The more the Democrats come up with nothing, the louder the drumbeat for impeachment will become. This is not about justice. It’s about mob justice. And America will be putting up with it until the 2020 election, because House Speaker Nancy Pelosi can neither silence nor satisfy the mob.
We have arrived at a moment where America will decide whether anti-Semitism should be stamped out, or permitted to become dangerous… Either the Democrats will sincerely, forthrightly and permanently reject the haters among them, or voters must reject the Democrats.
At its root, the bill declares the Torah to be a bigoted document and all those who follow it to be bigots. Why? Because the Torah says men and women are different, that marriage is between a man and a woman, and that certain relationships are pure while others are not. Attempting to remain true to these beliefs could be construed as discrimination under the Equality Act.
Trump may be politically incorrect and imprecise with his language, but he is neither a racist nor an anti-Semite. Actually, it is just the opposite — he enacts policies to equally benefit all Americans, and appears to take special pleasure celebrating minority achievement.
While I do believe that everything is in God’s hands, I cannot claim to know His thoughts: I do not know why He sent Donald Trump to be our president. And while God has not (yet) told me this explicitly, I am also reasonably certain that the president is not, any more than was Mr. Obama, the Messiah. What I can say, though, is that President Trump is following a Biblical model of leadership.
Without question, one of two individuals — President Trump and Rep. Ilhan Omar — made comments “designed to incite hatred” that are putting “life at risk.” But according to leading Democrats, that person would be the president and not Omar. One could hardly look for a better example of the inversion of morality, and of hater and hated.
In a society where hate speech is condemned, calling someone hateful, when it is false, can be a potent expression of hate. The Left has raised the use of hate as hateful accusation to a fine art.
by Rabbi Yaakov Menken and Jeff Ballabon
There is an ongoing machlokes l’shem shamayim, an “argument for the sake of heaven” within the Jewish world, concerning the correct blend of religious and secular education. Some Jewish schools aggressively compete with the finest prep schools in the country. Others aim to satisfy more basic levels of secular instruction while focusing more intensively on Jewish studies. Yet a third group minimizes the study of secular subjects, producing graduates barely fluent in English, much less geography or biology.
It is appropriate for this topic to be actively debated and discussed, for Rabbinic leaders to encourage schools to follow their educational paradigms, and for parents to choose schools for their children which best meet their own priorities and beliefs. But no matter where we fall in our own philosophies of Jewish education, it is irresponsible and dangerous to direct the heavy hand of government against the choices of others.
That is the approach taken by the “Yaffed” organization, which claims to promote discussion by “rais[ing] awareness” in the community, but in reality aims to end it via coercive action. Yaffed sued New York State in Federal court, demanding that the state Education Department force Jewish schools to change their curricula — and this was a key motivator behind recent state draft requirements for private schools which, at least initially, appeared to relegate religious education to an afterthought.
Jewish survival has always hinged on Jewish education, and our history is replete with notorious examples of government interference — often with active assistance and even prodding from Jews. Whether those Jewish antagonists had a chip on their shoulder towards Judaism or were motivated by genuine concern for children, the results have always been disastrous. From the Greeks and Romans to Tsarist and Communist Russia, educated Jews — that is to say, Jewishly-educated Jews — know that government intervention in Jewish education has been a consistently destructive force.
It has become commonplace for the outside world to cast Jews with secular university educations as more highly educated than those without. Yet as alumni of both elite Ivy-League Universities and revered yeshivos, we know that the scholarship, energy and forward-looking motion within Judaism today arises primarily from those who sacrifice an advanced formal secular curriculum in favor of additional Torah study.
This is one reason why we chose schools for our children that heavily favor Torah subjects and long hours in the beis medrash at the expense of some secular studies. We fully respect the right of other Jews to make other choices. We demand the right to make our own.
This does not mean that the content of our schools’ curricula should not be debated. On the contrary, it is something which must constantly be monitored, discussed, and optimized — but within our community, never imposed upon us from the outside.
We are disturbed, therefore, to encounter an attitude of indifference or acceptance even among some Orthodox Jews, who disagree with those who consciously choose a more cloistered existence — and who believe that these government regulations will lead to no harm. The machlokes about the balance of limudei kodesh and limudei chol may be l’shem shamayim, but there is nothing l’shem shamayim about government interference in a community’s yiddishkeit. It’s also remarkably short-sighted to imagine that if we permit increased government intrusion, it will stop at a few more hours of limudei chol in chassidische chadorim.
The obvious dangers of the Yaffed approach should be self-evident to anyone paying attention to the state of education outside our community. Schools, textbooks and mandatory curricula have become petri dishes for social engineering — culturing growth in directions diametrically opposed to a Torah worldview.
Jewish schools in Great Britain are threatened with closure if they fail to teach “tolerance and respect” for “alternative lifestyle choices,” or if they offer a religious viewpoint on Creation “as having a similar or superior evidence base to scientific theories.” In the United States, schools teach “Palestinian” history while referring to “Holocaust Fatigue” to dismiss the need for education regarding the Nazi genocide. And a Canadian teacher was dismissed for mentioning to a group of high school seniors, during a discussion of differences between personal opinions and the law, his personal belief that abortion is wrong.
The only ordained rabbi on Yaffed’s Advisory Council is Eric Yoffie, President Emeritus of the Union for Reform Judaism. That the Reform movement pursues an aggressive statist, anti-religious-freedom, progressive agenda is just as relevant to Mr. Yoffie’s involvement as his history of aggressive hostility towards traditional Judaism and its rabbis, both in America and Israel.
In Great Britain, the government claims that “even though children may have to go to a different school, and this might not be the school of the families’ choice, the enforcement action would ultimately be to the benefit of children.” In other words, state authorities explicitly posit that they are better qualified to determine what is “to the benefit of children” than the children’s parents.
That, of course, is the tacit mindset behind the recent decrees of the New York State Education Department. That is why although the current regulations may not create an immediate problem for our schools and our children, unless we join forces to push back, the next step certainly shall. For governments to tell our schools how to teach our children should offend not only a subset of the Orthodox community, but anyone who values civil liberties, religious freedoms, and parental rights.
Rabbi Yaakov Menken is the Managing Director of the Coalition for Jewish Values (CJV). Jeff Ballabon is chairman of B2 Strategic and advises CJV on strategy and policy.
Originally published in the Jewish Press. This version is without the edits made by the Jewish Press for space and style reasons.
In the Oct. 24 issue of Mishpacha magazine, popular in the Orthodox Jewish community, columnist Jonathan Rosenblum interviewed Jonathan Neumann, author of the excellent book dismantling the false equivalence between Jewish values and liberal activism, “To Heal the World?” Rosenblum closed by inquiring “what, short of an outbreak of violent anti-Semitism, might recreate a feeling among young Jews as being members of a unique people.”
While Neumann’s answer remains instructive, the intervening days have shown that the premise was wrong. The outbreak of violent anti-Semitism transpired that same weekend, but a celebration of Jewish unity has not resulted… because for many Jews, the aforementioned liberal activism came first.
I feel I have yet to adequately process my grief and sorrow regarding the horrific slaughter at the Tree of Life Congregation in Pittsburgh. This is due not only to denial, but how I learned about this atrocity.
As a Sabbath-observant Jew, I knew nothing about what had transpired until after nightfall, when I had returned from synagogue and started up my computer. I happened to look at social media before the news.
So the first thing I read was not the report of the worst anti-Semitic crime in U.S. history. What I read first was that it was my fault.
The blood of the victims was not yet dry, and already people were diverting our attention from the simple fact that Jews are still murdered for being Jews – and not hesitating to blame Jews for anti-Semitism, in classically anti-Semitic fashion.
The question for Trump-haters was why he was to blame. By that, I do not mean an incredulous “why” would Trump be responsible for the actions of an individual who opposed him – and did so specifically because Trump is “surrounded by kikes” and “there is no #MAGA as long as there is a kike infestation.” They had no such question; for them, blaming the President was a given.
Rather, a better word is “how” to justify this improbable connection. They offered multiple, mutually-contradictory rationales, connected by nothing other than the writers’ pre-existing hostility towards the President. Others incriminated Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, with no greater consistency except in their previous opinions of their target.
Consider that many of those who say this barbarian felt empowered by Trump also claim that anti-Semites in Gaza turn to violence because they feel powerless. There is no consistency, for none is required. Their underlying concern is not understanding anti-Semitism, but how to leverage it for political gain. For multiple Jewish writers, tweeters and pundits, partisan agendas come before Jewish unity. It is possible that this is even a greater tragedy than the attack itself.
Anti-Semitism is a unique form of hatred. Xenophobia says the “other” is shiftless, worthless, and criminal. The Jew, on the other hand, is conniving, resourceful, plotting. The “other” robs banks; the Jew controls the banks. And one of the basic anti-Semitic ideas is that hatred against Jews is something other than Jew-hatred, and that to the extent that it is, the Jews brought it upon themselves.
No one likes to be hated, and without a clear theological understanding of why anti-Semitism exists, it is comforting to pretend that it is going away, or tied to a political ideology that we can potentially eliminate. And thus it is understandable why Jews fall into this trap. Understandable, but horribly wrong.
Anti-Semitism is found at the extreme ends of all political movements, rather than stemming from one. That Farrakhan referred to Jews as termites, while Bowers referred to a “kike infestation,” is no coincidence – because their ideology is the same, at least when it comes to Jews. The image of Jews as parasites was common in Nazi literature, and long before.
It is true that anti-Semitism increased in 2017 – if we include the 163 bomb threats against JCC’s made by a mentally-disturbed Israeli teen and the Obama volunteer who was stalking his former girlfriend. Of the twelve violent hate crimes against Jews in New York State, nine, fully three-quarters, were in Brooklyn and directed against easily-identified Orthodox Jews – the vast majority (over 90%) of whom support President Trump. Not one of the perpetrators has been identified as a white supremacist. So the leftists are not merely wrong, but are blaming the very Jews who clearly know anti-Semitism far better than they do.
No explanation of the Pittsburgh massacre is valid that does not address the shootings at the Overland Park, Kansas JCC in 2014 and the U.S. Holocaust Museum in 2009, and the Crown Heights riot of 1991. It must also encompass the Hypercacher killings in 2015, why synagogues from France to Denmark are defended with armed troops less than 75 years after the Holocaust… and the Holocaust itself. It must, finally, explain why international media reported a rioting mob in Gaza, gathered in order to “rip down the border, and rip the Jews’ hearts from their bodies,” as a “peaceful protest” – and described the precision elimination of fifty terrorists in that mob as a “massacre.”
Jews cannot pretend that this hatred afflicts only those of particular political affiliations. That delusion only makes all Jews less safe.
Jew-hatred is not about politics. It is tied to no other agenda. As it has been for thousands of years, it is about hatred for God, Torah and values — and the same genocidal mission shared by Haman, Hitler and Bowers: “All Jews Must Die.” It cares not whether a Jew is conservative or liberal, religious or secular, rich or poor.
That is exactly why all decent people must fight it, and why all Jews must continue to proudly identify as Jews. Together.
This article first appeared in American Greatness.
Few things could be more embarrassing than giving Barack Obama a prize for “ethics in government,” as the University of Illinois did on Friday. One is reminded of the Nobel Peace Prize given to Yasser Arafat for graciously accepting a base for his terrorist organization in the middle of Judea and Samaria.
The media has made a great deal of Donald Trump’s personal moral failings and fabrications. The funny thing is, his exaggerations and braggadocio don’t affect our lives. But when Barack Obama told us that “if you like your health care plan, you can keep it,” knowing full well that this was untrue, he defrauded every American. And when he and his staff knowingly misinformed the media about the nature of the Iran Deal, he made every American (and every Middle Easterner) less safe.
Obama told his audience in Champaign-Urbana: “Just a glance at recent headlines should tell you that this moment really is different. The stakes really are higher. The consequences of any of us sitting on the sidelines are more dire.”
Which headlines does he mean? Surely he is not discussing getting North Korea’s Kim Jong-Un to the negotiating table for the first time to discuss denuclearization. Obama could not be referring to the growing demonstrations and efforts to topple the Iranian dictatorship in the wake of President Trump’s withdrawal from the “deal” which propped up that barbaric regime. And one could only hope that he was not discussing Ambassador Nikki Haley taking the chair of the United Nations Security Council, as she confronts and rejects the same U.N. bigotry that the Obama Administration permitted to fester unabated.
No, it is far more probable that he was discussing subjects which he mentioned elsewhere in his address: Trump successes for which he would claim credit, and problems Obama cultivated for which he would blame his successor.
Let us remember that in 2016, when President Trump said he could renegotiate trade deals and bring jobs back to America, Obama ridiculed this as impossible. His precise words were, “what magic wand do you have?”
And now that Donald Trump has waved that wand, sparking the economy, renegotiating trade deals, bring America to the point that—for the first time in history—the Department of Labor reported more jobs available than people looking for work. Obama wants you to believe it was all his doing.
“I’m glad it’s continued, but when you hear about this economic miracle that’s been going on,” he said Friday. “I have to kind of remind them, actually those job numbers are kind of the same as they were in 2015 and 2016.”
No, they weren’t. Unemployment declined from 5 percent to 4.7 percent in 2016, which Obama declared to be about as low as reality would permit. Today it is 3.9 percent, thanks to job creation he dismissed as a pipe dream.
And then, Obama called upon Americans to reject “the powerful and the privileged who want to keep us divided and keep us angry and keep us cynical.” Though it wasn’t what he meant, his words clearly call upon us to reject the legacy of Barack Obama.
As president, Obama needlessly and repeatedly injected racial hostility into race-blind incidents. Even the Washington Post called his remarks on the arrest of Professor Henry Gates “divisive,” and acknowledged that “Obama’s image as a racial healer never recovered.” Despite the fact that Gates refused to provide ID while standing near the damaged front door of his home, Obama declared that police “acted stupidly” and claimed the incident demonstrated that “race remains a factor in this society today.” In reality, the one who made race a factor was Barack Obama.
After Michael Brown robbed a corner store, refused to comply with police orders, and brought about his own death by attacking the responding officer, Obama called it “heartbreaking and tragic,” and lamented that Brown’s family “will never hold Michael in their arms again.” His words appeared to blame police for the death of a brutal assailant. And Obama’s words had violent and ongoing consequences, encouraging mob reaction not only locally in Ferguson, Missouri, but later in Baltimore, Dallas, and elsewhere.
And then there was Obama’s comment, “If I had a son, he’d look like Trayvon.” If I had a son who resembled the guy who gave an innocent neighborhood watch member a fractured nose, two black eyes and multiple lacerations to the back of the head, I wouldn’t call attention to that fact—much less speculate on the hypothetical similarity of a hypothetical child. Either way, I would not claim to promote racial healing while calling attention to the race of “victims” who in each case had initiated the confrontations in which they were involved.
What was Trump’s “crime?” To call out violence “on many sides,” pointing out that Antifa was no less violent or dangerous than neo-Nazis. While Nazis are reviled, Antifa is celebrated by the Left as it continues to suppress the free speech of all with whom it disagrees (today, they call it “no-platforming”)—with an uncanny resemblance to the behavior of the Nazi brownshirts of the 1930s.
No one elected Trump imagining him to be a paragon of morality. But those who supported the vastly more consequential lies and frank divisiveness of the Obama era are in no position to lecture. To condemn Trump on the one hand, while awarding Obama for his “ethics” on the other, means that someone’s moral compass is in sore need of calibration.
This article first appeared in American Greatness.