

Letters To The Editor

Friday, December 19th, 2003

A Vote For Bush

George Rubin’s letter last week (“Second Term For W?”) responding to Craig Bergman (“Don’t Prove Baker Right,” Letters, October 31) was way off the mark. I was taken with the Bergman letter’s reasoned appeal to Jewish voters to abandon their blind obeisance to the Democratic Party. He did not, as Rubin charged, call on the Jewish community “to automatically support President Bush.” All he suggested was that American Jews give due
weight to the extraordinary support President Bush has given Israel.

Actually, I would personally have gone further than Bergman, given the dreadful record of the Clinton years. Does anyone really think that President Clinton was a stronger supporter of Israel than Bush has proven to be? How could anyone argue that Israel would be in a better position today had Al Gore been elected president?

True, as Rubin writes, President Bush has refused to move the American embassy in Israel to Jerusalem and supports a Palestinian state. But Bill Clinton followed the same policies and actively pressured Israel to relinquish a good part “of its historic homeland,” something Bush has not done.

As for Rubin’s claim that President Bush is not allowing Israel to defend its citizens, he has to be kidding. What about Bush’s constant comment that Israel has the right to defend itself? It was President Clinton’s ramming Oslo down Israel’s throat that he should be criticizing. Oslo insisted on Israeli concessions without the elimination of terror. On the other hand, the “road
map” requires the elimination of Hamas as a precondition to moving toward a Palestinian state.

Irving Melner
New York, NY



Ditto On Bush

I intend to vote for George W. Bush next year no matter whom the Democratic nominee turns out to be, because of Bush?s Middle East policy. I don’t see how anyone concerned for the safety of Israel could imagine any one of the current Democratic presidential hopefuls improving on Mr. Bush’s rock solid support for Israel and its efforts to combat terrorism.

Having said this, I do agree with George Rubin’s criticism of Bush’s refusal to move the American embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Yes, it is largely symbolic, and it certainly not as significant an issue now as it was when President Clinton was dumping all over Israel. However, symbolism is still important and, after all, the relocation of the embassy is U.S. law.

More troublesome is Bush’s support of a Palestinian state. He is the first American president to explicitly call for a Palestinian state even before negotiations begin. However, a Palestinian state has certainly been implicit in the policy of every American presidents since the 1970′s – at least Bush has effectively conditioned it on iron-clad guarantees of security for Israel.

Chaim Weisbrod
(Via E-Mail)


Where Am I?

In defense of those whose behavior Beth Schindelman (Letters, Nov. 7) found deplorable at a Sukkos concert: Perhaps they mistakenly thought they were at a wedding. At a number of weddings I’ve attended in the last few years, I mistakenly thought I was at a concert.

Mark Sodden
(Via E-Mail)


No Jewish Hero

I read with interest Arnold Fine’s “American Jewish Military Heroes” in the Nov. 14 issue of your excellent newspaper. I think it’s important to point out to the Jewish public that there have always been Jews who fought for the United States and that many rose to high positions in the armed forces.

On the other hand, a paper such as The Jewish Press, which serves the Orthodox community, must be careful as to whom to include in articles about Jewish heroes. Mr. Fine includes Maj. General Maurice Rose as a Jewish military hero. While Gen. Rose was born Jewish (his father was a leading Jewish layman in Denver), it is now generally accepted that Gen. Rose chose
to hide his Jewish background. And though it seems he did not undergo a conversion ceremony to Christianity, he listed that religion as his faith on all his army paperwork. Both his marriages were to non-Jewish partners, and he is buried underneath a cross in Europe. This man is hardly a Jewish hero!

An excellent new biography of Gen. Rose by Steven Ossad and Don Marsh discusses this aspect of Rose’s life.

Zalman Alpert
Reference Librarian
Mendel Gottesman Library
Yeshiva University


Distressed By Infertility Coverage

I am greatly disappointed that The Jewish Press has chosen to address the problem of infertility by regularly featuring the “Puah” column. What bothers me is the simplistic manner in which the problem is portrayed. Believe me, it isn’t so easy. If this column is meant to raise the awareness of the community, why isn’t it more honest? Not everybody becomes pregnant
by going to Puah, I assure you.

How about discussing the emotional roller coaster infertile couples ride every day? How our lives revolve around injections, painful procedures and intense decision-making? How we need our families to respect our privacy and love us anyway?

Infertility is a very hard nisayon. Unfortunately, it is a publicly known nisayon because we can’t hide the reality that we don’t have children. And that makes it more difficult, because we are constantly getting people’s unsolicited opinions and rude comments - not to mention “hellos” to our stomachs, not our faces.

I would like to see The Jewish Press invite groups like ATIME and Bonai Olam to participate in your columns so that klal Yisrael can become more sensitive to this heart-wrenching situation.

Sara Cohn
(Via E-Mail)

EDITOR’S RESPONSE: We fully understand – and are sympathetic to – the concerns you raise. The decision to feature positive stories was an editorial one on our part, made in the hope of offering encouragement to infertile couples. We have asked other organizations to participate in our growing coverage of infertility in the Jewish community, and hope to begin including their input shortly. And we invite readers to write us about their experiences, good and bad, for possible publication.


Mitzvot At The Expense Of Others

The beautifully written ‘On Our Own’ column by Cheryl Kupfer in the Oct. 31 issue of The Jewish Press touched upon some profound thoughts about collective ethics, responsibility, dignity and integrity. What does the Almighty really expect of us? He expects us, as individuals and as collective members of the community, to do mitzvot and behave in accordance with
Torah teachings.

If the Jewish community is to be collectively judged on Rosh Hashanah, the community then has an obligation to optimize “community mitzvot.” These are maximized when everyone is engaged in an activity to benefit his or her family and benefit the community. This does not include performing a mitzvah at someone else’s expense, nor does it include having exorbitant
weddings to display affluence while Jewish institutions are in need.

Adults have a role to play in accordance with their innate ability and education, which includes time to learn Torah - but only after they provide for their own parnossah. Having women work at multiple jobs, with young children at home in their care, while their husbands sit and learn all day and live on charity or support from grandparents is doing a mitzvah at someone else’s expense. Not everyone is an illui or talmid chacham.

Persons gifted with a Torah mind and having the right midot deserve support by the community because they will learn and teach from the roots of our faith. Others gifted in other endeavors have an obligation to improve themselves and prepare to participate in the secular commercial society in order to engage in a livelihood to support their families and community
institutions without expecting assistance from others.

I do not chose professional services because the practitioner has completed shas three times. I choose on the basis of competence and reputation and sometimes price. An individual has the obligation to be the best he or she can be in the service of the community and to serve the community ethically and responsibly. In this way we can maximize “community mitzvot” and
enhance a Torah environment by supporting our own families rather than burdening the grandparents, giving tzedakah that we have earned ourselves, and supporting those gifted individuals who will teach Torah to the next generation.

Sidney Krimsky
Brookline, MA


A Way For Singles To Meet

I’m a single who became Torah observant several years ago while in my late 30s, after unfortunately paying almost no attention to Yiddishkeit. So though I’m in no position to offer any advice or criticism regarding the present singles dilemma, there is one very simple potential solution that I haven’t come across: I have not heard of anyone designating one of the evenings of shevah brachos for inviting primarily (though not exclusively) single friends.

I can’t think of any downside to this, and if finances are a concern I imagine that most of the singles themselves would be more than glad to cover their cost. Having a shadchan on hand to facilitate introductions would also be very helpful.

Neal Kantor
(Via E-Mail)


Dr. Stern Misses The Mark

I think that Dr. Stern incorrectly assumes all singles have dozens of dates and many options as to whom they meet, and therefore anyone who is still single must be so by his or her own doing. There are many singles that do not have all those options. While the shidduch clubs that he mentions are an excellent idea, the fact is that a lot more is talked about than done, and very few people are actually set up by them. Not to mention that most of the ideas that come out of these shidduch meetings are nothing more than wild guesses from people who have little experience in matching people up.

Shadchanim are blessed with abundant lists of girls’ names, but with just a handful of boys’ names, so it is hard for them to actually set anyone up. In the yeshivish communities, singles events, mixers and Shabattons are non existent. The shidduch system basically leaves us begging for suggestions from everyone we know, and even from people we don’t know, and then waiting for the phone to ring.

Dr. Stern’s assessment of the situation stems from his obvious misunderstanding of the problem.

Tzipora Krieger
(Via E-Mail)


Enough Already!

I think I represent several hundred, if not several thousand, readers when I respectfully request that you stop printing the back-and-forth between Dr. Stern and the host of singles and other readers who take issue with his assertions.

The exchanges in your Letters section have become impossible to follow. It’s like a tennis match, only each player hits the ball once a week. By the time the third or fourth volley is exchanged, nobody remembers the minutiae of a letter printed last month. To read a letter in which someone refers to specific passages in previous letters – which themselves were written in response to previous letters – leaves this reader (and many others, I’m sure) impatient, frustrated, and lost. I don’t have enough room on my coffee table to keep the last five issues of the paper on hand for reference.

If someone expresses an opinion in a letter to the editor, other readers have every right to respond. But the original writer need not respond to the response. Trading counter-arguments works in a debate format, not in a weekly publication.

Chaim Michaelson
(Via E-Mail)


Is The Jewish Press Proud Of Naomi Ragen?

I count myself as an opponent of many of Rabbi Chaim Seidler-Feller’s views on Israel and
the Middle East. But I am afraid that some Jews, like Naomi Ragen (“Is Richard Joel Still ‘Proud’ of Chaim Seidler-Feller?” Jewish Press, Nov. 14), who share my political views have crossed the line and are committing a terrible averah (sin), not only against Rabbi Seidler-Feller, but against the Jewish people.

As a member of the ‘Jewish right-of-center,’ I am sickened by the need of those with whom I
agree politically to resort to hateful speech and character assassination against their political
opponents. These attempts to dehumanize opponents (and, yes, it happens on the left, too) not
only represents the worst sort of lashon hara, but they weaken the credibility of our political
positions.

First, Ms. Ragen shamelessly attacks Rabbi Seidler-Feller as a Jew, mostly with hearsay and
innuendo (most of it untrue, but that is for another letter). I have known him for 15 years, so let me tell you some things about him:

He is a deeply committed and learned Orthodox Jew.

Zionism has been part of his self-definition his whole life. (If you knew his parents, you would
know what I mean).

He visits Israel at least twice a year, rarely to engage in any political activity, but rather to study Jewish texts and visit his family there.

He speaks Hebrew exclusively in his home to his children, so that they will grow not only to love Israel, but to feel comfortable being and living there.

While he has provided forums to Palestinian spokespeople, whom I detest, he has also provided a platform for the likes of Yoram Hazony, Dennis Prager, Shlomo Riskin and Alan Dershowitz - all prominent defenders of Israel.

He has led hundreds of college students to Israel on birthright programs, even during the
worst of times.

He has brought thousands of Jewish kids back to their Jewish roots as the UCLA Hillel director, many of whom also disagree with his political views.

He is about the most gentle person I have ever met.

None of the above excuses the widely-reported violent action toward Ms. Neuwirth. But a couple of items about the incident need to be made known in any fair account of the incident (Ms. Ragen insists that she “likes to be fair” – especially with another Jew):

Seidler-Feller was not chatting with the Palestinian protesters; he had approached them in
order to challenge them (“What do you mean Zionism equals racism?”).

The “upcoming event with Sari Nusseibeh” that he was discussing with them (which Ms.
Neuwirth felt compelled to disrupt) was in fact a dialogue with Sari Nusseibeh and Ami Ayalon, the former head of the Shin Bet – a fact that Ms. Ragen conveniently omitted (I suspect that she and Ms. Neuwirth consider Ayalon, and the other three former Shin Bet directors who disagree with them, “capos” as well).

Eyewitnesses with whom I have spoken (in her quest for “fairness” did Ms. Ragen speak to any witnesses?) have told me that Ms. Neuwirth, who has previously harassed the rabbi, inserted herself in this discussion shouting invectives at him – including “You are worse than a capo!” At that point, Seidler-Feller reacted physically.

“Capo!” Is there anything more hateful that one Jew can call another? Do you think Ms.
Neuwirth knew (did Ms. Ragen know?) that Seidler-Feller lost grandparents in the Shoah?
(Can you imagine how deeply this has affected his psyche?) Do you think that Ms. Neuwirth realized (does Ms. Ragen realize?) that, in Israel, calling a Jew a “capo” is considered “hate speech,” punishable as a felony in its own right? Among those who have piled on to Rabbi Seidler-Feller, including Ms. Ragen, where is their outrage about what this woman screamed?

The fact is, both parties probably share blame in this matter. (The L.A. city attorney seems to
agree, since he is sending them both to an anger management course.) Several news reports have stated, however, that Seidler-Feller has repeatedly attempted to apologize to Ms. Neuwirth. But Ms. Neuwirth refuses to accept his apology or to accept responsibility in her own right – a fact that Ms. Ragen fails to mention. She - and others like Ms. Ragen – would rather exploit the incident, not only to silence Rabbi Seidler-Feller, but to destroy him and his family.

Rabbi Seidler-Feller’s political views are certainly the subject of fair criticism. And his
physical reaction to Ms. Neuwirth’s taunts cannot be defended. But much of the invective, including Ms. Ragen’s, that has been spewed at the rabbi’s expense represents the worst form of lashon hara, and only contributes to sinat chinam that our people can little afford today.

“I was one of those awful people who shouted at Yitzhak Rabin and called him a traitor. I stood behind the barricades, held up my placard and screamed: ‘Boged.’ … [A year later] I sat down on the cold stone fence opposite his grave, and I thought: The dead can’t hear our pleas for forgiveness or see our tears, only the living. And when I finally got up to face a day of fasting, prayer and hope for atonement, I understood for the first time the devastating finality of the words ‘too late.’ “

Those words were written by Naomi Ragen in 1996 (still published on her website,
www.naomiragen.com). It is too bad she has not learned her own lesson.

David Eisner
New York, NY

Editor’s Note: Mr. Eisner is a Jewish activist and the CEO of a financial services
technology company in Manhattan.




The Problem With Brooklyn Joe’s Views

I grant Joseph and Hadassah Lieberman of Brooklyn their socially conservative viewpoints
(“Brooklyn’s Joe Lieberman Answers a Skeptic,” Letters, Nov. 14), but I must say that I believe there is a difference between how a person votes in the Congress and his personal social outlook. There are those of us like myself who do not believe government should be in the business of legislating morality.

Abortion offers a good example of why legislating morality is a problem. I don’t believe abortion is the right or moral option but neither do I believe that the government should make that decision for others. There are, in fact, significant differences between Christian and Jewish views on abortion, and Christian conservatives would, as they have with the new partial-birth abortion ban, likely not make an exception for instances in which the life of the mother is in danger, at odds with most rabbinical authorities.

The point is not to make a case for abortion but simply to say that because there is not, in fact,
a common view on the issue, it is better left to individual choice, just like religion itself. Joseph
and Hadassah can still promote their views on abortion in any way they want, by picketing
abortion clinics, publishing books, or speaking to expectant mothers about adoption (probably the best option). Much the same argument applies to those who would outlaw all pornography; can Joseph draw a universal distinction between what is pornography and what is art? Perhaps in his own mind he can. But why should everyone else be forced to conclude exactly as he does?

Where exactly does the legislation of morality end? Would Joseph favor restriction on free speech as an attempt to stamp out lashon hara? Do those of us who would oppose such restriction help to promote lashon hara?

Social conservatives often mistake principled opposition by conflating those who oppose
legislating morality with those who favor committing the perceived immoral acts. Being
pro-choice is equated with being pro-abortion. A vote against outlawing pornography is cast as evidence that a legislator promotes pornography, an especially bizarre charge to throw at Senator Lieberman, since he has been at the forefront of the movement against movies with graphic sex and violence and obscene music lyrics.

A vote against public display of the Ten Commandments (an issue on which many conservatives agree with liberals) is cast as a vote for atheism. And when it is cast in terms of party politics, it is hypocritical, because there are certainly many immoral practices conservative Republicans would not legislate against when it is clear that legislation could make a difference. One need look no further than the links between Republicans and companies like Enron, who used the tax loopholes and corporate welfare favored by most Republicans to cheat their employees out of billions.

History is replete with attempts to legislate morality that have often been abject failures.
Prohibition was the most infamous example. Many drug laws are also failures, which, rather than setting a moral tone, simply clog up the judicial system or encourage teenagers to rebel. The effect of morality legislation is often to make certain immoral behavior more desirable among those resentful of being forced to act in a certain way when they would, perhaps, be less resentful and more amenable to moral action if they were the ones making the choice.

The founding fathers who wrote the First Amendment were certainly not promoters of vice,
but they understood that the freedoms of expression, speech and religion were intrinsic to
free and open society. No one is keeping Joseph and Hadassah of Brooklyn from living their lives, speaking their minds, or raising their children as they see fit. But if they insist on forcing their social views on others through legislation, there may well come a day when their ability to make those choices is inhibited.

Michael L. Brenner
New York, NY 

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