Letters the week of July 30, 2015


Morton Klein, President of the Zionist Organization of America and State Representative Mark Cohen write letters.

Clearing the Record on ZOA, BDS and ADL
Michael Sand (Kvetch ‘n Kvell, July 17) attacks only me and ignores our arguments and the fact that two knowledgeable attorneys co-authored our op-ed explaining there is no legal merit to ADL’s claim that anti-boycott, divestment and sanctions legislation is illegal.
Remember, U.S. laws against the Arab League boycott of Israel were legal. Boycotts are harmful economic activity and expressive conduct. Such activity and conduct is not constitutionally protected. 
The ADL and Mr. Sand also have no basis for claiming that anti-BDS laws will lead to more campus protests. They will lead to fewer such protests, just as the anti-Arab League boycott laws weakened the Arab boycott and less demand for boycotting Israel. Painfully, 
the ADL is on the same side as the extremist J Street in fighting anti-BDS legislation. The ADL and J Street stance only aids the boycotters of Israel.
We, the ZOA, are at the forefront of combatting BDS on campuses throughout the country and elsewhere through education, student training, and working with dozens of state legislatures to pass anti-boycott legislation. We recommend ADL apologize to legislatures, and Jewish and Christian groups who are fighting to stop BDS.
Morton A. Klein | National President, Zionist Organization of America
Debunking The Forced-Officiant Canard
In “My Rabbi Needs Legal Aid” (Op-Ed, July 16), Nathan Lewin dramatically overstates the impact of the recent U.S. Supreme Court decision on individual rabbis and synagogues. The Supreme Court guaranteed a right to get a government-issued marriage license and have a marriage for same-sex couples. It did not create a duty on any clergyman or house of worship to perform marriage ceremonies for any couple. I stand ready to provide pro bono legal aid to any rabbi or religious institution who believes this court decision creates repugnant legal duties. 
Nothing forces any clergyman or house of worship to officiate or to host any marriage. A synagogue is well within its rights to limit its facilities to marriages between one or more congregants, to marriages where both partners are Jewish, to marriages where both parties are Orthodox, to marriages where both partners are heterosexuals, to marriages where both partners are white, to marriages where only a certain caterer is used, to marriages that are performed according to certain religious or community standards, etc. The more conditions that are imposed upon a wedding — or any other family religious ceremony — the less relevant the synagogue may be to an individual congregant, and the individual congregant can always choose to terminate his or her membership. But there is no government-enforceable right for any two people to be married at any time, any place, or by any rabbi.
The Bob Jones case cited by Lewin stands as precedent for the proposition that a religiously oriented college cannot ban a person from being a student or a faculty member or an administrator of the institution for having a same-sex marriage. I seriously doubt that there are many — if any — Jewish institutions that would even attempt to ban a person with a same-sex marital partner from enrolling or continuing to enroll there as a student, or to serve there as a faculty member or administrator.  
As the most senior state legislator in Pennsylvania, and the third-most senior Jewish state legislator nationwide, I have long publicly favored marriage equality for same-sex couples. Bringing same-sex relations into the fold of legally protected marriage only serves to recognize the dignity and humanity of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people, and to provide the same structure of moral encouragement and societal recognition for them that has long existed for the vast majority of Americans. 
State Rep. Mark B. Cohen (D-District 202) | Northeast Philadelphia


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