Newspaper Archive of
Heritage Florida Jewish News
Fern Park , Florida
June 15, 2018     Heritage Florida Jewish News
PAGE 4     (4 of 56 available)        PREVIOUS     NEXT      Full Size Image
PAGE 4     (4 of 56 available)        PREVIOUS     NEXT      Full Size Image
June 15, 2018

Newspaper Archive of Heritage Florida Jewish News produced by SmallTownPapers, Inc.
Website © 2019. All content copyrighted. Copyright Information.     Terms Of Use.     Request Content Removal.

PAGE 4A HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, JUNE 15, 2018 By Jonathan S. Tobin (JNS)--There was a time when defending religious freedom was at the top of the Jewish agenda. Jews understood that as a religious minority, our rights could only be defended when those of other religious faiths are also respected. Though anti-Semitism is on the rise else- where, American Jews don't worry anymore about their government seeking to restrict their rights to practice their religion. Nor should they. Arguments about reasonable ac- commodation for Jewish religious observances are no longer a matter of much dispute. The widespread acceptance of Jews, including those who are proud to practice their faith in public, in every aspect of American society is an accomplished fact. Such success shouldn't cause us to stop caring about the principle of religious liberty. Yet that seems to be the case for many Jews, including some organizations like the Anti- Defamation League and the Religious Action Center for Reform Judaism, which are tasked with the job of defending our rights. That's the only way to interpret the dismay those groups expressed at the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in the case of Masterpiece Cakeshopv. Colorado Civil Rights Commission that was handed down on Monday. The high court affirmed that the Colorado commission was wrong to hold Jack Phillips, a conservative Christian baker, liable for re- fusing to create a special cake celebrating a gay wedding. A decisive 7-2 majority argued that the commission's open contempt for the baker's religious faith compromised its ability to rule fairly on the issue. While the narrow ruling was far short of a sweeping defense of religious expression that some conservatives hoped for, it still represented a reaffirmation of the applicability of the free exercise clause drive him and others who have made similar of the First Amendment's protections of reli- stands not merely out of business, but out of gious freedom. As such, it made clear that the the American public square? constitution protects the rights ofbelieversto Public opinion about gay rights has un- express their faith in the public square rather dergone a radical shift in the United States. thanjusttheabilitytoworshipfreelyinprivate. A little more than over a decade ago, both Yet most Jewish groups were unhappy with Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton ran for " rights are not supposed to be just for our friends and us. They must apply to everyone, or they're meaningless" the ruling because they perceived it as a slight to the rights of gay Americans. As in any issue in which the rights of groups are weighed against each other, this is a com- plicated debate. As Justice Anthony Kennedy noted in the majority decision, the dignity of gays needs to be upheld, but the same applies to those whose religious faith causes them to oppose gay marriage. At issue here was not the right of gays or any other group of people to equal service at a public accommodation like a bakery. The baker made clear he would sell his wares to anyone who wanted them, but to ask him to design and create a special cake for a ceremony that offends his religious principles violated his rights. Many of us may think his beliefs are wrong or simply foolish. But the principle here is not abstract. As the court noted, the same Colorado commission that ruled against Phillips for his refusal to bake the wedding cake upheld the rights of bakers to refuse to create cakes with explicitly anti-gay messages. Why then have liberal Jewish groups joined with those seeking to punish the baker, and president while affirming that marriage was only between a man and a woman. But within a few years, not only would their positions change but also a majority of the Supreme Court would rule (in a decision also written by Kennedy) that a right to gay marriage was the law of the land. While issues like abortion still bitterly divide us, polls show that the majority of Americans seem to have little problem with this shift in the culture and the law. That is particularly true for Jews, who are overwhelmingly liberal in their politics. Yet that doesn't mean that those who dis- agree must be driven underground, particu- larly if their disagreement is rooted in their religious faith, which is explicitly protected by the constitution. The problem here is that for all too many of us, awillingness to defend such rights seems to extend only to those who think or believe as we do. That Jews, who have far more contact and sympathy for their gay friends and neighbors than with Christian conservatives they've never met--and whose beliefs are somehow seen as threatening--is unsurprising. But rights are not supposed to be just for our friends and us. They must apply to everyone, or they're meaningless. If a Jewish baker refused to create a Nazi- themed cake or anAfrican-Amexican wouldn't design one for the Ku Klux Klan, then we would regard any effort to compel them to do so as absurd and deeply wrong. While gays are not to be compared to those groups, the right of the Christian baker not to be dragooned into something that offended him is no less sacred and shouldn't be characterized as a form of discrimination. Yet so great is our disdain for this baker-- and those who think like him--that Jew- ish groups that are supposed to care about religious freedom were willing not only to disregard Phillips's rights, but also the open contempt for religious faith that permeated the proceeding that condemned him. The same goes for Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg--the idol of liberal Jews--who cast one of the two dissenting votes. Religious freedom for me bat not for thee may feel right to those who wish to avoid any offense to a gay community, whose dignity and rights deserve to be defended. But it is not one that is consistent with the constitution or the long-term interest of Jews, who shouldn't forget that the defense of their rights is still linked to those whose faith may be unpopular. Jonathan S. Tobin is editor in chief of JNS--Jewish News Syndicate. Follow him on Twitter at: @jonathans tobin. By Gustavo D. Perednik violence worthy of a mafia leader rather than the head of a sports federation. By the way, (JNS)--The cancellation of an event as Messi should not be criticized for his fear. To well-publicized in the media as the World Cup be able to withstand the bloodthirsty talk of soccer warm-up match between Argentina the boycotters, you need to be Israeli. and Israel requires an immediate PR coun- Why was Israel singled out? terattack from Israel and the Jewish world. However, there is another player who did What unfortunately succeeded in frightening not react with fear, but expressed support for superstar LionelMessiandthe other members boycotting Israel. Striker Gonzalo Higuafn of the Argentine soccer team is a mix of lies told ESPN that the cancellation"was the right and death threats against the players, thing to do." This is what the BDS movement is in its Yet the right thing to do is to ask the ques- entirety: an arsenal of intimidation and lies tion of why the legitimacy of one country out disguised as justice, and supported mostly of 200 should be dismissed. by Europeans. Judeophobia--hatred of the Jews--has The game between Argentina and Israel existed for more than 2,000 years. Now given was supposed to be about nothing more than the misnomer of "anti-Semitism," it is the friendship and sport, phenomenon that the Europeans export to the However, words of condemnation were is- worldwithvaryingmeasuresofsuccess.Today, sued by Palestinian leaders, who tend to focus it is used less to attack the Jewish citizen or on destroying others rather than building up his community and is mostly targeted against their own wretched people. If their objective the Jewish state. had been sport and not causing damage to It may not be a coincidence that the specific Israel, then they could have used the visit to player that did speak against Israel, Gonzalo invite the Argentine team to appear in their Higuafn, is the French player on the team. own territory. The cancellation of the friendly soccer game The person who stood behind the effort withArgentinais not the first insult that Israel to cancel the game is no less than convicted has sustained, anditrepresents nothing newin terrorist Jibril Rajoub. This gangster, who the ongoing attempts to slander us. However, has murdered people with his own hands, it represents an opportunity to begin removing bragged about the torture and murder of the the costume ofjustice from the boycottersand Israeli sportsmen at the Munich Olympics, and showing them in their true colors: as terrorists denounced any request to hold a memorial who are expert in the art of intimidation and ceremony for them as "racist." murder, even of world-champion sportsmen Rajoub, who was released from an Israeli who only want friendship. jail with another 1,150 terrorists in a prisoner Gustavo Perednik is an Argentinian-born exchange in 1985, threatened Messiwithverbal Israeli author and educator. [THE VIEWS EXPRESSED ON THIS PAGE ARE NOT NECESSARILY THE VIEWS OF HERITAGE MANAGEMENT. [ O CENTRAL FLORIDA'SINDEPENDENTJEWISHVOICE * O * ISSN 0199-0721 Winner of 46 Press Awards FLORID~ 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, lnc 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: Editor/Publisher Jeffrey Gaeser Editor Emeritus Associate Editor News Editor Gene Starn Kim Fischer Christine DeSouza 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 By Ben Cohen (JNS)--When it comes to the Palestin- ian "original sin" theory of Israel's creation, there are two key milestones: the flight of approximately 750,000 Arab refugees during the 1948 War of Independence and the 1967 conquest of eastern Jerusalem, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip during the Six-Day War. The events of 1948 are known in Arabic as the nakba ("catastrophe") and the events of 1967 are called the naksa ("setback"). This week, with the 51st anniversary of the Six-Day War upon us, Palestinians will mark "Naksa Day" on June 5 with protests and dem- onstrations-and it will be interesting to see whether any new wave of protests fizzles out in much the same way as those on Israel-Gaza border in recent weeks that were presented as a commemoration of the events of 1948. It will also be interesting to see whether Hamas, Islamic Jihad and allied Islamist groups will use the occasion to fire another barrage of missiles at Israel. It's increasingly clear to everyone that neither of these strategies is working for the Palestinians. Compare the international reac- tion to Gaza in 2018 to that of summer 2014, when Israel took military action to end the daily missile launches from Gaza, and which the Palestinians similarly depicted as a total war designed to deliberately kill and maim civilians. Four years on, especially among European governments, there is much greater recognition that Hamas uses Gazans as human shields and far less lecturing of Israeli leaders about the moral perils of a "disproportionate response." As for the expected convulsion of international protests, there really hasn't been one so far. Instead, the Palestinians are confronted with a region that no longer places them front and center, as well as an impatient international community, less willing to indulge Palestinian tales of Israel's inherent brutality. In her speech to the U.N. Security Council emergency meeting on the Palestin- ian missile attacks on Israel--called by the United States--U. S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley openly declared that the time had come for the Palestinians to consider alternative leadership that can deliver a peace strategy. Haley, significantly to my mind, made no distinction between the Palestinian Author- ity in the West Bank and the Hamas rulers of Gaza, puncturing yet another prevailing myth that the former is dramatically more moderate than the latter. This is where the question of the naksa and its associated nakba comes into sharp focus. Both concepts are built around the logic that Israel is the eternal enemy. That is why Israel's creation was a "catastrophe." But what precisely was the "setback"? According to the Institute of Palestine Stud- ies, it was "a misfortune that pointed up the need for a new strategy for confronting Israel and redeeming Palestine." The immediate source of this misfortune was identified the Arab states, which had submerged the Pales- tinian plight into the snake-oil diplomacy of the Arab League and its front organization, the originalversion of the PLO Sure enough, after Israel's overwhelming victory in 1967, Yasser Arafat and his Fatah comrades, includ- ing Mahmoud Abbas, set about "Palestinian- izing" the struggle against Israel, winning the hearts of the international left and establishing themselves as allies of the Soviet bloc. But just as the Arab League never recognized Israel's legitimacy, nor did the PLO, which was transformed into an independent organiza- tion after the war. The "setback," then, was principally that Israel continued existing, even flourishing, after the Arab attempt in 1967 to eliminate it. So perhaps the time has come to go even fur- ther than Ambassador Haley and suggest to the Palestinians that, for the sake of the generation that will mark the centenary of Israel's birth in 2048, they abandon the discourse of the nakba and naksa altogether. This does not mean, of course, that the Palestinians have to become Zionists, or that they should overlook those disputes with Israel where they can maximize material or territorial gains for themselves--as opposed to chipping away at Israel's status as a member of international society. It's tempting, particularly a,; we watch Ab- bas emerge from yet another extended stay in hospital, to dismiss Haley's plea for new Palestinian leadership as hopelessly unreal- istic. Some might contend that a Palestinian civil war after Abbas departs the scene is more likely that the emergence of a secular-minded, pro-Western peace party. Much also depends on the regional environment--whether Iran is rolled back in Syria; whether Saudi Arabia leads the Arab states in establishing diplomatic rela- tions with Israel; whether Arab states assume full operational responsibility for stability in the region in concert with the United States and Russia. At the moment, the most likely scenario is more of the same, even if everything else in the region shifts: namely, the collective insistence of the Palestinian leadership that Israel must be brought to its knees to atone for the events of 1948 and then 1967. Ben Cohen writes a weekly column for JNS on Jewish affairs and Middle Eastern politics. His writings have been published in Commen- tary, the New York Post, Haaretz, The Wall Street Journal and many other publications.