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February 19, 2017 / 23 Shevat, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘controversy’

The Trump/Khan Controversy

Wednesday, August 3rd, 2016

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump can hardly be faulted for wanting to respond to the sharp attacks directed his way at the Democratic National Convention by the father of a Muslim U. S. Army officer, Captain Humayun Khan, an American hero killed in Iraq while trying to save some of his men.

Yet it is also clear that Mr. Trump could have chosen a more appropriate way of doing so. To be sure, he did not resort to out-and-out invective but, as we note below, what he did come up with sounded like a two-part non-sequitur.

Be that as it may, it would be a mistake to allow the media frenzy that followed to deflect attention from what should be a sober discussion of Mr. Trump’s proposed policy of temporarily barring Muslim immigration in order to keep out the small percentage of terrorists expected to sneak in with the flow.

It was to discredit that position that Mr. Khan was invited by the Democratic National Committee to address the convention in the first place.

Here, in part, is what Mr. Khan told the Democratic conventioneers:


If it was up to Donald Trump, he [Captain Khan] never would have been in America. Donald Trump consistently smears the character of Muslims. He disrespects other minorities – women, judges, even his own party leadership. He vows to build walls and ban us from this country.

Donald Trump: You are asking Americans to trust you with our future. Let me ask you: Have you even read the U.S. Constitution? I will gladly lend you my copy. In this document, look for the words “liberty” and “equal protection of law.”

Have you ever been to Arlington Cemetery? Go look at the graves of the brave patriots who died defending America – you will see all faiths, genders, and ethnicities.

You have sacrificed nothing and no one.


The immediate response from Mr. Trump was as odd as it was mystifying. Thus, he made note of the fact that Mr. Khan’s wife, Ghazala, Captain Khan’s mother, stood by her husband as he delivered his remarks but said nothing: “If you look at his wife, she was standing there. She had nothing to say. She probably, maybe she wasn’t allowed to have anything to say.”

Regarding Mr. Khan’s statement that Mr. Trump “sacrificed nothing or no one,” Mr. Trump insisted he had made “a lot of sacrifices,” elaborating that he had “created thousands and thousands of jobs” and “built great structures.”

As noted above, lost in all of this is the issue of putting a temporary stop to Muslim immigration in order to keep out any terrorists who might be among them. And with all respect, we suggest Mr. Khan’s remarks clarified nothing in that regard.

For one thing, we understand the Trump position as acknowledging that while a temporary ban means potential patriots like Captain Khan would never make it into the country – to our detriment, to be sure – such a loss would be in pursuance of an overall policy of keeping terrorists out.

Moreover, Mr. Khan, a Harvard-trained lawyer, is just wrong about the constitutional imperatives he invoked, since Mr. Trump’s plan, whatever its merits or demerits, is not outside the American experience.

Thus, in a 1977 opinion, the Supreme Court acknowledged that “In the exercise of its broad power over immigration and naturalization, Congress regularly makes rules that would be unacceptable if applied to citizens.”

An 1899 decision upheld the exclusion of Chinese laborers based upon their nationality in a “Chinese Exclusion” case and has never been overturned. The Supreme Court also has never invalidated immigration classifications, even ones based on race.

Editorial Board

The Times Detects A ‘Strong Odor’ In Williamsburg Controversy

Wednesday, June 8th, 2016

We find it ironic that the controversy over separate women’s swimming time in a Williamsburg, Brooklyn public pool broke even as Americans are grappling with the issue of transgender rights.

In large part, much of the media insist that gender is a state of mind rather than a function of genitalia – to the point that a transgender person must be allowed to use a bathroom appropriate to the gender he/she identifies with rather than one appropriate to the genitalia he/she was born with.

But some of those same folks – in this case the editorial board of The New York Times – find it off-putting and unconstitutional for a municipal authority to provide a far lesser accommodation to Orthodox Jewish women seeking to observe traditional notions of modesty when swimming.

In a March 25 editorial titled “Transgender Law Makes North Carolina Pioneer in Bigotry,” the Times condemned North Carolina for “passing an appalling, unconstitutional bill that bars transgender people from using public restrooms that match their gender identity….”

A few weeks later, in its April 18 issue, the Times, in an editorial titled “Transgender Bathroom Hysteria, Cont’d.,” described reaction to the North Carolina statute:


After the withering backlash against North Carolina for passing a discriminatory law…it would stand to reason that lawmakers and governors in other states would think twice before peddling bills that dictate which restrooms transgender people can use.

And yet, state legislators in Tennessee, Kansas, South Carolina, and Minnesota are pushing similar absurd measures….

Laws to address non-issues [like the need to restrict transgenders] can have serious repercussions. The hastily passed bill in North Carolina, which said people must use public bathrooms based on the gender on their birth certificate and prohibited local governments from passing non-discrimination ordinances, has been roundly condemned by corporate leaders, civil rights groups, and religious leaders….

If lawmakers who might want to follow North Carolina’s example aren’t moved by appeals to equality and human rights, they should ponder this reality: The price of bigotry is becoming quite steep.


Fast forward five weeks. In late May the New York City Parks Department announced it was going to end a policy of setting aside several hours a week for “women’s swim” at a public pool in Williamsburg. The sessions were instituted about 20 years ago, without much fanfare or incident, as an accommodation to Orthodox Jewish women who, due to their religious beliefs, would not swim together with men.

But someone apparently filed a complaint with the New York City Commission on Human Rights claiming men were being discriminated against. The commission notified the Parks Department that the swimming arrangement was in violation of anti-discrimination laws and had to be ended. The Parks Department agreed, but after New York State Assemblyman Dov Hikind intervened the department withdrew a statement announcing the end of the program and said the future of the women’s swim program would be reviewed.

This, in a June 1 editorial, is what the great advocates of transgender choice on the Times editorial board had to say concerning the Parks Department’s about-face on the Williamsburg pool controversy:


Four times a week this summer – Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays from 9:15 to 11 a.m., and Sunday afternoons from 2:45 to 4:45 – a public swimming pool on Bedford Avenue in Brooklyn will be temporarily unmoored from the laws of New York City and the Constitution, and commonly held principles of fairness and equal access.

The pool will instead answer to the religious convictions of one neighborhood group…. Orthodox Jewish beliefs demand modesty in dress, and a strict separation of the sexes, and those are the beliefs to which the taxpayer-owned-and-operated Metropolitan Recreation Center will yield…. The city’s human rights law is quite clear that public accommodation like a swimming pool cannot exclude people based on sex. It allows for exemptions “based on bon fide considerations of public policy,” but this case –with its strong odor of religious intrusion into a secular place – does not seem bona fide at all. [Italics added]


Tellingly, the Times did not cite a single one legal authority supporting its legal conclusions.

And although no one seems to have protested the women’s swim time for some 20 years, the Times followed up on its offensive allusion – one “redolent of anti-Semitic smears,” as our op-ed contributor Jonathan Tobin puts it on page 8 of this week’s issue – with this dripping bit of angry sarcasm:


[T]he summer sun shines equally on the Orthodox and the non-Orthodox, and that plus the New York City humidity make everybody uncomfortable and hot under the collar…. There is no just way to tell a sweaty Brooklynite on a Sunday afternoon that he should be ejected onto Bedford Avenue because one religious group doesn’t want him in the pool…. Let those who cannot abide public, secular rules at a public, secular pool find their own private place to swim when and with whom they see fit.


And all of this says nothing about a glaring omission in the Times’s take on the matter: Although there are many examples around the country of Muslim women being provided with the same accommodation in public pools as the Orthodox women of Williamsburg, the Times completely ignored that in its denunciation of the Williamsburg program.

To be sure, the Times in 2008 reported on a controversy at Harvard over its having set separate gym hours for Muslim women. But it did not editorialize about it.

Nor did it editorialize about the city of Toronto’s various accommodations of Muslim women – but it did carry a giddily positive news report about that program, headlined “In Toronto, a Neighborhood in Despair Transforms Into a Model of Inclusion.” Times reporter Dan Levin wrote:


Her face framed by a yellow hijab, Idil Hassan watched her young daughter splash with other children at the Regent Park Aquatic Center, an architectural jewel of glass, wood and chlorine in the middle of Canada’s largest housing project.

The center has given Ms. Hassan, a 34-year-old nurse, the ability to do something more than just watch her child: she, too, can join in.

On Saturday evenings, mechanized screens shroud the center’s expansive glass walls to create a session that allows only women and girls to relax in the hot tub, swim laps or careen down the water slide, a rare bit of “me” time treasured by many of the neighborhood’s Muslim residents.

“I wouldn’t come before because my religion doesn’t allow women to be seen uncovered by men,” said Ms. Hassan, a Somali immigrant. “It’s really helpful to have that day to be ourselves. I even learned to swim.”


As far as we can tell, only the Orthodox Jewish women of Williamsburg have been targeted by the Times’s editorial writers over this sort of thing.

What is it with the Times and Orthodox Jews?

Editorial Board

ADL Joins Anti-Netanyahu Team, Says Cancel Speech to Congress

Sunday, February 8th, 2015

Oooh, another bit of drama in the ‘Obama-Bombing-Bibi Soap Opera’ …

The White House has started bringing out the heavy artillery: The New York-based Anti-Defamation League is the latested to be recruited to pressure Israel’s Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu into canceling his address to the U.S. Congress on March 3.

Yes. It’s another round of messing with Israeli politics, cloaked in the guise of harassing a prime minister over a speech to Congress. But it’s really about trying to rally enough bad blood to make Netanyahu look bad to people who know he’s probably one of the few in Israel who actually knows how to lead, mistakes notwithstanding.

Ah — and lest we forget — it’s also about trying to distract the American public from that other thing: the Iranian nuclear threat that’s being carefully hidden away in a pretty package with a shiny pink bow. It’s about to be sealed in an agreement between Tehran and world powers led by President Barack Obama at the end of March. Obama’s not very happy that Netanyahu is planning to talk about that with Congressional lawmakers.

Somehow ADL national director Abraham Foxman was persuaded to tell The Jewish Daily Forward that the controversy over the address by Netanyahu – who was invited to deliver the speech by the Speaker of House, John Boehner, months ago – is “unhelpful.” Foxman was quoted as saying the Netanyahu should stay home, according to the Feb. 7 edition of the UK-based Huffington Post.

(Frankly, Harriet, how on earth did the UK get into this? Oh, right — they get into anything that has Netanyahu involved — forgot. Carry on…)

“One needs to restart, and it needs a mature adult statement that this was not what we intended,” Foxman said in the Forward interview published Friday. “It has been hijacked by politics. Now is a time to recalibrate, restart and find a new platform and new timing to take away the distractions.”

Foxman said he “stands with Israel” and its concerns over the rapidly closing U.S.-Iran deal on Tehran’s nuclear development activities. However, he said Netanyahu’s upcoming appearance before the Congress has become “a circus.” Instead, he suggested the prime minister postpone the speech until after Israel’s March 17 elections. Or make his case at the AIPAC (American Israel Public Affairs Committee) conference, scheduled the same week as his address at Congress.

Of course, the scheduled date of the AIPAC conference was the reason Netanyahu moved the date of the speech back to March anyway, even though it was closer to elections. He only travels once that way.

This writer finds it interesting that the White House staff has been so successful at recruiting nearly every major American Jewish organization into trying to pressure the leader of the State of Israel on a matter seriously affecting Israel’s national security.

Were the situation reversed, one wonders how the American people would react if the Kremlin were to play the same games to stop President Barack Obama from addressing the United Nations Security Council at a special session, for instance, or even the Duma in Moscow on a matter of equal gravity affecting American national security?

Another question might be to consider which threats, if any, were implied or outright tossed to haul the ADL on to this bandwagon.

Most of the American Jewish organizations tangled up in this shameful campaign of harassment benefit from at least some government funding for community assistance programs. As such, they are enjoined to avoid any form of political involvement or they lose that funding instantly.

So many questions … so few answers … so little time …

Rachel Levy

Biden Skips Town & Netanyahu Speech to Congress

Saturday, February 7th, 2015

U.S. Vice President Joe Biden is skipping town on March 3, and avoiding the proverbial ‘tempest in a teapot’ he fears will occur when Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu addresses a rare joint session of Congress.

It is the role of the vice president, as president of the Senate to attend joint meetings of the Congress. But Biden did miss one other session, however, in 2011, according to the White House.

Biden’s office confirmed to NBC News on Friday that he will be traveling abroad at the time of Netanyahu’s speech, but could not say where or why. As NBC News journalist Steve Benen observed, “It’s hardly unreasonable to wonder if this is the diplomatic equivalent if ‘I’m washing my hair – somewhere.’”

“We are not ready to announce details of his trip yet, and normally our office wouldn’t announce this early, but the planning process has been underway for a while,” a spokesperson for the office explained to Politico.com.

Democratic Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said Thursday she was “seriously considering going” and that it was her “intention to go” although she was still her “hope that the event will not take place. There’s serious unease.”

Three other prominent House Democrats – Reps. John Lewis of Georgia, G.K. Butterfield of North Carolina and Earl Blumenauer of Oregon – plan to skip the session.

Last Wednesday seven Jewish Democrats met with Israeli Ambassador Ron Dermer to discuss the controversy, caused in part because the speech was arranged with Dermer by GOP House Speaker John Boehner several months ago, without consulting the White House.

The proximity of the session to Israel’s national elections is also a concern – but far more threatening to the White House, apparently, is the proximity of the speech to the deadline in talks with world leaders for an agreement with Iran on its nuclear development program.

Israel’s prime minister has openly opposed the wide-ranging agreement being discussed by the U.S. and world leaders with Iran, which grants Tehran far more flexibility with its uranium enrichment activities than reasonable or safe, according to military experts.

Hana Levi Julian

Philip Berg (86), the Kabbalah Centre Rabbi

Tuesday, September 17th, 2013

Rabbi Philip Berg (born Shraga Feivel Gruberger in Brooklyn, in 1927 or 1929), founder of the controversial Los Angeles based Kabbalah Centre, that attracted many movie celebrities to join its ranks, died on Monday at age 86 (or 84).

Rabbi Berg was ordained in 1951, from Yeshiva Torah voDaas

Berg’s Kabbalah Centre introduced a New Age version of Kabbalah, Jewish mysticism, made famous for it promotion of its version of Kabbalah to non-Jewish celebrities. The Kabbalah Center’s assets are believed to be in the many millions of dollars, acquired from donations, selling red bendels (strings), and pocket Zohars.

Primarily based in Los Angeles, the group has centers in 40 countries.

A few years ago, Rabbi Berg suffered a stroke, and his wife Karen Berg, and their two children began to take over running the business.

Rabbi Berg will be buried in Tzfat, Israel.

Jewish Press News Briefs

Arab Donald Duck Tweets for Israel to be ‘Demolished’

Wednesday, August 7th, 2013

An Egyptian radio host who identifies himself as the official voice of Donald Duck on Disney Middle East called on Twitter for Israel to be “demolished.”

The discussion that began Sunday on the Twitter feed of Wael Mansour continued on Tuesday.

“I truly wish #Israel is demolished, I hate Zionism, I have so much hate inside me with every single child they murder or land they seize!” Mansour tweeted Sunday. The tweet followed one that read: “I saw a video of Israeli soldiers brutally arresting a palestinian woman in front of her 3 children coz they seized her home & she objects!” which could explain his Twitter outburst.

Mansour responded to some critics by tweeting: “I don’t know why insulting #Israel & #Zionism is “Anti-Semitic”?! They are just a bunch of Polish/ Ethiopian immigrants roughly 70 years old” and “There are Jews who hate Zionism; does it make them Jews Anti-Jews?! Of course NO! We respect Jews & disrespect Zionism, there’s a difference.”

The Algemeiner called on Disney chairman Bob Iger, who is Jewish, to respond to the controversy. Disney owns the rights to Donald Duck.

Contacted directly via Twitter by the Algemeiner, Mansour told the paper, “The Zionist entity is a racist entity by definition, performing crimes of hate by the power of its criminal law. I stand firm by what I said.”

Mansour said Egypt “dictates an overwhelming Islamic sentiment that happened normally. On the other hand, the Zionist entity is a bunch of immigrants stealing lands and creating a state based on a racist difference.”


By the Law Among Nations, Jerusalem Belongs to Us

Wednesday, May 8th, 2013

Contrary to the claims made by Palestinian leaders, various NGOs, and certain members of the international community, international law fully recognizes the Jewish people’s claim to Jerusalem, where they have historical roots dating back over 3,000 years and have been the largest ethnic group in the city since 1820.

Ernst Frankenstein, a British authority on international law said, for example, that the Jewish people have a right to their ancestral homeland and ancient capital city in Jerusalem based on the fact that the Jewish people never relinquished their historic claims to the area.

Furthermore, Frankenstein claimed that Roman, Byzantine, and other successors lacked a “continuous and undisturbed presence” in Israel that would dispossess the Jewish claim to the land. In fact, the Ottoman Turks, who owned the Land of Israel prior to WWI and the British Mandate, renounced their claim to all of the land of Israel in the Treaty of Lausanne in 1923When the Balfour Declaration was drafted there was no Palestinian “nation.” In 1919, Palestine was a sparsely populated land where Lord Balfour claimed that only 700,000 Arabs lived, of whom a large number migrated within recent history.

In contrast, there were far more Jews in the world in need of a homeland in 1919 than there were Arab residents in Israel and there existed a significant Jewish minority that continued to live in Israel. As the Blackstone Memorial, signed by Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court Melville Fuller, proclaimed in 1891, Israel, which included Jerusalem, is the “inalienable possession” of the Jewish people “from where they were expelled by force.”

The Balfour Declaration was drafted with the goal of establishing a Jewish national home in the Land of Israel. The “civil and religious” rights of the Arabs were to be respected, yet politically, the country was supposed to belong to the Jews. The Balfour Declaration was ingrained into international law at the San Remo Conference. Through San Remo, “The Jewish people have been given the right to establish a home, based on the recognition of their historical connection and the grounds for reconstituting this national home,” Jacques Gauthier, an expert on international law, had explained.

Thus, the Palestine Mandate, which included a united Jerusalem was established with the goal of guiding “towards independence and self-governance those races, peoples or communities who for various reasons are not yet able to stand alone” – in this case the Jewish people – according to J. Stoyanovsky writing in The Mandate for Palestine. Around the same period of time, the international community discussed setting up mandates to assist other nations in similar situations, such as the Armenians, although in their case it wasn’t implemented.

Contrary to Palestinian claims, none of the resolutions passed since the San Remo Conference renounce the Jewish claim to a united Jerusalem. U.N. Resolution 181, although it called for Jerusalem to be an international city, never held any force under international law and it was rejected by the Arab side. Furthermore, the resolution states that a referendum was to be held after 10 years to determine changes to the city’s status; since Jerusalem had a Jewish majority, it was expected that a united Jerusalem was to become a part of Israel after 10 years. Furthermore, U.N. Security Resolution 242, of which all peace negotiations are based on, deliberately makes no mention of Jerusalem and does not call upon Israel to withdraw from all of the territories it captured in 1967. And finally, when Jordan controlled east Jerusalem, Jordan’s annexation of the area was never recognized by the international community; and since that date, Jordan has relinquished all of her claims to Jerusalem.

Thus, Israel has the strongest claim to Jerusalem according to international law.

Visit United with Israel.

Rachel Avraham

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