Shutting Down Faith-Based Foster Care Agencies Harms Children

As published in Newsweek

The Supreme Court has the chance this month to protect religious freedom, religious minorities and foster families. In Fulton v. City of Philadelphia, the Court will determine whether Catholic Social Services (CSS) will be permitted to resume providing foster care services, as it did for more than 200 years.

The city of Philadelphia shuttered CSS because, hypothetically, a same-sex couple could approach CSS for a “home study” (an intimate, detailed family evaluation) that the agency could not complete in a way that both affirms same-sex marriage and remains consistent with its Catholic beliefs. CSS stated that it would help such couples find a different agency (there are dozens across the city) that could complete the “home study,” and noted that no same-sex couple has ever approached it. Yet the city refused all compromise.

Although the Fulton case specifically involves the Catholic Church, freedom of religious practice for all is at stake. If Philadelphia gets its way, the Court will have handed governments a legal tool to use against minority religious communities.

Some argue that, on the contrary, a decision favoring CSS is more likely to enable discrimination against religious minorities. This claim rests upon the same illogical—and profoundly dangerous—distortion activists use to claim anti-LGBT discrimination: misrepresenting freedom of association and pursuit of a religious mission as a “license to discriminate.”

Another agency, South Carolina’s Miracle Hill Ministries, has become a national focal point due to its religious limitations. Like CSS, Miracle Hill is a religious ministry, committed to serving foster children in accordance with its beliefs. But unlike CSS, Miracle Hill makes evangelism part of its mission, and requires those who wish to provide services under its auspices to sign a statement affirming its doctrine.

Two things are immediately obvious: first, the aforementioned requirement entirely precludes, for instance, a Jewish family from providing services through Miracle Hill; second, this is in no way discriminatory. Miracle Hill does not prevent Jews—or anyone else—from serving as foster parents. Nor does it impinge upon anyone else’s religious expression. The public square is big enough for everyone.

Ignoring this reality, some tarnish Miracle Hill (and separately, CSS) as engaging in “government-funded discrimination.” This is both wrong and misleading. No government funds are provided to Miracle Hill for administration, advertising, recruitment or evaluation of potential foster care families. CSS receives no payment for carrying out home studies. Private agencies and families receive partial reimbursement for the costs of caring for each individual child successfully placed, while relieving government of providing the same service at far greater taxpayer expense.

As all children requiring foster care go through state-operated social service departments, what is at stake for religious foster agencies is their very ability to participate in public life. There is no credible argument that eliminating faith-based foster and adoption agencies expands availability of loving homes for children. On the contrary, eliminating those agencies means eliminating their public outreach, and removes from the adoption pool any families that would choose to work with those agencies because of their shared religious creed. Given the severe shortage of foster care homes for needy children, closing these agencies causes clear and demonstrable harm.

For the Jewish community, foster care and adoption are deeply connected with our most basic beliefs. We regard it as a religious obligation to place Jewish children in Jewish homes, where they will receive a Jewish education and participate in our observances. Were it to be deemed “discriminatory” for Miracle Hill to limit its providers to those who share its beliefs—or for CSS to step aside and allow other agencies to perform home studies for same-sex couples—our own religious obligation to place a Jewish child with a Jewish family could likewise be infringed.

This threat to religious freedom has real implications for children. Because Philadelphia refuses to work with CSS, children in need of foster care are being kept in institutional settings, rather than being placed with loving foster parents. Both the city and LGBTQ activists claim that this flagrantly inhumane outcome is good for society.

Furthermore, we see a clear and compelling pattern of harassment. Philadelphia prohibits CSS from operating due to what the city admits is an entirely hypothetical concern. Miracle Hill’s threat comes from a woman whose own religious authorities say that she could affirm its doctrine—but who refuses to do so, simply to give lawyers at Americans United for Separation of Church and State a case to prosecute. And in other cases across the country, from small businesses to major universities, institutions which have served the public for decades if not centuries are being told to choose between abandoning religious principle, refusing funding available to all others, or closing down outright.

The idea that minority religious groups will benefit if success is granted to this tactic could hardly be more ludicrous.

Fox News: Biden’s address to Congress left anti-Semitism unaddressed. Why?

Published on Fox News

We all expected President Biden to speak about hate in America during his first address to a joint session of Congress on Wednesday night.

He did not disappoint.

He talked about the murder of George Floyd, systemic racism, and white supremacy. He mentioned attacks upon Blacks, Native Americans, and women. He celebrated a hate crimes act to protect Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.

This past weekend, in fact, provided Biden with an additional reason to discuss hate in America. Beginning Thursday night and proceeding through the weekend, four different synagogues and three vehicles were vandalized in a Jewish neighborhood in the Bronx. All were damaged in precisely the same way: smashed windows.

Every student of the Holocaust knows that the Nazis’ first wholesale, violent attack on Jewish property was Kristallnacht—the Night of Broken Glass.

Seeing it replicated in microcosm on the streets of New York traumatized the Jewish community, and gave Biden the opportunity to assuage its concerns with words of healing.

There’s one problem: he passed.

President Biden spoke about “the viciousness of the hate crimes over the past year,” but never mentioned the community that is, according to the FBI, overwhelmingly the most frequent victim. Given the small Jewish population of the United States, merely 2 percent of Americans, a Jew is several times more likely to be the target of a hate crime than all of those who earned Biden’s mention.

Could we imagine that President Biden would have said nothing if it had instead been four Black churches, or four mosques, vandalized last weekend?

Of course not. It would have been a leading element of his address, the centerpiece of his section on fighting bigotry.

For Biden to spend so much time talking about racism and hate in America, and to rattle off a long list of targeted groups—yet omit entirely the targets of multiple hate crimes carried out within the previous week—sends its own message: Jews don’t qualify as a targeted group.

Instead, Biden called for passage of a bill, the “Equality Act,” that would give state sanction to anti-Semitism. It provides a potent weapon to be used against anyone who dares to hold a Jewish wedding with a Mechitzah, a divider between men and women, in accordance with thousands of years of Jewish observance.

For Asians, Biden called for the passage of a new hate crimes act. For the more frequent Jewish victims of precisely the same random, violent assaults, he called to make their religious practices a violation of American statute… and to declare their Bible a bigoted document.

This is not entirely new. We did not have to wait for a joint session of Congress to wonder whether Jewish concerns were being ignored. One Biden appointee after the next has a track record of hostility towards the Jewish state and the Jewish people.

Biden placed Maher Bitar, whose animosity against the world’s only Jewish state is longer than his career, in charge of intelligence on the National Security Council.

As USAID Administrator he selected Samantha Power, the former U.N. Ambassador who, in 2016, architected the ridiculously anti-historical and obviously hateful UNSC Resolution 2334, which declared the site of the Jews’ Holy Temple, David’s city, the Mount of Olives, Judea and Samaria to all be “occupied Arab land.”

And as Deputy Assistant Secretary for Israel and Palestinian Affairs at the State Department, he picked Hady Amr, who responded to the neutralization of a notorious Hamas terrorist by decrying Israel’s “brutal murders of innocents” and implying that both Israelis and Americans deserved to be targeted in return. And this is by no means an exhaustive list of Biden appointees with similar records and attitudes.

Also, within the past week, dozens of rockets from Hamas terrorists have targeted Israeli towns, attempting to murder men, women and children indiscriminately for the “crime” of being a Jew trying to live on the Jews’ Holy Land.

Yet on Wednesday night, Biden claimed that “our intelligence agencies” not only regard white supremacy, biased thoughts, as terrorism, but “the most lethal terrorist threat today.”

The most frequent targets of terrorist threats would, of course, beg to disagree. But according to the Oval Office’s newest occupant, Jews aren’t a targeted group, after all.

More on the Equality Act, and Nadler leading the War on Religion

Constitution vs Nadler

Thanks to Jerry Nadler, I had to go back for a second go at the Equality Act. His comment indicated that he hasn’t read the Constitution, and even more, that he is entirely uninterested in the moral principles that built America as a bastion of freedom in the first place.

Defending Rep. Mary Miller Was A Moral Imperative

Mary Miller is a new member of Congress. An Illinoisan since birth, she ran on a platform of supporting farming and bringing manufacturing jobs back to her district. She won.

And then, two weeks ago, she quoted Hitler. Specifically, she said, “Hitler was right about one thing: Whoever has the youth has the future.”

A brouhaha of criticism followed, and my high-school age son asked me what the fuss was all about. I told him what she said, and he immediately declared, “That’s not anti-Semitic!”

When I explained that she wasn’t accused of being anti-Semitic per se, but of admiring Hitler, he dismissed the charge: “Saying that someone got one thing right doesn’t mean you admire that person.”

He’s correct, of course. In fact, it implies the opposite. Saying that Hitler got one thing right indicates that he got everything else wrong.

Once the full video of Miller’s remarks was released, it became apparent that those accusing her of “admiring Hitler” are guilty of nothing less than malicious slander. Miller quoted Hitler’s words to scare her audience and help them understand the danger of indoctrination – a subject Hitler understood well and exploited. If she and her audience didn’t regard Hitler as the paragon of evil, his actions wouldn’t have provided a potent example of the danger she was attempting to highlight.

Was it ill-advised for her to use Hitler to make her point? Yes. There were many better, less inflammatory examples she could have used.

Nonetheless, Rav Noach Weinberg, zt”l, once did something very similar. He took the leadership of Aish HaTorah on a tour of Nazi death camps to learn what one person with a single-minded focus and determination could do for evil, which only teaches us how much could be accomplished if we used that same single-minded focus for good.

Of course no one in his right mind would accuse an Orthodox rabbi like Rav Weinberg of admiring Hitler or even his “single-minded focus.”

Actually, that’s not correct. The Coalition for Jewish Values – the organization I serve as managing director – rejected calls for Rep. Miller’s resignation after the story broke and, as a result, we were called “Rabbis for Hitler.” This, despite the fact that the organization represents over 1,500 Orthodox rabbis.

Learning from history – including its paragons of evil – has always been the Jewish approach. We learn from Laban, Pharaoh, Haman, and the Roman general Titus who destroyed the Holy Temple and exiled us from our homeland. To learn how Hitler brought his evil plans to fruition – and the tactics he used to convince ordinary Germans that murdering of Jews was moral – is not merely commendable, but obligatory.

As George Santayana famously put it, “Those who do not learn history are doomed to repeat it.”

Some people told us that they agreed with our stance but believed that a public statement from the Coalition of Jewish Values in support of Miller was unnecessary. We disagree. We considered sending her only a private letter of support, but then we saw an increasing number of Jewish organizations and legislators calling for her resignation. These calls were both wrong and – considering the silence of these same people in response to disturbing statements from such people as Rep. Ilhan Omar – clearly partisan.

Defending Miller was the right thing to do. We were obligated to defend her, even if that meant entering a firestorm.

Those who find our statement disturbing will soon forget this entire episode. Rep. Miller, though, never will, which should go a long way to deepen her friendship with the Jewish community.

Originally published in The Jewish Press

Trump’s True Feelings About Jews and Israel

Originally published inNewsweek

For the past four years, both leftists and Never-Trumpers have warned that President Trump’s support for Israel and the Jewish community was not sincere—that he cares only about himself, and that he would surely turn against us when it served him. Now, after an election likely to bring about the end of his term, Trump has let us know otherwise, with the announcement from Secretary of State Mike Pompeo that the United States will henceforth identify the anti-Israel movement, often known as BDS, as anti-Semitic.

The lame-duck months of a presidency allow a president to express his true sentiments about an issue or cause without concern for the political consequences, especially when his successor is of the opposing party.

We saw this in late 2016, when President Obama waited until after the elections to support the United Nations’ anti-Semitic Security Council Resolution 2334. It claimed that land holy to the Jewish people for thousands of years was “Palestinian territory,” and even asserted that the Old City of Jerusalem, where in 1948 Jews were ethnically cleansed and denied the ability to pray at their holiest site, was “occupied” by Israel in violation of international law. It displayed the bigotry now typical of that once-august body.

What was atypical, however, was the United States’ abstention, which enabled Security Council passage of this despicable nonsense—what the late Charles Krauthammer called “Obama’s most shameful back-stabbing moment.” Later it became clear that, although Obama had promised AIPAC to “have Israel’s back” and feigned surprise when Egypt offered the resolution, there was compelling evidence that his administration was fully behind it from the outset and had timed its introduction so as to not jeopardize congressional Democrats and Hillary Clinton during the election.

In the case of President Trump, the identification of the anti-Israel boycott as anti-Semitic could have helped both him and his party. True, the Orthodox, along with Evangelical Christians and other groups strongly supportive of Israel, were already lining up to vote for Trump. But such an open repudiation of the stance adopted by multiple members of the “Squad” would have forced Democratic candidates to choose between a far-Left position and that of the Republican president.

The statement itself expresses nothing that the knowledgeable do not already know. The Orthodox Jewish community is most intimately familiar with the long history of anti-Semitism, classic understandings of its origins and its key indicators. A recent survey by Ami Magazine revealed that Orthodox Jews familiar enough with BDS to have an opinion recognize it as anti-Semitic by about 25 to one.

BDS is also, pragmatically speaking, among the most demonstrably counterproductive efforts in the millennia of peacemaking attempts. While its claimed intention is to bring Israel to the negotiating table, it is a simple matter of public record that expressions of support for the labeling of Israeli goods, much less for a boycott, drive Israel away from the speaker and the government that he or she represents.

“BDS” is merely a new label for the Arab League boycott first enacted in 1945 against “Palestinian goods”—something to ponder the next time someone says that Arabs are the real Palestinians. Its goal, then as now, was neither fairness nor the establishment of a country, but the destruction of Israel.

Its main impact is not felt in Israel, where, as the Abraham Accords most recently demonstrated, the old Arab boycott is in collapse and investment in the nation’s flourishing medical, technology and other businesses is only growing. Rather, its greatest influence is on the American college campus, promoted most prominently by organizations such as Students for Justice in Palestine.

This student group honors mass murderers, ranking officials in terror organizations and “academics” who explain why terrorism and murder against Jews is the fault of the victims. The fact that such a racist and barbaric endeavor has more than 200 university chapters illustrates the extent of the problem.

Many have blamed President Trump for turning support for Israel into a partisan issue, simply by making so many dramatic pro-Israel moves over the past several years. But the president sacrificed whatever political points he might have scored with this announcement. The Biden administration must now endorse his denunciation of BDS, lest it make support for Israel, and indeed the fight against anti-Semitism, a partisan position.

There is No Jewish Vote—There are Two, Diametrically Opposed

Yes, there is a Jewish vote: an I24News poll determined that 63.3 percent of Israelis would prefer to see President Donald Trump reelected, as opposed to 18.8 percent for Joe Biden. The majority believe that electing Biden would be harmful to the relationship between the U.S. and Israel.

But even this difference pales in comparison to the new poll from Ami Magazine, which determined that 83 percent of the Orthodox, and fully 95 percent of the Charedi, traditional Orthodox, support the reelection of the president. Among Charedi respondents, only 2 percent said they plan to vote for Joe Biden.

Read more at Newsweek…