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December 5, 2016 / 5 Kislev, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘issue’

Metzitza B’Peh: Infant Russian Roulette

Monday, September 3rd, 2012

The most recent issue of Ami Magazine called on readers to oppose New York City’s proposed law requiring informed parental consent before performing Metzitza B’Peh.

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.

Harry Maryles

Party of Trolls: How Race Dominates U.S. Politics

Friday, August 31st, 2012

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.

Daniel Greenfield

The Benefits Of Countermoves: A Follow-Up

Thursday, August 30th, 2012

Dear Dr. Respler:

Having enjoyed your column, The Benefits of Countermoves (Dear Dr. Yael, 8-17), I am now seeking your suggestions regarding my problem in this area.

My husband practices the “silent treatment,” whereby if I tell him something not to his liking or if I do something that does not meet his approval (these acts are not meant to hurt him) he can stop talking to me for hours or even for one or two days. After awhile, he returns to his normal behavior and we never discuss the issue again.

I am almost afraid to raise this issue since he may return to the silent treatment. By nature I am a bubbly, gregarious person while he is quieter and more subdued. When we get along he loves my personality. However, if I become too bubbly or gregarious when we are among Shabbos guests or extended family and he disapproves of something that I said, he will stop talking to me. He can become this way with little provocation.

My husband’s behavior can be triggered if I tell someone something about myself that he thinks I should keep private. I will beg him to stop, tell him that I love him and even cry – but he won’t relent. He becomes cold and silent and I am at his mercy. I will try to do nice things for him and act lovingly toward him, but nothing works. When he gets like this I cannot reach him and he totally controls me. As a result, I become very tense and upset. He can ruin a Shabbos and destroy hours of happiness – all for nothing. Sometimes, I am not even sure what it was that I said that set him off.

We are in our first year of marriage and spend a lot of Shabbasos and Yamim Tovim by our parents. We are both from large families and both sets of parents have lots of guests on Shabbos and Yom Tov.

Do you have any countermoves for my husband’s silent treatment? Other than the times I’ve described, we get along. But I am tired of crying and want my husband to stop with the silent treatment!

A Frustrated Newlywed

Dear Frustrated:

I have a great countermove for the silent treatment. To begin, you must stop giving your husband so much power over you. Thus, stop crying! It only feeds his power trip. Then tell him something like, “I understand that you need your space and I did not mean to upset you. When you are ready, I would love to talk to you.”

Then get busy with other things. Please do not feed into his need to control and upset you. If he persists in his no-talking mode, go out with friends. This will show him that you are busy and not upset. If you are close to your mother or sister, spend time with one or both of them – out of the house. When he sees that you are not begging him to be with you and that you are happy and content doing other things, you will see how quickly things will turn around.

What use will he have in playing the silent treatment game if you are not there to receive it? What pleasure will he derive if you are not upset and simply understand that he needs his space? Trust me that the silent treatment will disappear. You will be surprised at how quickly he will realize that it is no longer challenging or exciting to upset someone, namely you, who is so busy with her own life and is allowing him to sulk.

I have worked with many patients using this tactic. Sometimes it is the wife who practices the silent treatment. I had one patient, a husband, who would buy his wife expensive jewelry every time she went into her silent mode. When he tried my approach, she ended her shtick since it stopped getting her more jewelry or attention. He began learning more and spending more time in shul when she went silent. This caused her to quickly realize that she was losing all of his attention with her behavior. Believe it or not, she stopped using the silent treatment.

Dr. Yael Respler

The Tischler Brothers Tout Their Commitments To Public Service

Thursday, August 30th, 2012

Avraham and Moshe Tischler, 20-somethings brothers and ambitious political neophytes, recently met with The Jewish Press editorial board to discuss their current political plans and future prospects.

Avraham, 21, focused on his campaign against Simcha Felder, a former New York City councilman, in the so-called Super Jewish State Senate (district 17) race in southern Brooklyn in the September 13 Democratic primary. Among his chief policy goals, Avraham stressed his commitment to tuition tax credits, creating more jobs in the district, and improving government efficiency – especially the spending of citizens’ tax dollars. If successful, Avraham said he plans to use his office as an educational tool to raise various important issues to his constituents and rally them for their implementations.

Moshe Tischler campaigning on 16th Avenue with Laizer Lichtenstein, a local business owner.

For his part Moshe Tischler, 20, discussed his race against longtime incumbent Dov Hikind for the 48th State Assembly seat. Moshe claimed that he would be more effective than Hikind in the area of tuition tax relief for Yeshiva parents, emphasizing that this would be his top legislative priority in Albany.

Born and raised in Boro Park, the Tischlers said they know firsthand the needs and issues within the community, and have gained the education and insight necessary to understand and serve the community’s needs. With a B.A. degree in psychology and a minor in political science, Avraham has established his acumen on educational issues. And his growing interest in politics has led him to pursue a career in law.

Through his studies, Avraham has become well versed on the issue of the costs of private education. Avraham, declaring that “no child should be deprived of that [school choice] right,” spoke at length about his desire to enact private school tax credit legislation in order to provide parents with financial relief, thus enabling them to exercise the choice of sending their children to private (parochial or non-denominational) or public schools. He explained that city and state government spend close to a combined $20,000 of taxpayer’s dollars per public school student. Parents who send their children to private schools are burdened with those schools’ extra expenses, and Avraham believes that if government provides tax credits to them, parents would gain immediate tax relief. When asked to explain the difference between Felder and his views on this issue, he said, “[Felder] had his opportunity for ten years on the City Council and failed to deliver relief for parents.”

Avraham brings a strong reputation and history of volunteer work in the community. In grade school, he began volunteering in Maimonides Medical Center. He has helped Ohel Bais Ezra recruit young adults to help children with special needs. And he contributes his time to the nonprofit soup kitchen network, Masbia.

These experiences and his unswerving commitment to the community’s needs have made Avraham aware of average people’s struggles in finding jobs, as well as the predicament faced by many businesses that are attempting to maintain their current workforces. Avraham spoke of his plans to help small businesses create more jobs. He said he believes that “small businesses are the key engine to prosperity” and that the fines, regulations and penalties imposed by government are effectively killing those businesses. Avraham detailed the chain reaction of what occurs when a small business is ticketed with an expensive fine, and how that penalty forces them to cut back by possibly laying off some employees – and, in the worst-case scenario, shut down the business altogether.

According to Avraham, Felder did little when serving on the City Council to solve this problem, sponsoring the bill that Mayor Bloomberg proposed to overturn term limits, thereby allowing him to remain in office and continuing to fine and regulate businesses. In Avraham’s view, Felder was essentially a rubber stamp pertaining to the policies of Council Speaker Christine Quinn and Bloomberg.

On the controversial issue of pay raises for lawmakers, Felder voted to increase his own salary by 25 percent. Avraham vowed that if elected, he would vote against a pay raise and challenged Felder to join him in this pledge. As Avraham put it: “When people are struggling and hurting because of the stagnant economy, legislators should not be increasing their pay.”

Yafit Fishbach

Gas Masks for Israelis and how Aliyah is Flourishing

Wednesday, August 22nd, 2012

(((CLICK BELOW TO HEAR AUDIO)))

Yishai and Malkah talk about recent statements made by the leader of HIzbullah, Hassan Nasrallah and how his psychotic rants against Israel and threat of rocket attacks have caused the Israeli government to issue additional gas masks to the Israeli public. Malkah talks about her experience waiting in line to get gas masks for her family and the thought that the Syrian regime could possibly release biological weapons on his own people might make the masks useful. Yishai moves on to and ends with talking about how there have been stories of Jews are cancelling their plans to make Aliyah to Israel due to threats of war from Iran and how in truth, the numbers that have cancelled are very small.

Yishai Fleisher on Twitter: @YishaiFleisher
Yishai on Facebook

Moshe Herman

Extremist Salafist Delegation in Sinai to ‘Combat Religious Extremism’

Tuesday, August 21st, 2012

Here’s a story about pots rebuking kettles over the issue of blackness: Al Ahram reported on Monday that the extremist Salafist Nour Party is sending a delegation to the Sinai Peninsula to “raise religious awareness and combat extremism.”

The Sinai-bound commission will include members of the Shura Council (Egypt’s upper house of parliament), the Nour Party and the armed forces, as well as figures from Salafist Calling Islamist movement, security personnel and government officials.

The group will hold a series of meetings urging Sinai citizens to stand by the army in combating the supremacist Islamist groups roaming the area.

Nour Party leaders in the delegation will include the party’s secretary-general Galal Amin and Ashraf Thabet, a member of the party’s higher commission.

Also going are the Salafist Calling movement’s head Yasser Borhami and its spokesperson Abdel-Moneim El-Shahat.

El-Shahat and Borhami have made a number of controversial statements in the past, noted Al Ahram.

El-Shahat described the literature of Egyptian Nobel Prize winner Naguib Mahfouz as “inciting promiscuity, prostitution and atheism.” Borhami was quoted by Egyptian daily Al-Shorouk as saying a Muslim taxi driver should not transport a Christian priest if his destination is the church.

Borhami in particular has been outspoken regarding his views of Jews and Christians, describing both as “infidels”.

“I hold on to my stance that Jews and Christians are infidels, but they do have rights that Allah has given them,” he stated last December during a press conference in Dakahliah, north east of Cairo.

“We would never give up our thoughts for politics,” Borhami added.

Al-Nour’s MP Hazem Shoman is another Salafist sheikh who has made the headlines for his acid tongue and abrasive nature. He also spoke at the conference. “Deviating from Islamic Sharia is the reason why Egypt was vanquished in 1967 [by Israel] and 2,700 women have committed suicide for being spinsters,” Shoman said.

The planned visit comes after the August 5 armed assault on a Rafah army post which saw 16 soldiers killed and 7 others injured.

Cynical comments aside, the visit attests to the Egyptian Islamist leadership’s awareness of the need to corral their out of control rank and file in the Sinai, and the realization that this cannot be done with tanks and planes alone.

Yori Yanover

Egypt: There Goes the Free Media

Sunday, August 12th, 2012

http://www.rubinreports.blogspot.co.il/2012/08/egypt-there-goes-free-media.html

So can you write “Arab Spring,” free elections, democracy in Egypt, and such things 100 times? Might this be somewhat in contradiction to the fact that:

Muslim Brotherhood President al-Mursi has just named the editors of the top Egyptian newspaper and other media outlets. They are state-owned, you know, there are a half-dozen good little independent newspapers.

But one of them, al-Destour (ironically meaning, The Constitution) has just had a full issue seized on charges of “fueling sedition” and “harming the president through phrases and wording punishable by law.” We know this through a report in the Middle East News Agency, the state owned monopoly.

And what was the inflammatory report? That the Brotherhood was going to seize power and that liberals and the army should join together to stop the country from being turned into an Islamist regime.

Seems to me that if it weren’t true there wasn’t any need to confiscate the issue, right? After all, everybody would have seen that it wouldn’t happen and all would have shared a good laugh!

Other columnists are charging that the Brotherhood is trying to turn their newspapers into reliable house organs rather than let them be free.

Reminds me of a personal experience I had in Cairo over thirty years ago. An al-Ahram newspaper editor was well-known for being the highest-ranking Christian in journalism. I went to see him and mentioned that I knew he was a Christian. He launched into a long lecture about how wonderfully Christians were treated in Egypt, there was no discrimination against them, etc.

After a while I mentioned that I heard he had been on the television the previous evening but I had missed it. For no particular reason, I just asked, “How long were you on, fifteen minutes?”

Without missing a beat, he shot back: “Fifteen minutes! You’d think they’d let a Copt be on for fifteen minutes! I was on for three minutes.”

Reported by me word by word as it happened.

Barry Rubin

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/analysis/rubin-reports/egypt-there-goes-the-free-media/2012/08/12/

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