Marine Le Pen and the Jews of France: It’s Complicated, but Clear

Should French Jews fear the potential election of Marine Le Pen? Should they leave France if she wins the presidency, per the advice of a leading rabbi? Is she rightly characterized as a "hate" candidate, following in the footsteps of her Holocaust-denying father? And is she right in calling for France's Jews to make certain sacrifices, since she will ask Muslims to do the same?

The short answer is: It's complicated but clear. Let me explain why.

According to Francis Kalifat, president of the CRIF umbrella group of French Jewish communities, Le Pen is a "candidate of hate" and Jews should unite around Emmanuel Marcon, even if they differ with his policies. That's how dangerous Le Pen will be for France's Jews.

Speaking from Moscow, Russian Chief Rabbi Berel Lazar warned that France is "heading toward radicalization." He stated plainly that, "If Marine Le Pen is elected president of France, the Jews must leave."

Are these men overreacting?

Let's remember that Marine Le Pen is not her father, Jean-Marie Le Pen, founder of the right-wing National Front Party, now led by Marine.

Jean-Marie has been fined multiple times for Holocaust denial, once saying, "If you take a 1,000-page book on World War II, the concentration camps take up only two pages and the gas chambers 10 to 15 lines. This is what one calls a detail."

But Marine Le Pen has thrown her father out of the party and denounced his views. Why should she be held accountable for her father's transgressions?

Let's also remember that the threat of radical Islam is real and requires some extreme measures. That's why Le Pen recently tweeted, "Hate preachers must be expelled, the Islamist mosques closed." (Note that "Islamist" means "radical Muslim.")

Shouldn't French Jews embrace this kind of thinking, since they have often been targets of Islamic violence? Or is it possible that French Jews skew liberal by default, just as American Jews do, meaning that they will not side with a strong nationalism even when it's in their best interest?

This is why I say that the relationship between Marine Le Pen and French Jews is complicated. She is not her father, and she has expelled other anti-Semites from her party. Perhaps her policies would be in the best interest of France's Jews?

I think not. As much as radical Islam requires a firm hand of resistance, Le Pen presents real problems for French Jews.

As noted by the JTA, "Le Pen recently called for banning the wearing of the kippah in public and for making it illegal for French nationals to also have an Israeli passport—steps she said were necessary because of the principle of equality in order to facilitate similar limitations on Muslims.

Le Pen has said radical Islam is a 'threat on French culture' and has called on Jews to make certain 'sacrifices' in order to fight jihadism."

And herein lies the problem: She is treating Jews and Muslims alike to the point of penalizing Jews for the crimes of radical Muslims.

Why shouldn't French Jews be allowed dual citizenship? Has their solidary with Israel over the decades damaged the people of France? Has it made them any less loyal citizens? Have they plundered France to aid and abet Israel?

And why shouldn't a Jewish man be allowed to wear a head-covering? And what about his beard, if that is part of his religious identification? Must he shave his beard too? And is Le Pen requiring Catholic priests and nuns not to wear their ritual attire? For that matter, is she requiring Catholics not to wear crosses? If not, why single out religious Jews? Why not deal with radical Muslims as such without penalizing everyone else (including moderate Muslims)?

Where are the Jewish terrorists in France? How many have murdered policemen in cold blood while shouting out pro-Israeli slogans? How many have rammed trucks into civilians, slaughtering dozens? How many have massacred scores of concert-goers? How many have attacked restaurants and killed as many diners as they could? How many have broken into magazine headquarters and butchered anti-Jewish journalists?

As Amiel Unger wrote in an op-ed for HaAretz, "Marine Le Pen's instinct is right: fighting an Islamic takeover requires France to shed its guilt and shame over its past. But her desire for a foolish 'consistency' means Vichy and Jewish identity are also included."

All too often in Jewish history, the Jewish people have been scapegoated whenever hard times befell the countries in which they lived. It's all because of the Jews! The Jews poisoned the wells and caused the Black Plague! The Jews caused the economic collapse of Germany! It's the fault of the Jews!

Should extreme nationalism prevail in France, it could be dangerous for France's Jews. "Why can't they just be French? Why must they insist on being Israelis too? Why must they insist on being Jews? Either they shed their identity, or they go."

Ideally, France must resist the Islamization of their country and deal forcefully with radical Islam. But they must do it without penalizing their loyal Jewish population.

If Le Pen wins the election, they should be on their guard. {eoa}

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A Glaring Example of Our Fallen Morals in the Recent Georgia Election

As far as I can tell, the comment received virtually no response from the media, nor was it deemed worthy of a response. After all, what's the big deal about a political candidate casually mentioning that he's living with his longtime girlfriend? Don't some of our favorite TV couples live together out of wedlock? And don't some of our friends and neighbors and family members live together out of wedlock?

They certainly do.

And that illustrates the point I'm making. We've come a long way in the last 50 years, and where we find ourselves today is far from good.

When congressional candidate Jon Ossoff was asked if he lived in the district in which he was running for office, he explained that he had moved out of the district to support his girlfriend while she finished medical school: "I've been living with my girlfriend, Alicia, for 12 years now down by Emory University where she's a full-time medical student," he said. "As soon as she concludes her medical training, I'll be 10 minutes back up the street in the district where I grew up."

And that was that. No big deal, no eyebrows raised, and no suggestion that this was anything other than normal.

At least one TV commentator did ask playfully when they were getting married. After all, 12 years is a long time to live together without marriage. But the fact they live together and that he's running for political office wasn't even worthy of a yawn.

Why should it be?

Today we have gay political leaders, bisexual political leaders and transgender political leaders, not to mention a president who has been married three times.

We also have leaders like Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who has been going with his girlfriend Sandra Lee since 2005, with plans to marry "some day." 

But once again, that's the point I'm making.

It's not that Ossoff is a terrible filthy sinner because he lives with his girlfriend. After all, it appears that they've been in a steady relationship for a dozen years, which means they've stayed together a lot longer than many married couples.

It's just another reflection on the fallen state of our culture. After all, if you can live together for years without being married (and even have kids out of wedlock), and then, once you're married, divorce for any reason, what's the meaning of marriage?

For me, it was jarring to hear Ossoff's comments, but not because they were so shocking. It's because they weren't shocking at all. That's what jarred me afresh.

Can you imagine Ronald Reagan running for president (or, governor, for that matter) while living with Nancy rather than being married to her? Or George H. W. Bush living with Barbara? Or Bill Clinton living with Hillary? Or George W. Bush living with Laura? Or Barack Obama living with Michelle? Or even Donald Trump living with Melania?

Even so, how long will it be before an Andrew Cuomo can run for president while not being married to his girlfriend? It surely didn't stop him from running for governor, and it's not a big jump from having a longtime girlfriend to living with her.

Again, my point is not to say, "Look at how evil these people are! They are committing the unpardonable sin!"

My point is to say, "Wake up America! Our morals are collapsing before our eyes, and marriage is becoming increasingly meaningless."

Recent studies confirm what we have known for years: cohabitation is harmful more than helpful.

An April 1 report from the U.K.'s Marriage Foundation announced that, "Cohabiting couples now account for over half of family breakdown despite making up only a fifth of parents, a report by Marriage Foundation has found."

A March 21 article noted that, "The level of doubt and mistrust among informal couples is two-and-a-half times the amount of concern about commitment detected among married couples."

This indicates that something really happens when couples commit to marry, even in our divorce-ridden cultures.

Yet it's not just the couples who are affected. Another March article, summarizing a major, international study, reported that, "According to a recent sociological study, cohabitation has a notably deleterious impact on one particular group: kids. 'As marriage becomes less likely to anchor the adult life course across the globe, growing numbers of children may be thrown into increasingly turbulent family waters,' writes Bradford Wilcox in Foreign Affairs.

These are significant findings, and they remind us that there is a large ripple effect when we tamper with the sanctity of marriage. So, when we hear about a famous, unmarried athlete who is about to have his or her first child, we shouldn't just think, "How wonderful!" For the sake of that child, we should think, "How much better it would be if the mom and dad were already committed in marriage."

Writing about events taking place in 2014, Ann Coulter noted that, "In 1947, it was a scandal when Brooklyn Dodgers manager Leo Durocher was alleged to have been having an affair with a married actress, Laraine Day."

She explains, "Durocher himself was not married, but Day, a Mormon who never smoked or drank, divorced her husband and married Durocher the day after being granted a provisional divorce decree. The divorce wasn't final, so the judge who signed the decree ordered Day and Durocher to live separately in California. (Yes, this was so long ago, the institution of marriage was still respected in California.)

"And they did. She lived with her mother in Santa Monica and Durocher moved into a nearby hotel. 

"Yet and still, the Catholic Youth Organization withdrew its support for the Brooklyn Dodgers and advised its members to boycott the team as long as Durocher remained manager. 

"As CYO director Rev. Vincent J. Powell explained in a letter, Durocher was not the sort of person 'we want our youth to idealize and imitate,' adding that the CYO could not be 'officially associated with a man who presents an example in contradiction to our moral teachings.'"

Yes, that was New York City in the late 1940s. Need I say more?

In my forthcoming book, Saving a Sick America, I do lay out a plan for moral and cultural reformation. But that plan for the future starts with one essential ingredient today: We must realize how sick we are.

Mr. Ossoff's recent comment, as benign as it may have seemed, is another reminder of our broken condition.

Call me Puritanical and prudish if you like. My words will be vindicated over time. {eoa}

Click here to read the full / original blog post.

Posted in In the Line of Fire | Comments Off

A Glaring Example of Our Fallen Morals in the Recent Georgia Election

As far as I can tell, the comment received virtually no response from the media, nor was it deemed worthy of a response. After all, what's the big deal about a political candidate casually mentioning that he's living with his longtime girlfriend? Don't some of our favorite TV couples live together out of wedlock? And don't some of our friends and neighbors and family members live together out of wedlock?

They certainly do.

And that illustrates the point I'm making. We've come a long way in the last 50 years, and where we find ourselves today is far from good.

When congressional candidate Jon Ossoff was asked if he lived in the district in which he was running for office, he explained that he had moved out of the district to support his girlfriend while she finished medical school: "I've been living with my girlfriend, Alicia, for 12 years now down by Emory University where she's a full-time medical student," he said. "As soon as she concludes her medical training, I'll be 10 minutes back up the street in the district where I grew up."

And that was that. No big deal, no eyebrows raised, and no suggestion that this was anything other than normal.

At least one TV commentator did ask playfully when they were getting married. After all, 12 years is a long time to live together without marriage. But the fact they live together and that he's running for political office wasn't even worthy of a yawn.

Why should it be?

Today we have gay political leaders, bisexual political leaders and transgender political leaders, not to mention a president who has been married three times.

We also have leaders like Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who has been going with his girlfriend Sandra Lee since 2005, with plans to marry "some day." 

But once again, that's the point I'm making.

It's not that Ossoff is a terrible filthy sinner because he lives with his girlfriend. After all, it appears that they've been in a steady relationship for a dozen years, which means they've stayed together a lot longer than many married couples.

It's just another reflection on the fallen state of our culture. After all, if you can live together for years without being married (and even have kids out of wedlock), and then, once you're married, divorce for any reason, what's the meaning of marriage?

For me, it was jarring to hear Ossoff's comments, but not because they were so shocking. It's because they weren't shocking at all. That's what jarred me afresh.

Can you imagine Ronald Reagan running for president (or, governor, for that matter) while living with Nancy rather than being married to her? Or George H. W. Bush living with Barbara? Or Bill Clinton living with Hillary? Or George W. Bush living with Laura? Or Barack Obama living with Michelle? Or even Donald Trump living with Melania?

Even so, how long will it be before an Andrew Cuomo can run for president while not being married to his girlfriend? It surely didn't stop him from running for governor, and it's not a big jump from having a longtime girlfriend to living with her.

Again, my point is not to say, "Look at how evil these people are! They are committing the unpardonable sin!"

My point is to say, "Wake up America! Our morals are collapsing before our eyes, and marriage is becoming increasingly meaningless."

Recent studies confirm what we have known for years: cohabitation is harmful more than helpful.

An April 1 report from the U.K.'s Marriage Foundation announced that, "Cohabiting couples now account for over half of family breakdown despite making up only a fifth of parents, a report by Marriage Foundation has found."

A March 21 article noted that, "The level of doubt and mistrust among informal couples is two-and-a-half times the amount of concern about commitment detected among married couples."

This indicates that something really happens when couples commit to marry, even in our divorce-ridden cultures.

Yet it's not just the couples who are affected. Another March article, summarizing a major, international study, reported that, "According to a recent sociological study, cohabitation has a notably deleterious impact on one particular group: kids. 'As marriage becomes less likely to anchor the adult life course across the globe, growing numbers of children may be thrown into increasingly turbulent family waters,' writes Bradford Wilcox in Foreign Affairs.

These are significant findings, and they remind us that there is a large ripple effect when we tamper with the sanctity of marriage. So, when we hear about a famous, unmarried athlete who is about to have his or her first child, we shouldn't just think, "How wonderful!" For the sake of that child, we should think, "How much better it would be if the mom and dad were already committed in marriage."

Writing about events taking place in 2014, Ann Coulter noted that, "In 1947, it was a scandal when Brooklyn Dodgers manager Leo Durocher was alleged to have been having an affair with a married actress, Laraine Day."

She explains, "Durocher himself was not married, but Day, a Mormon who never smoked or drank, divorced her husband and married Durocher the day after being granted a provisional divorce decree. The divorce wasn't final, so the judge who signed the decree ordered Day and Durocher to live separately in California. (Yes, this was so long ago, the institution of marriage was still respected in California.)

"And they did. She lived with her mother in Santa Monica and Durocher moved into a nearby hotel. 

"Yet and still, the Catholic Youth Organization withdrew its support for the Brooklyn Dodgers and advised its members to boycott the team as long as Durocher remained manager. 

"As CYO director Rev. Vincent J. Powell explained in a letter, Durocher was not the sort of person 'we want our youth to idealize and imitate,' adding that the CYO could not be 'officially associated with a man who presents an example in contradiction to our moral teachings.'"

Yes, that was New York City in the late 1940s. Need I say more?

In my forthcoming book, Saving a Sick America, I do lay out a plan for moral and cultural reformation. But that plan for the future starts with one essential ingredient today: We must realize how sick we are.

Mr. Ossoff's recent comment, as benign as it may have seemed, is another reminder of our broken condition.

Call me Puritanical and prudish if you like. My words will be vindicated over time. {eoa}

Click here to read the full / original blog post.

Posted in In the Line of Fire | Comments Off

The ‘Trans’ That God Really Cares About

Hardly a day goes by where we don't hear about "trans"—as in transgender. Whether it's a trans child, a trans celebrity or a trans lawsuit, trans is ever before us.

But it's not just transgender that's in the news.

We also hear about transracial and transabled and transhuman and trans-species, all of which leads me to focus on the trans that matters most to God: transgression.

I don't mean that God doesn't care about people who identify as transgender or who wrestle with other variations of trans.

I simply mean that the "trans" that matters most to Him is the trans in transgression—as in disobedience, sin, wickedness, evil.

What is the actual definition of transgression?

The English verb "transgress" comes from two Latin words, trans meaning "across" and gradi meaning "to go," coming into English by way of Old French. So, to transgress is to "go across, step across," while a transgression is the act of going across or stepping across.

In short, to transgress is "to act in violation of some law," and you can transgress boundaries, customs, codes or guidelines.

In our English Bibles, "transgression" has a very specific meaning: intentionally breaking God's laws. This means there is a willful nature to our actions. We know something is wrong, yet we do it anyway. We know God forbids it, but we disobey. We don't just fall short of the mark while making our best efforts. We determine to do what is wrong. This is self-will. This is pride. This is rebellion.

Accordingly, the Hebrew word translated with "transgression" in most of our English Bibles means "an act of rebellion," and it is related to a verb meaning "to rebel." It's not surprising that both the verb and the noun occur many times in the Old Testament.

In the New Testament, there is a more specialized word for "transgression," and it carries the meaning of "stepping over" or "violating," with specific reference to God's law.

To explain this further, let's say you're driving 100 mph on a narrow, winding road that has no speed limits since it's on private property. You are driving dangerously and foolishly and you might crash and even die, but you are not breaking any law because there is no law. But if you're driving 100 mph on a public road with a 40 mph speed limit, not only are you driving dangerously and foolishly. You're also breaking the law. You're guilty of transgression.

That is the state of the human race.

We're not just like a curious toddler, innocently touching something we shouldn't touch. We're like a rebellious toddler, looking Mommy in the eyes defiantly and touching the very thing she forbade us to touch. Only we're not toddlers. We're adults, and we're fully responsible for our actions—for our transgressions.

Whether or not we like it or acknowledge it, God has given us His laws, His holy standards. They tell us what is right and wrong.

The most important ones are not just written in the Bible. They are written on our hearts. And when we sin against these laws, we sin against God and we transgress. Our sin is an act of rebellion against the Lord.

Of course, it is possible to harden our hearts to the point of insensitivity, and we longer have any sense of guilt. But that's not how it starts. A normal man who steals from an elderly woman and then—in fear that she'll report him to the police—beats her to death, knows that he has done wrong. A normal woman who lies to her husband and deceives her children to carry on an illicit affair knows that she has done wrong.

Even atheists have consciences (some have very sensitive consciences). It is because the God they deny gave them a conscience.

And when any of us sin against those internal, divine standards, we transgress God's laws. The penalty for such transgression is death.

That's the bad news.

The good news is that Jesus paid the death penalty for us. As the prophet Isaiah wrote, "he was wounded for our transgressions; he was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement of our peace was upon him, and by his stripes we are healed. All of us like sheep have gone astray; each of us has turned to his own way, but the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all" (Isa. 53:5-6).

Our sins and transgressions are incredibly ugly—just look at the ugliness of the cross. But they have been paid in full by the Lord Himself, and if we turn to Him in true repentance and faith, He will completely forgive us.

That is what we have just celebrated during this Passover-Easter season, and that's the trans issue that God really cares about: dealing with our transgressions.

And when our sins are forgiven through the cross, something else happens—the best "trans" of all. We experience radical transformation, going from death to life, from condemned to forgiven, from lost to saved, from unclean to holy. Our God is a God who transforms! 

For my own story, "From LSD to Ph.D.," which describes my transformation from a heroin-shooting, LSD-using, 16-year-old, Jewish, rebellious hippie rock drummer to a husband and father and grandfather and minister and professor, click here.

By God's grace, you can have your own story too. {eoa}

Click here to read the full / original blog post.

Posted in In the Line of Fire | Comments Off

The ‘Trans’ That God Really Cares About

Hardly a day goes by where we don't hear about "trans"—as in transgender. Whether it's a trans child, a trans celebrity or a trans lawsuit, trans is ever before us.

But it's not just transgender that's in the news.

We also hear about transracial and transabled and transhuman and trans-species, all of which leads me to focus on the trans that matters most to God: transgression.

I don't mean that God doesn't care about people who identify as transgender or who wrestle with other variations of trans.

I simply mean that the "trans" that matters most to Him is the trans in transgression—as in disobedience, sin, wickedness, evil.

What is the actual definition of transgression?

The English verb "transgress" comes from two Latin words, trans meaning "across" and gradi meaning "to go," coming into English by way of Old French. So, to transgress is to "go across, step across," while a transgression is the act of going across or stepping across.

In short, to transgress is "to act in violation of some law," and you can transgress boundaries, customs, codes or guidelines.

In our English Bibles, "transgression" has a very specific meaning: intentionally breaking God's laws. This means there is a willful nature to our actions. We know something is wrong, yet we do it anyway. We know God forbids it, but we disobey. We don't just fall short of the mark while making our best efforts. We determine to do what is wrong. This is self-will. This is pride. This is rebellion.

Accordingly, the Hebrew word translated with "transgression" in most of our English Bibles means "an act of rebellion," and it is related to a verb meaning "to rebel." It's not surprising that both the verb and the noun occur many times in the Old Testament.

In the New Testament, there is a more specialized word for "transgression," and it carries the meaning of "stepping over" or "violating," with specific reference to God's law.

To explain this further, let's say you're driving 100 mph on a narrow, winding road that has no speed limits since it's on private property. You are driving dangerously and foolishly and you might crash and even die, but you are not breaking any law because there is no law. But if you're driving 100 mph on a public road with a 40 mph speed limit, not only are you driving dangerously and foolishly. You're also breaking the law. You're guilty of transgression.

That is the state of the human race.

We're not just like a curious toddler, innocently touching something we shouldn't touch. We're like a rebellious toddler, looking Mommy in the eyes defiantly and touching the very thing she forbade us to touch. Only we're not toddlers. We're adults, and we're fully responsible for our actions—for our transgressions.

Whether or not we like it or acknowledge it, God has given us His laws, His holy standards. They tell us what is right and wrong.

The most important ones are not just written in the Bible. They are written on our hearts. And when we sin against these laws, we sin against God and we transgress. Our sin is an act of rebellion against the Lord.

Of course, it is possible to harden our hearts to the point of insensitivity, and we longer have any sense of guilt. But that's not how it starts. A normal man who steals from an elderly woman and then—in fear that she'll report him to the police—beats her to death, knows that he has done wrong. A normal woman who lies to her husband and deceives her children to carry on an illicit affair knows that she has done wrong.

Even atheists have consciences (some have very sensitive consciences). It is because the God they deny gave them a conscience.

And when any of us sin against those internal, divine standards, we transgress God's laws. The penalty for such transgression is death.

That's the bad news.

The good news is that Jesus paid the death penalty for us. As the prophet Isaiah wrote, "he was wounded for our transgressions; he was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement of our peace was upon him, and by his stripes we are healed. All of us like sheep have gone astray; each of us has turned to his own way, but the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all" (Isa. 53:5-6).

Our sins and transgressions are incredibly ugly—just look at the ugliness of the cross. But they have been paid in full by the Lord Himself, and if we turn to Him in true repentance and faith, He will completely forgive us.

That is what we have just celebrated during this Passover-Easter season, and that's the trans issue that God really cares about: dealing with our transgressions.

And when our sins are forgiven through the cross, something else happens—the best "trans" of all. We experience radical transformation, going from death to life, from condemned to forgiven, from lost to saved, from unclean to holy. Our God is a God who transforms! 

For my own story, "From LSD to Ph.D.," which describes my transformation from a heroin-shooting, LSD-using, 16-year-old, Jewish, rebellious hippie rock drummer to a husband and father and grandfather and minister and professor, click here.

By God's grace, you can have your own story too. {eoa}

Click here to read the full / original blog post.

Posted in In the Line of Fire | Comments Off