The Jewish Press Protests The Hijacking Of Language

From its editorial board:

Sometimes it is hard enough to follow the logic of arguments that follow conventional forms. It becomes a near impossibility when arguments take on a distinct Alice-in-Wonderland quality.
      A lawsuit was filed last week in Jerusalem by a civil rights group that challenged as racism the government’s practice of ethnic profiling which singles out Arabs for special security measures. According to the group, the Association for Civil Rights In Israel, the policy is illegal discrimination under Israeli law and urged that the U.S. policy of random security checks be followed.
      The group called as a complaining witness one Hanna Swaid, now an Arab MK. Mr. Swaid recalled being strip-searched by security guards and having his luggage taken apart piece by piece 20 years ago before he flew from Israel to London, where he was a post-doctoral student. He said he now regularly receives complaints from Arab citizens of Israel about similar treatment.
      Of course, anyone traveling to or from Israel knows that Arab passengers are accorded dramatically different treatment. Indeed, experts told the Associated Press that the ethnic screening process on the ground has been a key factor in the extraordinary safety record of Israeli airliners over the years despite their being considered a prime target for terrorists.
      Mr. Swaid understands the need for security checks. “It’s in my interest and that of all other travelers,” he said. But the screening should be done equally for both Arabs and Jews, he added.
      But the experts told the AP that checking all passengers equally would require manpower and resources many times greater than are needed today and would needlessly extend the time passengers spend waiting for flights.
      Ariel Merari, an Israeli terrorism expert who has written about aviation security, told the AP that ethnic profiling is both effective and unavoidable.
      “It’s foolishness not to use profiles when you know that most terrorists come from certain ethnic groups and certain age groups,” Mr. Merari said. “A bomber on a plane is likely to be Muslim and young, not an elderly Holocaust survivor. We’re talking about preventing a lot of casualties, and that justifies inconveniencing a certain ethnic group.”

      So Mr. Swaid may be technically correct, but he is surely not right in the real world.

      Consider also the following report from the March 19 issue of the Jerusalem Post:


       In a solution to a decidedly postmodern Jewish dilemma, a group of pluralistic, secular rabbis ruled this week that when standing under the huppa in a same-sex marriage ceremony, both partners can be given the honor of “breaking the glass.”
       “The breaking of the glass, a staple of every Jewish wedding, is used to remember the egregious hatred that led to the destruction of the Second Temple,” said Ofer Korenfeld, chairman of Havayah, an organization that arranges “Jewish-inspired” lifecycle events.
       “This message is particularly pertinent to the [homosexual]-lesbian community, which is the target of so much hatred,” added Kornfeld….

       Havayah belongs to a growing movement in Israel known informally as Jewish Renewal, which encourages secular Israelis not to give up their ties to Jewish culture, pushing yiddishkeit without God.


      We are at a loss to understand what is meant by a ruling by “secular rabbis” or how the halachic “huppa” pertains to the decidedly non-halachic “same sex marriage ceremony.” But these days, someone says something and there it is.
      Consider also the news report that a national tour featuring decorated veterans from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan won’t be stopping as planned at Minneapolis’s Forest Lake Area High School. School leaders abruptly canceled the visit. According to the Minneapolis Star Tribune, the school principal said the decision to cancel was prompted by concerns that the event was becoming political rather than educational and therefore not suitable for a public school. The principal also said that the school had received several phone calls from parents and others, some of whom indicated that they might stage a protest if the event took place.

      The principal explained,


       The event was structured to be an academic classroom discussion around military service. We thought we’d provide an opportunity for kids to learn about service in the context of our history classes. As the day progressed, it became clear that this was becoming a political event … which would be inappropriate in a public setting.


      Are we really at the point in America that it is a political event to focus on the service of members of our military in a war mounted by the government of the United States simply because some oppose that war?

      In sum, we urge our readers to look behind the importuning of those who would hijack our language and values in order to pursue partisan agendas.

About Luke Ford

I've written five books (see My work has been covered in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and on 60 Minutes. I teach Alexander Technique in Beverly Hills (
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