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April 23, 2014 / 23 Nisan, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘establishment’

Liberty 101: The Principle of Establishment

Wednesday, August 21st, 2013

Developments at home and abroad are forcing Americans to think anew about the meaning of liberty and the proper nature and function of government.  What is important to us, and what must we do to keep it?  How do we change the things that manifestly aren’t working, and are in fact doing us daily harm?

Liberty 101 is a series devoted to discussing these topics.  And the subject for today is what I call the principle of establishment.  Very simply, the principle of establishment recognizes that liberty and the protection of natural rights don’t just happen.  They are not the end-point of unguided trends in human life.  They cannot be claimed as entitlements, on the basis that someone else must then bestir himself to “provide” them to us.  They are elements in a moral, sociopolitical code, which we must actively establish, and which we must arrange, through our own efforts, to protect.

The only reason America started out with our unique Constitution and polity is that we established them.  We took what had been, and deliberately established something new.  To get to the point of having options in that regard, we had to fight a war.  It was by no means “settled” political theory, in anyone’s philosophy, that we had any “right” to do this – i.e., a right that should have bound Great Britain to accede to our wishes.

In the Declaration of Independence, the signers appealed to natural rights – life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness – as the citizen’s moral basis for challenging and limiting government.  But the Declaration is not a statement that these God-given rights confer a “right” to “dissolve the political bonds which have connected” one people with another.  Dissolving our political bonds with Britain was a necessary but essentially mechanical step in the process of establishment.  The Declaration makes it clear that doing that is a choice, one for which the signers and the Continental Congress proposed to take responsibility.

Our Founders had spent at least a decade appealing to king and parliament.  In this process, they suggested that their rights should be binding on the governmental decisions emanating from London.  It didn’t work.

After that, the Founders decided; committed; fought; won; and then established.  The God-given rights enumerated in the Declaration were to be the guiding premise for establishing a new order in the former colonies.

The significance of the establishment principle cannot be overstated.  It is necessary to the installation and preservation of liberty.  If we lose sight of its necessity, we will lose the prospect of liberty.  Liberty is not what our fellows on this earth have the natural urge to accord us.  It is certainly not what government of any kind naturally respects.  It is antithetical to all schemes for collective salvation, whether we are to be saved from sin, inequality, or climate change.  Liberty interferes terribly with ideological messianism, just as it does with the unfettered collection of revenues for complacent governments.

Liberty always – always – has to be deliberately established and hedged about with protections.  It never just emerges, through a process of defensive horse-trading, from anyone’s current arrangements.  Defending liberty is hard enough; establishing it requires being prepared to say “No” at least as much as “Yes,” and even being prepared to kill, where necessary, as much as to die.  It is something we must want badly to win, in the only way that can be effective:  that is, over the objections of the enemy who wants to deny it to us.

The urge to deny liberty to others comes in many forms.  All three of the great monotheistic religions have gone, to differing degrees, through periods in which denial of liberty to others of their faith was a key feature of temporal administration.  (To differing degrees, all three have also identified doctrinal reasons to change course or shift emphasis on this.  Judaism and Christianity, in particular, provided the core of the West’s moral thinking about God-given rights and man’s rights against the state.)

The monotheistic faiths are by no means unique in this regard; the pagan religions of the ancient empires, in the Americas as well as the Eastern hemisphere, were used robustly as a means of subjugating populations.

Up until the last two centuries, governments were almost universally engaged in subjugating their people.  There has been no such pattern as that of government defending the people against the encroachments of religion; governments are invariably, and by nature, the worst offenders.  Indeed, it was precisely through using the powers of government to enforce religious orthodoxies that denial of liberties became institutionalized in, for example,  the Christianity of the Middle Ages and early Renaissance.

We fool ourselves badly, meanwhile, if we think modern collectivist ideologies represent a change from that pattern.  Rather, they are simply the continuation of it: imperial statism and religious authoritarianism in post-Enlightenment clothing.  Jacobinism, Marxism, Fascism, Nazism, Stalinism, Maoism, progressivism, radical “environmentalism”: all have had their essential features in common with the dark spirit of ancient imperialism, the perverted, politicized Christianity of religious wars and Inquisitions, and the radical Islamism of today.  In dismissing or even promoting the loss of life and liberty as a virtual sacrament, moreover, the modern collectivist –isms complete the circle of ancient human-sacrifice religions.

On a more local and pragmatic level, we are all familiar with the “creeping statism” endemic in government of any kind.  Give government a charter to manage something for us, and its portfolio will do nothing but grow.  There is no such thing as a naturally quiescent state of liberty.  Someone always has an idea, not just for a better mousetrap, but for a scheme to require us to purchase and use it.

Unless he is actively stopped, by convention and expectation, underlaid with shared values but also with implied force, at least one of our neighbors is always one sign of weakness away from telling us what size we can make our house, whether we can hold Bible studies there, and how much of our income we have to spend on medical services.  This, and not an Eden of self-effacing tolerance, is the reality of human life.  Liberty requires establishment and protection, because in every generation, there is a thriving industry in grievances, social prophylaxis, and knowing better than others do how they should live.

If you want liberty, you can’t wait for others to recognize your right to it.  You must establish it and protect it.  This is actually true of all good things in our common life on this earth.  None of them just happen.  They require establishment and protection.  Establishment and protection are accomplished in different ways; in today’s consciously-stabilized geopolitical environment, they occur almost entirely within existing borders, as when colonies became new nations after World War II, or autocratic regimes were changed after the fall of the Soviet Union.

But America is the chief and most singular example in our modern era (indeed, in all history) of the establishment principle.  Only one other nation shares the principle of radical establishment that ours represents, and that is Israel.  Both nations were established for unique, historic purposes, in the teeth of opposition, with a specific moral and political commitment as the premise of their self-proclaimed charters.  Both invoked the God Jehovah in their establishing premise; both intended to found a unique project in which there would be irreducible liberties, and priorities that would overrule, in perpetuity, the importunings and temptations of a given generation.

Both nations took it as a given that the ordinary course of human affairs wasn’t good enough: that paying tribute and living at the sufferance of “empires” was a sure path to servitude, extortion, and death.  It is a point for another day that the nation-state is the only viable entity for acting on this proposition; suffice it to say here that establishing liberty and a principle of nationhood require holding and living independently on territory.  Someone will always object to that.  Someone will always object to the establishment of liberty, which always and everywhere means that the territory in question cannot be held for slavery and tribute.

The question is not whether liberty will ever cease to be obnoxious to mankind’s oldest patterns and urges.  It won’t.  The question is what choices we will make, knowing that liberty must be established and protected, and that that will inevitably be considered offensive by noisy and determined enemies.  He who insists on establishing liberty will always encounter opposition.  But there is no other way to have it.

What’s Wrong With the Star-K Kosher Phone?

Tuesday, August 20th, 2013

About a month ago the Star-K, a world renowned Kashrus agency, announced that they were certifying kosher phones. These phones have no access to the Internet, cannot place or receive text messages, cannot take photos, and most importantly, cannot be hacked to perform any of these tasks.

It’s not troubling to me that people would want a phone that is insulated from certain tasks. Although I think it is an unnecessary measure and perhaps counter productive, I don’t begrudge people their personal self control restraints.

What is troubling is that a kashrus agency is part of this initiative. A kashrus agency should be concerned with one thing and one thing only. Their singular concern should be the kosher status of the food. I don’t even think that a kashrus agency must concern itself with humanitarian or other ethical issues that may arise. I have no problem with a secondary agency coming in and providing a secondary level of supervision. But the kosher status of the food cannot be affected by anything other its status as kosher food.

So when I see a kashrus agency entering into the phone market, I see an agency that should be worried about kosher status of food but is now legislating morality. It’s not even as if the technical skills involved in kosher supervision overlap the neutering of cell phones. They have nothing to do with each other. I don’t think it is smart for kosher supervision to be intertwined or even related to morality supervision.

Similarly, when kosher supervision agencies make demands on the clientele or ambience of an eating establishment I believe they are overstepping their bounds. There are restaurants that are not allowed to be open at certain hours because they will lose their hechsher if they are open. This is far beyond the scope of kosher supervision. Tell me if the food is kosher and I will decide if I want to patronize the restaurant. That is all we need from a kashrus agency. The stretching of their authority serves no important purpose for the public. It seems to me that it is merely a self-serving, self-righteous way to legislate their morality. If they can legislate phones and who can eat where, what’s next?

I am not making a slippery slope argument. I am pointing out that there is no logical connection between the kosher status of food and the kosher status of a phone. There is also no relationship between the kosher status of a restaurant and whether teenagers are hanging out. In other words, the kashrus agencies are already legislating their morality. There is no reason to think it only will apply in these two instances because there is no connection between these two things and the kosher status of food.

We need to stop using the word kosher for things other than food. Yes, the word is a general term but it has evolved into a word that describes whether food can be eaten by orthodox Jews who keep kosher. We don’t eat anything that is not kosher. Using the word kosher for phones and Internet implies that the non-kosher versions are not allowed to be used. This is sophomoric and divisive.

If anything, the kashrus agencies should be concerned with the ethics and morality of the actual food. This is something they have resisted time and time again. I am not recommending they get into the ethics of food business, but if they must expand their business and purview of supervision I think that is the first place they should be looking to legislate seeing as they have the knowledge and expertise to monitor and report on that aspect of food production. But teens mingling and phones? They don’t belong there at all.

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The JTA Politically Editorializes My Letter on The Soviet Jewry Movement

Tuesday, October 23rd, 2012

It’s here:

October 22, 2012

To the Editor:

The Op-Ed “Celebrate and learn from the Soviet Jewry movement” by Daniel Eisenstadt and Michael Granoff provides us with an immediate lesson to be learned: how the memory of the Soviet Jewry struggle can be misappropriated. The authors do note and give credit to a “generation-long struggle” and “grass-roots” activists, but constructing an entire memorial enterprise on 25 years since a very large demonstration in 1987 is wrong.

On May 1, 2014, it will be 50 years since the first mass public rally took place outside the Russian Legation to the United Nations. That is the true starting point. It also provides us with additional lessons to be learned — specifically, how an outsider group, quite non-establishment, initiated, led and persevered in a dual struggle against Soviet Russia and for too long, a complacent and even smug Jewish establishment.

I was there on the Manhattan sidewalk that day in 1964, and until and even after making aliyah with my wife, whom I met at a Soviet Jewry demonstration, I witnessed the so unnecessary energy and emotions required to be expended on the Soviet Jewry battle — a lesson I surely cannot forget.

Mark the 25th anniversary of the 1987 event, for sure, but use it as a lead-up to the 50th anniversary of the activist struggle for Soviet Jewry.

Yisrael MedadShiloh, West Bank

I most assuredly did not write “West Bank.”  It’s not a country.

That’s an act of prejudicial JTA interventionist editorializing.

But at least they didn’t employ “Occupied Palestinian Territories.”

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Yediot: ‘Dozens of Terrorists Released in Shalit Deal Arrested by Shin Bet During Past Year’

Thursday, October 18th, 2012

Tomorrow, Thursday, October 18, marks one year since the Shalit deal when Israel received back the kidnapped hostage soldier, Gilad Shalit, and freed more than a thousand convicted terrorists, many of them killers of Israeli civilians.

We campaigned to try to have the remorseless killer of our child removed from the walk-free list and failed comprehensively. Each of us, separately, will have articles published in the media tomorrow reflecting our thoughts a year later.

Yediot Aharonot carried a report today that is translated to English and excerpted below. The report is by the paper’s Alex Fishman, and it reveals some aspects of the transaction that, as far as we can tell, have gotten little to no coverage in other parts of the Israeli media.

Terrorists freed in Shalit deal resume terror activity, data shows
Dozens of terrorists released as part of prisoner swap arrested by Shin Bet over past year, according to data compiled by defense establishment
Alex Fishman | Ynet October 17, 2012

Raising fears about looming terrorist attacks, data compiled by the defense establishment indicate that dozens of the Palestinian prisoners who were released a year ago as part of the deal that freed IDF soldier Gilad Shalit have resumed terrorist activity.

The deal’s first round saw the release of 477 security prisoners, 209 of whom were deported to the Gaza Strip.

According to the data, which was released by Yedioth Ahronoth on Wednesday, many of the Gaza deportees have joined Hamas‘ leadership, while others are actively developing weapons and firing rockets on Israel.

Furthermore, some are recruiting new terror cells in the West Bank, including one Hebron cell that planted a bomb in Jerusalem and planned to kidnap an IDF soldier.

Prior to the Shalit deal, some officials postulated that major terror attacks will resume once the terrorists are released.

So far, the glum prediction largely did not materialize, due to the constant efforts by the defense establishment, mainly the Shin Bet.

The prisoners who were deported to the West Bank have not abstained from hostile activity, either; over the past year Israel has arrested 40 Palestinians in the territories on suspicion of rioting, throwing Molotov cocktails, transferring funds for terrorist acts and other violations.

Twenty-four of them – including two women – are still under arrest.

One has been tried and incarcerated. A senior defense official said that “Their will to execute acts of terror is getting stronger, but the coordination with the Palestinian authorities is effective and Israel knows how to sophistically [sic] track the released terrorists.”

“Several terror attacks have been successfully prevented thanks to the hard fieldwork,” he said.

However, the official noted that the Palestinian security services have experienced setbacks recently as a result of the financial crisis.

The Palestinian security employees did not receive last month’s salaries, and two months ago many of them were caught or suspected of smuggling, transfering funds and taking part in illegal trade. [More]

We think the setbacks are many, and not limited to the factors recited in the Ynet article. More about this later.

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Today in 1934 – Brooklyn Jewish Women Help Refugees from Nazi Germany

Wednesday, September 5th, 2012

SEPTEMBER 5, 1934 - Mrs. Stephen S. Wise, president of the Women’s Association of the American Jewish Congress, who has just returned from a visit to the German refugee centers in Europe, will be hostess this afternoon to 500 Brooklyn women who have pledged to support the establishment of a center in New York City for refugees from Nazi Germany.

The center, to be known as Congress House, is now being established at 50 West Sixty-eighth street, under the supervision of the Women’s Association of the American Jewish Congress.

This afternoon’s reception will take the form of a linen shower for the benefit of Congress House. Those who attend represent the Brooklyn division of the Women’s Association which has undertaken to supply all linens for the establishment. The affair is also in the nature of a preview to an invited list of guests, prior to the formal opening of Congress House later this month.

Mrs. Charles J. Turow, acting chairman of the Brooklyn Division, will lead the Brooklyn delegation. Mrs. Wise, who returned to the United States on Saturday, following a two-months trip abroad, will describe conditions among the refugees and relate the decisions of the Geneva world Jewish conference.

Congress House is designed to provide recreational, shelter and food facilities gratis for refugees from Germany. The institution is designed to ease the process of reorientation for German refugees.

Facilities for the establishment of Congress House were made available through the courtesy of the Board of Trustees of the Jewish Institute of Religion, which turned over the West Sixty-eighth street building to the Women’s Association for this purpose.

Chronicles Of Crises In Our Communities

Friday, August 3rd, 2012

Vaccinating our Children… (See Chronicles 7-20)
A Reader’s Response


Dear Rachel,

(Please note that the tone of this email is not meant to be defensive, offensive or critical. I am simply sharing my view.)

I came across a question a reader asked you and your answer, concerning vaccinating children against chicken pox. Your response was that the reader was “misguided” by those who say that it’s better for their children to actually contract the disease rather than receiving the inoculation.

First of all, to say that this is misguided is pretty harsh since there are many responsible parents out there, myself included, who will claim the exact same thing about those who do choose to vaccinate their child/ren. At the very least, you can say that you are of the personal opinion that vaccines are indeed the safer way to go but not that it is written in stone. People who read your column trust your opinion and it upsets me that you didn’t even bother to mention that there is anther side to the story.

I know what the medical establishment says – I’ve done my fair share of reading – yet I take the liberty of making my choice based on other things I’ve read and studied. I do not encourage other parents I speak with one way or another — I would not take responsibility for that. Rather, I tell them to do their research. Read, ask and understand before you make a decision.

I would end here because the above is the point I wanted to make but I will share with you, in general, why I chose to not vaccinate.

1) We, in our society, tend to think of the medical establishment as a group who does research and has the answers about the safety and efficacy of the vaccine. This is not always the case. In the best scenario the research has been done, and over a long period of time the vaccine has been shown to be “safe.” This means it hasn’t caused obvious dire side effects and not too many kids were harmed. Lately, this has not been the case. Pharmaceutical companies are rushing to come out with new vaccines all the time. These vaccines have been studied for only a very short period and we don’t yet know how the receivers react. Sometimes, we find out the hard way. There is much controversy, even in the medical establishment, of recent vaccines such as the H1N1, Gardasil, influenza, etc. There have been countries that have banned them due to the danger they pose.

2) Whereas when I was a kid there were a handful of inoculations that we received, by now children are being overloaded with them. They start when the children are barely a day old (Hep B) and keep pummeling their small bodies with foreign substances that end up compromising their immune systems. They need to become accustomed to all kinds of germs naturally to strengthen their systems. And let’s not forget about all the additives that are put in with the vaccine. Mercury (at lease that’s been mostly removed), aluminum, formaldehyde… the list goes on.

3) Many of the diseases the doctors try to prevent are not as dangerous as they are made out to be. You mentioned a statistic about children who die from the chicken pox. I am not arguing about the numbers, but one must keep in mind that often those who died of the disease were immunodeficient to begin with. Read, with an open mind, about all those children who have been harmed by the vaccines. How can we justify that? In addition, years later, the doctors discovered that those who have not been naturally protected against chicken pox by actually getting it are much more at risk for shingles, another “scary” disease. (In answer to this, they have come out with a vaccine against shingles…)

There is much more to be said about this, including my views on the matter from the perspective of a homeopath-in-training, but this is not the place. Let’s just say for now that there is much, much more to the subject than what we can imagine, and we need to keep an open mind.

Respectfully yours….

Dear Respectfully,

On Academia, Politics and Survival in the Middle East

Friday, July 20th, 2012

I will begin with a disclosure: I am the head of The Israeli Academic Monitor, an organization whose goal is to expose publicly the political activities of those Israeli academics who engage in activities against the state of Israel and against its ability to stand up to the political and security pressures that it faces. These academicians call on institutions and individuals to boycott Israel, to impose sanctions upon it and to withdraw investments from it, while camouflaging and disguising these activities as if they are done in “the academic spirit.” It must be noted that there are, among Israeli academicians, some “righteous” people who call on states and academic institutions of the world to boycott Israeli academic institutions and to impose punishments on those same institutions in which they themselves are employed, and from where they receive their salaries, the source of which is the government of Israel. We, members of The Israeli Academic Monitor, out of concern for Israeli academia in particular and for the state of Israel in general, act within the boundaries of freedom of speech and expression, and publish widely the despicable deeds of these Israeli academicians.

Today I dedicate my article to a matter that has been with us for years, which is the status of the academic institution that was established 30 years ago in the city of Ariel, in Samaria; whether to have it remain as a college or “University Center” (a concept which is not clear to me), or perhaps to raise it to the level of a university. Those who are faithful to the land of Israel support promoting it to become a university, while those who object to Israeli rule in Judea and Samaria – they call it “occupation” – oppose it. Each side of the argument brings economic, budgetary and academic justifications to support its view, but it is clear that the basis for one’s position is primarily political, and that this position dictates which of the justifications are emphasized.

The fact that there is a political argument engenders the perception among the Israeli public that all of the other seven universities are “not political,” and only the institution in Ariel is “political” because it is “in the territories” and therefore its establishment in Ariel has a “political” meaning. My claim is that all of the universities in Israel are political, and moreover, all of the colleges, schools, yeshivas, hospitals, prisons, factories, places of residence, roads, trees – everything that we have established, built, and planted in Israel – everything, but everything, is political. The whole Zionist enterprise is a political project because it is the political and nationalistic manifestation of the desire of the Jewish people to return to its land and to renew within it its national life, its independence and its sovereignty. Everything that we have done here since the students of the Gaon of Vilna arrived in Israel two hundred years ago until today, everything is aimed at renewing our political life as of old, indeed, the whole Zionist enterprise – including universities – has a political, as well as national connotation, and there are also those who see a religious component in this matter, connected in some way to the final redemption.

Jews the world over have joined this great political enterprise of the Jewish people, whether with their bodies or with their wealth. Those who joined bodily came, fought, built, paved, planted, seeded, reaped, learned, taught and did research, all in order to establish the political enterprise of the Jewish people – the State of Israel. Those who joined with their wealth remained in the Diaspora and donated their money to the establishment of schools, hospitals, yeshivas for men, yeshivas for women, colleges and universities, all in order to take part in the political, national and collective endeavor of the people of Israel.

The cornerstone of the first academic institution in Israel was laid exactly 100 years ago. This was the Technion in Haifa. Dr. Paul Natan, was behind the idea to establish “the Technikum” (the original name), enlisted the aid of David Wissotzky (the Tea producer) to donate the required funds, and they established the institution specifically in Israel, and not in the Diaspora, for the same nationalistic and political reason that influenced others to establish other institutions in Israel. Their motivation was to promote the “return to Zion” and the fact that the government of the land was then in the hands of the Muslim Ottoman Empire didn’t bother them. When they founded the first academic institution, their connection was to the Land, not the state, and to establish the life of the people in its land was their top priority.

Ahead of Vote, Liberman Video Touts Importance of Equal Service Law

Tuesday, July 17th, 2012

On Monday, Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman’s party Yisrael Beytenu released a video stressing the importance of passing a law mandating equal service for all Israelis. The video shows, through dramatic graphics, how in 1948 the vast majority of Israelis served their country whereas by 2020 the majority of Israelis will not be serving.

Titled “One Citizenship. One Obligation. One Opportunity. One Vote,” the clip was released ahead of the planned vote on Yisrael Beytenu’s IDF, National, or Civilian Service Law Proposal this Wednesday in the Knesset.

The bill seeks to establish several principles, which other, similar proposed bills do not necessarily share:

The promise of equal sharing of the burden of service among the State’s citizens.

The establishment of a system in which every citizen, men and women alike, will serve in the army, or perform national or civilian service (in effect, the civilian service in this bill will include today’s national service).

The recognition of Torah study in yeshivas as an important value in the State of Israel and the establishment of a program that combines learning and service – but certainly not with the huge number of yeshiva students who today avoid the draft.

The recognition of equal burden-sharing as an important value in the State of Israel.

The establishment of a state service option, taking into account the nature of the various sectors in Israel and assuring the ability to maintain the provisions of various religions and their customs while serving.

“We promised we would bring our bill no matter what,” declared Liberman on Monday, adding, “We have no choice. We waited until the last minute to see if they come to any reasonable compromise or a satisfying solution to both the Haredi and Minorities draft. Because there is no such solution, we put up our bill to a vote.”

Regarding sanctions against those who would not serve, the Israel Beiteinu chairman said he prefers economic moves. “By putting someone in prison, we’d be playing into their hands,” he explained. “If we take someone and put him in jail, we will make them a martyr, which is what they’re looking for. But once yeshiva boy knows that he’s not getting his support and his scholarship, and the yeshiva, too, will know that it does not get their benefits, that’ll be the most effective thing. Minorities, too, if they realize they won’t be eligible for unemployment and other benefits – they’ll come around.”

As things stand on Tuesday, the chances that the bill will pass on its first reading in the Knesset are low.

Click on the CC button at the base of the screen for English subtitles.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/israel/idf/ahead-of-vote-liberman-video-decries-importance-of-equal-service-law/2012/07/17/

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