NJJN‘s Responsive Reading newsletter continues with debates over Newt’s ‘dog whistle’; the single-issue voter; and Orthodoxy’s rules for women. Subscribe here.
It’s time U.S. Jews spoke up about what’s important – and it’s not just Israel
By Yael Miller (Ha’aretz)
“Jewish Americans whose vote only depends on the candidate’s policies on Israel are doing the whole of the Jewish community grave harm,” writes Miller, a graduate student at the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies. Single-issue Jewish votes block discussion of important domestic issues, fulfill a “dangerous stereotype,” and sacrifice the community’s voice on other, non-Israel causes.
The Emerging Debate about “the Jewish Vote”
By Steven Windmueller (Jewish Journal)
It’s simply not true that American Jews are single-issue voters; Jewish voters “arrive at their decision based on an array of issues and political interests.” Polls show that Jews vote according to their interests in church-state issues, health policy, and economic matters. “If we are to truly understand voting behavior, we need to appreciate the various cohorts that define our community’s political base,” writes Windmueller.
Gingrich’s Anti-Semitic Dog Whistle: Saul Alinsky
By Gal Beckerman (The Forward)
When Newt Ginrich links President Obama to the late community organizer Saul Alinsky, part of his message to audiences is that “Obama’s ideological mentor is a Jew and somehow foreign.” Adds Beckerman: “What’s even stranger about Gingrich’s incessant mentioning of Alinsky in conjunction with Obama is that the president himself has never mentioned Alinsky as an influence — never. Obama was 10 when Alinsky died in 1972.”
Smearing Gingrich as an Anti-Semite
By Jonathan Tobin (Commentary)
Beckerman’s charge is “a mere assertion with no argument behind it other than a claim that — like the mention of poverty and food stamps which he also takes to be a sign of Gingrich’s racism — is an attempt to get at the ‘subconscious’ of Republicans,” writes Tobin. “Though Democrats have fiercely resisted any attempt to get at the roots of Obama’s ideology via his associations, singling Alinsky out as such an influence has nothing to do with his Jewish origins, which are as unknown to most GOP voters as his writings.”
Lechery, Immodesty and the Talmud
By Dov Linzer (New York Times)
The fervently Orthodox Israeli men who attacked an eight-year-old girl in Beit Shemesh were distorting Jewish law when they claimed to be acting in the name of sexual “modesty,” claims the Orthodox dean of Yeshivat Chovevei Torah Rabbinical School. The Talmud places the responsibility for controlling men’s licentious thoughts not on women, writers Linzer, but squarely on the men. Treating every woman, including a pre-pubescent girl, as a “potential inducement to sin” violates the Talmud by shifting “the responsibility of managing a man’s sexual urges from himself to every woman he may or may not encounter.”
An Open Letter to Rabbi Dov Linzer on Modesty and Jewish Law
By Shaul Magid (Religion Dispatches)
Indiana University Judaics scholar Shaul Magid applauds Linzer for condemning misogyny within Orthodoxy, but says blaming Israel’s ultra-Orthodox does not address the double standard towards women even within liberal Orthodoxy. In fact, writes Magid, “your reading of the Talmud would require you to act decisively to abolish all the legal mandates that objectify women’s bodies.” That would include abolishing the mehitza and mandatory hair covering for married women, and permitting casual non-sexual physical contact between men and women.