There is something perverse and sickening about President Obama spending this 10th anniversary of the American invasion of Iraq in Israel threatening to make war on Iran.
Shouldn’t our Nobel Peace Prize-winning president be in Baghdad, instead, speaking about the folly of our last “preventive war” — and promising to pour billions of dollars into the repair of that country and the resetting of its millions of displaced people?
What is he doing in Israel, pledging America’s undying fealty and “unbreakable” support without making a single public demand upon Israel’s government? Why is he helping to shore up the credibility of Benjamin Netanyahu, who shamefully disrespected Obama when last in our country and who diligently sought to get Mitt Romney elected? Seventy percent of American Jews voted for Obama — who never needs to be reelected for anything — so why is he pandering to the Israeli rightwing establishment this way?
I can only imagine the entire Arab world thinking: It’s true what they say about the Jews — they control everything! Here is the president of the United States of America, flying across the sea to embrace that thug of a prime minister, who all but threw his shoe at Obama last year . . .
Some commentators, notably Jeffrey Goldberg of the Atlantic, have expressed the hope — or, as he admitted, the fantasy — that Obama will insist on a quid pro quo from Netanyahu: The U.S. will have Israel’s back and declare that any attack on Israel is tantamount to an attack on the U.S. — IF AND ONLY IF Netanyahu will at last do what is necessary to draw the Palestinians into meaningful negotiations: freeze the settlements and/or agree to the 1967 borders as the general outline of a two-state solution. So far, however, there are no American demands being enunciated, only American kow-towing.
What in the world for?
For Part 1 of this article, click here.
Two fundamental concepts underlie the Jewish belief that the mother’s life always takes precedence over the unborn child’s, according to Rabbi Schiff’s Abortion in Judaism. Rashi, the great Talmudic commentator of 11th-century France, attributed it to the fetus’s lack of standing as a nefesh, a soul. Maimonides, the major codifier of Jewish law in 13th-century Egypt, also pointed to the fetus’ role as a rodef, a “pursuer” who has the intent to kill the mother; Jewish law commands us to kill a rodef to prevent him or her from committing murder.
Schiff’s book traces the widely divergent interpretations of how these and other legal categories apply in various circumstances. Some of these are anything but abstract, as in the 1942 ruling by Rabbi Ephraim Oshry, one of the few rabbinical Holocaust survivors of the Kovno ghetto in Lithuania. In response to an SS degree in May of that year that declared any pregnant Jewish woman liable for execution, Oshry was asked whether it was permissible for a woman with an untroubled pregnancy to have an abortion. Oshry ruled yes, given the alternative that both mother and child would die. [click to continue…]
While the movement for reproductive rights still has the numbers on its side — a majority of Americans, forty years after Roe v. Wade, still favor continued legal access to abortion, at the very least in cases of rape, incest, or life-threatening pregnancy — the slogan, “a woman’s right to choose,” has been hard-pressed, since the headiest days of the modern feminist movement, to match the persuasive clout of “the right to life.”
The former is about complicated moral choices. The latter is about uncomplicated religious conviction.
Winning support for “a woman’s right to choose” requires explaining the history of women’s oppression and the role of forced motherhood in that oppression. The key issue, for pro-choice advocates, is not whether or not “life begins at conception,” but whether that incipient life takes precedence over a pregnant woman’s self-determination. Our answer is “no,” because we know that the denial of women’s control over their bodies is a cornerstone of global poverty, sexual and domestic violence, and inequality for half the human race.
The “right to life” movement, by contrast, simply points to the “miraculous” nature of conception, pregnancy and birth, and argues that this awesome process must be God’s doing, not ours to contradict. This appeal to religious instinct leads the majority of the public to concede only reluctantly the “right to choose” as a necessary evil, not as a tool of social progress. [click to continue…]
Anti-racist consciousness seems to be stirring again in our country, reawakened, at least in part, by the best-selling success of The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness, by civil rights attorney and law professor Michelle Alexander (the New Press, 2012). The New Jim Crow has been touted all over the media, and is being studied in activist circles around the country. The San Francisco Chronicle has described it as “the bible of a social movement.”
Alexander argues, with indisputable statistics, that the War on Drugs launched by President Richard Nixon more than forty years ago has targeted and decimated black and Hispanic communities, even though illegal drug use actually occurs at the same frequency across racial and ethnic lines. America’s incarcerated population has risen in those four decades from about 350,000 to a world-record 2.3 million, and drug convictions are responsible for more than 50 percent of the increase. [click to continue…]