Shutting Up Airmen Isn't Kosher: Mikey Weinstein, a 1977 graduate of the Air Force Academy, has filed a lawsuit attempting to force the academy to halt proselytizing and evangelism on duty based on the doctrine of the separation of church and state. (Colorado Springs Gazette, 11/9/2005) Some Christian groups counterpunch that they have a First Amendment right to share their beliefs with others. Aside from the constitutional issues at play, Weinstein is right to worry about how Jews and other non-Christians are treated at the academy but wrong about focusing on evangelism. As someone who practices Judaism, I am not offended when someone else shares how accepting Christ as their personal savior changed their life. Nor do I expect them to be offended when I share the joy I feel when I keep kosher. True, evangelism can turn into bullying--I could be called a Christ-killer, a Christian could be called an infidel, an atheist may be told she is bound for hell, etc.--and such uncouth behavior needs to be discouraged for the sake of corps cohesion.
However, the academy should not solve its perceived problem of intolerance by shoving religion in the closet. To the contrary, the problem for Jews is not Christian evangelism but systemic intolerance of the actual practice of Judaism. If Jewish airmen do not have regular access to kosher meals, if they are not supported in their attempts to properly observe shabbat and Jewish holidays (made instead to attend football games on Yom Kippur), how can the academy be accused of anything but intolerance? I suspect that Moslem airmen might have the same type of complaint.
The Academy needs to support religious cadets, not force them underground. For evangelical Christians, this may mean being able to share their faith in appropriate settings. For Jews, this may mean being able to work with a rabbi to find ways to excel at the academy without compromising religious observance. Email me your comments.
... and of Politically Correct Anti-Judaism: How is it that Palestinians can deliberately insuslt a world religion--by burning down building formerly used as Jewish synagogues--and not be criticized for it? If someone--anyone--burned down a building used as a mosque, would they be immune from criticism? Email me your comments.
Questions that should be asked: The unilateral removal of Jews from Gaza by the Israeli government raises these questions. Why is assumed, by virtually the entire world ("the nations") and apparently by much of Israel itself, that there must be a Palestinian state and that this same state will be for Arabs only and that Jews will neither be welcome nor safe there? At the same time, the Jewish state of Israel already accepts non-Jewish citizens, including Arabs, and has since its inception. Moreover, this same state is expected to allow free access by Palesitinians into its borders for work, for worship, and for pleasure. Will Jews be allowed access to a future Palestinian state for work, for worship (to Jewish shrines), for pleasure? I would propose that no one support the existence of a Palestinian state unless and until Palestinian leaders commit not only to the existence of the state of Israel but can assure Israel that they will extend the same treatment to Jews with a Palestinian state that Israel extends to Arabs within Israel. Support for a Palestinian state absent such conditions seems to me evidence of pig-headed ignorance of the double standard being applied to Israel and the Palestinian entity and, almost certainly, Jew-hatred hiding in an international mask. Email me your comments.