Note from Harry Maryles: I usually take this time on the eve of the New Year to reflect on what kind if a year this was for me. The sudden death of my grandson Reuven who suffered from cancer was unexpected. Although his prognosis was never great, he had defied the odds by living as long as he did. People all over the world davened for him and for that I am still grateful. But it was not meant to be.
Posts Tagged ‘issue’
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So much has the debate been shifted “that what thirty years ago was a common-sense given is now considered a landmark breakthrough” (Victor Davis Hanson).
You see, here’s what you have to do. You’ve got to take the most basic logical statements—the ones absolutely necessary to understand reality—and rule them out of bounds. For example, there’s nothing wrong with the economy. To say so is, well, racist. And there’s nothing wrong with a government policy that refuses to control the country’s borders. To say so is, well, racist. In fact, you can’t criticize this U.S. government at all because to do so is, well, racist.
And you can’t point out that America’s problem in the Middle East is not due to an obscure video on You-Tube but to a massive revolutionary Islamist movement determined to destroy American influence in the region, take over every country there, smash the Christians, subordinate the women, impose a dictatorship, and commit genocide against Israel. Yep, you got it! Racist again!
This brings us to the latest attack on presidential candidate Mitt Romney. It is impossible to understand the Arab-Israel, Israel-Palestinian conflict or Israel’s situation without comprehending that the Palestinian leadership doesn’t want real peace and a real two state solution ending the conflict. If things were different, they could have had a Palestinian state in 1948 or on numerous occasions thereafter, notably including at the Camp David meeting and with President Bill Clinton’s proposal (based on an Israeli proposal) in 2000.
So Romney stated this basic, easily provable and highly demonstrable truth, without which the whole issue makes no sense whatsoever. Woe unto him, as he is portrayed as being ignorant, bigoted, and troublesome for stating the basic pro-Israel position that most Democratic politicians accepted a few years ago. It was precisely what Clinton learned when Yasir Arafat turned down his very serious offer in 2000.
The whole attack on Romney is rather humorous since the left-wing magazine that had a series of “revelations” about a speech he made during his trip to Israel—“revelations” I’d all heard a week ago—is quoting things that make perfect sense.
Romney said that one of the two ways he considered looking at the issue—a major qualification—is:
“That the Palestinians have no interest whatsoever in establishing peace, and that the pathway to peace is almost unthinkable to accomplish.”
He then continued doing the most basic, responsible thing a statesman can do. Romney posited that a Palestinian state existed and then discussed how this might create terrible security dangers for Israel, including direct attack and the opening of Palestine’s territory to radical regimes’ armies. For the mean time, the only choice might be the status quo.
This is the kind of thing Israeli analysts, and many Americans, have been saying for decades and detailing. It is the basis framework of how any country must plan its survival, strategy, and national security.
What makes this even more ludicrous is that it is not so far from Obama’s own statements, though of course he did not say such things in so many years. The president admitted that he tried very hard to make progress and failed; noted that peacemaking was hard; grudgingly hinted that it wasn’t all Israel’s fault; and in practice put the issue on the back burner.
That behavior represents the conclusion that the Palestinian Authority (PA) is not ready to make peace. It seems quite reasonable to posit that Obama has reached the same conclusion as the one Romney articulated.
To begin with, remember there are two Palestinian leaderships today. Hamas is openly against peace, though a surprising number of people seem to forget that periodically. The PA is genuinely relatively more moderate—a factor that has some benefits–and certainly far more subtle. But on this issue the bottom line is precisely the same.
Why doesn’t the PA want a real, lasting peace? For a lot of reasons. Much, not all but probably 90 percent, of the leadership still believes that they should and will take power in all of the land from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean. Even though they know Israel is not likely to go away easily or even at all, they hope that something will turn up. At any rate, as Palestinian leaders have often said, it is better not to make any concessions and to leave the issue open for possible total victory to the next generation.
Jerusalem, we’re informed, is an “Arab city”. It must be the “capital of Palestine”.
On the issue of demographics, the numbers make things quite clear that even before modern Zionism began, the city was Jewish and only Muslim repressive policies artificially kept the numbers of Jews down before the mid-19th century.
Here are the charts from Yehoshua Ben-Arieh’s book:-
And how, for example, did the Jerusalem look in 1912? Here’s looking out over the area then below the Jewish Quarter (later tore down at 1967) towards the Temple Mount:-
Visit Yisrael Medad’s blog, My Right Word.
State Assembly candidate Moshe Tischler is calling on New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman to explore all legal options against Mayor Bloomberg’s attempt to regulate the millennia – old religious practice of bris milah.
Over the last couple of weeks, hundreds of rabbis have signed a Kol Koreh (religious proclamation) that condemned the Department of Health’s effort to set conditions on Jewish religious practices by spreading misinformation.
The New York City Department of Health is expected to issue an order this week with regards to the religious ritual of metzitza b’peh which may require written parental consent.
“For the government to infringe on our religious practices is absolutely unacceptable,” said Tischler, “this is an attack on our religious liberties. The Bloomberg administration’s impending order needs to be stopped immediately. The Attorney General should take a close look at the legal options the state has to stop such regulations.”
Mr. Tischler also added, “It was unfortunate that Dov Hikind supported Brad Lander for City Council in 2009, who openly criticized bris milah and called it “ritual violence.” The NYC Council has direct jurisdiction over the Department of Health and Bloomberg now has another rubber stamp for his policy on bris milah.
“Unfortunately, having a proponent of this policy on the City Council is to the Orthodox community’s detriment. It’s incredibly ironic that my opponent is railing against this policy considering his past support for a candidate who’s view on this issue was criticized by Jewish leaders and The Jewish Press and Mr. Hikind chose to disregard their concern nevertheless and to continue to support Mr. Lander.
“Our community needs leaders who understand that we can never afford to send a signal that such views are acceptable in the name of a political accommodation. We need leaders who won’t compromise our values for a backroom deal. We need leaders who are pro-active; not reactive.”
The interplay between Torah values and psychological/societal ethics has always been an interest of mine. I find beauty in the challenge of trying to straddle the fence between the two worlds. At one point in history, the field of psychology was dominated by Sigmund Freud’s (often considered to be the “father of psychology”) ideas of sexuality and determinism (technically, that we do not have free-will). The world of Torah rejected most of Freud’s views and thus rejected most of the world of psychology. Besides, the Torah world viewed most mental health issues as being Hashkafic or religious issues and so they were reticent towards sending people to therapists and not Rabbonim to deal with issues.
But the divide between psychology and Torah was not only because the Torah world rejected psychology. Oh no, psychology had very few pleasant things to say about religion in the early days. Although Jewish, Freud rejected religion as being a form of neurosis (or a mental disorder) for most of his life. Many psychologists in the early and mid-twentieth century (and some until today) often tried convincing their patients that religion was either a symptom of a mental disorder or a major contributor to their mental health problems.
Boruch Hashem we live in a world where the field of mental health is much more congruous with Torah. The last fifteen years has seen an explosion of frum mental health professionals. There are therapists who work across the spectrum of frumkeit and there are Rabbonim in all communities who refer their constituents to therapists when needed.
However, there continue to be issues in the mental health world that challenge frumkeit. The current most publicized controversial topic is how we as a community handle situations of child molestation. Licensed mental health professionals have a legal obligation to report situations of abuse to the authorities. Mental health professionals usually advocate this point of view. Many Rabonnim and frum institutions do not agree that this it is right to report these allegations to the secular authorities and, at the very least, limit reporting in some way due to socio-religious values.
Another very sensitive topic where modern psychological thinking conflicts with Torah views is the issue of homosexuality. The Gemarah in Kiddushin (82a) indicates that homosexuality is not something that Jews have to deal with because “Jews are not suspect to be homosexual”. In fact the Rambam (Issurei Biah 22:2) uses this Gemarah as a basis for a Halachik ruling.
On the other hand, Freud has suggested that all people, by nature, are created with some inherent homosexual desire. The world today is filled with gay rights activists (many of them mental health professionals), frum ones as well. So, how do we understand this Gemara and Rambam in the light of the many people who present to therapy struggling with this issue? How to understand the divide between the Torah’s values and what the secular world suggests, quite vehemently, as being the only way to look at things? It is an issue that unfortunately causes so much pain and suffering in our community and is often completely misunderstood by many people. More significantly, it is an issue that is being raised more frequently in mine and my colleague’s offices. In writing this article, I hope to raise awareness that therapy can help people who struggle with homosexuality.
While I do not work solely with people who struggle with homosexuality, the following are some vignettes of the types of situations that present themselves in my office. I have fabricated these cases to protect the anonymity of the people I actually work with but they accurately reflect the content of my work. Shloimy is a 16-year-old boy who was found to be acting on his desires with a peer in Yeshivah. He has been admonished by the Mashgiach in the past but this has not stopped Shloimy’s behavior. The Mashgiach has involved Shloimy’s parents and suggested that Shloimy discuss things with a therapist to help him better understand his sexuality. Shloimy agrees.
Dovid is a 25-year-old Yeshiva bochur learning in a prominent Yeshivish Yeshiva. He has been going out on Shidduch dates with different women for the last two years. He has recently told his Rosh Hayeshiva that his anxiety connected to dating has to do with his years of confusion about his sexual attraction to other men. Although Dovid has rarely acted on these desires, the sheer fact that he has them causes him significant uncomfortability, you see- Dovid has no feelings of attraction to women.
The 2012 Democratic Party platform omits language recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and suggests that military force is “on the table” as an option for addressing the Iranian nuclear issue.
The platform released late Monday night makes no mention of Jerusalem or of the issue of Israel’s capital. By contrast, the 2008 platform stated that “Jerusalem is and will remain the capital of Israel.” The 2008 platform also stated that the parties to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict “have agreed that Jerusalem is a matter for final status negotiations.”
The new platform touts President Obama’s work on implementing tougher international sanctions against Iran. It says that Obama “is committed to using all instruments of national power to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons.”
“President Obama believes that a diplomatic outcome remains the best and most enduring solution,” the platform states. “At the same time, he has also made clear that the window for diplomacy will not remain open indefinitely and that all options — including military force — remain on the table.”
The 2008 platform referred to “keeping all options on the table.”
On Israel, the new platform emphasizes the Obama administration’s support for Israeli security measures such as Iron Dome and refers to Obama’s “consistent support for Israel’s right to defend itself and his steadfast opposition to any attempt to delegitimize Israel.”
It also states that the president and his party are committed to seeking peace between Israelis and Palestinians.
“A just and lasting Israeli-Palestinian accord, producing two states for two peoples, would contribute to regional stability and help sustain Israel’s identity as a Jewish and democratic state,” the platform states. “At the same time, the President has made clear that there will be no lasting peace unless Israel’s security concerns are met.”
The Republican Jewish Coalition, on Twitter, criticized the omission in the new platform of language describing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. The current Republican platform refers to Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
The RJC also highlighted the absence from the new Democratic platform of language in the Democrats’ 2008 platform calling for Hamas to be isolated, Palestinian refugees to return to a future Palestinian state rather than to Israel, and stating that “it is unrealistic to expect the outcome of final status negotiations to be a full and complete return to the armistice lines of 1949.” The Republican platform also does not articulate these positions.
Just when I thought there was nothing more to say on the issue of Metzitza B’Peh (MbP), the cover story in Ami Magazine compels me to comment.
The ultimate analogy to MbP is the following. Take a gun that has a 1 million bullet capacity. Place one bullet in one of the chambers leaving the rest empty. Take that gun, point it at the head of your 8 day old infant and pull the trigger.
Is there a sane person in the world that would do that? I think the answer is obvious.You would have to be literally insane to do such a thing even though the odds of killing the baby are statistically insignificant. Why would anyone do such a foolish thing? There is a loaded gun and a chance that the bullet will end up in your child’s head!
And yet that is precisely the argument being made by those who oppose the proposed New York City law requiring informed consent by parents before allowing a Mohel to do Metzitza B’Peh. The argument is that the percentage of infants found to have been infected by herpes due to MbP is statistically so insignificant that requiring parents be informed about the danger is an unwarranted governmental interference in the practice of Judaism.
The logic of this argument truly escapes me. I wonder how they would answer the question I posed? Would they tell you that you should point a loaded gun to your child and pull the trigger? Even if the chances are 1 in a million that the bullet will not be fired? I think I know what their answer would be.
Another argument they make is that there is no absolute incontrovertible evidence connecting the herpes contracted by the infant to the Mohel. This is true. Furthermore they say that in any case the Mohel washes his mouth out with an antiseptic mouthwash like Listerine.
The problem with these arguments is that they lack any common sense. Is there any question that it is possible that a Mohel with an active herpes virus (unbeknownst to him) can transmit it to a child via oral contact with an open wound? Even people with the most rudimentary knowledge of medical science know that it is possible.The fact that there is no conclusive proof that this was the case in the cases cited above doesn’t mean that it didn’t happen. The circumstantial evidence that they did pass it on to the infant was very persuasive to the CDC. Furthermore washing a mouth out with a strong mouthwash like Listerine has no effect on viruses. Antiseptics only work on bacteria.
My friends, performing MbP is playing Russian roulette with your child’s life! Are you willing to pull that trigger?
And yet there is a religious argument to be made in favor of it. This is what is really at stake here. Chasidim are adamant that MbP is an absolute religious requirement! If I understand correctly – they view a Bris done without MbP to be invalid! Leaving out the fact that that is certainly not the universal view in Judaism – including the view of many Gedolim of the past and present, let us grant them their right to believe that. They therefore argue that this is a church-state issue.
The problem with this argument is that the constitutional right to freedom of religion is not absolute. When there is a compelling interest of society that contradicts a religious ritual, the government has a right to interfere. To put this point in stark relief I will use an extreme example. If there was a religion that required human sacrifice, the government would certainly be within its rights to legislate against it. While MbP is nowhere near human sacrifice, the principle is the same. Where to draw the line of “compelling interest” is beyond my pay-scale and I will leave it to constitutional scholars to sort out.
That said, I would be opposed to the government legislating against doing MbP. That it is considered so vital by so large a segment of Jewry combined by the low probability of a child ever contracting herpes moves me to oppose it. In this case I do feel that banning the procedure would be an unconstitutional impediment to freedom of religion.
With the next four years at stake, the only topic of conversation is the Race Card. The left plays the Race Card and then accuses the right of playing the Race Card. There are dogwhistles in the air that only white middle-aged pundits can hear and arguments over whose diverse lineup truly represents the philosophy of the future and whose is just shameless tokenism.
The media madhouse insists that a half-black man who went from the Illinois State Senate to the White House in 5 years is proof that we are a racist country and that Southern Europeans whose ancestors moved to this continent are an oppressed racial minority. Arguing with this insanity is a sure way to get called a racist. Ignoring this insanity means being charged with privilege. Privilege being the ungodly power to ignore someone else’s assertion that privilege through victimization should begin and end every single discussion on every topic, up to and including the moon landing.
The Democratic Party and its media affiliates have become a party of trolls who only know how to hijack every discussion with an obsessive insistence that every issue can be boiled down to race and that the difference between the two parties is that one of them is racist and the other has good taste in fonts.
It’s hard to know what the Democratic Party stands for anymore. All we know is that it is against racism. Never before has an entire election been run around a single negative issue that has absolutely nothing to do with the actual challenges facing the country. Instead we have the national spectacle of members of minority groups being pitted against each other by two parties to prove which of them is less racist.
There is no precedent for a country facing two major crises, an economic depression and a war at the same time, holding an election that is somehow about race. If we’re going to make the 2012 election about race, then we might as well also make it about childhood obesity, green energy and all the other idiocies of a failed administration that can’t tie its shoes without a bailout.
For the last three years, the left has responded to every criticism of their candidate, their party and their incompetence by bleating about racism, as if having a black candidate and a large share of the black vote makes them honorary minorities. And as if their bleating had anything to do with real issues like the unsustainable national debt and an economy that still can’t get back on its feet.
The left imagines that it is somehow better than the lunatics of the Westboro Baptist Church who randomly show up at funerals screaming about homosexuality. It’s not. Not when its members show up randomly brandishing nooses or dressing up as body parts and screaming about racism or sexism. There’s no hint of responsible leadership in tactics like that. It’s the behavior of a debating club loser who has memorized only one winning point and will shout it no matter what the issue is.
Everyone wants to prove that their ideology, whether it’s showing up in the country with 50 cents and becoming successful by building a business or showing up in the country with 50 cents and becoming successful by getting a Ford Foundation grant to community organize the hell out of a local group, is universal and can apply to everyone regardless of skin color, gender, religion or fashion sense. And once we’ve done that, it still falls to us to deal with problems that depend on math, not race.
The real issue at stake here is whether the working class will end up being squeezed out by the government class. It’s an issue that affects the rich, poor and middle class alike, and the Republicans are coming dangerously close to articulating it in between applause breaks. The Democrats would like to avoid this line of conservation as much as possible, because once the debate is fully underway, Americans will start assessing their individual economic stakes in the fight, instead of assuming that their economic interest is joined at the hip to their racial identity, gender or choice of bed partners.