The latest offering in my Yiddish-themed column at Tablet can be read here.
The third time proved the charm. President Trump’s travel ban received the hechsher of the highest court in the land.
As well it should have.
True, in the years since 9/11, no one in the United States has been killed in a terrorist attack by anyone from the seven countries subject to the president’s executive order (North Korea, Syria, Iran, Yemen, Libya, Somalia and Venezuela). And true, too, that Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates, countries from which the 9/11 attackers hailed, are not on the list. Likewise true, the U.S. already has strong vetting procedures for all immigrants from a host of countries.
But there were three non-fatal attacks by people connected to Iran or Somalia. And the bottom line, as the Court held, is that an American president has the right to decide what countries he feels cannot prevent the export of terrorists.
The key to the legal muster-passing of the travel ban’s third iteration was its devolvement from a “Muslim ban,” which would have branded an entire religion and all its adherents dangerous, to a ban on citizens of specific countries. Adding to the non-Muslim nature of the ban is the fact that the presidential order affects a mere estimated 8.2 percent of the world’s Muslims.
The closeness of the Supreme Court vote was largely due to the question of whether to give weight to the president’s campaign rhetoric about Muslims, which was at times rather harsh.
I’m not inclined to ascribe to President Trump true animus for Islam and Muslims. I suspect that some of his past intemperate words were innocent if inelegant attempts to vilify radical Islamists, those who murder and maim in the name of Islam, who richly deserve opprobrium.
In any event, a majority of the Court felt that the rhetoric, some of which persisted even after the presidential election, was not pertinent to the order before them, which made no mention at all of any religion.
That wasn’t the feeling of four justices. Justice Sonia Sotomayor, in a dissent, notably used President Trump’s inflammatory words about Muslims to underscore what she asserted were the “stark parallels” between the majority opinion and one of the high court’s most shameful moments: Korematsu v. United States, the decision that upheld the rounding up and internment of Japanese Americans during World War II.
That comparison, though, was, to put it politely, bewildering. The Korematsu decision concerned the uprooting of American citizens and their effective incarceration in detention camps. Halting the provision of visas to citizens of other countries isn’t just in a different category, it’s on a different planet.
My first reaction to the decision was satisfaction with the Court majority’s understanding of its role in a case like this: to judge only the order at issue.
My second one, though, was to engage in a bizarre thought experiment. What if the enemy-identifying rhetoric of a president – unimaginable as it would be for the current one – were aimed at Judaism and Jews? What if a (chalilah) President Farrakhan had declared in campaign speeches that “Judaism hates us!” and ordered a ban on Jews – but then, under legal constraints, narrowed it down to a ban on people from Israel, France and the U.K.? And the High Court, asked to rule on the ban, chose to focus exclusively on the new order’s mentioning of only countries, not a people or religion? How would we feel?
Crazy scenario? Surely. Still and all, such wild, discomfiting imaginings are part and parcel of objective critical thinking.
So, though, is recognizing the qualitative difference between that fever dream and the reality today – a difference that makes quite a difference: There are no Jews, much less a Jewish movement, bent on murder and mayhem. And Israel, France and the U.K. are not incubators of terrorism.
The vast majority of Muslims, both here in the U.S. and overseas, are not proponents of violence. But there can be no denying that much terrorism today emerges from the foul belief that Islam requires hatred and killing of “infidels”; no denying that the only religious credo routinely bellowed before attacks on innocents is an Islamic one.
And, unfortunately, the tiny percentage of the nearly 2 billion Muslims who subscribe to a violent theology cannot erase those facts. I feel sympathy, and think we all should, for innocent Muslims who have to live with that ugly monster on their backs, misrepresenting the faith they live daily and peacefully.
The monster, though, is real. And it birthed a travel ban.
© 2018 Hamodia
Hamodia opted to not publish my column submission for this week, so I post it here instead.
The two thirds of the American populace that objected to the policy of removing children from their illegal immigrant parents at the southern border emitted a collective sigh of relief last week. President Trump, in a stunning turnabout, signed an executive order intended to stop the practice.
Although there are logistical and legal issues still to be resolved and subsequent presidential tweets to try to reconcile with the executive order, the president demonstrated the courage to publicly jettison his repeated claim that he was powerless to act, that only a larger action by Democrats in Congress could end the separation policy. He deserves credit for that move.
Before his reversal, though, the administration’s policy was to treat people who entered the country illegally as felons rather than civil violation offenders (first-time illegal entry is a misdemeanor). Children, even very young ones, were taken from their parents against their will, and the policy was broadly decried. Among the decriers was Agudath Israel of America, which expressed its “deep concern and disappointment” over the resultant “profound suffering and pain to both parents and children.”
The Agudah statement acknowledged that the “problem of illegal immigration is a serious one, and we support reasonable efforts by the administration and legislature to effectively stem the flow of would-be immigrants who have not been accepted through the legal immigration system.” But it contended that “seeking to enforce our statutes does not relieve us of [our] moral obligation” to prevent “the extreme anguish, fear and trauma born of separating undocumented immigrant family members, which is particularly harmful to children.”
The reaction to Agudath Israel’s statement was broad and diverse. There were many expressions of gratitude for its issuance, from both members of our community and others. But there were a number of negative reactions too. I serve as the Agudah’s liaison with the media and public, and so those reactions landed in my inbox, some with quite a thud.
They confirmed something that (as regular readers of this space well know) has pained me for years: the prevalence of gross, fervent and unthinking partisanship.
A legitimate question asked by several people was why the Agudah felt the need to comment on the situation at all. The organization does not, of course, regularly comment on events that lack direct impact on the Jewish community.
The knowledge, though, that wailing children were being taken from their parents was wrenching not only to a broad swath of the larger American public but to a wide swath, too, of Klal Yisrael – rachmanim, after all, bnei rachmanim. So, it was not inappropriate for us to register our pain. And, with scores of religious groups registering their own protests of the policy, some of them quite harshly, it was felt that, should the Agudah say nothing, it would be assumed to approve of the policy.
Striking, though, was the lack of information that underlay some other (often vociferous) complaints. Several people, “informed” presumably by news sources that richly deserve the adjective “fake,” insisted that “the law” requires family breakups, and that the policy of considering unlawful entrants to be criminals had been in place under previous administrations.
When I explained that there was and is no such law, and that the policy of automatically considering illegal entrants to our country deserving of incarceration and the seizing of their children was mere weeks old, they seemed taken aback.
Others apprised us that a “deep state” plot, or Democratic Party conspiracy, was clearly at play; others were upset that we dared “attack” a sitting president, although we took care in our statement to not even mention the president or attorney general, and lamented only the upshot of an unfortunate policy. When, in past years, the Agudah issued statements critical of the Obama administration for joining the U.N. Human Rights Council or fostering the Iran Deal, no complaints, to the best of my memory, were registered.
Some correspondents, seemingly having read only part of the statement, interpreted the Agudah’s expression of humanitarian concern as advocacy for “open borders.” As if there are only two options: wrenching kids from their parents’ arms or having the country overrun by a horde of Aztec invaders.
The acutely politicized, black-and-white, “us-and-them” and often woefully misinformed mentality in parts of our world is lamentable. Intelligent, informed opinions on current events cannot be gleaned from talk radio hosts or blatantly partisan news organizations. Astuteness requires middos tovos, the consideration of different points of view and the application of that most important of skills: critical thinking.
And their lack poorly serves the mission of Klal Yisrael.
© 2018 Rabbi Avi Shafran
Your four-man chaburah is making a siyum and you’re ordering a large pizza. The eatery offers toppings but only on the entire pizza. You like onions and are sort of okay with peppers, but you can’t stand mushrooms. Yanky loves them, though, and Yudi likes them somewhat. Shimmie’s a pepper guy and ambivalent about fungi. Complicated, no? Your first choice would be onions-only, but, to prevent the dreaded mushrooms, you’d compromise and allow peppers. Deliberations ensue, an agreement is reached, and the pie is delivered. Mazel tov.
Most political elections are so much easier. A simple majority rules; the candidate garnering the most votes is the winner. Even if no one wins a majority of votes. Even if a sizable minority loathes the winner. Even if other candidates were “spoilers,” having had little chance of winning but having siphoned votes away from a more popular candidate.
And then there is “ranked-choice” voting, a.k.a. “instant runoff” or “tiered” voting.
That system allows voters to rank their candidates – to choose not only a favorite, but second or third (or more) choices. When the votes are counted, a candidate earning more than 50% of the votes is the winner. But if no candidate achieves a majority of votes, the ballots get re-counted, this time, with the votes of those who selected the last-place candidate as their top pick counted as votes for their second-choice candidate.
If there still isn’t a 50%-winning contender, the process continues until someone amasses a majority. A majority-backed (or, at least, majority-acceptable) candidate will thus emerge as the winner. The system is arguably more democratic and unarguably less expensive that holding separate runoff elections.
Several American cities have adopted ranked-choice voting over the years. San Francisco used the method for its recent mayoral race, and New York City is considering putting the measure on the ballot for municipal elections.
Last week, Maine became the first state to use ranked-choice voting on the state level. Mainers may be especially sympathetic to the ranked-choice system, as, in both 2010 and 2014, outgoing Republican Governor Paul LePage, who has come under fire for racist and obscenity-laced statements, was elected without having won a majority of the votes.
Tallying and re-tallying votes is time-consuming, but even a pizza, after all, can’t be rushed. But, while the results of the Democratic gubernatorial primary (in which no candidate won a majority) have, at this writing, not yet emerged, one Maine ballot measure passed, with 54.2% of voters approving: To continue ranked-choice voting.
It’s a choice that seems to make sense. It may confuse some voters conditioned to the standard “the one with the most votes wins” system, require more research on the part of voters (not a bad thing, actually, that) and take longer for results to be reached. But when candidates who haven’t been chosen by a majority of voters can win office, it only aggravates the political polarization of society.
Ranked-choice voting can even actively achieve the opposite, bringing adversaries to cooperate with one another. Two of the seven Democratic rivals in the Maine governor’s race actually campaigned together. In a joint video, Mark Eves and Betsy Sweet noted that they are competitors, but agree on most issues. “You can vote for me first and Betsy second,” Mr. Eves says, with Ms. Sweet adding, “Or me first and him second.” Now when’s the last time we saw something like that?
Ranked-choice voting might even be an enticing, if far-off, option for our national elections. (Australia and Ireland have used the method for years.) Were the system to be used in primaries, the results of individual states’ primary elections might well be different from what they would be under the current system. And ratification of the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact (NPVIC), under which a state pledges its electoral votes to the national popular-vote winner, would also arguably make presidential elections more reflective of the electorate’s will.
President Trump, for instance, lost the national popular vote and received less than 50% of the vote in six of the states he won. Both Mr. Trump and his rival Hillary Clinton, moreover, were very unpopular with a large number of voters. A late Gallup poll before the election rated their unfavorability quotients at 62% and 57% respectively.
Had the NPVIC been in effect and ranked-choice voting used by the states, the election could well have had a different result.
Whether that scenario makes one wistful or relieved, though, the ranked-choice approach is an intriguing idea for Americans to explore.
Calmly and judiciously.
Maybe over pizza.
© 2018 Hamodia
While Democrats and Republicans were trading verbal punches – and misinformation –about immigrant children last week, an adult immigrant riveted the attention of a crowd, and then the world, as he saved a child’s life.
Mamoudou Gassama, a 22-year-old Malian Muslim who, via Libya, took a perilous boat journey to Italy, and from there traveled to France, had been sleeping on the floor of a migrant residence in Montreuil, outside Paris, sharing a cramped room with six others and unable to work legally.
He has legal immigrant status now, though, and a potential job with the Paris fire department, after he saw a four-year-old boy hanging from an apartment building balcony railing in Paris and, in a feat of bravery, mettle and physical prowess, clambered up four stories, pulling himself from balcony to balcony until he reached the child, grabbed him, and pulled him back to safety.
The incident reminded some of the actions of another Malian Muslim immigrant to France, Lassana Bathily, who hid Jewish customers from an active shooter in a refrigerated room at a kosher grocery store during the January 2015 terrorist attacks in Paris.
The partisan spat on these shores concerned, in part, the separation of illegal immigrant children from their parents.
Some liberal activists tweeted photos of detainees at the U.S.-Mexico border in steel cages, including one of a cage occupied by young boys, and blamed the Trump administration for breaking up immigrant families.
As it turned out, though, the photos were from 2014, when Barack Obama was president.
Among those who gleefully pointed out the error was President Trump. But he erred himself in a subsequent tweet exhorting his followers to “put pressure on the Democrats to end the horrible law that separates children from there [sic] parents once they cross the Border into the U.S.”
There is no such law, and the policy of separating children comes, in effect, from current administration policy, which automatically considers all who cross the U.S. border to be violators of criminal law. Under U.S. protocol, if parents are jailed, their children are separated from them. As to the 2014 photos, they were of children who arrived at the border without their parents.
Immigration, particularly for us Jews, is a fraught issue. There is understandable fear of arrivals from majority Muslim countries that espouse rabid anti-Israel and anti-Semitic attitudes. And yet, on the other hand, immigration to the U.S. is overwhelmingly from Mexico, China and India. And most of us American Jews are ourselves descended from relatively recent immigrants. Can we refuse others seeking opportunity, and often refuge, in our country?
Thoughtful Jews, I think, have two issues here to consider: The optics and the essence.
By optics I mean: What do we want recent immigrants and potential immigrants, legal and undocumented, to see? Jewish hands raised in a gesture of “halt!”, or extended in welcome? Yes, there may be incorrigible bad apples among potential immigrants (like there are among citizens). But there are many more wholesome imported fruits, even exemplary people like Messrs. Gassama and Bathily.
Does being a vocal part of the anti-immigration, deport-the-undocumented political camp offer any practical gain, beyond garnering the appreciation of alarmists and xenophobes? And does that gain, such as it is, outweigh the potential achievement of good will from immigrants, current and future?
And by essence I mean whether immigration is itself something positive, and whether undocumented immigrants should be regarded with sympathy or suspicion.
The threat of immigrant terrorists, so often raised in the debate, is largely a dark fantasy. The libertarian Cato Institute informs us that, based on the record, the chance of an American being murdered in a terrorist attack caused by an illegal immigrant is 1 in 10.9 billion per year. Yes, billion. Fears matter, but not as much as facts.
All that said, when it comes to how to regard immigration, reasonable people can disagree.
But all of us might consider the recent words of National Review senior editor Jonah Goldberg, a writer whose conservative credentials are beyond challenge.
“Of course,” he wrote, “there’s a kernel of truth to both sides’ awful shouting points on immigrants, but they crowd out the greater truth: Most immigrants, even those who are in the country illegally, aren’t animalistic members of MS-13… Neither victims nor villains, they are human beings desperate to make the most of the American dream as they see it.”
It’s possible that Mr. Goldberg has gone soft.
But maybe he just doesn’t see traditional conservatism as incompatible with compassion.
© 2018 Hamodia
Did you hear about Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu’s revelation that Iran is cheating on the deal it made in 2015 with six major world powers?
Well, if you did, you misheard. Or were misled.
Several news organizations seemed to make that erroneous claim, and the situation wasn’t helped by a White House communiqué contending that the news from Israel exposed the fact that “Iran has a robust, clandestine nuclear weapons program.”
The statement’s “clerical error,” in the words of White House spokesperson Sarah Huckabee Sanders, was later amended, with “has” changed to “had.” How tragically droll had World War III resulted from a single letter typo.
What Mr. Netanyahu in fact revealed was a large cache of documents (55,000 pages, and 183 compact discs) that, he explained, had been obtained and spirited out of Iran by Mossad (that grinding sound you’ve been hearing is the manic gnashing of mullahs’ teeth). The voluminous material, as described by the Israeli leader, revealed some previously unknown former Iranian nuclear sites, and showed that Iran, despite its insistence to the contrary at the time the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action was enacted, had indeed earlier pursued the manufacture of nuclear weapons.
That revelation is less than shocking. Nobody, including in the Obama administration, believed that Iran hadn’t aspired to nuclear weaponhood. The Shiite government was known to have had a program, “Project Amad,” with that specific aim, which continued until 2003.
Four years before the nuclear deal was signed, an International Atomic Energy Agency report explicitly noted the existence of Project Amad,. And, shortly before the deal, even then-Secretary of State John Kerry, one of its architects, nodded to Iran’s bald lie about its past activities, politely explaining that “we are not fixated on Iran specifically accounting for what they did at one point in time or another.”
In fact, it was precisely the recognition of Iran’s nuclear aspirations that propelled the powers to push for a deal, in order to put brakes on the mullahs’ objective. As British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson noted last week, “The Iran nuclear deal is not based on trust about Iran’s intentions; rather it is based on tough verification.”
President Trump campaigned on a promise to trash or renegotiate that “worst deal ever” (an appellation it apparently shares with NAFTA – they must have tied for first place), and has now pulled the United States out of the agreement.
Some observers have speculated that Mr. Netanyahu’s dramatic unveiling (quite literally; he pulled a curtain off exhibits) of the material taken from Iran and demonstrating the country’s deceitfulness was intended to prepare the way for Mr. Trump’s pulling the U.S. out of the deal.
But the revelation might also have been aimed more poignantly at the Iranians themselves, to put them on uncomfortable notice that not only is what everyone knew but couldn’t prove in 2015 now proven, but also to apprise them that Israel has the means to infiltrate secure locations within Iran (even within Tehran, where the documents had been hidden) and help itself to what it likes.
Which discomfort might just help Mr. Trump succeed at forcing Iranian leaders to agree to terms that would allow the U.S. to enter a new agreement with them. The hardliners in the Iranian government who opposed the deal all along are condemning the American about-face, saying “We told you so” to the relative moderates. But if they are sufficiently nervous about what might happen next within its own borders, it might just be a bit less resistant to “persuasion.”
What’s more, the president’s bravado – or, in his critics’ eyes, volatility – arguably helped intimidate North Korea, even though the outcome of that country’s inscrutable leader’s overture to his southern neighbor remains to be seen. Might Mr. Trump’s swagger (which his new Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has declared is returning to American foreign policy) convince Iran to better… understand things?
President Emmanuel Macron of France, Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany and Prime Minister Theresa May of Britain futilely lobbied Mr. Trump to not re-open the deal. Iranian hardliners are clamoring for Iran to abandon the deal itself and resume its nuclear program. But the nation’s mullahcracy certainly appreciates the deal’s lifting of some economic sanctions. Might it conceivably accept tightened terms if some means can be devised to allow it to save face?
Neither reasonability nor flexibility, though, are among the current Iranian government’s strong points, and even if a typo, thankfully, didn’t result in war, pushing the mullahs too far could.
Let’s hope – and be mispallel – that it won’t.
© 2018 Hamodia
(This column has been edited to reflect events of days since it was published.)
James Comey Jr., the former director of the FBI and author of the new book “A Higher Loyalty: Truth, Lies, and Leadership,” truly stands out from the crowd.
Not only because the man is 6’ 8”tall. But because he may well be the most reviled person in American politics today.
In our grossly polarized society, most personalities on the political scene, even if only on the sidelines, like Mr. Comey, are embraced by one squad and reviled by the other. Team mentality reigns, and the body politic is reduced to cheering or booing fans. Only face paint is missing.
And so it is something of an anomaly to observe a personality who is booed all around. Mr. Comey has achieved that status.
The Blue Team considers him (not unreasonably) to have played a part, perhaps a decisive one, in the defeat of Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential elections.
On October 26, 2016, two weeks before the presidential election, then-FBI director Comey learned that his agents had discovered a trove of emails on then-Congressman Anthony Weiner’s computer between the Democratic candidate and Mr. Weiner’s then-wife Huma Abedin (yes, a lot of “then”s here). Mr. Comey felt he had to inform Congress that the investigation into Mrs. Clinton’s use of private e-mail servers when she was Secretary of State was being reopened due to new information. He decided that to not reveal the new information would be misleading of Congress and the public
Mere days before the election, he informed Congress that “Based on our review [of the new material], we have not changed our conclusions that we expressed in July.” That was when he had announced that the agency “did not find clear evidence that Secretary Clinton or her colleagues intended to violate laws governing the handling of classified information” but that “there is evidence that they were extremely careless in their handling of very sensitive, highly classified information.”
Speaking last week to comedian/political commentator Stephen Colbert about those actions, Mr. Comey admitted that he knew his decision would deeply upset “at least half of partisans,” but that “it never occurred to me we would [upset] all of them.”
But upset them all he did, and Mrs. Clinton famously went on to lose the election, further incensing her supporters. New York Times columnist Charles M. Blow recently referred to Mr. Comey as having “made reckless and harmful disclosures and proclamations about the Clinton investigation while not whispering a word about the concurrent investigation into the Trump campaign.”
For his part, Mr. Comey feels he had no honorable choice but to do what he felt his position required of him. The Brookings Institution’s Benjamin Wittes characterized Mr. Comey’s quandary: “Charge Hillary Clinton and you will regret it. Don’t charge her and you will regret that too. Explain your reasoning and you will regret it. Don’t explain your reasoning and you will regret it. Inform Congress of your actions immediately before an election, and you will regret that. Don’t inform Congress and you will regret that too… The steps you take to remain apolitical will make you political.”
Team Red, for its part, reviles Mr. Comey for whatever it was that made President Trump fire him last May; and now for his book, which is highly critical of the president.
What prompted the FBI head’s firing is not entirely clear. At first, Mr. Trump said the termination was on the recommendation of United States Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. Later he insisted he had made the decision on his own. The day after the firing, he told Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak that he had “just fired the head of the FBI. He was crazy, a real nut job” and added “I faced great pressure because of Russia. That’s taken off.”
What is clear, though, is that Mr. Comey is not, to put it mildly, enamored of Mr. Trump, and doesn’t hide his feelings in his recent book. He likens the president to a mob boss, judges him “unethical and untethered to truth” and characterizes his leadership as “transactional, ego driven, and about personal loyalty.”
No way to win friends in Red America.
Maybe it’s my decades at Agudath Israel, over which time I regularly witnessed (and continue to witness) decisions made on high principle attacked from opposite corners. Maybe advancing age has tempered me, à la a poet’s declaration, “So goodbye cut and dried/Nice to have known you/But something went awry/And I’ve outgrown you.”
But– leaving aside the actual political issues – I can’t help feeling admiration for a player who does what he feels is right even if it means being booed by all the fans.
© Hamodia 2018
A reader has informed me that, contrary to what I had written in an earlier posting, NRA chief Wayne LaPierre did indeed mention the names of a number of non-Jews in his speech to CPAC. He is correct, and I have amended the piece accordingly. The new version is here.
My apologies to all my readers for my inadvertent error.
I’m not one to spy anti-Semites hiding under the bed. When I was a high school Rebbi, sometimes, when erasing the blackboard (remember blackboards?), I lost control of the wood-and-felt eraser and it landed on the floor. I would look down at it and growl “antesehMIT!” – not just as a joke but as an indirect lesson to the class that not every obstacle a Jew might face is necessarily sourced in Jew-hatred.
But my antenna for subtle prejudice against Jews nevertheless functions well. And a recent speech by longtime National Rifle Association executive vice president Wayne LaPierre set it vibrating intensely.
The NRA boss was addressing the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), and he didn’t mention the words “Jew” or “Jewish” at any point. But my radar strongly registered his words all the same.
The speech was a fiery one, an ultra-conservative cri de coeur that went far beyond defending gun ownership and opposing even reasonable gun control measures. It was a call to arms (maybe even literally – I’m not sure) for patriotic Americans to resist liberal societal forces – “European-style socialists,” as he called them – that he accused of being determined to destroy America from within.
Deriding recent efforts at tightening gun restrictions, he asserted that “The elites don’t care, not one whit, about America’s school system… For them, it is not a safety issue. It is a political issue. They care more about control and more of it. Their goal is to eliminate the Second Amendment and our firearms freedoms, so they can eradicate all individual freedoms.”
“History proves it,” he asserted. “Every time, in every nation in which this political disease rises to power, its citizens are repressed, their freedoms are destroyed, and their firearms are banned and confiscated.
“It is all backed in this country by the social engineering, and the billions [of dollars], of people like George Soros, Michael Bloomberg, Tom Steyer, and more.”
He went on to single out Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer as one of the Democrats who, he claimed, are anti-American and “liars to the core.”
And, for good measure, he namechecked Karl Marx, Bernie Sanders and 1960s community organizer Saul Alinsky.
“These intellectual elites,” he charged, “think they’re smarter than the rest of us. And they think they’re better than we are. They truly believe it… They think they deserve to be in charge of every lever of power.”
“But you know what?” he challenged his listeners, “We the People are in charge of this country!”
He characterized the Democratic Party as “infested with saboteurs,” and the student-propelled resurgence of gun-control advocacy that followed the Parkland, Florida school shooting as a “shameful politicization of tragedy… a classic strategy right out of the playbook of a poisonous movement.”
Then, noting how there are armed guards at some jewelry stores and sports stadiums, he asked his listeners, “Do we really love our money and our celebrities more than we love our children?”
Practically every sentence he uttered drew resounding applause.
Now, few if any of us Orthodox Jews are fans of George Soros or Saul Alinsky, and we certainly have no sympathies for Karl Marx. Most of us, moreover, are politically and socially conservative. But is it unreasonable to be concerned by the fact that so many of the names Mr. LaPierre cited, especially the non-elected officials, are of Jewish ethnicity?
To be sure, Jews are prominent in American philanthropy and politics, and, whether or not we like it, most American Jews are of liberal bent.
But billionaire gun-control and “social engineering” proponents also prominently include people like Bill and Melinda Gates and Jeff Bezos. And, in Congress, many similarly non-members-of-the-tribe, like Senators Jack Reed and Richard Durbin, and Representative Carolyn Maloney, are at the forefront of the effort to enact gun control legislation.
Mr. LaPierre likely has no great affection for those people or others like them. Why did he omit them from his jeremiad?
And why did his gun control enemy list not include “usual suspects” like the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence or The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops?
Why did he choose instead to reference so many… people known as Jews?
Mr. LaPierre may be no more anti-Semitic than my old blackboard eraser. Maybe I’m reading into his recent screed’s references to Jews something that isn’t really there.
But my antenna won’t stop buzzing.
© 2018 Hamodia
NOTE: This column has been corrected to not claim or insinuate that Mr. LaPierre referenced only Jews in his speech.
Agudath Israel Statement on This Morning’s U.N. General Assembly Vote
The countries that voted this morning in the United Nations General Assembly to demand that the U.S. rescind its recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and its plan to move its embassy there once again showed their true and ugly colors.
The General Assembly has long been a ludicrously anti-Israel forum, a grandiose soapbox where nations, including more than a few whose regimes routinely oppress, torture and murder their own citizens, wax righteously indignant at Israel’s audacity in defending herself against her many bloodthirsty enemies.
Today’s vote, however, forged a new low in the world body’s antipathy toward Israel. Not only does the majority of the General Assembly seek to deprive Israel of the right to determine her own capital, but it seeks to prevent our own country from respecting that right.
In 1995, Congress passed a law explicitly establishing the position of the United States that “Jerusalem should be recognized as the capital of the State of Israel,” and requiring that the American Embassy in Israel be moved to Jerusalem. Earlier this month, President Trump announced the implementation of that law.
We are proud of the steadfast friendship toward Israel and recognition of reality that Congress and President Trump have demonstrated. We applaud President Trump and Ambassador Haley for their courageous articulation of American values in the lion’s den of the United Nations.
And we remain ever hopeful that other responsible nations will come to recognize the special status of Jerusalem not only to the state of Israel but to the Jewish people throughout the millennia.