Globe Briefs August 18

Globe Briefs August 18

Jewish woman sues Texas county for pulling job offer over Sabbath observance

An Orthodox Jewish woman has sued Dallas County for allegedly rescinding a job offer over her Shabbat observance.

Isabel Balderas filed her lawsuit last week in district court, the Dallas Morning News reported, and is seeking $100,000 to $1 million in damages.

Balderas said she told the sheriff’s office that because of her observance, she would need to leave work early Fridays in order to observe the Jewish Sabbath. The lawsuit claims Dallas County discriminated against her based on her religion and violated her civil rights.

According to the suit, Balderas was offered a data management position with the sheriff’s office’s Resource Development Division in July 2013.

After being informed that she had received the job, Balderas said she told the sheriff’s office that she would have to be home before sundown Fridays, meaning she would need to leave work about 30 minutes before the workday ended during the winter.

Her attorney, Robert Lee, told the newspaper that Balderas offered to work extra days in order to receive the accommodation, but the sheriff’s office refused.

The Dallas County Sheriff’s Department told the newspaper that Balderas did not mention her need for religious accommodation when she interviewed for the position and that her request was incompatible with the job requirements, as the data manager is on call 24/7 and she would be unavailable during emergencies from Friday night to Saturday night.

Church says stop U.S. aid to Israel if settlements stay

The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America approved a resolution calling on the U.S. government to end all aid to Israel if Israel does not stop building settlements and “enable an independent Palestinian state.”

Voting at its triennial assembly in New Orleans that ended Saturday, the church also sought a halt to all investment in companies that profit from Israel’s occupation and called on the president of the United States to recognize the State of Palestine.

The aid vote, which passed 751-162, urged church members to “call on their U.S. Representatives, Senators and the Administration to take action requiring that to continue receiving U.S. financial and military aid, Israel must comply with internationally recognized human rights standards as specified in existing U.S. law, stop settlement building and the expansion of existing settlements in East Jerusalem and the West Bank, end its occupation of Palestinian territory, and enable an independent Palestinian state.”

The resolution also called on the president not to prevent the application of the State of Palestine for full membership in the United Nations and, in coordination with the United Nations Security Council, to “offer a new, comprehensive and time-bound agreement to the governments of Israel and Palestine, resulting in a negotiated final status agreement between Israel and Palestine leading to two viable and secure states with a shared Jerusalem.”

In the divestment resolution, which passed 821-92, the church adopted a human rights-based investment screen for its social responsibility funds to ensure the church is not profiting from human rights abuses, and mentioned the Israeli-Palestinian conflict by name. It also called for the church to “increase positive investment in Palestine.”

The resolutions were spearheaded by a group within the church called Isaiah 58, which bills itself as “a group of Lutherans working for peace and justice in the Holy Land.”

The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America claims about 4 million members in nearly 10,000 congregations.

‘Termites’ congressman tours West Bank with pro-Palestinian group

Rep. Hank Johnson (D-Ga.), who apologized last month after likening Israel’s settlement activity to “termites,” toured the West Bank this year with a pro-Palestinian group.

The Atlanta Journal Constitution reported Aug. 10 that Johnson took part in a May tour of the West Bank and Jerusalem hosted by Miftah, which supports “an independent, democratic and sovereign Palestinian state.”

The trip, which included Johnson’s wife, DeKalb County Commissioner Mereda Davis Johnson, and several other congressional Democrats, was also underwritten by the American Global Institute, which promotes overseas travel for lawmakers.

Such trips are commonplace; the Journal Constitution report came as part of the newspaper’s investigation into the travel of the state’s congressional delegation. Three U.S. House Republicans from the state — Buddy Carter, Barry Loudermilk and Rick Allen — toured Israel and the West Bank a year ago on the biennial trip hosted by the American Israel Educational Foundation, an affiliate of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee.

Johnson, addressing pro-Palestinian groups on the sidelines of last month’s Democratic National Convention, had said settlements were “almost like termites [that] can get into a residence and eat before you know that you’ve been eaten up and you fall in on yourself.”

After clarifying that he meant only to say that settlement activity is slowly undermining a two-state solution, Johnson apologized, and in recent days has reached out to Atlanta Jewish leaders.