The Celebrate Israel Festival on May 31 at Pier 94, slated to be the largest gathering to date of Israeli-Americans in New York.
Two recent developments would seem to indicate that pivotal fundamentals to the growth of America as the world’s paradigmatic democracy are under assault by overeager governmental officials.
Consider: a Texas state appeals court overturned the 2010 money laundering conviction of Tom DeLay, the former Republican majority leader of the U.S. House of Representatives. The court’s decision makes clear that prosecutors came up with a novel interpretation of the criminal laws barring money laundering so as to include what Mr. DeLay freely admitted to doing – taking corporate contributions made to the Republican National Committee and passing them on to Republican candidates for the state legislature in 2002.
While corporate contributions are certainly deemed improper by Texas civil statutes, they had never before been considered to be illegal in the criminal sense. Indeed, money laundering was theretofore thought to relate exclusively to disguising money tainted with criminality.
Yet Mr. DeLay was spectacularly successful in his use of this ploy through which he was trying to cement Republican control of the Texas State Legislature and thereby control redistricting for federal elections. And a Republican-dominated Texas State Legislature did indeed carve out districts favoring Republican candidates. By most measures, Mr. DeLay redirected Texas politics to favor Republicans through the skillful gathering and distribution of money. One can understand why zealous prosecutors would seek to challenge that, without assuming a purely political motive.
But as the court put it, quite simply, “The fundamental problem with the state’s case was its failure to prove proceeds of criminal activity.”
Plainly, we all have a general interest in the neutral application of the criminal laws. But it is especially important if the threat of criminal sanction is arbitrarily introduced into the political system – our life’s blood – for partisan reasons. Again, this is not to say that Mr. DeLay deserves an award for what he did. But it is one thing for a politician to push the legal envelope while not crossing the line drawn by the criminal law. It is quite another for officials with prosecutorial powers to be unduly creative about it.
We also found troubling the news that the federal National Security Agency – distinct from the National Security Council, which advises the president on national security matters – has the capacity to neutralize the intricate special protections, usually referred to as encryptions, we all thought shielded the privacy of ordinary communications.
Citing documents released by the notorious Edward Snowden, The New York Times reported that for years the NSA colluded with technology companies to maintain the ability to eavesdrop on what was widely considered private information. According to the documents, the NSA developed superfast and customized computers to break codes and otherwise penetrate the encryptions through embedding “back door” mechanisms.
Notwithstanding the remarkable explosion of technology, privacy rules bar the purposeful targeting of Americans’ e-mails or phone calls without a warrant. But the temptation to engage in inappropriate intelligence gathering makes the potential for mischief very real.
We’re living in an age that presents enormous new challenges to our time-honored principles. But equality before the law and the right to privacy are what made the U.S. the country it is today. Surely it is worth whatever effort it takes to ensure that those principles will withstand both technology and terrorism.
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We take a whole person approach, giving our people assistance with whatever they need.
During my spiritual journey I discovered G-d spoke to man only once, to the Jewish people at Sinai
20 years after the great Ethiopian aliyah, we must treat them like everyone else; no better or worse
Many Black protesters compared Baltimore’s unrest to the Palestinian penchant of terrorism & rioting
She credited success to “mini” decisions-Small choices building on each other leading to big changes
Shavuot 1915, 200000 Jews were expelled; amongst the largest single expulsions since Roman times
Realizing there was no US military threat, Iran resumed, expanded & accelerated its nuclear program
“Enlightened Jews” who refuse to show chareidim the tolerance they insist we give to Arabs sicken me
Somewhat surprisingly, the Vatican’s unwelcome gesture was diametrically at odds with what President Obama signaled in an interview with the news outlet Al Arabiya.
The recent solid victory of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud Party produced something very different.
The reaction is so strong that nine times out of ten, parents engage in some form of coping mechanism before arriving at a level of acceptance of a special-needs diagnosis.
“…his neshamah reached out to us to have the zechus of Torah learning to take with him on his final journey.”
“Let’s get something straight so we don’t kid each other…[the Iranians] already have paved a path to a bomb’s worth of material,” said Mr. Biden. “Iran could get there now if they walked away in two to three months without a deal.”
The president is unwilling to cede any of what he considers his exclusive powers in the area of foreign policy and has struggled mightily to keep the Senate away from any role in the kind of deal to be negotiated.
A committed Religious Zionist, he was a sought-after adviser on Zionist affairs around the world.
More important, Mr. Obama is simply acceding to Iran’s position on the timing of the lifting of sanctions.
For our community, Mrs. Clinton’s foreign policy record will doubtless attract the most attention. And it is a most interesting one.
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