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NJ court rules in favor of woman who used social media to lobby for Jewish divorce

(JTA) — Advocates for Jewish women who say their estranged husbands are abusing them by refusing to assent to a religious divorce are cheering after a New Jersey appellate court overturned a ruling against a woman in that state who used social media to advocate for her divorce.

A lower court ruled in 2021 that the woman’s social media posts constituted harassment and incitement. The American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey got involved in the case then, joining several Orthodox women’s rights groups who had already been working on her behalf.

The woman, who was identified only by her initials, LBB, in Wednesday’s 39-page court ruling, has been separated from her husband since 2019. She says that he has refused to give her a get, or ritual divorce document.

According to Jewish law, if a husband does not give his wife a get, she becomes an “agunah,” Hebrew for “chained woman,” who is unable to divorce and therefore to remarry — even if the couple has already completed a civil divorce. Men who refuse to deliver a get, often to gain leverage in a civil divorce proceeding, face no such restrictions under Jewish law.

A number of organizations in the United States, Israel and beyond have mobilized to press Jewish legal authorities to find a solution to the issue, which Orthodox women’s rights advocates consider a form of domestic abuse. Three Jewish groups filed legal briefs in support of the woman, including the Organization for the Resolution of Agunot, Unchained at Last and the Jewish Orthodox Feminist Alliance.

“We applaud the court’s upholding of the right of agunot, those denied a Jewish divorce, to advocate for themselves within their communities without fear of repercussion.” Keshet Starr, CEO of the ORA, said in a statement. “Get refusal is unquestionably a form of domestic abuse; today, the court has stood up for survivors and against abuse in all its forms.”

In recent years, agunot and their advocates have turned to social media to recruit support for their cause and pressure their husbands to deliver a get. That appears to be what happened in this case. According to the court ruling, in 2021 the woman in question created a video in which she asked viewers to “press” her husband to give her a get. She says she sent it to only two people, but it appears to have spread more widely, and to have led to other social media activism that identified him by name, along with a photo.

The man testified that he subsequently received a series of anonymous phone calls, some containing threats. According to the ruling, he “explained his belief that the Jewish community reacts violently to the withholding of a get and that identifying him as a ‘get refuser’ subjected him to kidnappings and brutal beatings.” 

He also said his father was a get refuser and was subject to beating as a result. And he testified about a history of verbal abuse throughout their marriage.

The man also claimed that he did not withhold the get and that he had in fact given it to someone identified in the ruling as the “Chief Rabbi of Elizabeth,” who could have given it to the man’s wife. It is unclear which rabbi the ruling referred to: There is no broadly recognized “chief rabbi of Elizabeth,” a New Jersey city, and unlike other countries such as Israel or the United Kingdom, the United States or its cities do not have a chief rabbi. 

In 2021, the man received a temporary, and later a final, restraining order that barred his estranged wife from contacting him and ordered her to remove social media posts calling for the get. The court that issued the restraining order ruled that the social media posts constituted harassment, an invasion of privacy and incitement, and were thus not protected under the First Amendment’s free speech provisions. 

The appellate court’s three-judge panel rejected that reasoning, saying that her social media activism did count as protected speech. 

“In sum, the judge’s finding that the Jewish community was prone to violence against get refusers — and the implicit holding that defendant was aware of and intentionally availed herself of such violent tendencies — is not supported by the record,” the decision says. “The video was intended to get a get. The video did not threaten or menace plaintiff, and nothing in the record suggests that plaintiff’s safety or security was put at risk by the video.”


The post NJ court rules in favor of woman who used social media to lobby for Jewish divorce appeared first on Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

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Jordan Reaffirms Commitment to Peace With Israel After Iran Attack, Says Ending Treaty Would Hurt Palestinians

Jordan’s Foreign Minister Ayman Al Safadi attends a press conference after a meeting on the Gaza situation in the government’s representation facility in Oslo, Norway, Dec. 15, 2023. Photo: NTB/Stian Lysberg Solum via REUTERS

Senior Jordanian officials recently reaffirmed the country’s commitment to maintaining peace with Israel, despite protests erupting across Jordan against their treaty amid the ongoing war in Gaza.

Pro-Hamas protesters have been actively campaigning to end the Israel-Jordan peace treaty, which the two countries signed in 1994 to end the state of war that had existed between them for decades and establish diplomatic relations. The treaty followed the signing of the Oslo Accords, a historic agreement between Israel and the Palestinians.

However, Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Al-Safadi said on Sunday that the peace deal was best for not only his country but also the Palestinians.

“The treaty actualized all our rights and served our interests. Revoking it would not be in Jordan’s or the Palestinians’ interest,” Al-Safadi told Jordan’s official news channel Al-Mamlaka in remarks flagged by the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI). “If we thought even for a moment that revoking it would be in the interest of Jordan or of the Palestinians, we would have done so without hesitation.”

Revoking the peace treaty, he continued, would “harm both Jordan and Palestine and greatly limit our ability to continue fulfilling our main and primary role in providing aid to the Palestinian people … The peace treaty is a source of strength for us and allows us to continue our role of aiding the Palestinian people while protecting our interests.”

Al-Safadi’s comments came one day after Jordan — along with the US, Britain, and France — helped Israel repel an unprecedented direct attack by Iran against the Israeli homeland. Iran fired over 300 drones and missiles at the Jewish state, nearly all of which were shot out of the air. Only one injury was reported in Israel.

The chief diplomat’s defense of the peace treaty also came amid the ongoing Israel-Hamas war in Gaza, which has fueled anti-Israel animus across Jordan. Thousands of protesters have been routinely gathering for weeks to lambast Israel, express solidarity with Hamas, and call for an end to the peace treaty. Al-Safadi addressed such opposition in his comments.

“We respect Jordanian public opinion,” he said. “Back in 1994, when [the treaty] was signed, it protected our interests. We regained all our occupied lands, and the treaty enshrined Jordan’s special role in administrating the places holy to Islam and to Christianity in Jerusalem. Were it not for this role, there would have been a vacuum, and Israel would have exploited this to impose its own sovereignty and administration on the holy places rather than granting them to the Palestinians.”

Al-Safadi wasn’t the only official to recently articulate Jordan’s commitment to the peace treaty amid calls to revoke it and mass anti-Israel protests over the Gaza war.

Jordan’s government spokesman, Muhannad Mubaidin, told Sky News Arabia late last month that Hamas was inciting the Jordanian people against their leadership. The Palestinian terrorist group and its supporters in Jordan, he said, were trying “to force Jordan to choose different options,” but “peace is our strategic choice and the peace treaty [with Israel] is what allows us to fulfill our role of easing the pressures on the people in the West Bank.”

MEMRI was first to report Mubaidin’s comments in English.

The post Jordan Reaffirms Commitment to Peace With Israel After Iran Attack, Says Ending Treaty Would Hurt Palestinians first appeared on Algemeiner.com.

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US Stops UN From Recognizing a Palestinian State Through Membership

United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres speaks to members of the Security Council during a meeting to address the situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian question, at UN headquarters in New York City, New York, US, April 18, 2024. Photo: REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz

The United States on Thursday effectively stopped the United Nations from recognizing a Palestinian state by casting a veto in the Security Council to deny the Palestinian Authority full membership of the world body.

The United States says an independent Palestinian state should be established through direct negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority and not through UN action.

It vetoed a draft resolution that recommended to the 193-member UN General Assembly that “the State of Palestine be admitted to membership of the United Nations.” Britain and Switzerland abstained, while the remaining 12 council members voted yes.

The Palestinians are currently a non-member observer state, a recognition that was granted by the UN General Assembly in 2012. But an application to become a full UN member needs to be approved by the Security Council and then at least two-thirds of the General Assembly.

The Palestinian push for full UN membership comes six months into a war between Israel and Hamas in Gaza, and as Israel is expanding settlements in the West Bank.

“Recent escalations make it even more important to support good-faith efforts to find lasting peace between Israel and a fully independent, viable, and sovereign Palestinian state,” UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres told the council earlier on Thursday.

“Failure to make progress towards a two-state solution will only increase volatility and risk for hundreds of millions of people across the region, who will continue to live under the constant threat of violence,” he said.

Israel‘s UN Ambassador Gilad Erdan said Palestinians failed to meet the criteria to become a full UN member, which he outlined as: a permanent population, defined territory, government, and capacity to enter relations with other states.

“Who is the council voting to ‘recognize’ and give full membership status to? Hamas in Gaza? The Palestinian Islamic Jihad in Nablus? Who?” Erdan asked the Security Council earlier on Thursday.

He said granting full UN membership to Palestinians “will have zero positive impact for any party, that will cause only destruction for years to come, and harm any chance for future dialogue.”

The Palestinian Authority, headed by President Mahmoud Abbas, exercises limited self-rule in the West Bank. Hamas ousted the Palestinian Authority from power in Gaza in 2007.

Ziad Abu Amr, special envoy of Abbas, earlier asked the US: “How could this damage the prospects of peace between Palestinians and Israelis? How could this recognition and this membership harm international peace and security?”

“Those who are trying to disrupt and hinder the adoption of such a resolution … are not helping the prospects of peace between Palestinians and Israelis and the prospects for peace in the Middle East in general,” he told the Security Council.

Abu Amr said full Palestinian UN membership was not an alternative for serious political negotiations to implement a two-state solution and resolve pending issues, adding: “However, this resolution will grant hope to the Palestinian people hope for a decent life within an independent state.”

The post US Stops UN From Recognizing a Palestinian State Through Membership first appeared on Algemeiner.com.

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The value of Jews to Canada today: What would the cost be if the community packed up and left?

Jonathan L. Milevsky is an author and educator. Raphi Zaionz is the founder of mygoals Inc. Both live in Toronto, for the moment. (The latter’s children either have left or are planning to leave Canada.) Towards the end of the film Schindler’s List, there’s a scene in which the famous non-Jewish philanthropist, who saved over […]

The post The value of Jews to Canada today: What would the cost be if the community packed up and left? appeared first on The Canadian Jewish News.

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