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January 16, 2009

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HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, JANUARY 16, 2009 .... Denial of bail to Rubashkin fueling legal controversy By Ben Harris NEWYORK (JTA) -Nearly from the moment federal im- migration agents raided the Agriprocessors kosher meat plant in Postville, Iowa, on May 12, supporters of 'the company alleged that it was being unfairly singled out by the government and unjustly excoriated in the media. Nearly eight months later, a judge's denial of bail to the plant's former manager, Sho- lom Rubashkin, has drawn the attention of several na- tional Jewish organizations and provided those who see anti-Semitic motives in the government's behaviorwith their best ammunition. At a hearing Nov. 19 in U.S. DiStrict Court for the Northern District of Iowa, fed- eral prosecutors argued that Rubashkin was a flight risk in part because Israel grants automatic citizenship to Jews. In a subsequent filing with the court, the government claimed that Rubashkin has "de-facto dual citizenship." In two separate rulings, Magistrate Judge Jon Scoles sided with the prosecution and ordered that Rubashkin. who faces an array of charges related to his management of the packing plant, be de- tained until trial. An appeal is pending before the chief justice of the Iowa court. Linda Reade. "It really boils down, if you are a Jew, special rules apply to you," said Rubashkin at- torney Guy Cook. The prosecution's argu- ment, and Scoles' endorse- ment of it. has prompted the Anti-Defamation League and Agudath Israel of America, a fervently Orthodox umbrella group, to appeal directly to the U.S. attorney general, Michael Mukasey, a practic- ing Orthodox Jew. In letters last month, the groups argued that by invok- ing the Law of Return, pros- ecutors effectively claimed that all Jews are inherently a greater risk of flight. Both groups warned that Scoles. in ruling against Rubash- kin, had set a dangerous precedent with profound implications for American Jews. "The most troubling aspect here is that the government does not appear to have alleged, nor does the Deten- tion Order conclude, that Defendant Rubashkin has any particular ties to Israel (he is alleged to have visited Israel in December 2007)," the ADL's national director. Abraham Foxman. wrote to Mukasey. "Instead. the gov- ernment and the Detentiofi Order appear to conclude that simply because Defen- dant Rubashkin is Jewish. " and because Jews may have a claim on Israeli citizenship, his religion is relevant to a bail hearing." Though American Jews have long been sensitive to the charge of dual loyalty, invoking the Law of Returnas grounds for detaining a Jew- ish defendant is believed to be unprecedented in the annals of American justice. "Although prosecutors have. to my knowledge, oc- casionally skirted close to an argument singling out Jews and Israel in past cases in New York, I've never seen it expressed or applied as blatantly as in the Rubash- kin case," Nathan Lewin, a prominent Washington at- torney and former counsel to Agriprocessors, told JTA. Prosecutors had cited oth- er evidence arguing against releasing Rubashkin. includ- ing the discovery of a travel bagwith thousands of dollars of cash and travel docu- ments for family members at Rubashkin's home at the time of his arrest. They also noted that two other former Agriprocessors workers sus- pected of crimes are believed to have fled to Israel. Rubashkin's attorneys countered that he has deep ties to his family and com- munity, several members of which agreed to put up the equity value of their homes as a guarantee that Rubashkin would not flee. Rubashkin told the court he PAGE 17A was willing to put up millions of dollars in bail money and consent to round-the-clock security monitoring at his own expense. Jonathan Edelstein, a New York lawyer who co-authored a 2002 legal journal article about Israeli extradition law, called the government's argu- ment "98 percent bogus" and said Rubashkin would quickly be returned if he did end up in the Jewish state. "[Rubashkin] is neither a citizen or a resident," Edel- stein said. "He would have no protection if he flees to Israel. They would send him right back," In his first ruling in the case, Scoles cited the Law of Return in deciding that no combination of factors could reasonably guarantee Rubashkin's appearance at trial. In a subsequent ruling on Dec. 22, in which he de- nied Rubashkin's request for reconsideration of the origi- nal detention order, Scoles seemed to back away from the Law of Return argument. "Much of the Defendant's argument is directed to the Court's reference to Israel's Law of Return." Scoles wrote denying the request. "De- fendant attaches too much significance to that single reference. At the time of hearing, [Rubashkin attorney Baruch] Weiss made it clear that ifDefendantattempted to Department of Justice Jewish groups have orit- ten to U.S. Attorney Gen- eral Michael Mukasey, above, with their concerns about the implications of prosecution tactics in the case of Sholom Rubashkin. seek refuge in Israel, he would be subject to extradition. Mr. Weiss served as an assistant United States Attorney for 18 years, and the Court accepted his representation." In the second of two let- ters to Mukasey, Agudah's executive vice president for government and public af- fairs, DavidZwiebel. acknowl- edged that Scoles apparently had rejected the government's claim about the Law of Return. Nevertheless. the organiza- tion remained concerned that prosecutors had even resorted to such anargument. Zwiebel asked Mukasey for a meeting with Jewish leaders to address their concerns. A Department of Justice spokesperson said the letters are being reviewed. Meanwhile, two organiza- tions affiliated with Chabad- Lubavitch, the Brooklyn- based Chasidic group with which Rubashkin is associ- ated, have begun raising money for his legal defense. One of the organizations, the National Committee for the Furtherance of Jewish Edu- cation, is using money from its Pidyon Shevuyim Fund to help secure Rubashkin's release. Neither the ADL nor Agudath expressed a view on Rubashkin's guilt or inno- cence, or whether he ought to be released on bond. "We are a group of guys who, No. 1, are looking to help Rubashkin get out on bail and, No. 2, to voice our concern because we believe that much of this attack is not just an attack on the Rubash- kin family and Agriproces- sors. but it's really an attack on kosher food," Rabbi Shea Hecht. the chairman of the National Committee and a member of a working group on the Rubashkin issue, told JTA. "And it's questionable if it's one step beyond that--an attack on Jews." Staff writer Eric Fingerhut in Washington contributed to this report. News analysis: Israel is winning in media, too By Jonathan Mark New York Jewish Week NEW YORK--Israel at war has most American Jews in- stinctively ducking for cover fromthe media, expecting the worst. However, the good news about thiswar, aside from Isra- el giving Hamas a bloody trip -to the woodshed, is that the American media, by and large, is being far more supportive of Israel than mostanyone could have imagined. In fact. we had every reason to expect it. Contrary to the conventional Jewish "wis- dom" that Israel is less loved than it used to be. and less loved when it unleashes its military, the most recent Gal- lup poll shows that American sympathy for Israel (versus the Palestinians) has soared from 37 percent in 1998 to 59 percent in the year that just ended, despite crushing two intifadas and a war in Lebanon. Sympathy for the Palestinians has remained stagnant, 15-17 percent over that same span. When Israel undertook "disproportionate" military action, such as in 2006 against Hezbollah. Ameri- can sympathies climbed to 59 percent. When Israel was most conciliatory, American sympathy fell from 64 percent in 1991 to 42 percent in 1993. the year of Oslo, and as low as 38 percent in the three years after that. This war is playing beauti- fully in Peoria. Peoria's Jour- nal-Star (Jan. 2) headlined: "Hard to blame Israel for taking on Hamas.'" As for Gaza's civilian casual- ties. well. the Peoria editors say, "It's worth remembering that [the] residents of Gaza elected a Hamas government. and.., many embrace the ter- rorists among them. They're learning now that there are consequences for that." In the heart of the South. the public editor of North Carolina's second-largest pa- per. the Raleigh-based News & Observer wrote (Jan. 4) that with every escalation in Middle East violence, charges of the paper's bias "also will escalate." No, not from Jews, but "mostly from readers sym- pathetic to the Palestinians." Several pro-Palestinian writ- ers complained toThe News & Observer about what may have been this war's most accurate headline: "To repay attacks, Israel hits Gaza Strip." "You can tell from the title that this article is going to be biased," Ihab Asfari, a reader, wrote to the editor. "It gives the reader a justification for the Israeli attack before you even start to read the rest of the article." Exactly. Even in Michigan, home to the largest Arab-American population, the editorial of the Detroit News (Dec. 31) head- lined: "Hamas Has Invited Its Own Destruction." Over in Chicago, the Tri- bune editorial (Dec. 30) noted that "much of the world screamea in protest that Israel has overreacted. It makes you wonder what would have hap- pened if there had been such international outrage.., when the rocket attacks from Gaza began to escalate a few weeks ago? Or if there had been outrage when Hamas formally declared on Dec. 18 that itwas ending the six-month truce with Israel?" Across town L at the Chi- cago Sun-Times (Dec. 30) the editors headlined: "Hamas started fight, Israel has to finish it." Ted Vaden of the News & ObserveL reviewed coverage from the Associated Press, The New York Times and Mc- C!atchy News Service. and found these news services provided "background on the cease-fire breakdown that led to Israel's attacks (Hamas ended the cease-fire)." but offered limited coverage of the "suffering and pain inflicted on ordinary citizens." That is because Israel has banned foreign reporters from entering Gaza, something it didn't do in Lebanon. Howard Kurtz, in a Washington Post online chat (Jan. 5) said, "1 don't know why the ban isn't more of an issue in the West- ern press, and why television correspondents don't cite it more often." The ban might backfire as the ground war intensifies, since it means that most of the video being made available is from Arab media outlets al- ready in Gaza, resulting, says Kurtz, in images thatare"pre- sumably selective and meant to portray the incursion in the harshest pqssible light." Israel is not just keeping journalists out, but is breaking in--to Hamas broadcasts, ac- cording to reports. An AI-Aqsa radio broadcast (Jan. 3) was interrupted with a man's voice speaking in Hebrew-accented Arabic: "Hamas leaders are ly- ing to you and they are hiding in hospitals... Launching rockets puts civilians in danger." On A1-Aqsa television, Hamas leader Khaled Meshaai was calling on Palestinians to rise up against Israel (Jan. 2) when the picture was inter- rupted: "Hamas has misled you and abandoned you," said a voice. Aside from the high- tech tricks, "The blogosphere and new media are another war zone)' IDF Maj. Avital Leibovich told reporters. "We have to be relevant there." At the Poynter. Institute's site. Allen Abbey noted (Dec. 30) that Twitter and blogs coming out of Gaza have not been useful "in the sense of providing up-to-the-minute independent reports of specif- ic detailsofspecific events." as they were in Mffmbai. He sug- gests, "Gaza is too technically primitive and politically con- trolled to permit independent, journalistic blogging.And the extreme politicization of the situation here has blinded bloggers and Twitterers to the value of straightforward news reporting." Meanwhile, Israel's New York consulate held a Twit- ter press conference. "The briefers were extremely well- informed," wrote Abbey, "and kept peppering their answers with links to online content that backed up their posi- tions." The Israeli approach "to getting the message out is... a potentially brilliant idea. [It] is clear the Israeli government has 'gotten' social media." The IDF also launched its own YouTube channel. HonestReport-, a pro-Israel site. warns that we're at that point in the war when Israel should expect to be accused of civilian "massacres." as "Palestinians have scored PR victories in the cases of Mo- hammed al-Dura, the Jenin "massacre.' the Gaza Beach incident, staged photos from the 2006 Lebanon War," all of which were proved to be manufactured lies. In all of the above cases, says Honest Reporting; "the media failed to verify Palestin- ian claims, placing ultimate trust in 'Palestinian eyewit- nesses' or so-called 'human rights' organizations that are actually Palestinian advocacy groups." Hamas doesn't have an army in uniform, so Slate (Dec. 30) wondered, how does anyone determine who is a civilian? The United Na- tions counts female victinhs and those under the age of 18. sometimes counting men not wearing police uniforms. or those whom other Gazans identify as civilian non-com- batants. Well. that's hardly reliable. According to Yediot Ahronot. Hamas terrorists even masquerade as doctors and nurses while soldiering out of hospitals and maternity wards. As for Gaza women be- ing civilians. (Middle East Media Research Institute) has posted a clip from A1-Aqsa TV (Dec. 30) in which three masked women, wearing explosives or hold- ing rifles, promise to "turn my body parts into a fire that will burn the occupation soldiers .... There are thou- sands of martyrdom-seeking women like me, waiting for the occupier, in order to avenge these massacres .... We, the martyrdom-seeking women of Palestine, mothers as well as girls"--girls who will be counted as "children" if "massacred ..... are waiting impatiently for them to come. Allah willing, we will make them taste bitterness, if they move even an inch into our beloved Gaza..." Such are the "civilians" that you will be asked to mourn. Reprinted with permission from the New York Jewish Week, online at www.jewish- Help Wanted Advertising Sales Full or Part Time Call Jeff at 407-834-8787