How Should America Protect Its Democracy?

At the same time that the GOP is passing controversial legislation in a number of states concerning mail-in voting and voter ID laws, they are also blocking the Democrats’ sweeping voter rights legislation. Democrats see this as voter suppression. Republicans say they’re just trying to fight fraud. More at New York Times.

…you cannot silence a population. You can disenfranchise them. You can even take away peaceful protest as an option, as various laws are already doing. But they won’t just sit there and watch their rights being taken away. Our own Founders argued that “whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it.”

… the public supports voter ID despite the Left’s decades of scaremongering against it — they are finally willing to jettison the claims they knew were meretricious all along. They knew that even liberal Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens led the way in pronouncing voter ID fully constitutional as a legitimate interest in preventing vote fraud.

Why are Democrats compromising over voting rights, when Republicans won’t even support that compromise to begin with? Why not introduce and pass legislation to actually solve the problem, if Republicans aren’t going to support it to begin with?

Did Israel Declare Victory on Covid Too Soon?

With daily cases surging to 125, the highest in months, many are wondering if Israel’s return to normalcy was not the end of the pandemic but rather just the eye of the storm.

What happened? Two things. One, the Indian variant is highly infectious, and a few unvaccinated teens can quickly spread the disease. Two, Israelis cannot sit still. As soon as the airport was opened, they hurried to renew their routine of constant travel. One survey from yesterday found that half—half!—of all Israelis intend to travel abroad this summer.

…the town of Binyamina, identified as a focal point of the recent resurgence of the virus, was classified as an “orange” location on Wednesday, signifying a moderate infection rate, while the central city of Modiin switched from “green” to the more serious “yellow” under the Health Ministry’s traffic light system, Kan reported.

…the virus continues to run rampant across many countries around the world, the Health Ministry’s decision not to recommend the sweeping vaccination of teens aged 12 to 15 and rescind the mask requirement, including in schools, and to cancel all restrictions on entry in Israel as well as the purple and green passes was rash, arrogant, and reckless.

Will Israel’s New Gov’t Revive the Kotel Deal?

Talk of reviving the Bibi-era Kotel Deal, which would allow for egalitarian prayer at the Western Wall in Jerusalem, has many optimistic about the new government’s prospects of making peace with American Jewry.

Hess, who previously served as executive director of the Conservative-Masorti movement in Israel, says he is confident the so-called “Kotel deal” can be revived under the new government. “It’s low-hanging fruit,” he says.

The idea that by reconstituting the Kotel deal there will be sea change with Diaspora Jewry is fantasy. Yes, the elite of the liberal movements will declare victory and some of the vitriol uttered on the pulpits against Israel will be lessened, but their membership does not really care.

The original plan includes three key provisions: a joint entrance to the main Western Wall plaza and the egalitarian prayer space; a new permanent pavilion greatly enlarging the existing modest prayer deck, which has served as a site for pluralistic prayer since 2000; and, perhaps most controversially, a joint council made up of representatives from liberal streams of Judaism and government representatives that would be in charge of overseeing the site.

Why Are Some Jews Feeling Unwelcome on the Left?

The recent banning of a Jewish-Israeli owned food truck from a festival in Philadelphia for supposedly “woke” reasons has many Jews wondering if there’s any room on the progressive left for Jews.

…those who approve of anti-Israel rants on the floor of Congress spoken by Reps. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), which spread lies and anti-Jewish tropes, can’t be surprised when that leads to violence against Jews in the streets or leftwing activists deciding that won’t tolerate Israeli food at a street fair.

So cut and run? But where to? Registering as Independents would be very lonely. Might as well call it the Wandering Jews Party. It’s best to have ideological partners. Who will take liberal Jews in? They are no longer “tired” and “poor,” but they may end up as a huddled mass yearning for some political refuge.

When people on the left act as if Hamas’s attacks on Israel are unproblematic and take issue with Israel’s right to exist, however, we play into the right’s recruitment of U.S. Jews… In the interest of moving towards a more peaceful world for all people, we are encouraging progressives to pause, listen, and learn before simplifying the Israel-Palestine conflict.

Should We Panic About Falling Birthrates?

In America and in places around the world, birth rates are falling. Some analysts see this as a sign that our society itself is imploding.

Fewer people are good for the climate, but the economic consequences are severe. In the 1960s, there were six people of working age for every retired person. Today, the ratio is three-to-one. By 2035, it will be two-to-one.

I’m not yet calling this a crisis. In fact, America’s 2020 birth rate is in line with trends going back over 40 years. Similar trends have been observed in most of the U.S.‘s peer countries. The other reason this is not a crisis, at least not yet, is that America’s historically high immigration rates have put the country in a demographic sweet spot…

Large areas of the planet are suffering from an increasingly severe demographic deficit. In many countries, the rate of population growth was negative as early as two years ago, but the pandemic sparked a dramatic decrease in birth rates. Based on other acute crises in the past, experts predicted a baby boom as a consequence of the COVID-19 crisis – but the very opposite occurred.

Is It Time to Set Britney Free?

New court documents obtained by the New York Times show that popstar Britney Spears has often railed against the strict conditions of her conservatorship managed by her father. She will soon petition the court to have him replaced as the conservatorship’s manager, but many fans think she should be “set free” from this arrangement altogether.

We may never know how much control Britney Spears has over her image, her music, or her social media. But we do know what she’s asking us for now: to let her live her life in some peace.

“Any time Britney wants to end her conservatorship, she can ask her lawyer to file a petition to terminate it; she has always had this right but in 13 years has never exercised it,” Vivian Lee Thoreen, a lawyer for Mr. Spears, said in a statement to People earlier this year.

Certain Spears fans have organized themselves into a grassroots movement — #FreeBritney — to help Spears regain autonomy over her life. The dynamics between Spears and her dedicated #FreeBritney fans are murky, as are her various declarations on social media.

Today’s Hot Issues

How Should America Protect Its Democracy? Did Israel Declare Victory on Covid Too Soon? Will Israel’s New Gov’t Revive the Kotel Deal? Why Are Some Jews Feeling Unwelcome on the Left? Should We Panic About Falling Birthrates? Is It Time to Set Britney Free?