Jewish Communal Organizations Fail to Address the LA Pogrom by Daniel Greenfield and is There a Right to ‘In-Person’ Religious Services During a Pandemic? By Jonathan S. Tobin and Evangelicals And The Afterlife: A Response To Steven Pinker By Dennis Prager and Jewish store owner speaks about riot and looting incidents in LA and Yehudah Glick's Response To Murderous Lynch He Under went
Yehuda Lave is an author, journalist, psychologist, rabbi, spiritual teacher, and coach, with degrees in business, psychology and Jewish Law. He works with people from all walks of life and helps them in their search for greater happiness, meaning, business advice on saving money, and spiritual engagement. Now also a Blogger on the Times of Israel. Look for my column
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Jewish Communal Organizations Fail to Address LA Pogrom by Daniel Greenfield
The media has largely ignored the targeting of synagogues in the Los Angeles area during the Black Lives Matter riots. About the only publication doing any reporting on it is the Jerusalem Post. Why should an Israeli publication be the one doing the heavy lifting on the subject?
These are the descriptions Jewish business owners cited when talking about how their stores were looted and ransacked, and synagogues were vandalized with graffiti after peaceful protests spiraled out of control in Los Angeles beginning on Friday night and continuing into the weekend.
Many of the business owners whose stores were looted in the Beverly Hills, downtown Los Angeles and the heavily Orthodox Fairfax district, are observant Jews who had shut off all electronic devices and connection to the outside world on Thursday night in observance of both the two-day Shavuot holiday and Shabbat. Calls from alarm companies and multiple text messages and phone calls from non-observant friends, family and nearby store owners jolted them out of their safe bubble.
But here's a particular moment worth emphasizing.
After receiving a notification shortly after Shabbat, Rosenfeld raced to his store with some other men and discovered four men coming out of his store carrying his computer. "I chased [them] down and got them to drop the computer," he said.
Rosenfeld described the scene late Saturday night with people driving down the Fairfax district streets screaming, "effing Jews," at them.
He said when they saw a police car, they waved it down, hoping they would arrest a looter they had pinned down, but the cop said, "We can't do anything, we have officers who need assistance."
The "Jews" part makes it clear that this was targeted. Photos on social media appeared show anti-Semitic graffiti on the Beverly Hills sign.
We now know that this violence was incited by Black Lives Matter at its rally in Pacific Palisades. There was no particular reason for the racist and anti-Semitic hate group to target Fairfax except for the destruction.
Organizers led attendees to the busy intersection of 3rdStreet and Fairfax Avenue, near a popular high-end retail mall called The Grove. Demonstrators blocked traffic as the rally continued. Black Lives Matter co-founder Patrisse Cullors explained the location's significance over a bullhorn, describing it as "the shopping industry" and "the heart of capitalism."
Dr. Melina Abdullah, lead organizer of Black Lives Matter's L.A. chapter, led call and response chants of "disrupt white capitalism," a concept she believes is the root cause of police violence in America. Abdullah, who is also a college professor, went on to drop a string of expletives that seemingly foreshadowed what was to come after the rally would end.
"F*** the police," she shouted into the megaphone. "F*** white capitalism. F*** The Grove. F*** 3rdand Fairfax. F*** Beverly Hills."
Abdullah's 16-year-old daughter, Thandiwe, also addressed rallygoers. She co-founded the Black Lives Matter Youth Vanguard and has been speaking at local protests for several years. In 2018, she was honored by Time Magazine as one of the most influential teens in the country.
"I know you want to cry, I know you want to tear some s*** up," Thandiwe said. "If you want to set some corporations on fire, you know what? I don't care about Target burning. I don't care that capitalism burns. I don't care that white people in their f***ing office buildings are upset. I don't care that you can't go nowhere because you're stuck in f***ing traffic. I don't care that you can't get to your job or your doctor's appointment or to wherever the f*** you want to go."
So we've got a pretty implicit incitement to riot and loot here.
But what's striking about this is the lack of interest from Jewish organizations, including those in the LA area, about the targeting of Jews.
Even the huge Modern Orthodox synagogues echoed the RCA's meaningless letter condemning George Floyd's death and the violence, without specifically addressing the attacks on synagogues and Jewish stores. It's good of them to find time to condemn a man dying in another state, but not the attacks on Jewish synagogues and businesses in Los Angeles. The violence targeted the Fairfax area and the synagogues that were defaced appear to be 'Haredi' or, as some call them, 'Ultra-Orthodox', or members of the Jewish Persian and Morrocan community. The same seems to be true of many of the businesses. And yet it's sad that they didn't find the time to show some decency and solidarity.
Israeli-born philanthropist and activist Adam Milstein, who lives in Los Angeles, concurred. He said, "The Jewish community is in denial. The fact that synagogues got tagged and Jewish businesses were looted with [signs saying] 'Free Palestine' and 'Kill the Jews,' is not a coincidence. The rioters are antifa and Black Lives Matter and they are inherently antisemitic."
It's an important point by Milstein. But he shouldn't be the only one saying it.
And while the Jewish Journal has done a good job of covering some of the damage, this op-ed justifying the attacks on Jewish stores is horrifying.
"No, I didn't riot or loot—I have no temptation to do so. I have enough money and I have never been the personal target of police brutality. That's a privilege that I have. For those who don't have that privilege, I respect what these acts mean to them... As frightful as that reality may be to those of us who benefit from the American concept of property rights, we cannot deny that this is a natural response to a system that has made it impossible for communities of color to liberate themselves by peaceful means. After five centuries of unfathomable subjugation—most especially of the native and black communities—one would think that our society would recognize their undisputed moral authority to call attention to their own oppression."
The undisputed authority to deface synagogues, loot Jewish businesses, and carry on a pogrom, while shouting, "F____ Jews".
This defense of the pogrom comes from Yonatan Reches, whose bio lists him as "a Program Manager in the US Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center in El Segundo,"
"The safety of our houses of worship is entirely connected with the alignment of our community on the right side of this issue—and of history... On Sunday May 31, I saw a picture that pained me. I do not know the full story, but the optics were that a predominantly-white and highly-militarized police force used heavy-handed tactics to protect a synagogue from a predominantly-black crowd. Such images do our community no favors."
Dr. Yonathan Reches of IKAR and his decision to stand with the pogromists and against their Jewish victims does our community no favors. And the culture of silence surrounding the targeting of Jews by the Black Lives Matter pogrom does our community no favors.
Courage and decency demand that we speak out and call attention to it.
I will personally pledge to never donate to another organization or synagogue that sends out a letter about George Floyd but fails to address and condemn the attacks on synagogues and Jewish stores.
I ask you to join me in making that same pledge.
Jewish store owner speaks about riot and looting incidents in LA
Evangelicals And The Afterlife: A Response To Steven Pinker By Dennis Prager
Last week, Harvard professor of psychology Steven Pinker tweeted:
"Belief in an afterlife is a malignant delusion, since it devalues actual lives and discourages action that would make them longer, safer, and happier. Exhibit A: What's really behind Republicans wanting a swift reopening? Evangelicals."
Before responding to Pinker's remarkably ignorant tweet, I want to praise him. He is one of the few professors in America to call out the left's destruction of our universities. Most human beings lack courage, but no group is more cowardly than academics. This has been true for 100 years. Indeed, one might say that when you send your child to college, your child is taught to be a coward by the cowardly.
That said, two years ago, Pinker wrote:
Universities are becoming laughing stocks of intolerance, with non-leftist speakers drowned out by jeering mobs, professors subjected to Stalinesque investigations for unorthodox opinions, risible guidelines on "microaggressions" (such as saying "I believe the most qualified person should get the job"), students mobbing and cursing a professor who invited them to discuss Halloween costumes, and much else. These incidents have drawn worldwide ridicule, and damage the credibility of university scientists and scholars when they weigh on critical matters, such as climate change.
It takes courage for a professor to write that our universities are "laughing stocks of intolerance," that they engage in "Stalinesque investigations," and that they draw "worldwide ridicule."
Having praised Pinker, let me now respond to his tweet. First, "Belief in an afterlife is a malignant delusion…"
I am not a Christian, evangelical or otherwise. I am a religious Jew who has written and lectured extensively on the afterlife. My belief in the afterlife is based entirely on a logical argument: If there is a just G-d, it is axiomatic there is an afterlife. There is little justice and fairness in this life, so if there is a just G-d, there has to be an afterlife.
There is only one honest atheist response to this: "There is no G-d, so there is no afterlife. But if there is a G-d, you are right that there must be an afterlife."
So, belief in an afterlife is no more a "delusion" than belief in G-d. And it takes unsophisticated arrogance to dismiss the belief that the world has a designer and or to regard the proposition that intelligence must be created by intelligence as a "delusion." I was disappointed in Pinker, with whom I have dialogued on my radio show. His tweet reveals a truly shallow atheism.
In fact, I would argue that it is atheism that is a "malignant delusion." Regarding the delusion part, I asked one of America's leading thinkers of the last half-century, the late Charles Krauthammer, a secular agnostic, what he thought of atheism. To my surprise, he responded:
"I believe atheism is the least plausible of all the theologies. It is clearly so contrary to what is possible. The idea that all this universe always existed, created itself? I mean, talk about the violation of human rationality."
And as regards to the "malignant" charge, while there are, obviously, good individuals who are atheists, atheism is morally worthless. It makes no moral demands, whereas Judaism and Christianity posit a G-d who demands that people, for example, obey the Ten Commandments.
Atheism demands nothing; it only destroys the Judeo-Christian basis of morality in Western civilization, the civilization that gave the world democracy, liberty, women's equality and an end to slavery.
In fact, evangelical Christians are the greatest defenders of Western civilization while Pinker's atheist colleagues at Harvard and elsewhere are the most active opponents of Western civilization. How does Pinker explain that? Which exactly is the "malignant delusion"?
Finally, evangelical Christians and other religious opponents of the continuing lockdown – which is projected to result in more deaths worldwide and even in parts of America than the coronavirus itself – do not oppose it because of their belief in the afterlife. This is both stupid and a smear. It shows how even a Steven Pinker can be rendered foolish by atheism.
No one who actually knows evangelicals believes they support ending the lockdown because they value life less than secular Americans who want it to continue. Do evangelicals love their children and grandchildren less than atheists? Do evangelicals not do everything possible to save lives? There are evangelical hospitals and doctors serving in the poorest countries in the world. Where are the atheist hospitals?
Evangelicals oppose the lockdown at this point because they, more than any other large community in America, continue to believe in freedom. And without the evangelical community, we will no longer have liberty. From before the birth of America, liberty has been its cornerstone belief because it was a biblical value. The founders engraved a liberty-affirming verse from the Bible (Leviticus 25:10) on the Liberty Bell. At the same time, from Lenin to Soros and today's Democratic Party, liberty has never been a left-wing value.
To Pinker and his colleagues, Patrick Henry's famous plea, "Give me liberty, or give me death," the foundational principle of our republic, must sound truly foolish. It must have been the product of a malignant delusion.
Is There a Right to 'In-Person' Religious Services During a Pandemic? By Jonathan S. Tobin
Is there a point when attempts by the government to keep us safe go too far?
When protesters stormed state capitals in Michigan and Wisconsin in recent weeks demanding that the coronavirus pandemic lockdowns be lifted, the reaction from many observers was disbelief and even fear. Most mainstream media voices dismissed claims that government orders mandating that Americans shelter at home violated their constitutional rights.
But as the lockdowns have dragged on, the debate has shifted from the desire of small-business owners and ordinary citizens to go back to work to a more fundamental right: the freedom of worship.
Concerns that the nature of religious services, which tend to pack lots of people together, are likely to lead to the spread of the contagion have been backed up by some conspicuous examples. Some 35 of the 92 people who attended one particular church service in rural Arkansas in March wound up testing positive for COVID-19, with three of them later dying, and 26 more who had come into contact with those who attended the event diagnosed with the virus. And the devastating impact of the virus on Chassidic communities in Brooklyn, N.Y.—the biggest hotspot for the outbreak in the country—is linked to those who came down with COVID-19 after attending packed synagogue services or study sessions, as well as the fact that large families live in cramped homes.
But as the curve of pandemic infections and fatalities has started to flatten, impatience with the continued bans on worship services is running short.
This week, 1,200 pastors vowed that their churches would defy California Gov. Gavin Newsom's statewide suspension of religious gatherings by the end of May.
And they're not the only ones.
Defiance of lockdown orders directed at funeral gatherings and yeshivah openings became a particular point of contention when New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio singled out Jews for being scofflaws, generating a storm of protest at what some perceived to be an anti-Semitic remark. Along those lines, churches around the country are echoing the California demand setting up potential confrontations if faith communities refuse to obey the authorities.
Now the federal government is now getting into the dispute on the side of the worshippers.
Earlier this month, the Department of Justice announced that it would review shutdown orders. The orders would be scrutinized to see whether localities were overdoing the restrictions, and especially to determine if they were discriminating against faith by keeping houses of worship closed while other events or businesses were open and deemed "essential."
The stakes in this argument were raised by President Donald Trump's announcement that he considers religious observance "essential," and that he would "override" the efforts of states and cities to shut them down.
In a public-health emergency like a pandemic, many of the usual rules have to be suspended if lives are going to be saved. That's why the metaphors being thrown about in connection to this situation about it being war are apt. In wartime, constitutional rights can be temporarily suspended for the common good.
But the operational word is temporary, and with some state governments dragging their feet with respect to beginning the process of lifting pandemic restrictions, the impatience with the orders is beginning to seem more reasonable.
Any discussion about the opening of the country after the lockdowns must take into consideration that governments are obligated to both defend public health in a time of crisis and ensure that nothing happens to start another major outbreak. Those who dismiss or minimize the potential danger are wrong.
But by the same token, the right of governments to impose draconian restrictions on behavior, including the abrogation of fundamental constitutional rights, is neither unlimited nor open-ended. All such rules handed down must be subject to scrutiny and pass constitutional muster.
That means arbitrary rules that are both overly restrictive as well as detached from efforts to limit the peril of the pandemic deserve to be overturned by the courts.
When the immense power of the state is deployed on behalf of rules that appear to be clearly arbitrary—such as Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's orders banning the sale of gardening supplies or the right to travel to second homes at lakes or rural areas—it undermines support for the rule of law and the people's faith in the judgment of the state.
That is all the more true when state power is invoked to deprive citizens of their First Amendment right to religious liberty.
Thanks to federalism, Trump—or any president—doesn't actually have the power to override such state or local decisions. But he can order the U.S. Justice Department to sue those entities that violate the constitutional rights of Americans to "free exercise" of religion.
The question here isn't whether it is wise to limit such services while the disease is a threat to public safety or if it makes sense to conduct them with social-distancing measures in place.
What is at play here is whether states and cities are correct in dismissing the notion that the right to religious freedom is not as "essential" as many other services not specifically mentioned in the constitution. Put succinctly, the president isn't wrong to note that a right to pray as part of a community is just as essential and legally protected as keeping liquor stores or abortion clinics open.
At a time of such danger, those who claim that the right to conduct worship services is absolute and undiminished are wrong. But those who treat freedom of religion as less important than many other activities are equally mistaken. At the very least, houses of worship must be treated at least as well as ordinary businesses. They cannot be treated as having fewer rights.
Those who defy bans on services must be careful not to act in such a manner as to not only discredit their cause, but to prove that they are not a menace to public health. Those who think the right to worship can be denied with impunity or by downgrading its importance to society, however, are equally mistaken.
Yehudah Glick's Response To Murderous Lynch He Under went
Yehuda Glick: 'My life was saved once again, it was a lynch'
Former MK Yehuda Glick speaks about being attacked: 'I want to thank G-d for saving my life once again in an assassination attempt.'
Former MK Yehuda Glick spoke on Friday following Thursday's lynch attack on him by Arabs. Following the attack, Glick was hospitalized with "light" injuries.
"I want to thank G-d Almighty, Creator of the world, for saving my life once again from an assassination attempt," Glick said. "What I went through yesterday in Jerusalem was a murderous lynch. As a matter of fact, it concluded with a miracle. Just miraculously, I am alive right now."
"It was my luck that the tens of people who were around there didn't have a pistol or a knife or an axe or a bat or a stick or anything...otherwise I wouldn't be here today."
"I personally, I'll feel better," he added. "But the real pain is to see what's going on in our society, where you do whatever you can to try to respect people and to try to express the understanding that every person was created in the image of G-d. And at the end of the day you see that there are still societies in this world that for them violence is a legitimate instrument. You find people that for them, lynch is in their daily tools."
"I can assure you, they will not stop me. They will not manage, just like they didn't before, just like they haven't until now, from now on, either. They will not prevent me from continuing doing what I do."