Faith Strengthened (Chizzuk Emunah): Pdf Download Now!1998 Downloads
Faith Strengthened (Chizzuk Emunah): 1200 Biblical Refutations to Christian Missionaries by Isaac ben Abraham Troki
Faith Strenghened is unique among refutations of Christian polemics against Judaism and the Hebrew Bible. As the title indicated, the author (1533-1594) wrote this book for his fellow-Jews, so as to fortify them in their religious faith. This distinguished Karaite scholar critically analyzed the Christological interpretations of the Hebrew Bible, and the theologies which proclaimed the Church to be the “New Israel of G-d” and Jesus the Messiah predicted by the Hebrew prophets. This work contains more than twelve hundred Biblical passages on which Isaac ben Abraham Troki comments.
From the above we learn that Mordecai was a G-D Fearing, Righteous Man. And … So Mordecai went his way, and did according to all that Esther had commanded him. And …
“the king held out to Esther the golden sceptre that was in his hand.”
“Then the king said … : ‘Make haste, and take the apparel and the horse, as thou hast said, and do even so to Mordecai the Jew, that sitteth at the king’s gate; let nothing fail of all that thou hast spoken.’ And Mordecai returned to the king’s gate.”
“Then the king returned out of the palace garden into the place of the banquet of wine; and …. the king took off his ring, which he had taken …, and gave it unto Mordecai.”
“Write ye also concerning the Jews, as it liketh you, in the king’s name, and seal it with the king’s ring; for the writing which is written in the king’s name, and sealed with the king’s ring, may no man reverse.’ and …”
Mordecai went forth from the presence of the king in royal apparel of blue and white, and with a great crown of gold, and with a robe of fine linen and purple; and the city of Shushan shouted and was glad. The Jews had light and gladness, and joy and honour. And in every province, and in every city, whithersoever the king’s commandment and his decree came, the Jews had gladness and joy, a feast and a good day. And many from among the peoples of the land became Jews; for the fear of the Jews was fallen upon them.
The grandmother, whose parents survived the Holocaust and brought her to Israel as a toddler, was drawn back to her religion by her daughter.
By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News
In what must be a rare event in the Jewish world, a Holocaust survivor, her daughter and her grandchildren declared their desire to return to Judaism together at the Jerusalem Rabbinical Court, Channel 20 News reported Monday.
The grandmother, who was born at the end of World War II, was brought to Israel at the age of two along with her twin sister by her survivor parents, who hailed from Poland and the Ukraine. When she was 16 or 17, she fell in love and married a Christian Arab, moved to an Arab town in northern Israel and abandoned her faith. Although her husband mistreated her terribly, she did not leave him.
It was her daughter who started the journey back to Judaism after she, too, had married an Arab who abused her.
“I said that I’d return to my roots, to my hope, to where I belong,” the daughter told the network. “Something was missing from my life. So we chose, my children and I, to be normative Jews.”
The journey was not without some starts and stops.
She first turned to Yad L’Achim, an organization that helps Jews escape from Arab families that are abusive, a few years ago, and they began the process of return but did not complete it. Then, when she went with her own daughter to the Interior Ministry a few months ago to change their last name back to its original one, she was surprised to learn that they were still registered as Christians.
She went back to Yad L’Achim, which immediately began to work on the case. On Sunday, all three generations appeared in the religious court before three rabbis and emotionally told them of their strong desire to live as Jews.
The grandmother was “very excited,” she said in the interview in which none of the family’s faces appeared and their voices were changed for fear of retribution from their Arab relations. “I’ve waited a long time [for this].”
The rabbis’ ruling will be handed down in a few days, but as Judaism does not recognize conversion to other faiths, the written decision should be a mere formality that will allow them to officially register as Jews and prevent any potential bureaucratic hurdles in the future.
Shmoth 28.33 “And on its bottom hem you shall make pomegranates of blue, purple, and crimson wool, on its bottom hem all around, and golden bells in their midst all around. 34 A golden bell and a pomegranate, a golden bell and a pomegranate, on the bottom hem of the robe, all around. 35 It shall be on Aaron when he performs the service, and its sound shall be heard when he enters the Holy before the L-RD and when he leaves, so that he will not die. “
A golden bell and a pomegranate, a golden bell and a pomegranate, on the bottom hem of the robe, all around. פַּֽעֲמֹ֤ן זָהָב֙ וְרִמּ֔וֹן פַּֽעֲמֹ֥ן זָהָ֖ב וְרִמּ֑וֹן
It’s sound (pa’amon zahav v’rimon pa’amon zahav v’rimon) is essential and beneficial for the service going in and going out of the Holy of Holies.
This poses a question: Who shall hear the sound of the Golden Bells? HaShem or the Kohen HaGadol – (the High Priest)? Why not both? Why not those Chohanim / Leviim in attendance at the Mishkan/Baiyth HaMikhdash?
Exodus Chapter 39
26 “A bell and a pomegranate, a bell and a pomegranate, all around on the bottom hem of the robe, to serve as the L-RD had commanded Moses.” הַמְּעִ֖יל סָבִ֑יב לְשָׁרֵ֕ת כַּאֲשֶׁ֛ר צִוָּ֥ה
“to serve” – “it’s sound shall be heard” Exodus Chapter 28.35 “It shall be on Aaron when he performs the service, and its sound shall be heard when he enters the Holy before the L-RD and when he leaves, so that he will not die.”
what does this come to teach? we must pay close attention to performance of every detail of the Torah even to it’s smallest sound – viz, “minutest detail” even the smallest thing provides a service, in this case, the sound of pa’amon zahav golden bells provides to the Kohen a focal point when he moves about in the Tabernacle/Temple so that he does not leave out any detail of the service. it’s sound serves to enhance or “beautify” the service. sharet (service) is related to shirot – songs (of the Levites, Shir Shel Yom).
a pomegranate (“Your lips are like a thread of scarlet, and your mouth is comely; your temple is like a piece of pomegranate within your locks”—ibid. 4:3). But while the apple represents Israel in a virtuous state, the pomegranate refers to the “hollow” or “empty ones amongst you.” As interpreted by the Talmud, the verse “your temple is like a piece of pomegranate” comes to say that “even the empty ones amongst you are full of good deeds as a pomegranate [is full of seeds].” (Rakah, the Hebrew word used by the verse for “temple,” is related to the word reik, “empty.” Thus, “your temple” is homiletically rendered “the empty ones amongst you.”)
my self is obliterated [Psalm 84:30]. This what our kabbalists called “bittul she-me’ever le-ta’am va-daat”, the ending of thought.
“to serve” – “it’s sound shall be heard” Exodus Chapter 39.26 Clarifies Parsha Tetzaveh (Exodus 28.35) : what does this (shareth) come to teach? we must pay close attention to performance of every detail of the Torah even to it’s smallest sound – viz, “minutest detail” even the smallest thing provides a service, in this case, the sound of pa’amon zahav golden bells provides to the Kohen a focal point when he moves about, “to serve” in the Tabernacle/Temple so that he does not leave out any detail of the service. it’s sound serves to enhance or “beautify” the service. shareth (service) is related to shirot – songs (of the Levites, Shir Shel Yom). This (“v’nishama kolo” it’s sound) implies that the Kohen should have a focus on the Oneness of the Holy One; as it says, “a Still Small Voice….” (Note: 28.35 is juxtaposed to 36 “And thou shalt make a plate of pure gold, and engrave upon it, like the engravings of a signet: HOLY TO THE L-RD.” The Pa’amon Zahav were made of pure gold – 39.25 and pure, refined gold is a singular item used in the service of HaShem.) Like Tekeleth (the cord of blue) which teaches the Oneness of HaShem; Tahor Zahav teaches the Singularity or Oneness of the Holy One. (The Tzimzum – Smallness, Kalta Nafshi “Holiness” of HaShem….)
February 23, 2021 Strip Ilhan Omar of membership on all House Committees for anti-Semitism Dear Friend of FLAME: In recent weeks there’s been a lot of media and Capitol Hill support for removing Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia from various Congressional committees for her past comments—including the anti-Semitic assertion that Jews used space lasers to start California wildfires and her sharing of other beliefs held by QAnon. One can debate the merits of Greene’s case, but House members should ensure that the issue of anti-Semitism and removal of Congressmembers from committees is handled fairly. If Greene is to be condemned for anti-Semitism, surely other elected officials should also come under the microscope, starting with Rep. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, who was recently named Vice Chair of the House Foreign Affairs subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, and Global Human Rights. Omar has previously made very problematic—even flatly anti-Semitic—comments in her past, from many of which she has never distanced herself. In 2019, Omar was named Anti-Semite of the Year by Stop Antisemitism, an organization that works to hold anti-Semites accountable and create consequences for their bigoted actions by exposing the threat that they present to all Americans and showing how their ideologies conflict with American values, morals, and principles. The organization provided six reasons why Omar deserved the dishonor and placed her above notorious anti-Semites like hate-preacher Louis Farrakhan and white supremacist Richard Spencer. Stop Antisemitism’s list included accusing American Jewry of possessing dual loyalty; alleging that Jews buy their influence with money, infamously stating “It’s all about the Benjamin’s”; accusing Israel of having hypnotized the world; supporting the anti-Semitic Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel; submitting a resolution in the House of Representatives comparing boycotting Israel to boycotting the Nazis; and having her anti-Semitic statements endorsed by infamous neo-Nazi David Duke. The organization also mentioned Omar’s refusal to retract or regret many of her anti-Semitic comments or repudiating the backing she receives from the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), which is connected to the Muslim Brotherhood. Omar has stood by many of these comments, even when she was called out on them by her own Democratic leadership. When Rep. Nita M. Lowey politely asked her to retract her anti-Semitic trope on accusing Jews of dual loyalty, Omar responded, “I should not be expected to have allegiance/pledge support to a foreign country in order to serve my country in Congress or serve on committee.” The backlash to these and other comments Omar has made was so strong that in March 2019, the House passed a resolution condemning anti-Semitism and other forms of hatred. However, even this vote was politicized by Omar and other far-Left Democrats who did not want to focus on anti-Semitism, even though there had been a significant rise in hate attacks on Jews in the U.S. It should be remembered that only a few months before, a mass murder of 11 Jewish worshippers at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh had been perpetrated, and another attack on Jews took place in Poway, California shortly after the vote. Interestingly, Omar is far weaker on issues closer to home, often displaying her rank hypocrisy. In July 2019, Omar was asked at a conference of the Muslim Collective for Equitable Democracy, whether she was willing to make public statements condemning female genital mutilation (FGM). Rather than make the statement, which should be easy for most Americans in the 21st century, Omar attacked the questioner and called the question “appalling.” It is an issue Omar should not take lightly: According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a disproportionate number of girls at risk of FGM in the United States live in Omar’s Fifth Congressional District in Minnesota, which includes the largest Somali diaspora in the United States. Furthermore, in October 2019, Omar was the only Democrat representative to vote against a bill to impose sanctions on Turkey over Erdogan’s invasion and occupation of northeast Syria, and their attacks on U.S. Kurdish allies in the region, as well as abstain on a separate bill to recognize the Armenian genocide. For someone so vocal about Palestinian statehood and so-called “human rights abuses” by Israel, Omar showed a hypocritical lack of solidarity with the Armenian struggle for recognition and the Kurds’ long and bloody battle for independence. In other words, Omar’s commitment to human rights and national rights is subjective and tribal. She is happy to accuse Israel and the Jewish people for all manner of invented aspersions, but ignores similar offenders when it suits her agenda. She will not even stand up for those in her community who suffer under a repressive mutilation. How can Omar thus continue as the Vice Chair of the House Foreign Affairs subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, and Global Human Rights? If she continues in this position, she will use it to continue spreading hate against the Jewish State and the Jewish people, while excusing atrocities closer to home. Any member of the media or the House of Representatives who believes Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene should be penalized by loss of House committee membership for anti-Semitic comments cannot cast a blind eye on Rep. Ilhan Omar, whose transgressions are arguably more offensive—and certainly more frequent—than those of Greene. I hope you will point out to friends, family, colleagues and your elected representatives that regardless of Greene’s outcome, it’s time to remove Omar from all her House committees—including the Budget Committee, the Foreign Affairs Committee and the House Education and Labor Committee. Anti-Semitism is anti-Semitism, regardless of party affiliation or ideology. There needs to be one standard for all elected officials. I hope you’ll also take a minute, while you have this material front and center, to forward this message to friends, visit FLAME’s lively Facebook page and review the P.S. immediately below. It describes FLAME’s new hasbarah campaign—which exposes the dangerous folly of the U.S. trying to entice Iran back intro the failed “Iran Deal” of 2015. Best regards, Jim Sinkinson President, Facts and Logic About the Middle East (FLAME) P.S. The Biden administration and many members of Congress seem determined to reengage with Iran over the coming year—and some reports indicate a willingness to return to the failed “Iran Nuclear Deal” without preconditions. As you know, this would be disastrous—for the U.S. and for Israel and our other allies in the Middle East. The Iran Deal gave the Islamic Republic a roadmap to nuclear weapons and did nothing to check their jihadi activities, including development of long-range ballistic missiles. 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With Purim holiday coming up this week, I had a chance to sit down and chat with Iranian Jewish activist Frank Nikbakht about his past memories of celebrating Purim in his home town of Hamedan in Iran where the burial site of Esther and Mordechai are located.
Nikbakht, who also heads the Los Angeles-based “Committee For Minority Rights in Iran”, shed light on the Jewish community’s situation in Hamedan today and how the Iranian regime is twisting the story of Purim to advance their lies and anti-Semitic libels against Jews in recent years.
Last May, unknown Islamic arsonists fire-bombed the synagogue adjacent to the tombs of Esther and Mordechai in Hamedan but thankfully the ancient mausoleum containing the tombs were undamaged.
The Iranian regime never investigated the attack nor arrested anyone in connection with it. Nikbakht also shed light on the situation of the old Jewish cemetery in Hamedan that has been randomly turned into a public park by the city’s officials.
Obviously, the story of Purim takes place in ancient Iran and without a doubt has been one of the most important holidays for Iran’s Jews. Can you please share a little about the Jews of Hamedan where you were born and their relationship with the site where Esther and Mordechai are buried?
The Shrine of Esther and Mordechai, which was commonly called “Naavi” by the Hamedani Jews, was historically the center of all Jewish communities living in Hamedan for millennia. As you can see in pre-20th century photographs and paintings, available on the internet, the area around the Naavi was very large, while the whole thing was on the edge of town. In those times, the west of Naavi was considered to be outside the town, where nearby prosperous villages were scattered all around it. Before mid-20th century, most of the Iranians – like percent – lived in the villages where the agrarian and feudalistic economy prevailed and therefore the cities were relatively small.
Most of the Jews lived in the cities because they were not welcomed or allowed in the main economic sector of the great landowners, royal and feudal lords, and tribal khans. Jews were mostly small and medium merchants, doctors, medicine producers or sellers, jewelers, or the like. At times, the Jews thrived but would be periodically disowned, exiled, pressured or simply “put in their places” by the Muslim majority. The 1979 Islamic revolution was one of these periodical examples, albeit the largest in memory.
The lands around the ancient Naavi were gradually taken away, but until the early 20th Century people remember tens of acres still belonging to the Naavi. Most of these lands were used as Jewish cemeteries until the 1920s and I presume that there are countless ancient bodies buried within a radius of hundreds of yards from the Naavi building.
From your knowledge and youth, how was Purim celebrated in Iran among the Jews prior to the 1979 Islamic revolution?
Purim related activities, like all other Jewish ceremonies were relatively quiet and private because the Jews of Iran feared Muslim rage. The Alliance Jewish school for example was closed on Purim, while some women and children would gather inside the small shrine of Esther and Mordechai’s tomb to pray and tell the Purim story. It was led by women organizers like Neneh Ghezi Khanoom Eghbal. Most people, would bake sweet bread and send it to relatives’ homes, while brides would receive all kinds of gifts from their families on Purim. You could say that Purim was mostly a women’s celebration, with Queen Esther at the center of it.
Women would make dolls of Haman and hit them against the floors whenever Haman’s name was mentioned in synagogues or gatherings as they were sitting on the ground. I also remember however, that in the late 1950s and early 1960s, a Jewish school in Tehran, named the Ettefaugh and built by Iraqi Jews who had been expelled from that country, had an annual Purim masquerade ball, which was even emceed by the popular radio host of the children’s program. All Jewish schools had Purim events and plays until the 1979 Islamic revolution.
What has the Iranian regime and the authorities in the city of Hamedan done as far as the Esther and Mordechai burial site and Jewish cemeteries in the city since the 1979 revolution in Iran?
Following the 1979 Islamic Revolution in Iran, one of whose declared aims was Islamizing the country, ensuring Islamic supremacy and honor and eradicating the growing minority communities, 90-percent of the Jews left the country in a gradual emigration due to open discrimination and pressures designed to take over their wealth and property and to run them out of the “Islamic Land”.
According to Maurice Motamed, a member of the board of directors of the Tehran Jewish Association – officially the organization responsible for all Iranian Jews, the Hamedan municipal authorities began contacting the Jewish leadership about their “need” for taking over the city’s Jewish cemetery in 1985 and 1986 at the height of the Iran-Iraq war and the revolutionary Islamic fervor sweeping the country. During several months of shuttling between Tehran and Hamedan, the Jews lost their case and the Hamedan city officials decided to convert the last Jewish cemetery into a public park, in a country and region with huge unused and available land! Jewish cemeteries in Iran, usually were purchased land and had actual deeds, and that is how the Tehran Jewish cemetery was saved from the same fate just in return for offering its unused section to the city of Tehran during the “moderate” Khatami government and his popular Tehran mayor, Karbas-chi, following President Rafsanjani’s fly over of the Jewish cemetery!
Can you share with us what happened to the old Jewish cemetery in Hamedan located near the Esther and Mordechai shrine under the current Iranian regime?
The Hamedan Jewish cemetery did not have a deed and so was easy to take over. Unlike the old days, this time there was no compensation, either in cash or in kind, but at least they agreed to leave the new graves which according to Jewish law were considered sacred for 40 years, to remain untouched. The older graves were covered by dirt and planted over and are now forming the main part of the new public park called “Park-eh Laleh”, about 800 meters away from the Naavi in a straight line. The remains of the deceased have been left in place. The more recent graves were originally separated from the park by a fence, but recent pictures show many gravestones in place with the public using them as seats or walking over them. One can presume that as time passes and the 40-year limit expires, the remaining graves will also be removed or covered. As far as pictures have shown, the last grave in this last cemetery dates back to 1982. A recent visitor who had asked some young Iranians in the “park” about who these gravestones with strange writings had belonged to, was told the these were some Chinese who used to live in Hamedan!
In May 2020, arsonists fire bombed the synagogue next to the Esther and Mordechai tombs. Can you share some of the other past instances where the tombs were attacked by Muslim radicals in the area?
There have been two other times when the shrine has been threatened and marked for destruction by Muslim fanatics. The first time in memory was during World War two when the Farsi language Radio Berlin incited “fellow” Aryans to destroy the shrine and take revenge for Purim’s events when the Jews and their Persian allies had destroyed their enemies led by Haman whom the Hitlerites claimed as an Aryan. The second time began during the presidency of the Holocaust denying Ahmadinejad who incited the people again. This legacy has continued beyond Ahmadinejad and once every few years, we have seen hateful articles in Iranian sources inside and outside Iran, while Islamic Militia students of the Hamedan University have attempted attacks on the shrine several times.
How does the Iranian regime today twist the story of Purim to advance its anti-Semitic agenda and stir Jew hatred in Iran?
The Iranian regime has repeatedly encouraged the distribution of false information about the Purim incident, by portraying Haman as “Persian” and the Jews as “anti-Persians” staging a coup against the Persian civilization. Educated scholars know this is nonsense because the oldest available sources writing about Purim– the Book of Esther and the narrative of Josephus, have both clearly indicated Haman’s non-Persian roots and have mentioned not only Mordechai’s loyalty, but the participation of Persian forces and their allies all over the Empire in subduing the Haman plot.
The Islamist regime in Iran which is the representative and the remnant of the Arabic genocidal invasion and colonization of Persia, has from its beginning declared its pride in the destruction of the pre-Islamic Persian civilization and only pretends to be patriotic when it comes to demonizing the Jews. For about one thousand years after the Purim incident the Jews lived under the Persian dynasties and served them as governors, soldiers and even had more than one queen mothering future Persian kings. During these times the Persians never brought up such false Purim accusations against the Jews, until the anti-Semites and pro-Hitler figures in Iran invented false narratives in the 20th century and the Islamic regime’s propagandists revived them in the past decades for their present day use.
WHEREAS, on or about 19 May 2020 the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) and the Palestinian Authority (PA) officially announced an end to the Oslo Accords, the same not entered into in good faith by the PLO as evidenced by the Arafat South African Speech of 10 May 1994; and,
Whereas the Arabs of the Kingdom of the Hejaz exercised “Self-Determinism” at the December 1948 Jericho Conference and were “Collectively Naturalized” as Citizen of the Hashemite Kingdom of trans-Jordan and as a result thereof, together with the renunciation of the Oslo Accords, the members of the PLO/PA are classified as hostile belligerent nationals (enemy combatants) of the Hashemite Kingdom of trans-Jordan; and,
Whereas International Law does not condone acquisition of territory by force or conquest and the Hamas Charter along with the PLO Charter, together with the PLO’s and Hamas’ actions and omissions evince a threat to international peace in an attempt to acquire sovereign Jewish Treaty territory by genocide, force and ethnic cleansing in violation of Customary International Law; and,
Whereas the PA is not a sovereign nation under international law (E.g. the Montevideo Convention) and cannot transfer to the International Criminal Court (ICC) jurisdiction over sovereign Jewish territories; and,
Whereas neither the Kingdom of Eretz Yisrael nor the State of Israel is a party to or signatory Statute of Rome, the ICC cannot assume jurisdiction over the State of Israel by it’s quasi-legal opinion of 5 February 2021; and by it’s decision tends to reward Arab terrorism in violation of Customary International Law; and,
She left home to her partner’s parting words: “When you get back I’ll beat you till you drop.” But there was no turning back.
Arutz Sheva Staff , Feb 21 , 2021 2:47 PM Share
View of Bethlehem iStock
She was in her ninth month of her second pregnancy, but felt she had to make a break for it. From experience, she knew that if she were caught trying to run away, she would be subjected to merciless blows. But staying in that home, and facing a future of relentless violence, was simply not an option.
The tragic tale of Michal began when she was just a child. Born into a poverty-stricken family, and orphaned at a young age, she moved from boarding school to boarding school until the age of 18, when she found herself on the street.
At her lowest point, when she felt utterly hopeless, an Arab man entered her life, offering to put a roof over her head. She moved into his apartment, in a mixed, Jewish-Arab neighborhood, and thought she’d found a safe harbor. But he took advantage of her vulnerability and subjected her to harsh violence.
At one point, Michal decided she couldn’t take it any longer, and wanted to open a new chapter in her life. She called a guidance counselor who’d helped her in the past, who referred her to Yad L’Achim.
Her Arab partner learned of her calls to Yad L’Achim by searching her cell phone, and confiscated it. From that point on, he barred her from making any contact with the outside world and made her completely dependent on him. Even after she gave birth to their first son, he refused to allow her to contact any members of her family to ask for help with the new baby.
In revenge for her escape attempt, he beat her daily so that she would “learn her lesson” and never try it again. Michal was locked up in the house day and night. Gradually, she came to the conclusion that despite the grave danger, if she didn’t take a bold step she would be trapped forever. When she became pregnant for a second time, she worried about having to deliver once again in a strange Arab hospital. But the straw that broke the camel’s back, was her husband’s threat to take her to live in the dangerous refugee camp near Bethlehem where he was born. There was no way she was going to allow that to happen.
Michal found a way to contact Yad L’Achim, and its security department prepared a detailed escape plan. She left the house for a short shopping trip, in accordance with the plan, with her partner’s parting words ringing in her ears: “When you get back I’ll beat you till you drop.” But there was no turning back, and her short shopping trip became an opportunity to pursue a new, hopeful life.
Michal came straight to the secret safe house that had been provided and furnished by Yad L’Achim, and began piecing together a new life. Last week, she gave birth to her son, and, with Yad L’Achim’s help, brought him to his Brit Milah.
After the Brit, Michal sat for a short interview in which she shared her feelings.
“This is an emotional, new beginning, full of life. I simply didn’t know if I wanted to continue living and if I had the strength.
“What caused me to get up and leave was the knowledge that Yad L’Achim was with me every step of the way and wouldn’t give up on me. This warmed my heart and gave me the strength to leave. We are very happy… For me and for my children, this is a new beginning and today I have entered my child into the Jewish People.”
An official at Yad L’Achim said: “The amazing change that has occurred with Michal is thanks to the dedication of the social worker we assigned her and the neighbors who pitched in to help.”
Matthew M. Hausman is a trial attorney and writer who lives and works in Connecticut. A former journalist, Mr. Hausman continues to write on a variety of topics, including science, health and medicine, Jewish issues and foreign affairs, and has been a legal affairs columnist for a number of publications. More from the author ►
Freedom of speech is taken for granted in western society, but it is an essential right that is necessary for the perpetuation of constitutional democracy. Unfortunately, it also seems to be an endangered species under stealth attack by extremism masquerading as diversity and tolerance.
As European courts enforce laws criminalizing the critical discussion of certain religions, and as the political left blames western society for inflaming Islamist passions by refusing to accommodate radical dictates, the right to speak freely is being threatened by a stultifying political correctness. What is being eroded are classical liberal values.
Nothing illustrates this better than a recent decision by the European Court of Human Rights affirming an Austrian court’s verdict against a woman for suggesting that Muhammad’s marriage to a young girl as recounted in Muslim scripture was tantamount to child abuse. The Human Rights Court held that her comments could be perceived as “an abusive attack on the Prophet of Islam” and thus were properly subject to prosecution under Austrian law.
European willingness to curb unflattering or “blasphemous” speech is not based on tolerance, but instead seems compelled by deference to authoritarian doctrines and anti-western sensibilities. The net consequence of this ruling, however, was to enforce an anti-blasphemy restriction against speech, though the offending words were uttered in a pluralistic country that supposedly values freedom of expression.
Although criticism of specific belief systems could certainly offend their adherents, empirical analysis or even disparagement of any faith would be perfectly legal in the United States, where free speech is constitutionally protected and government is prohibited from favoring or promoting any particular religion.
The Austrian law affirmed by the European Human Rights Court would be unenforceable under the US Constitution, which guarantees freedom of expression and worship and prohibits the establishment of any state religion.
From an American perspective, restrictions on speech concerning Islam or any religion would be problematic because they implicitly imbue ideologies with human rights, though such rights adhere uniquely to human beings, not abstract ideas, beliefs or creeds. Human rights are not inherent in thoughts per se, but rather in the people who express them. However, the premise that belief systems possess innate rights can be used to silence divergent thought; and rendering criticism of particular faiths unlawful may force people to submit to dogmas that conflict with their own ethical or spiritual principles. Such overreach impairs the right to speak and worship freely while empowering ideological supremacism by eliminating public discourse.
Selective punishment of speech considered offensive to any faith community could encourage discrimination against people who believe differently.
Would such restrictions outlaw public criticism of Sharia by Jews and Christians who are deemed subjugated and inferior thereunder?
Would it be illegal for Jews to challenge those parts of Islamic tradition which hold that they are descended from apes and pigs or must be exterminated in the end of days?
It seems such laws could effectively require people to acquiesce to doctrines that are contrary to their own beliefs.
Anti-blasphemy laws would not pass constitutional muster in the United States because they would require government involvement in ecclesiastical matters and potentially elevate certain faiths over others – all in violation of the First Amendment. Those who support anti-blasphemy restrictions under the guise of hate-speech regulation do not truly respect or understand the freedoms that characterize western society While advocates may claim that laws penalizing disparagement of faith protect all religions, such laws never seem to be enforced equally. But regardless of whether they are applied generally or selectively, anti-blasphemy laws would not pass constitutional muster in the United States because they would require government involvement in ecclesiastical matters and potentially elevate certain faiths over others – all in violation of the First Amendment.
Regarding matters of faith, the First Amendment states: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion . . . or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” These two phrases together comprise the Establishment Clause, which prohibits government from establishing a national religion or favoring particular faiths.
Those seeking to stifle criticism of religion undeniably include Islamists who are anti-Semitic and denigrate other beliefs as matters of doctrine. It seems ironic that secular proponents of speech regulations do not see a similar need to protect their own communities from radicals who promote anti-Semitism and hatred of western values, or who preach genocide and the destruction of Israel – a nation whose land they claim through past conquest and whose people they deem unworthy of respect or national autonomy.
Taken to its logical extreme, restricting the right to challenge supremacist ideologies would in fact insulate hateful words as long as they are uttered as expressions of faith. In addition, such restrictions would essentially require people to accord sanctity to doctrines they do not endorse and subordinate their spiritual ideals to those who consider them infidels.
According to common dictionary usage, “blasphemy” is irreverent behavior toward things held sacred, and “sacred” is defined as veneration by association with the divine. Consequently, sanctity is determined by ecclesiastical fiat, not objective universal standards. For words to be truly blasphemous, therefore, the speaker must recognize the sanctity of the target. But disrespectful conduct cannot be blasphemous in the eyes of the offender – no matter how rude, boorish, or insensitive – if he does not acknowledge the object of his derision as sacred. Thus, for example, non-Hindus who do not revere cows cannot be considered blasphemers for eating beef in India. Likewise, non-Jews do not sin by failing to observe Torah commandments binding only on Jews.
Proponents of speech restrictions argue that defamation of religion constitutes a human rights violation, but this is sophistry which assigns inalienable rights to concepts instead of the people who espouse them. And although anti-blasphemy apologists may claim concern for the integrity of all faiths, their lack of regard for Judaism and western religions is glaring. In fact, those who discourage critical analysis of Islam (usually progressives) generally show little respect for Jews or Christians – either in the west or in Sharia states where they and other religious and ethnic minorities are marginalized and oppressed.
Where is liberal European outrage over the persecution of Christians or Zoroastrians in the Islamic world? Why is there silence when Yazidis are murdered and their daughters forced into sexual slavery in Iraq or Copts are harassed and massacred in Egypt? Progressive society seems interested in protecting only one religion from insult and bestowing minority status on a global faith community that comprises nearly two-billion people and has a history of aggressive expansion.
Political correctness offers an apologetic buffer for the doctrinal rejection of western values, and its practitioners seem willing to run interference for absolutist ideologies that mandate the subjugation of nonbelievers. Suppressing speech under the guise of protecting religion might be consistent with rigid theocracy, but it is incompatible with the basic freedoms that define liberal democracy. And making it unlawful to question any specific ideology casts a repressive pall over individual expression and severely hampers the free exchange of ideas.
Free-speech advocates might recognize the threat posed by such laws, but few seem willing to challenge them for fear of being labeled bigots. This reluctance recalls past ambivalence regarding UN anti-blasphemy proposals that sought to impose international standards for curtailing speech. Over the years, various resolutions were proposed by the Organization of Islamic Cooperation and endorsed by its political allies. Though western support had subsided by the time the Defamation of Religions Resolution was passed by the UN Human Rights Council in 2010, many progressives had until then voiced sympathetic understanding for its motivations, if not its substance. (Its non-Muslim state supporters included Bolivia, China, Cuba, Nicaragua, Russian Federation, and South Africa.)
Leftist support for speech restrictions would seem to corroborate the existence of a “red-green alliance” between radical Islam and a progressive left that denounces Jews, Christians and western values, while ignoring repression of religious and ethnic minorities throughout the Arab Mideast. The point progressives conveniently ignore is that citizens in democratic society are free to worship as they choose.
It seems absurd when western courts effectively impose sanctions for the violation of imported sectarian standards that are contrary to mainstream cultural and religious norms. Though Islamists might consider “infidels” subject to the dictates of Sharia, the notion that people can be controlled by parochial laws foreign to them is presumptuous and inconsistent with liberal democratic values.
European willingness to curb unflattering or “blasphemous” speech is not based on tolerance, but instead seems compelled by deference to authoritarian doctrines and anti-western sensibilities. If the EU wants to maintain its liberal democratic traditions, however, it should make clear that while immigrants are welcome within its borders, they have no right to be insulated from speech they find offensive or to impose their religious standards on their host societies.