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PAGE 4A HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, APRIL 19, 2019 By Jonathan Rosenblum from India) and possessor of impeccable legal Jewish Media Resources credentials--Supreme Court clerk to Justice www.jewishmediaresources.org Clarence Thomas, professor of law at George Mason University's Antonin Scalia Law Center, In the political realm, power is roughly and director of the Office of Information and divided between Democrats and Republi- Regulatory Affairs under President Trump-- cans in the United States. But the cultural not a single Democrat voted to confirm Rao. realm--mainstream media, the entertain- Historically, Democratshavefoughtfiercely ment industry, and higher education--tilts against the confirmation to the Court of Ap- dramatically left. And the latter is likely to be peals of conservatives who belong to racial far more determinative of the environment in or ethnic minorities, especially if they are which Orthodox parents raise their children, as considered likely candidates to be nominated Stephen Prothero documents in Why Liberals to the Supreme Court in the future, as Rao Win the Culture Wars (Even When They Lose is. Democrats, for instance, filibustered Elections). Honduran-born Miguel Estrada's nomina- That pattern applies even as the left grows tion by President George W. Bush to the D.C. ever more unmoored from reality and hoisted Circuit for two years between 2001 and 2003, on the petard of its own internal contradic- and never allowed it to come up for a vote in tions, the Republican-controlled Senate. Had he As Exhibit One, I offer the confirmation been confirmed, Estrada would have been hearings of Neomi Rao to the D.C. Circuit the first Latino on the D.C. Circuit, and at Court of Appeals, the most powerful Court age 42, a potential future nominee for the of Appeals in the nation. Despite being a Supreme Court. woman of color (her parents are immigrants Opposing highly qualified minority can- By Mitchell Bard a girl about the bracelets she was selling for a bat mitzvah project, "He said, 'You're Jew- When Democrats failed to explicitly rebuke ish,' and I said, 'Yeah; and he said, 'Well, I'm Congresswoman Ilhan Omar (D-MN) for her German so get the f--out of here and go back anti-Semitic remarks, they sent a disturbing to Auschwitz.'" message beyond the Beltway--namely, that it She was stunned. "Knowing someone who is acceptable to use anti-Semitic tropeswithout escaped Auschwitz, I was appalled. It's disgust- facing any consequences. This was the latest ing and it's hurtful." sign of the normalization of anti-Semitism, The next day, she reported the student, and which is also reflected in the tolerance of anti- was told that since it was his first offense, they Semitism on college campuses, and the effect were going to give him a "do better" talk. She that it is beginning to have on younger Jews. recognized a double-standard, one that she I recently met with a group of high school will also find when she gets to college: "If students, and asked if any of them had expe- a white person had said that to an African- rienced anti-Semitism at school. Shockingly, American, the school would be all over it. But 18 of the 20 (one was not Jewish) raised their when someone told me to go to Auschwitz, the hands, only thing they were going to do was give him At a private Christian school where there a 'do better' talk." are only a handful of Jews, one of the most The harassment didn't stop: "The next PE vocal students is a frequent target. She said class, he and a bunch of his friends shouted that someone in a computer science class pro- at me, basically cat-calling and saying awful grammedarobottosay"HeilHitler"andsalute, insults, and calling mea 'kike.' I didn't know "He showed it to me because I'm pretty much what to do. I kept telling myself it's not my the representative of the Jews for my grade." fault, I didn't do anything to them." Another student said that one of her Catholic One Jew from the Christian school doesn't let friends told her she was going to hell. When the abuse go unanswered. She wrote a speech she replied, "I don't think that's how that about "how anti-Semitic jokes aren't funny, works," the friend said that he would check and a lot stems from ignorance and making with his father. He came back later and said, assumptions, and thinking things are funny "Yeah, I was right." because that's their way of explaining things Oneyoungwomansaidthatakidinherclassthey don't understand." She gave the speech "said something to someone next to me about to the entire high school, and the Board of how he was going to hire a Jewish lawyer to Trustees. Sadly, the harassment continued. take all of his money." In another instance, he Young Jews often get little or no support told her "he loved Hitler." When she asked him from their peers or their schools. Like other to stop making these comments, he laughed, bullies, anti-Semites are encouraged if they A freshman was horrified when a boy asked see they are getting to their victims, and the if she wanted to hear a Holocaust joke. "Why targets of abuse are reluctant to say anything would I want to?" she replied, for fear of getting a reputation for telling on The next day, someone from the National others and making things worse. One student Guard came to speak at her school. When the said, "If you call someone out, people think teacheraskedifanyonewasconsideringjoining you're some sort of prude." the Guard, "this kid who sits behind me looks We are a nation that now tolerates anti- at me and goes, 'I want to go to Israel to shoot Semites at the highest level of American Jews.'" She said that her first reaction was to politics. Bigots are emboldened, and Jews are get up and walk away. "I didn't know what to threatened. But why should anyone worry say, didn't know how to react." about teenagers who express hatred for Jews; In some cases, teachers and principals are after all, one day they could be elected to unaware of what's going on under their noses. Congress. But when an anti-Semitic incident is brought Mitchell Bard is executive director of to their attention, their response is often in- American-Israeli Cooperative Enterprise and adequate. For example, when someone asked Jewish VirtualLibrary. [THE VIEWS EXPRESSED ON THIS PAGE ARE NOT NECESSARILY THE VIEWS OF HERITAGE MANAGEMENT. I ~ CENTRAL FLORIDA'SINDEPENDENTJEWISHVOICE ~ ~ ISSN 0199-0721 Winner of 46 Press Awards Editor/Publisher Jeffrey Gaeser Editor Emeritus Associate Editor News Editor Gene StareKim Fischer Christine DeSouza HERITAGE Florida Jewish News (ISN 0199-0721) is published weekly for $37.95 per year to Florida ad- dresses ($46.95 for the rest of the U.S.) by HERITAGE Central Florida Jewish News, inc 207 O'Brien Road, Suite 101, Fern Park, FL 32730. Periodicals postage paid at Fern Park and additional mailing offices. POSTMASTER: Send address changes and other correspondence to: HERITAGE, P.O. Box 300742, Fern Park, FL 32730. MAILING ADDRESS PHONE NUMBER P.O. Box 300742 (407) 834-8787 Fern Park, FL 32730 FAX (407) 831-0507 email: news@orlandoheritage.com Society Editor Office Manager Gloria Yousha Paulette Alfonso Account Executives Kim Fischer Marci Gaeser Contributing Columnists Jim Shipley Mel Pearlman David Bornstein Ed Ziegler Production Department David Lehman Gil Dombrosky Joyce Gore didates in high visibility Supreme Court nomination hearings is politically risky and undermines the narrative of the Republican Party as the party of racists and nativists. So Democrats try to nip the danger at an early stage. Justice Clarence Thomas, raised in Georgia by his sharecropper grandparents, is the Democrats' nightmare: a conservative black justice, who can hardly be accused of alienation from the black experience. Rao's zeal for deregulation and her skepti- cism about the so-called Chevron doctrine of deference to the interpretation of vague statutes given by administrative agencies is another cause of Democratic panic. She is a potential thorn in the side of the all-powerful administrative state run by unelected, low- visibility bureaucrats--the smart people, which is the Democrats' model government. But opposing her on technical legal doc- trine and democratic theory would not wash. No, she would have to be shown to be a bad person--e.g a racist, a misogynist--however implausible the claim about a woman of color. To do so, the Democrats combed through her op-eds of a quarter century ago for the Yale Daily News. And lo, what did they find? She once made the common-sense observation that if women sought to avoid unwanted encounters they should not drink themselves into a stupor. That sound piece of advice, as Rao told Senator Kamala Harris, is the advice her own mother gave her when she went off to college and which every halfway sensible parent gives their daughters today. But common sense no longer carries the day. Rao was accused of blaming the victim and disrespecting women, though she had written explicitly that those guilty of assault should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law. Forget common sense: Rao's argument was also one until recently made by feminists. Women, like men, have agency; they are not helpless beings, but capable of making deci- sions and of protecting themselves. Nevertheless--and this is the really scary point for me--Rao felt necessary to describe her youthful writings as "cringe-provoking," and to confess in a follow-up letter to members of the Senate Judiciary Committee that she had been insensitive to the hurt that her words might have caused to victims of assault. Here again was an example of a phenomenon noted by Jonathan Haidt and Greg Lukianoff in The Coddling of the American Mind of subjective "hurt" or "offense"--not the intent of the speaker--becoming the measure of all things, at least if the one offended is a member of a preferred identity group. (Hint: Jews do not qualify for protected status.) All Rao's confessions of sin availed her naught. She garnered not a single Democrat's vote on the Senate floor. Hopefully, however, she'll have the last laugh on the D.C. Circuit. The ritual progressive hazing of Senate confirmation hearings, however, is'nothing compared to the Internet, which is populated by many auditioning for the role of commissars in North Korean reeducation camps, pygmies ever in search of politically incorrect state- ments, no matter how subtly so, which can be used to demonize the speaker and broadcast the righteousness of the critic. Take the case of Karen Templer, who runs an online knitting design business. She blogged recently about being "indescribably excited" about an upcoming trip with three friends to India. "I've wanted to go to India for as long as I can remember. I've had a lifelong obsession with the literature and history of the continent. Photos of India fill me with longing " Badgered on page 5A Passover's powerful message By Mel Pearlman As the sun goes down this evening, Jewish people in our own community and throughout the world will be sitting down with their fami- lies and friends to participate in the ancient Jewish ritual of a free people known as the Seder, the traditional feast and story telling that ushers in the Passover holiday. Unlike most festive meals in the Jewish holiday calendar, this festive meal unfolds in a specific order and ritual. Food and tradi- tion are inextricably bound up in the story and commemoration of the Jewish people's exodus from Egypt, an exodus not only from slavery, but an emancipation into freedom and a transition from tribal life into nationhood. Symbolic foods are placed on a ceremonial plate to remind us of the bitterness of slavery, the hardship of the labor imposed on the Jewish slaves and the hope of redemption. The refresh- ing breath of the earth in springtime and the restorative souls of a liberated people are also symbolized by the delicacies on the menu. We eat bitter herbs to remind us of the bitter existence of slavery in contrast to the sweet- ness of freedom. We eat matzo, the unleavened bread that the Israelites baked in their haste to leave Egypt. This bread, historically known as the "bread of affliction" is now often referred to as the "bread of freedom" as we willingly consume it for the duration of the holiday in memory of those dark days in our history. It is a biblical commandment that each generation of Jews are to think of themselves as having been liberated from Egyptian slav- ery; and we are mandated to retell the story of our slavery and to teach the experience of the exodus to our children throughout the generations. Passover is a happy holiday, despite the retell- ing of the hardships of slavery and the cruelty of the Egyptian masters. The holiday is one of happiness because it commemorates triumph over defeat. It reminds us of the partnership between humans and the Divine; and it gives meaning to the covenant between G-d and Abraham, the first of the Jewish patriarchs, that from Abraham would arise a great and everlasting people whose inheritance would be to dwell in the Land of Israel, with the holy city of Jerusalem as its eternal capital. The biblical story begins with Jacob and his sons going down to Egypt to overcome the famine in Canaan. Joseph, the brother whom Jacob's sons had sold into slavery, and who later emerged to become a high Egyptian official greeted his brothers and reunited with them and his father. Originally welcomed by Pharoah, Jacob and his sons ended up settling in Egypt, where their descendants multiplied, prospered and transformed into a people with a unique culture. What has now become a repetitive theme in Jewish history, because the Israelites were different they were perceived as a threat and ultimately, enslaved under a Pharaoh who "knew not Joseph." This set the stage centuries later for the Passover story. Although the story of Passover is singular and unique to the Jewish people, the Passover story can be a lesson for all people who were once enslaved or who are currently living under the yolk of dictatorship or other forms of oppression. The Passover story is not one of victim- hood. It is a story of hope, and overcoming victimhood. Lingering victimhood in a sense is a form of self-imposed slavery. While it is important to know one's own history, the only constructive purpose of tragic history is to use it as a platform to embrace hope and optimism as a launch pad to a future of freedom, equality and mutual respect. Dwelling on victimhood can make a people bitter, but it cannot make a people free. That is the powerful message of Passover. If you wish to comment or respond you can reach me at melpearlman322@gmail. com. Please do so in a rational, thoughtful, respectful and civil manner. Mel Pearlman holds B.S. & M.S. de- grees in physics as well as a J.D. degree and initially came to Florida in 1966 to work on the Gemini and Apollo space programs. He h as practiced law in Central Florida since 1972. He has served as presi- dent of the Jewish Federation of Greater Orlando; was a charter board member, first Vice President and pro-bono legal coun- sel of the Holocaust Memorial Resource and Education Center of Central Florida, as well as holding many other community leadership positions.