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April 20, 2014 / 20 Nisan, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘cases’

The Ultimate Antidote

Thursday, August 15th, 2013

Two South Florida officials were arrested and led away in handcuffs on the same day last week. Miami Lakes Mayor Michael Pizzi and Sweetwater Mayor Manuel Marono were taken from their respective city hall offices. They were charged with corruption in two separate cases. It is alleged that both Pizzi and Marono took thousands of dollars in bribes. FBI agents say they’ve recorded many of the incriminating conversations. Both men were released on bail and are awaiting trial.

South Florida seems to be a particular magnet for this type of activity. The problem, however, is far from regional. Abuse of power by officeholders is endemic and widespread.

There are politicians of every level, from locals to heads of state, who succumb to a smorgasbord of transgressions. There are cases that involve misuse of funds, stealing, payoffs and graft. There are cases of misfeasance, nonfeasance and malfeasance. There are cases of “sexting,” harassment and involvement in a litany of inappropriate behavior. The scandals are plentiful, the details salacious.

How is it possible that those who are in the public eye would act in such a manner? Don’t they think of the possibility of getting caught? Why do they act with blatant disregard of the dictates of normal society? Why do they believe they are above it all?

The answer is sobering. Power and influence are quite heady. Its draw can be intoxicating. Those who succumb can become “drunk” with power.

Freudian psychology calls the dilemma the conflict between the id and the superego. Jewish tradition calls it the fight between the yetzer hara and the yetzer tov.

Jewish law has the ultimate antidote for the problem. The king in ancient Israel was given an excellent tool for managing his role as monarch. Instead of being presented with a royal scepter, he was mandated to carry something of much greater worth.

The king was required to always have a Torah scroll by his side. He was to read and study, reflect and learn. It was the ultimate insurance against an inflated sense unbridled entitlement.

The passage in Devarim states: “And it shall be with him, and he shall read therein all the days of his life; that he may learn to fear the Lord his God, to keep all the words of this law and these statutes to do them; that his heart be not lifted above his brethren, and that he turn not aside from the commandment.”

Flesh is weak. The pull of temptation is strong. It is good to understand that, ultimately, we all have to answer to a higher authority.

The US Government’s Flip-flopping Views on Prisoner Release

Monday, August 12th, 2013

The news of the sudden release of a Mexican drug kingpin implicated in the murder of a U.S. DEA agent caused outrage in Washington. The Justice Department weighed in with its “extreme disappointment” while DEA officials past and present talked of bribes and corruption. There can be little doubt that the prisoner in question was involved in illegal activity that would include his ordering the murder of an American agent, but why is the U.S. so upset?

In October of 2011, Israel—which. like Mexico, is a staunch ally of the U.S.—let to go of more than 1000 terrorists in exchange for the captured soldier Gilad Shalit. Eighteen of those released had been directly involved in the murder and maiming of American citizens in suicide bombings and other violent attacks in and around Israel.

I can guarantee you that if you do a Google search for responses to that release, you will see no anger, no outrage, no disappointment, no official questioning—the U.S. simply did not care. After years of intense effort by this terror victim in anticipation of terrorists being swapped for Shalit, the most I could muster was a request—the day before the release—from the U.S. embassy to the Israeli prime minister not to release prisoners with American blood on their hands.

Israel completely ignored the request, and the U.S. said nothing. This official U.S. apathy is bookended by the Mexican release last week and the Scottish release of the putative “Lockerbie Bomber” in 2009. In the latter case, the current Attorney General wrote a blistering letter to his Scottish counterpart on the inappropriateness of the release of the convicted mass murderer.

American victims of Palestinian terrorists did not merit such a letter to the Israeli justice minister. The most some of us received was a letter in January 2012 from Holder telling us how hard they are trying to prosecute Palestinian terrorists who killed American citizens. As of today, Washington is 0 for 72 in these cases, the latter being the number of attacks in which American citizens were killed or maimed by Palestinian terrorists since 1993. Where there is no will, there is no way.

My son and I were injured in a suicide bombing in 2002. Since 2004, I have had contact with officials in the local U.S. embassy, the FBI, the Department of Justice and the State Department. I have begged, cajoled, and pleaded that the U.S. make the prosecution of Palestinian terrorists who harmed Americans a legal priority.

If words alone were enough, every such terrorist would today be in some Super Max facility in the mainland U.S.. We have been repeatedly told that our cases are very important, the DOJ is investing resources, that the FBI is working hard, etc. Yet, in spite of dozens of possible prosecution candidates, the U.S. has not arrested, tried, prosecuted or even extradited a single Palestinian terrorist. The question is why? In the past, we have been told how hard it is to prosecute such cases without full Israeli cooperation. Yet, I think that the reasons go far deeper than technical considerations. I think that the base reason is a pro-Palestinian attitude of officials in the State Department. When I corresponded with a senior official at State, she said that the U.S. would not prosecute Marwan Barghouti, who was implicated in supplying funds for our attack. When I asked why, her response was simple: “Because the Israelis caught him.” Apparently, the official in question had never heard of extradition.

American Jews who live or visit Israel are somehow seen as being “Israeli”, some how no longer deserving of American protections and law enforcement assistance. While I hold only U.S. citizenship and while two of the women from our attack were released from their life sentences in the aforementioned release, I know that the U.S. will never prosecute them or their colleagues from our attack, even though the anti-terror laws are on my side.

The U.S. government—under both George Bush and Barack Obama—does not see me.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/the-us-governments-flip-flopping-views-on-prisoner-release/2013/08/12/

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