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PAGE 4A HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, JULY 5, 2013 Jewish values dictate protecting gay marriage the bond between two loving people and the families they create as a source of strength and commitment to the betterment of the world. "Justice" is a word we are taught early in life, and we are reminded constantly that it is a principle we should uphold and promote. In Hebrew, the word tzedek is used to promote acts of loving kindness and righteousness. Its diminutive, tzedakah, is translated as charity, but it is much more. We are taught in the Torah, in the book of Deuteronomy 16:20: "Justice, Justice shall you pursue." In Hebrew, "Tzedek, tzedek tirdorf." It is a vital, active imperative for the Jew- ish people to be on the front lines of issues protecting and promoting the rights of any group being treated., unfairly. To take ap- proximately 10 percent of the U.S. population and tell them they are second-class citizens is clearly unjust. As Jews we are instructed to seek justice for the stranger, the widow and the orphan because too often society discriminates against and takes advantage of those without advocates. I have come to see the protection of gay marriage as a manifestation of the Jewish value of seeking justice for those who are enslaved. To those who cover their prejudice with reference to biblical injunctions against homosexuality, I ask if they are willing to live by every other law listed in the Torah. For such literalists, I submit that the very Torah portion of Leviticus that they so often quote also enjoins us to harbor no hatred against our brother and our neighbor. To freeze Judaism in time because of an- cient biblical edicts i to deny that Judaism is a mighty river that moves forward through time, a living entity that changes course and becomes renewed through what it meets on the banks. Like a river, it retains its essential character although it is constantly renewed and evolving. Today, the Jewish pursuit of justice must By Edgar M. Bronfman NEWYORK (JTA)--In the early 1970s, while I was CEO of the Seagram Co., public dialogue about gay rights was largely nonexistent in corporate America. Social discourse had not yet even evolved into the "don't ask, don't tell" ethos that dominated the following decades. Homosexuality was simply not discussed and therefore, by implication, was shameful. During that time, as the head of a company with thousands of employees, personnel is- sues often came across my desk. One day, the director of human resources came into my office with a recommendation to terminate 6ne Of my brightest executives. I found myself puzzled that anyone would want to fire such a promisingyoung man until the director leaned in and confided in a hushed tone, "Well, you know, he's a homosexual." The declaration did persuade me--but not in the way he had hoped. The promising young executive continued on to a distinguished career at Seagram, and the HRdirector was soon let go. Although my choice was shocking to the director, the decision was obvious to me: to fire a person because of their sexual orientation was not only wrong, it was bad business. It was dis- crimination, plain and simple, and would not be tolerated in the company I ran. More than 40 years later, I still feel such discrimination to be unequivocally wrong, but my views on the subject of gay rights have evolved. Particularly today, as we celebrate the U.S. Supreme Court's decision to recognize the legality of gay marriage, I now see marriage equality as a moral imperative because of my Jewish roots. Just as the high court has shown moral bravery in its recognition ofgay marriage, the Jewish community should follow its example in our myriad communities. As Jews, we should remember that our tradition upholds Love it or leave it By Rabbi Rachel Esserman government line, yet that line c[aanges greatly The IRS's targeting of organizations con- nected to the Tea Party reminded me of the 1960s and '70s, only in reverse. This time, the IRS was investigating right-wing groups. Dur- ing the Nixon presidency, left-wing groups-= particularly those who opposed the war in Vietnam--were deliberately selected for audits. Even worse, the FBI spied on those who marched in protests or signed petitions against the war. The reason behind the IRS and FBI selections is the same in all these cases: The people or groups oppose the current govern- ment's stance on an issue. I also remember the right-wing "love-it- or-leave-it" counter-protests fom the '60s and '70s..Their message was, "If you don't agree with the government, you should leave the country." However, the idea that we should always support any policy our politicians offer--even when we disagree with it--is antithetical to the very nature of democracy. While at times our government makes decisions based on information that is unavailable to the average citizen, that doesn't always mean its choices are always wise or valid. Far too often, we later discover a particular administration made mistakes or unwise decisions, ones that it was usually reluctant to reveal. The ability to disagree with an administra- tion's policies also needs to be considered when discussing the state of Israel. Israeli citizens frequently and loudly support ideas that American Jews are condemned for stating. We're expected to toe the current Israeli depending on which political parties are in power. Unfortunately, people have been called self-hating Jews or traitors for signing peti- tionsuboth right-and left-wing--that are not currently popular. Several years ago, my name appeared on a hate site, which listed rabbis who supported the peace process. The site stopped just short ofadvocatingviolence against us, but it was scary to consider that someone might take action based on its information. I remember one op-ed by a former (Vestal, N.Y.) Reporter editor after Israeli citizens voted in a government with whose policies he disagreed. He said that those who supported the government should not do to him what he had done to them: Criticizing him forriticiz- ing Israeli policy. He noted that his comments were based on his love for Israel. How strange he never as- sumed the same for those who disagreed with him. Yet, his comments are based on Jewish law; they're a variation Jn Leviticus 19:18: "You should not hate your brother in your heart... you should not take revenge against him nor bear a grudge." However, his assumptions that those who disagreed with him did so for insidious reasons were not based on this Jewish principle. It's one thing to argue about politics and whose ideas are best for the future of America and Israel. It's another to target people for disagreeing with us. Instead, we should be modeling appropriate behavior by treating others as we ourselves wish to be treated. Rabii Rachel Esserman is executive editor of The (Vestal N.Y.)Reporter. THE VIEWS EXPRESSED ON THIS PAGE ARE NOT NECESSARILY THE VIEWS OF HERITAGE MANAGEMENT.   CENTRAL FLORIDA'SINDEPENDENTJEWISHVOICE   ISSN 0199-0721 Winner of 41 Press Awards Editor/Publisher Jeffrey Gaeser Editor Emeritus Associate Editor Assistant Editor Gene Starn Mike Etzkin Kirn Fischer HERITAGE Florida Jewish News (ISN 0199-0721) is published weekly for $37.95 per year to Florida ad- Society Editor Bookkeeping dresses ($46.95 for the rest of the.S.) by HERITAGE Gloria Yousha Paulette Alfonso Central Florida Jewish News, Inc., 207 O'Brien Road, Suite 101, Fern Park, FL 32730. Periodicals postage Account Executives paid at Fern Park and additional mailing offices. Barbara do Carmo Marci Gaeser POSTMASTER: Send address changes and other correspondence to: HERITAGE, P.O. Box 300742, Contributing Columnists Fern Park, FL 32730. Jim Shipley Ira Sharkansky David Bornstein Ed Ziegler MAILING ADDRESS PHONE NUMBER P.O. Box 300742 (407) 834-8787 Production Department Fern Park, FL 32730 FAX (407) 831-05Q7 David Lehman David Gaudio emaih Elaine Schooping GDombrosky channel itself against the denial of marriage equality. For Jews, who have suffered so much throughout history at the hands of prejudice, to stand idly by while any group is treated so unfairly is unequivocally wrong. I have been inspired in my thinking on gay rights and marriage equality by a woman I have known since she was a teenager. She is now the leader of Keshet, a group that pro- motes equality for the LGBT community in the Jewish world. Idit Klein first came to my attention when she was in high school. She was a student on a program I founded called the Bronfman Youth Fellowship that targets Jewish teens of excep- tional promise from an array of backgrounds. In my conversations with her over the years, I have learned that the issues facing LGBT Jews are ones on which all Jews need to speak out. Within the Jewish community we must endeavor to include and celebrate the diversity of families and couples within all aspects of religious, communal and institutional life. When our communities continue to open their tents as our forefather Abraham did, to include all who wish to participate in Jewish life, our people's possibilities expand and gain strength. Edgar M. Bronfman, the former CEO of the Seagram Co. Ltd., is president of the Samuel Bronfman Foundation, which seeks to inspire a renaissance of Jewish life. He is the author of "The Bronfman Haggadah" (Rizzoli Press) created in conjunction with his wife, artist Jan Aronson. Is Turkey fit for EU membership? By Ben Cohen It's a familiar pattern. The citizens of a Middle Eastern state ex- plode with frustration against their corrupt, repressive government. They gather for noisy, impassioned demonstrations in their capital city. The authorities react violently. Images of middle-aged women and wheelchair-bound individuals being tear-gassed, clubbed, and sprayed with water cannon race across social media platforms like wildfire. The protests then spread to other cities. The authorities step up their repression. And then, inevitably, the country's political leaders snarl that outside forces are stoking the discontent. Newspapers and websites are suddenly full of lists of American neoconser- vatives, illustrated with lurid graphics that superimpose the logos of organizations like the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) over pictures of demonstrations. No one needs to say the word "Jew" in order to know who's being referred to here. So where is this happening? In Bahrain? Egypt? Tunisia? Actually, no. What I'm describing is tak- ing place in a non-Arab, inwardly Muslim but outwardly secular candidate nation for European Union (EU) membership. Turkey. The protests there began on May 31, when an initially small group of activists gathered in Istanbui to voice opposition to the redevelop- ment of the city's Gezi Park. But the anger quickly escalated into an all-out confronta- tion with the Islamist governmenl of Reccep Tayyip Erdogan. Many Turks are fed up with the slow yet inexorable Islamizatiori of their country, which Erdogan has begun. Specifically, they are fed up with Erdo- gan's promotion of conservative Islamic dress codes; with his demand that married couples have at least three children; with his prohibitions on the sale of alcohol and his opposition to abortion; with his scolding of couples who dare to smooch in public; and with his clampdown on freedom of slSeech and of the media, which has resulted in Turkey having more journalists in prison than any other country in the world. As the German magazine Der Spiegel pointed out recently, Turkey's enthusiasm for incarcerating jour- nalists-by some estimates, more than 60 are currently in jail--beats the records of even China and Iran. It was always unrealistic to expect that an arrogant autocrat like Erdogan would actually listen to the demands of the pro- testors. His standard response has been to fulminate against shadowy plots hatched by Marxists, Kurdish separatists, and--most of all--Jews. As the Turkish demonstrations were reach- ing their height this month, the conservative newspaper Yeni Safak published an article which featured a "rogues gallery" of promi- nent American neoconservatives--Richard Perle, Paul Wolfowitz, Douglas Feith and so forth--as well as a photo of a masked protestor flanked by the togos of the American Enter- prise Institute think tank and AIPAC. The thrust of the article was clear: the protests are being actively encouraged by a group of Jews hell-bent on war with the Islamic world. In tone and substance, it was thoroughly in line with other anti-Semitic screeds published by Yeni Safak--for example, a 2005 article that warned "Jewish paranoia" was at the root of the Middle Easts conflicts and predicted that this same paranoia would one day "destroy the Jews themselves." If you really want to see a plot, though, look no further than Erdogan himself. Yeni Safak is owned by Berat Albayrak, who is married to Erdogan's daughter (their wed- ding ceremony was broadcast live on Turkish television.) Berat's brother, Serhat Albayrak, is a press advisor to Erdogan, while their father, Mustafa, is the head of Albayrak Holdings, a construction company that has prospered visibly under the present Islamist government. The company recently issued a nervous denial that it had been awarded the contract to build a shopping mall on the ground currently occupied by Gezi Park--the very same affront which sparked the protests in the first place. When this intimate network of familial and business ties is properly considered, it stretches credibility to think that Erdogan is somehow unaware of Yeni Safak's vile Jew-baiting. Indeed, when you introduce Erdogan's consistent assaults on Israel into the equation--like his recent, outrageous declaration that Zionism is a "crime against humanity'--you can see perfectly well how such attacks serve his broader political in- terests. After all, blaming the Jews is what Middle Eastern autocrats do. Which brings me to the issue of Turkey's bid for membership of the EU. There's a widespread impression that the bid, launched as far back as 1999, is unlikely to result in full membership. But that's not what Erdo- gan believes. He is adamant that Turkey is entitled to EU membership and his virulent reaction to the European Parliament's recent condemnation of his government's repressive acts--"I don't recognize you!" he roared in responseuis a sign of his growing impatience. To their credit, EU leaders have, thus far, proven that they have something of the back- bone that many observers have doubted they possess. Stefan Fule, the EU's enlargement commissioner, told an audience in Istanbul, which included Erdogan, of the need to "aspire to the highest possible democratic standards and practices... These include the freedom to express one's opinion, the free- dom to assemble peacefully and freedom of media to report on what is happening as it is happening." Now Germany, led by Chancellor Angela Merkel, is stepping up the pressure on Er- dogan. Following Merkel's description of the government's response to the protests as "appalling," the Germans are blocking forthcoming talks to move Turkey's accession bid further down the line. But the fundamental question remains unresolved: Should Turkey be admitted to the EU? One can see how membership of the EU would boost the fortunes of those courageous Turks who have risked life and limb in their confrontation with Erdogan. Equally, the Europe that emerged after the Second World War cannot, by its very nature, tolerate the kind of government that has hospitalized more than 7,000 of its own citizens simply for exercising their right to peacefully protest. And it certainly cannot tolerate the kind of anti-Semitic agitation that brings to mind the worst excesses of the 1930s. Ben Cohen is the ShillmanAnalyst for JNS. org. His writings on Jewish affairs and Middle Eastern politics have been published in Com- mentary, the New York Post, Ha ' aretz, Jewish Ideas Daily and many other publications.