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November 10, 2015 0

Virginia White Supremacists Arrested; Plot Against Jews Alleged

Ronald Chaney from Facebook

Ronald Chaney (Facebook)

FBI agents have arrested three east­ern Vir­ginia men on weapons and rob­bery con­spir­acy charges in con­nec­tion with an alleged ter­ror­ist plot to attack Jew­ish and African-American reli­gious insti­tu­tions and con­duct “acts of vio­lence against per­sons of the Jew­ish faith.”

The three men, Robert Cur­tis Doyle and Ronald Beasley Chaney III, charged with con­spir­acy to pos­sess firearms despite felony con­vic­tions, and Charles Daniel Hal­der­man, charged with con­spir­acy to com­mit rob­bery, are white suprema­cists with past crim­i­nal records. They all are from the greater Rich­mond area.

Accord­ing to crim­i­nal com­plaints, a meet­ing took place at Doyle’s house in Sep­tem­ber “to discuss…shooting or bomb­ing the occu­pants of black churches and Jew­ish syn­a­gogues.” Doyle allegedly dis­cussed crim­i­nal acts they could employ for get­ting money with which to carry out their plans, includ­ing rob­bing and killing a jew­elry dealer, com­mit­ting an armored car rob­bery, and attack­ing a gun store owner. The pro­ceeds would allegedly be used to buy land and weapons and to train “for the com­ing race war.”

The fol­low­ing month, Doyle and Chaney allegedly met with an under­cover FBI agent to pur­chase weapons and explo­sives from the agent. FBI agents arrested the three at their homes on Novem­ber 8.

All three sus­pects have lengthy crim­i­nal his­to­ries, includ­ing crimes of vio­lence. Chaney, for exam­ple, pleaded guilty in 2006 to a num­ber of charges related to an attempted rob­bery and sub­se­quent shootout with the intended vic­tims. He was released from his most recent prison stay in the spring of 2015.

The men may have met in prison, where all were des­ig­nated by prison offi­cials as white suprema­cists while in cus­tody. Accord­ing to the FBI, the sus­pects were adher­ents of a white suprema­cist vari­ety of Asatru­ism. Asatru is the most com­mon name given to the mod­ern revival of ancient Norse pagan­ism. Most Asatru­ists are not white suprema­cists, but a minor­ity are, often refer­ring to them­selves by terms such as Odin­ists or Wotanists.

Hal­der­man and Doyle both have Asatru tat­toos, as well as white suprema­cist tat­toos, while Chaney iden­ti­fies him­self as Asatru­ist on his Face­book profile.

White suprema­cists have been involved in many of the right-wing ter­ror­ist con­spir­a­cies and acts in recent decades.   Many white suprema­cist ter­ror­ist plots and acts involve attacks against Jew­ish tar­gets, as most white suprema­cists view Jews as their “ulti­mate enemy.”


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November 10, 2015 0

Supreme Court to Hear Second Contraception Mandate Challenge

Last week, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear a sec­ond chal­lenge to the Afford­able Care Act’s (“ACA”) con­tra­cep­tion man­date.   This time, mul­ti­ple religiously-affiliated groups are claim­ing that the law’s min­i­mal require­ments for opt­ing out of the man­date vio­late their reli­gious free­dom rights.  Fol­low­ing its own recent prece­dent, the Court should reject these claims.

The ACA requires employer-provided health insur­ance to cover all FDA– approved pre­scrip­tion con­tra­cep­tion at no cost to employ­ees.  Houses of wor­ship and other sec­tar­ian insti­tu­tions are wholly exempted from this require­ment.  Religiously-affiliated orga­ni­za­tions may opt out of the con­tra­cep­tive man­date by merely sub­mit­ting a one-page form or let­ter to the Depart­ment of Health and Human Ser­vices (“HHS”).  In that cir­cum­stance, the health insur­ance com­pany or a third-party admin­is­tra­tor pays for and admin­is­ters the coverage.


Supreme CourtDespite this nom­i­nal require­ment, a num­ber of religiously-affiliated groups filed law­suits claim­ing that this reli­gious accom­mo­da­tion pro­vi­sion “sub­stan­tially bur­dens” their reli­gious exer­cise in vio­la­tion of fed­eral Reli­gious Free­dom Restora­tion Act (“RFRA”) because it makes them “con­duits” for pro­vid­ing con­tra­cep­tion cov­er­age.   Last week, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear seven of these cases in one con­sol­i­dated appeal.

Seven of eight U.S. Courts Appeals (lower fed­eral courts) have already rejected such claims, includ­ing the influ­en­tial D.C. Cir­cuit.  It found that the fil­ing of the form or let­ter excuses plain­tiffs “… from play­ing any role in the pro­vi­sion of con­tra­cep­tion ser­vices, and they remain free to con­demn con­tra­cep­tion in the clear­est terms.”  The Court fur­ther deter­mined that the ACA  — not the opt-out notice – oblig­ates health insur­ance com­pa­nies or HHS through third-party admin­is­tra­tors to pro­vide con­tra­cep­tion cov­er­age.  As a result, it cor­rectly con­cluded that:

Reli­gious objec­tors do not suf­fer sub­stan­tial bur­dens under RFRA where the only harm to them is that they sin­cerely feel aggrieved by their inabil­ity to pre­vent what other peo­ple do to ful­fill reg­u­la­tory objec­tives after they opt out.  They have no RFRA right to be free from the unease, or even anguish, of know­ing that third par­ties are legally priv­i­leged or oblig­ated to act in ways their reli­gion abhors.

Although these seven deci­sions should per­suade the U.S. Supreme Court, they are not bind­ing.  But lan­guage in the Court’s own highly prob­lem­atic June 2015 Hobby Lobby deci­sion should dic­tate the out­come this time.  In Hobby Lobby, the Court reached the trou­bling con­clu­sion that for the pur­poses of RFRA it could not dis­tin­guish between a for-profit close cor­po­ra­tion ver­sus a religiously-affiliated group hav­ing a reli­gious objec­tion to the con­tra­cep­tion man­date.  As a result, it ruled that like non-profit religiously-affiliated groups, such close cor­po­ra­tions could opt out of pro­vid­ing con­tra­cep­tion cov­er­age under the man­date.  The Court, how­ever, effec­tively ruled that the opt-out pro­vi­sion was per­mis­si­ble under RFRA, stat­ing that it “… con­sti­tutes an alter­na­tive that achieves all the Government’s aims while pro­vid­ing greater respect for reli­gious liberty.”

Although ADL and oth­ers strongly dis­agreed with the Court apply­ing RFRA to for-profit cor­po­ra­tions by equat­ing them with non-profits, con­sis­tency would dic­tate that it reject religiously-affiliated groups’ chal­lenges to the opt-out pro­vi­sion.  To do oth­er­wise would be con­tra­dic­tory and mean that any bur­den on reli­gion — no mat­ter how triv­ial — could be used by religiously-affiliated groups as a vehi­cle to opt out of fed­eral law or impose their reli­gious beliefs on others.

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November 7, 2015 1

Getting the U.S.-Israel Relationship Back on Track

By Jonathan Green­blatt
CEO of the Anti-Defamation League

This arti­cle orig­i­nally appeared on The Huff­in­g­ton Post Blog

As Israeli Prime Min­is­ter Ben­jamin Netanyahu arrives this week­end in the U.S. and pre­pares to meet Pres­i­dent Obama next week, there is an oppor­tu­nity for the two coun­tries to reboot rela­tions head­ing into the final stretch of the Obama Administration.

Some believe this will be chal­leng­ing. Many have writ­ten about the per­son­al­ity clash between the two lead­ers. But I think the impact has been exag­ger­ated. How­ever, there cer­tainly have been sig­nif­i­cant pol­icy dif­fer­ences between them over the past sev­eral years.

This was par­tic­u­larly obvi­ous dur­ing the debate around the so-called Iran deal. In that frac­tious exchange, there were tough words exchanged all around. At times, com­pet­ing claims degen­er­ated into slan­der­ous attacks. But both sides should now take a deep breath.

Even deal oppo­nents should rec­og­nize that Pres­i­dent Obama chose a path that he and many experts believed to be sen­si­ble. Based on the analy­sis of experts, the admin­is­tra­tion felt that the Joint Com­pre­hen­sive Plan of Action served not only the U.S. national inter­est but also the inter­ests of our allies in the region, includ­ing Israel. The Anti-Defamation League did not agree with this assess­ment, but many experts and orga­ni­za­tions did.

When he adopted this posi­tion, some fool­ishly labeled the pres­i­dent and his aides as anti-Semitic, a ground­less charge that seems espe­cially weak after a cur­sory review of the facts. Pres­i­dent Obama and his team have con­sis­tently renewed mil­i­tary sup­port for the Jew­ish state and pro­vided diplo­matic sup­port for Israel at the United Nations and in other fora. More­over, not only has the pres­i­dent pro­vided moral sup­port to Israel by link­ing the quest for Jew­ish sov­er­eignty to the Amer­i­can civil rights move­ment, but he has joined U.K. Prime Min­is­ter David Cameron and Pope Fran­cis as world lead­ers who appro­pri­ately have ques­tioned the true moti­va­tions of those who reject Israel’s legit­i­macy as a Jew­ish state.

By the same token, deal sup­port­ers should acknowl­edge that Prime Min­is­ter Netanyahu and the Israeli gov­ern­ment took a strong stance against the deal, not out of a desire to be oppo­si­tional to Pres­i­dent Obama or because of a polit­i­cal agenda. Rather, the Israeli posi­tion was derived from a strongly held view grounded in facts that a mil­i­ta­rized and nor­mal­ized Islamic Repub­lic is an exis­ten­tial threat to Israel. Crit­ics who deny this fact seem dan­ger­ously out of touch with reality.

Indeed, since the deal was signed, the Islamic Repub­lic has explic­itly repeated its refusal to accept Israel as a legit­i­mate mem­ber of the fam­ily of nations. Iran­ian prox­ies con­tinue to pur­sue ter­ror­ism against the Jew­ish state. The hos­til­ity and mil­i­tarism of the regime has not ebbed in any per­cep­ti­ble man­ner. And, if we take the Iran­ian lead­er­ship at their word, includ­ing recent state­ments by Supreme Leader Aya­tol­lah Ali Khamenei, it would appear that Israeli con­cerns are well-founded.

Fur­ther com­pound­ing legit­i­mate pol­icy dif­fer­ences, indi­vid­u­als on both sides occa­sion­ally have resorted to ad home­nim attacks, whether indi­vid­u­als in Jerusalemderid­ing Pres­i­dent Obama as anti-Semitic or unnamed offi­cials in the admin­is­tra­tion dis­parag­ing Prime Min­is­ter Netanyahu as “chicken-s—.” In both cases, offi­cials dimin­ished them­selves and their nations with such crass slander.

Look­ing ahead to the upcom­ing visit, both sides have an oppor­tu­nity to move past the acri­mony and acknowl­edge that the two coun­tries have far more in com­mon than the issues that divide them.

For the U.S., Israel remains a robust democ­racy and a bedrock island of sta­bil­ity in a region that seems less sta­ble by the hour. Israel’s com­mit­ment to the rule of law, basic free­doms and human decency dis­tin­guishes it from every other coun­try and non-state actor in the Mid­dle East. And the Jew­ish state is a hub of inno­va­tion whose tech­no­log­i­cal achieve­ments power our prod­ucts, whose ground­break­ing research sup­ports agri­cul­ture and man­u­fac­tur­ing, and whose sci­en­tific advance­ments enable med­i­cine and uplift human­ity. And the Amer­i­can peo­ple at a grass­roots level empir­i­cally sup­port the Jew­ish state.

For Israel, the U.S, remains its most impor­tant ally. Amer­ica has been unflinch­ing in its sup­port for Israel in inter­na­tional cir­cles and mul­ti­lat­eral fora that all too often ostra­cize the Jew­ish state. The U.S. has been a cru­cial source of mil­i­tary assis­tance but also an extra­or­di­nary reser­voir of eco­nomic sup­port and com­mer­cial invest­ment at a time when the can­cer of “Boy­cotts, Divest­ment and Sanc­tions” con­tin­ues to grow. And America’s bedrock com­mit­ment to a fair and just res­o­lu­tion of the Israeli-Palestinian con­flict, one that guar­an­tees Israel’s legit­i­mate secu­rity inter­ests, remains cru­cial to the long-term prospects for peace in the region.

And, as incite­ment per­sists and vio­lence con­tin­ues to flare, both the U.S. and Israel still share a fun­da­men­tal inter­est in see­ing an even­tual end to the con­flict through a two-state solu­tion. To get the process back on track, pre­lim­i­nary steps will be required, includ­ing a ces­sa­tion of vio­lence on the Pales­tin­ian side and the reestab­lish­ment of trust among both par­ties. Nonethe­less, the U.S. and Israel share an inter­est in facil­i­tat­ing this out­come and achiev­ing a just and last­ing peace for all parties.

Amer­ica and Israel have far more in com­mon than the crit­ics care to men­tion. Next week — when the lead­ers shake hands — it will be an oppor­tu­nity to remind the world of the shared inter­ests that bind the two nations.

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