Jewish Journal

This week in power: Obama, Gay marriage, Delta, Dutch ban

by Danny Groner

June 30, 2011 | 5:25 am

A roundup of the most talked about political and global stories in the Jewish world this week:

Obama courts the Jewish vote
President Obama has waged “a behind-the-scenes push to win over skeptical big-dollar donors,” according to The Washington Post,  and has dispatched some top staffers to meet with wealthy donors, including some Jewish supporters. At the same time, Jews in Illinois gathered to discuss how they can defeat Obama in the upcoming election. So can he pull it off? “From the sound of it, the Obama administration hasn’t done nearly enough donor upkeep since his last campaign and is hastily trying to play catch-up,” said Alana Goodman at Commentary. “Obama’s basic problem is that he has a track record, and it is a sorry one,” added Thomas Lifson at American Thinker. “He tries to be everything to everyone, and after a certain amount of time, the phoniness becomes evident, even to starry-eyed libs.”

Gay marriage and Judaism
Jewish groups had mixed reactions to news of New York’s legalization of gay marriage on Friday. But it should have come as no surprise to those who were paying attention, said Mollie at GetReligion. “I guess it also relates to what happened at Yeshiva University, an Orthodox Jewish school in New York that was forced to include same-sex couples in its married dormitory. Even before New York recognized same-sex marriage, the New York Supreme Court ruled that Yeshiva had violated New York City’s ban on sexual orientation discrimination.” As for the response in the Jewish community itself: “Family values have always taken center stage in Judaism, as it is one of the Ten Commandments. The Torah classifies Toeiva-marriage as an abomination and strictly punishes one who violates the prohibition with the severe penalty of death,” pointed out Dave Hirsch at TheYeshivaWorld.com. “My traditional readers will find it scandalous,” said Rabbi Shmuley Boteach. “But is it possible that the victory of gay marriage is actually an opportunity to bolster traditional values?”

Is Delta discriminating?
Delta Air Lines has denied reports that the airline is discriminating against Jewish passengers because of its pending marketing alliance with Saudi Arabian Airlines, and believes it is the “victim of misinformation,” according to USA Today. The uproar stemmed from a Religion News Service story detailing the partnership that circulated on the Internet, but was subsequently retracted by the site. Still, Delta could have handled it better, said Gulliver at The Economist. “this is exactly the kind of story that good crisis management PR could have killed before it got off the ground.” Nevertheless, some are still fuming over the news. “Delta should have refused to partner with the Saudis rather than accommodate their Jew-hatred,” said Pamela Geller at American Thinker.

Dutch slaughtering ban
Jewish organizations in Europe vowed this week to fight back against a looming ban on ritual animal slaughter that passed in the lower house of the Dutch parliament. Some say that the law, intended to protect American rights, is a violation of freedom of religion. “Even if—as I strongly believe—increasing concern about the treatment of other animals is a mark of a more civilised society, it doesn’t necessarily follow that those promoting new rules act from disinterested motives,” said Nelson Jones at New Statesman. We should have all people in mind when we created laws, said an Irish Times editorial. “In the real world degrees of tolerance of religious or ethnic minority practices are a function of the extent to which issues like the veil or shechitah become proxies or ciphers for a growing broader intolerance and prejudice. The Dutch Bill, however worthy, will feed that climate, deepening suspicion and division.”

Fighting San Fran’s circumcision measure
The Jewish Community Relations Council and the Anti-Defamation League are leading a legal effort to have the measure removed from the November ballot, according to JTA. The lawsuit is more alleges that medical procedures in California are regulated by the state, not by local municipalities, and that the proposed ban shouldn’t hold up. This proposal is “quite possibly unconstitutional and just plain wrong,” said a Los Angeles Times editorial. “And we’re fairly certain the vast majority of San Franciscans see it the same way, given the public thrashing the measure has received.” Opponents, however, may have a point regarding the brutality involved in circumcision. “While upholding the essence of this commandment, we as a community can find ways to lessen its severity — as rabbis have done for generations, in every aspect of Jewish law,” said Jay Michaelson in The Jewish Daily Forward. “The zealots in California invite our censure, but more sensible people have long had qualms about this most ancient of Jewish rites. For them, and for all of us, a compromise is possible.”

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Danny Groner is a contributing writer to the Jewish Journal. He has worked in journalism since he was a teenager, starting off as an intern for a local publication. During his...

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