Comments for Baltimore Jewish Times Stories come to life here. Wed, 22 Apr 2015 02:24:48 +0000 hourly 1 Comment on Woman’s 11-Year Get Battle Comes to an End by Me Thu, 01 Jan 1970 00:00:00 +0000 This must have been a horrible ordeal and I’m so happy for the family that it is finally over.
Please do not blasphemize our holy rabbis who do their utmost to help the victims in these terrible situations. No one except the actual family knows all the details and please do not degrade rabbis by saying your own opinion on the matter. People do cruel things but it usually not the rabbis and it’s very easy to blame and judge unfairly. We should be respecting those who are usually trying to look out for us.

Comment on Taking on the ‘Israel Lobby’ by Grant Smith Thu, 01 Jan 1970 00:00:00 +0000 Dmitry, you were there. I did not say “Smith calculated that these groups have so far cost American taxpayers a total of $234 billion.”

I said that US foreign aid delivered in violation of the Symington and Glenn Amendments totaled that amount, and that each taxpayer should receive $1,909.54 in refunds.

Comment on GWU’s Swastika? Not by Public Interest Law Professor John Banzhaf, GWU Thu, 01 Jan 1970 00:00:00 +0000 YES, THINGS ARE WORST, AND MORE COMPLICATED

George Washington University [GWU] is gearing up to permanently ban from campus an important religious symbol, one which is sacred to many Hindus and Buddhists in India and elsewhere, because it looks like something else which may upset the sensibilities of some students.

The hearing will be held under the auspicious of Gabriel Slifka, GWU Director of the Office of Student Rights and Responsibilities, and Peter Konwerski, VP and Dean of Student Affairs.

It’s like banning the 6-pointed Jewish Star of David because some people might mistake it for the pentagram symbol and human sacrifice, or expelling a student for using the word “niggardly” because other students may mistake it for a racist word and get upset, says GWU public interest law professor John Banzhaf.

Banzhaf, in a legal memo to key campus officials, has suggested that the University and its President may already be liable for defamation and other civil torts.

Also, he argues, all those who participate in the coming hearing to finalize the initial private ruling may be legally liable for illegal discrimination based upon religion in violation of the D.C. Human Rights Act [DCHRA].

When a Jewish student studying Eastern religions recently returned from India with a religious symbol, sacred to many Indians and others, called a Sanskrit svastika [with a “V”], but another Jewish student initially mistook it for a Nazi swastika [with a “W”], there was initial concern that it was meant as a threat to Jewish students. However, within hours, all was explained, the student withdrew his complaint, said he had nothing to fear, and the campus police discontinued their investigation.

But apparently because there has been previous anonymous postings of real Nazi swastikas on campus which had triggered tremendous pressure on him from Jewish groups, GWU’s President Steven Knapp, without any hearing, banned the Jewish student from campus until a forthcoming hearing at which he faces permanent expulsion – an expulsion largely based upon GWU’s own failure to recognize the difference between a sacred Sanskrit symbol and a Nazi swastika, says Banzhaf.

The effort of that decision, especially if the expulsion is finalized at the forthcoming hearing, will be to effectively ban a sacred religious symbol from the campus, since any one displaying it, even for purely individual religious reasons, would presumably likewise face immediately expulsion.

The University has seemingly taken the position that posting anything which could be mistaken for a Nazi swastika – even if it is of a different color and orientation, and/or might be seen as “rotating” in the opposite direction – cannot be displayed on campus, even by students who are Hindus or Buddhists.

This effective banning of a sacred religious symbol, simply because it may look like something else, seems to be unprecedented. What could be more discriminatory than prohibiting Hindus and Buddhists from displaying their sacred Sanskrit svastika while permitting Christians, Jews, and others to display their symbols, perhaps on a T-shirt?

Banning one religious symbol – and even things that look something like it – while freely permitting the display of other religious symbols, would seem to be a clear violation of the DCHRA which prohibits discrimination based upon religious beliefs, says Banzhaf. Furthermore, any individual who aided and abetted that discrimination can be charged under the DCHRA, even if the University itself is not charged.

The professor says he has used this legal technique successfully several times, and finds it very effective because individuals can find it intimidating to have their credit ratings lowered, their ability to sell or even re-finance their homes temporarily suspended, etc. as a result of being charged with discrimination and being sued for attorneys fees as well as damages.

Even if the student had posted an actual Nazi swastika instead of an Indian religious symbol, he would still be protected by free speech and academic freedom, unless it posed a clear and present danger – i.e., was posted with the clear purpose of putting students in fear of immediate physical harm.

The law is clear that free speech and academic freedom protects the mere display of symbols, no matter how distasteful or upsetting they may be to some, unless their display creates a clear and present danger, says Banzhaf, who has won important cases involving free speech, and testified before Congress as an expert witness on the topic. Hate speech is not a crime, and is not exempted from First Amendment protection.

Indeed, it is highly unpopular ideas and very distasteful symbols which truly need protection under free speech and academic freedom, since no one gets expelled from college for displaying pictures of cute babies and puppies, or for displaying signs praising apple pie and motherhood.

Perhaps the most famous case involving a true Nazi swastika occurred when the courts upheld the right of a white racist group to march through Skokie Illinois in full Nazi uniforms with swastikas, even though many of the elderly Jewish survivors of death camps experienced real fear as well as total revulsion.

In a 1992 case, the Supreme Court unanimously declared unconstitutional a city’s ordinance that prohibited burning a cross or painting a swastika in a manner likely to anger, alarm or cause resentment. In another case, in 2003, the court declared unconstitutional a Virginia law that prohibited cross burning.

GWU says that it “is committed to the protection of free speech,” and guarantees students the right to “express opinions publicly and privately,” and even to “distribute pamphlets” and “conduct orderly demonstrations.” Courts have frequently held that such official written promises provide students of private colleges with the same free speech protections as those who attend state institutions of higher education.

Unless and until GWU creates an exception in its academic freedom policy by banning the mere posting of certain symbols – or things that might resemble them – which some students might find offensive, any attempt to punish free speech which is now permitted can create legal liability, claims Banzhaf.

“If they are going to carve out exceptions to the general rule of permitting students to express opinions through symbols or words which other students might find offensive, they should do so openly and prospectively, and not expel students for doing something which the current policy seemingly permits.

But adopting such a policy might prove as difficult as establishing a speech code, especially since all campus speech codes which have been challenged in court have so far been struck down.

In addition to banning Nazi swastikas and things that may look similar, the ban might have to include a T-shirt now in the news reading “Eat. Sleep. Rape. Repeat.,” any depictions or caricatures of the Prophet Mohammed, images of fetuses, quotations from the Bible about homosexuality, a photo of the infamous “Piss Christ” museum exhibit, photos depicting slavery, a statute of a man in underwear (from Wellesley), etc.

Comment on Jewish Voice for Peace Converges in Baltimore by Gracie Thu, 01 Jan 1970 00:00:00 +0000 Thanks so much for this article! The conference itself was inspiring and it was amazing to see
so many Jews of all ages coming together in celebration of their Jewish identity as well as in the persuit of peace and justice for the Palestinian people. It is also Inspiring to see such sound coverage of the event in the Jewish Times!
Thank you!
Gracie G, concerned community member in alliance with JVP.

Comment on Twisted Logic by Abe Thu, 01 Jan 1970 00:00:00 +0000 Why are you on every Armenian article posted on the web denying the Christian Armenian butchery of the Islamic Turks… It does not take much to realize your a Turkish government paid denial troll… Maybe one day an Armenian will find you in a dark alley lol :)

Comment on Hate Crime or Not? by Public Interest Law Professor John Banzhaf, GWU Thu, 01 Jan 1970 00:00:00 +0000 Things are actually worse at GWU than the article indicates because the object in question is not a swastika, but rather an Indian religious symbol which could be mistaken for a swastika.
It’s as if a student were thrown off campus for posting a Jewish 6-pointed star because someone mistook it for a pentagram with all of the evil it implies.
It’s also like punishing a student for using the word “niggardly” because another student mistakenly thought it was a racist insulting word.
Here’s information about a memo I wrote to my university about the situation.

GWU Memo – Correct “Swastika” Errors or We Get Sued
University Confused Indian Religious Symbol With Nazi Swastika and Genocide

A George Washington University memo to its Chief Counsel and Risk Manager warns the University that, unless it corrects two major factual mistakes in its official statement regarding the so-called “swastika” incident, the University – as well as its president and other key officials – could be held liable for defaming a Jewish student simply studying Eastern religions, and for other torts.
The memo suggests that the University erred when it described “as the symbol of the Nazi Party” and “associat[ed] with genocide” an ancient and deeply religious symbol from India which a Jewish student studying Eastern religions at the University brought back from India and posted briefly on the bulletin board of his largely Jewish fraternity. It was mistaken for a Nazi swastika by another Jewish student at the same fraternity. In reaction, the university barred the Jewish student not only from all classes, but also from all campus Passover services and events, and scheduled an expulsion hearing for Monday.
Yet, notes the legal memo, the University continues to refer to the symbol as a “swastika,” and has scheduled a hearing this Monday to permanently expel the student. The legal memo notes that, even if the Indian religious symbol could possibly be referred to as a “swastika,” the University’s actions might still constitute deception by failure to disclose – i.e., to disclose to GWU students, most of whom know the swastika only as a symbol associated with Fascism, that it is not a Nazi symbol of hatred but actually the opposite.
Ironically, a group of GWU law students forced McDonald’s to pay over twelve million dollars when it likewise made a truthful statement which was deceptive only because of what it failed to disclose.
The legal memo also notes that, by stating that the posting might have constituted a “hate crime” which should be investigated by the police, the University made a basic legal error. As noted in a completely separate legal analysis by law professor Jonathan Turley, posting even a real Nazi swastika cannot constitute a “hate crime” because there is no underlying crime. A hate crime is simply an ordinary crime – like assault or arson – which is committed because of a hatred based upon the victim’s race, religion, etc.
Here, as Prof. Turley explained, there is no victim and no crime, so there can be no hate crime, regardless of the nature of the object posted on his fraternity’s bulletin board. The legal memo continues:
“Suggesting that someone has committed a crime constitutes (unless it is true) the tort of libel per se for which the victim can collect damages even in the absence of proof of any specific loss. However, accusing a religious Jewish student of committing a crime . . . based upon hatred of the religion of his family, many of his friends, most of the members of his largely-Jewish fraternity, etc. would be seen by almost everyone as very significant harm, and therefore warranting large damages. The harm is further exacerbated by the fact that, in addition to summarily being told that he cannot attend his classes because he allegedly poses a threat of some unspecified and possibly unlikely kind to other students, he is barred from participating in the on-campus celebrations and activities which make up Passover” [beginning next week].
The 3-page legal memo suggests that the University correct these two misstatements to prevent a major law suit, or to at least minimize the damages should such a law suit be brought.

Comment on A Walk with Purpose by David Moskowitz MD FACP Thu, 01 Jan 1970 00:00:00 +0000 I hate watching anybody go on dialysis, especially fellow Jews. In 2002, I published how to prevent 90% of kidney dialysis. If you have diabetes or high blood pressure, which cause 90% of chronic kidney failure, please contact me at I’d love to try to keep you off the kidney machine. The less advanced your kidney disease, the greater the chance we can reverse it.

Comment on Rabbi Buchdahl: A Great Draw by steve w. Thu, 01 Jan 1970 00:00:00 +0000 The present rabbi at Temple Emanuel is NOT a him, but a her: cantor-rabbi Rhoda Silverman, who, at present, is the longest-serving – i.e., senior- Reform cleric in the Baltimore area.

Comment on Gender and Passover: Breaking Free from a Personal Mitzrayim by Pamela Reed Thu, 01 Jan 1970 00:00:00 +0000 Thank you Hannah for sharing your own heart and explaining that we trans do exist and are worthy of love just like everyone else. I am humbled to be your online friend.


Comment on Making Sense of Unspeakable Tragedy by Giada Weiss Thu, 01 Jan 1970 00:00:00 +0000 Rather than put your family at risk by using a dangerous hot plate, why not simply not eat hot food at all? Just not understanding the logic here. There are many foods that will nourish and fill that do not need to be heated or kept warm.