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May 24, 2015 / 6 Sivan, 5775
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Posts Tagged ‘human rights’

Anti-Semitism as ‘Civil Rights’

Thursday, February 28th, 2013

A New York City department called the New York City Commission on Human Rights has sued a group of religious store owners in Brooklyn. What terrible “crime” have these Torah Jews committed? They require modest clothing to be worn in their stores and do not allow shorts or bare feet, etc.

As with recent state aggression in other countries against shechita and b’rit milah, this lawsuit is anti-Semitism under the guise of lofty social interest. Instead of “animal welfare” or “children’s rights,” the state’s claim is now “equality” and “anti-discrimination.” The bottom line is it’s anti-Semitism in each instance because the government seeks to crush the fulfillment of Judaic values and duties.

Concerning the New York lawsuit, there is also a broader attack against a cornerstone that transcends any religious context: the rights of private property. Simply put, those store owners in Brooklyn could just as well require cowboy boots as prohibit shorts; it’s their business and corresponding right to transact based on these proprietary preferences. As James Madison wrote in The Federalist Papers, “Government is instituted no less for protection of the property, than of the persons of individuals.” As former attorney Rabbi Steven Pruzansky similarly notes in a discussion of the 2005 Supreme Court case Kelo v. City of New London, “It’s well-established that private property…is respected and even celebrated in Torah life.” (See 21:50 here.)

Such protection goes both ways. If wealthy Jew haters want to exclude us from their yacht clubs, it’s both obnoxious and ridiculous to pursue state action against them.

In 2013, America is acutely alienated from these founding principles. “Civil rights” today has become a mechanism by which federal, state, and local governments trample on property rights to further assorted ideological ends. As the legal scholar Richard Epstein has observed vis-a-vis the aftermath of Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act:

In the modern context it [civil rights] has become a term that refers to limits on freedom of  association. It has thus repeated the fundamental official mistake of earlier generations  [imposing segregation, for example] by sanctioning active and extensive government  interference in private markets. Civil rights  quickly assumed an imperial air. It now allows the  state (or some group within the state) to force others to enter into private arrangements that  they would prefer to avoid.

New York’s lawsuit extends this imperial, coercive machinery. “The enemies of the Torah are working overtime,” Rabbi Avigdor Miller zt”l remarks in his perush to the Hovot HaLevavot. Now their hostility masquerades as human rights. Defense of both Torah and American values demands opposition to such tyrannical forces.

What Jonathan Kay Got Wrong

Saturday, February 9th, 2013

I disagree with my colleague Jonathan Kay’s recent article “American super-hawks demand to know: ‘Are you Jew enough?’”

First, let me thank him for referring to me as “a feminist-turned anti-Islamist” and not as “anti-Muslim” or as an “Islamophobe.” However, in becoming an “anti-Islamist” I did not check my feminist credentials at the door; my work on honor-based violence, including honor killing among Muslims and Hindus (mainly in India) is pure feminist work. The victims are primarily women of color, and yes, in the West, they are primarily Muslims. I am championing their cause just as I have championed the cause of non-Muslim Western women. I work with Muslim and ex-Muslim dissidents who share my Enlightenment values, a single universal standard of human rights, and who, like me, have taken a stand against the persecution of girls, women, homosexuals, free thinkers and pro-Israel advocates in the Muslim world.

Second, my good colleague Kay is wrong about the early demise of conspiracy theories and blood libels against the Jews. There are so many late 20th- and early 21st-century varieties: Zionism=Racism, the Mohammed al-Dura blood libel, the Jenin massacre libel, not to mention claims that Israelis are sterilizing the Palestinians, harvesting their organs for profit, and killing babies.

Many people in North America and Europe, as well as in the Muslim world, still believe that the forgery known as The Protocols of the Elders of Zion is a true and accurate picture of Jews. Twenty first century European surveys, media coverage, cartoons, and direct verbal and physical attacks upon European Jews, Jewish Centers, and synagogues all document a rising hatred towards Jews and towards the only Jewish state (which is seen as controlling the world and the media). And, in 2012, a survey in the United States, found that 35 million American adults (or 15% of the population) believe that “Jews have too much power in the United States” and are “more willing to use shady practices.” More than 70 million American adults believed that American Jews are “more loyal to Israel than to America.”

I don’t know of any surveys that poll Italian-Americans, Polish-Americans, or Muslim-Americans on the dual loyalty question.

We also know that Canadian universities sponsor Israel Apartheid Week quite regularly and activists, students and professors call for boycott, sanctions, and divestment (BDS) from one country only: Israel. Not from Iran, Sudan, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Libya, Somalia, Afghanistan, Pakistan, or India where Muslim-on-Muslim, Muslim-on-Christian, and Muslim-on-Hindu violence and real gender and religious apartheid are epidemic. On Thursday, at Brooklyn College, in New York City, there was yet another hate fest, this time sponsored by an academic department and featuring Omar Barghouti and Judith Butler, who are both strong supporters of BDS. There are no opposing views being presented. Hate speech and falsehoods are now being granted the protection of academic freedom and, in America, the protection of the First Amendment.

Thus, I am worried — and Jonathan Kay should share my concern. Like me, Kay is a feminist and a civil libertarian. However, unlike myself, he is unable and unwilling to see how much anti-Semitism/anti-Zionism (today the two are twinned), is emanating from left-liberals: Western intellectuals, academics, artists, and journalists whose “politically correct” racism i.e. anti-Semitism/anti-Zionism has made common cause with Islamist forces who very clearly desire the extermination of one state only: The Jewish state, and who are at war with women and with Western values.

I welcome the support of Christian Zionists, Evangelicals, and conservatives. I will not mock them merely because we disagree on some other subjects any more than I would mock feminists because we disagree on other burning issues.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, I did not label the Shin Bet or the filmmaker of “The Gatekeepers” as “suicidal and traitorous.” I wrote this: “To the extent to which this film is accurate I salute it. To the extent to which it is false, defamatory, biased, exaggerated — I consider it suicidal and traitorous.”

By the way, Kay should know that these Shin Bet heads went public in 2003, not in 2012, and that they are the ones who urged Prime Minister Sharon to pull out of Gaza. Which he did. Israel now has Hamastan and constant rocket barrages on her border. Does Kay believe this is actually good for humanity and for the Jews?

The Next UN-Israel Showdown

Monday, January 21st, 2013

Another major confrontation is brewing between Israel and the United Nations. On January 29, Israel is scheduled for its quadrennial Universal Periodic Review (UPR) at the Human Rights Council (HRC). Following the March 2012 Council session, however, Israel’s foreign minister ceased all contacts with the HRC due to its obsessive bias and double standards targeting the Jewish state. As a result, Israel will not participate in UPR.

This has U.N. officials very worried and for good reason. If Israel fails to show up for UPR, this may force the HRC to end the stranglehold of abusive regimes over the institution and implement long overdue reforms.

UPR was instituted as the focal point of the newly-created HRC in 2006, which was established as a correction to its predecessor, the Commission on Human Rights. The Commission was disbanded after being hijacked by dictatorships and the Organization of the Islamic Conference. The huge embarrassment was compounded by a singular focus on Israel. According to U.N. Watch, approximately half of all country-specific resolutions condemned the Jewish state.

The Commission’s standing agenda included the notorious “Item 7,” meaning that Israel was the only country singled out at every session. Inevitably, this resulted in incessant discussion of alleged Israeli violations against Palestinians. By 2005, the situation had deteriorated to the point that U.N. Secretary General Kofi Anan remarked, “the Commission’s ability to perform its tasks has been . . . undermined by the politicization of its sessions and the selectivity of its work.”

UPR was created to ostensibly remedy the pervasive one-sidedness by implementing a peer review of the human rights records of every U.N. member state once every four years. It was heavily promoted by officials from non-governmental organizations (NGOs), Europe, and the U.N. as the linchpin of the HRC and proof of its “reformed” and universally-concerned character, despite the perpetuation of Agenda Item 7 on Israel. Human Rights Watch (HRW) in particular lobbied extensively for UPR.

In spite of the promises, the new HRC differed little from the Commission. Dictatorships and Islamic regimes continued to dominate the council and its leadership. Resolutions against Israel outnumbered those issued against any other country by orders of magnitude, and 5 of the first 9 special sessions targeted Israel. Prompted by the Arab League and the OIC, coupled with intensive campaigning by HRW, Amnesty International, the International Commission of Jurists, and other NGOs, there have been at least four separate “fact-finding” missions aimed at Israel, most notably the Goldstone Mission. Follow-up committees, reports for Goldstone (ignoring the repudiation of the report by Judge Goldstone himself), and the other inquiries continue to be placed on the agenda at every HRC session – wasting precious time and resources.

And although every country participated in the first round of the UPR process, which concluded in 2011, the meetings usually consisted of dictators patting each other on the back for their stellar human rights records. Bashing Israel and Canada stood in for “constructive dialogue.”

Based on this sorry history, the March 2012 HRC session was the last straw for Israel. While thousands were being butchered by the Assad regime in Syria, the HRC outrageously passed a resolution condemning Israel for the “suffering of Syrian citizens in the occupied Syrian Golan.” Due to intense lobbying by several European-government funded NGOs, including Al Haq and Badil, seeking to lay the groundwork for a new campaign against Israelis at the International Criminal Court, the HRC also initiated another fact-finding mission against Israel. This time, Israel decided to disengage entirely from the farce.

Once HRC officials realized that Israel’s decision would also affect UPR, they panicked. UPR can only work if there is 100% state participation. Without UPR, the façade of a reformed HRC is now in jeopardy. On November 28, 2012, the HRC President sent a desperate letter to Israel trying to guilt it into participation by ironically promoting the “universality” of the process. When Israel didn’t bite, the HRC met this week and openly chastised Israel for refusing to participate in the discredited framework.

In concert with the U.N., NGOs predictably began issuing condemnations. The NGO WILPF, in Orwellian fashion, lamented that, “Letting the non-cooperation of a state produce a double standard in the UPR process and setting such a precedent would undermine its object and purpose,” while ignoring the decades of double standards aimed at Israel. No doubt, similarly self-righteous statements will soon appear from HRW and others.

Mullahs Capitulate, Human Rights Lawyer Ends 49-Day Hunger Strike

Monday, December 10th, 2012

Nasrin Soutoudeh, a human rights lawyer in theocratic Iran, announced on December 4th that she would end a hunger strike she had carried out for 49 days from her cell in Tehran’s infamous Evin Prison. Her offenses had been to act as a court defender of opposition political figures and activists, as well as for juveniles condemned to death for crimes committed when they were under age 18.

Soutoudeh, now nearly fifty, was sentenced last year to 11 years’ imprisonment, and barred from work in the field of law. On appeal, her term was reduced to six years. During her sustained act of defiance, Nasrin Soutoudeh consumed only water mixed with sugar and salts. Her weight fell to 95 pounds; her health became fragile.

She concluded her starvation protest after the Iranian dictatorship acceded to her main demand: that a travel ban be lifted from her 12-year old daughter Mehraveh. Soutoudeh also initiated the fast to dramatize the bad conditions under which she is held. Her husband, Reza Khandan, remains restricted in his movements by order of the regime.

In a statement from Norway, the International Organization to Preserve Human Rights in Iran (IOPHR) pointed out that official Iranian media has accused local spiritual Sufis of supporting Soutoudeh as part of an alleged foreign conspiracy to subvert the Tehran authorities. IOPHR warns that on this basis, Sufis are vulnerable to false trials and imprisonment. According to Sufis and human rights monitors, the repressive Iranian institutions consider “having ‘compassion’ for a Muslim woman in prison to be ‘acting against national security,’ ‘disturbing public order” and ‘insulting the Supreme Leader,'” a post currently held by Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

IOPHR identifies the persecution of Nasrin Soutoudeh and the Sufis with a sinister “think tank,” the “Islamic Center for the Study of Religions and their Different Interpretations” located in Qom, the headquarters of theological radicalism in Iran. As one of several such institutions with similar titles and the same goal – penetration of Western academic circles and dissemination of Iranian state ideology, this “Center,” through one of its Persian-language publications, Markaz Didban (Center Watch), has attacked Soutoudeh.

According to IOPHR, Ayatollah Muhammad Reza Mahdavi Kani, chairman of the Assembly of Experts, admitted that “the supporting pole of the regime’s tent is bent.” By this, Kani is said to recognize that conflicts between the personal, doctrinal, and political factions within the Islamist government have undermined its credibility. Entities such as the “Islamic Center for the Study of Religions and their Different Interpretations” harm Iranian stability more than any actions by dissidents by sowing intrigues and fear at all levels of society.

Meanwhile, IOPHR states, Ali Larijani, Khamenei’s “national security expert,” and promoter to the world of the Iranian nuclear program, travels daily to Damascus and Beirut to “maintain the status quo” embodied in the bloodthirsty Syrian dictatorship of Bashar Al-Assad and the Lebanese government dominated by the terror group, Hezbollah.

IOPHR has appealed for aid and cooperation from other international institutions; it seems to wish to use the great potential of public opinion outside Iran as a platform for a major global effort to expose conditions in the Iranian prisons. IOPHR describes Tehran’s penal establishments as torture houses and dungeons run by stubborn and self-interested bureaucrats answerable to nobody – not even to the higher strata of clerical power.

The human rights activists and Sufis have praised the example provided by Nasrin Soutoudeh in her deliberate refusal of food. The call of the Iranian dissenters should not go unanswered. Demonstrations and conferences are overdue in Western and other foreign capitals, especially in Europe, the United States, and Canada. The Iranian usurpers should learn that while their internal contradictions and quarrels threaten to bring their tent down on their heads, the world is watching. Inevitably, the doors of Evin Prison and Tehran’s other houses of cruelty and degradation must be opened.

Originally published by the Gatestone Institute.

Hamas Detaining Foreign Citizens in the Gaza Strip

Sunday, November 18th, 2012

The Israeli Foreign Ministry reports that Hamas is not allowing at least 22 foreign nationals who wish to exit the Gaza Strip for Israel to do so. Among the foreigners being detained are nine Italian citizens, one Canadian, one South Korean, a French national and six journalists from Japan. In addition, two Turkish Red Crescent members have been refused exit.

This violation of the human rights of neutral foreigners is yet another example of Hamas’ attempts to manipulate and pressure the press.

For its part, Israel is keeping the Erez crossing into Gaza open, allowing passage to the foreign press, diplomats and humanitarian workers.

The Kerem Shalom crossing into Gaza was also kept open today, enabling the passage of food and medication from Israel into the Gaza Strip.

Hamas Won’t Let Foreign Nationals Exit Gaza

Saturday, November 17th, 2012

The Israeli Foreign Ministry Reports:

Hamas is not allowing at least 22 foreign nationals who wish to exit the Gaza Strip for Israel to do so. Among the members of the foreign press being detained are nine Italian citizens, six citizens of Japan, one Canadian, one South Korean and a French national. In addition, two Turkish Red Crescent members have been refused exit.

This violation of the human rights of neutral foreigners is yet another example of Hamas’ attempts to manipulate and pressure the press.

For its part, Israel is keeping the Erez crossing into Gaza open, allowing passage to the foreign press, diplomats and humanitarian workers.

UC Irvine Students Vote for ‘Israel Divestment’ But Have No Investments to Divest

Wednesday, November 14th, 2012

Late last night, November 13, there was a unanimous vote at a California school for divestment from certain companies that do business with Israel.  Unanimous, 16 -0.

There are, however, several points militating against an uptick in alarm.

For one thing, the school at which this took place was the University of California at Irvine.  Yes, the school that allowed students to repeatedly disrupt Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. Michael Oren, in 2010.  Eleven of those hooligans were charged and convicted of conspiracy and disrupting a public meeting.  Those convictions were obtained despite the efforts of many UCIrvine faculty members, including a large number of  Jewish Studies department faculty.

But more importantly, the vote was taken by the UC Irvine Student Government, which, in all likelihood, does not have any investments in the targeted companies, or any other companies, for that matter.

The student government also called on the UC Irvine administration to divest from the named companies, but a student group’s call on its university to take the students’ investment advice is not exactly like money in (or, in this case, out of) the bank.

While the vote was really the equivalent of a small group of children shouting at those acting in loco parentis to take its investment advice, last night’s effort by anti-Israel student leadership at UCI is noteworthy for a small shift in tactic.

Although the Resolution repeatedly compared Israeli activity to Apartheid South Africa, the student government Resolution only sought divestment from those companies it deemed to provide support for the Security Fence, the demolition of “Palestinian” homes, and the building or maintenance of  the “illegal Israeli settlements” on “occupied Palestinian territory.”  In the past, calls for divestment from Israel typically called for divestment from any company doing business in Israel, which was the South Africa Apartheid divestment model.

The nitty gritty details, that is, that it was a student group that voted to divest its own (non-existent) financial holdings from certain companies – and was not the vote by a university to divest its holdings from companies doing business in Israel – was completely lost on most other media reporting on the vote.  Professional Israel haters such as Ali Abunimeh and Noam Chomsky were quick to add their support, as were Muslim Student Associations and other anti-Israel groups across the country.  To see the misguided glee, check on twitter #IrvineDivest.

The Resolution, which was introduced by Sabreen Shalabi, and seconded by Shadi Jafari, follows:

 

Item Number: 16 Legislation Number (B: Bill, R: Resolution): R48-15
Synopsis: Divestment from Companies that Profit from Apartheid
Date of Presentation: November 13, 2012
 Divestment from Companies that Profit from ApartheidWHEREAS, it is UC Irvine’s duty to maintain the values of “respect, intellectual curiosity, integrity, commitment, and empathy” which includes the promotion of human rights, equality, and dignity for all people without distinction;WHEREAS, it is the mission of the UCI Foundation to “ensure the appropriate use of all funds” in order to uphold the values of respect, intellectual curiosity, integrity, commitment appreciation, and empathy;WHEREAS, students have a legacy of standing against oppression and injustice at UC Irvine and across the U.S.;WHEREAS, the role of student activists in exposing South Africa’s apartheid system and  supporting equality, freedom, and dignity sets an example for us to follow as students of global conscience;WHEREAS, as the example of South Africa shows, it is imperative for students to stand unequivocally against all forms of racism and bigotry globally and on campus, including but not limited to Islamophobia, anti-Semitism, homophobia, patriarchy, and Israel’s system of apartheid;WHEREAS, the occupied Palestinian Territory is controlled militarily by the Israeli government;WHEREAS, certain companies have promoted and been complicit in these ongoing human rights violations systematically committed by the Israeli government, which have been documented by human rights organizations including Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, Al-Haq, Defense for Children International, Addameer, B’tselem, Adalah, Badil, and the Israeli Coalition Against Home Demolitions;WHEREAS, according to the International Court of Justice (ICJ), “the construction by Israel of a wall in the Occupied Palestinian Territory and its associated régime are contrary to international law”;WHEREAS, according to the same ICJ decision, the establishment and expansion of settlements in the West Bank and Eastern Jerusalem is also illegal by international law;

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/uc-irvine-students-vote-for-israel-divestment-but-have-no-investments-to-divest/2012/11/14/

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