By Getzy Markowitz
Jews have been the target of injustice for centuries. From judges on the bench to the chancellors who might appoint them, our people have enough historical experience to know when it is time to defend ourselves.
Magistrates preside over cases dealing with minor offenses, and over preliminary hearings that deal with more consequential ones. But a statement made by Magistrate Jon Stuart Scoles on Nov. 20, concerning the bail of an orthodox Jew, was a major offense to every American Jew. It must evoke a harsh response from the Jewish community. In his ruling, the Judge cited Israel’s Law of Return as grounds for not permitting a Jewish defendant to be released on bond, even though he had already surrendered his passport.
To rule that Jews would misuse a law enacted to protect them is an abuse against the very laws that Magistrate Stuart is supposed to be enforcing and protecting. His statement was that, “Under Israel’s Law of Return, any Jew and members of his family who have expressed their desire to settle in Israel will be granted citizenship.” This demonstrates that he is a knowledgeable individual. He knew full well what he was saying when he practiced poor judgement by saying it. Sholom M. Rubashkin is not sitting in jail because he is a danger to society, but rather because a judge is discriminating against a class within society.
The judge’s inflammatory statement must ignite the ire of any American Jewish organization which claims to be a voice of its people. For a judge to label all Jews as flight risks calls to mind history’s dark times when Jews have been compelled to take flight. Ironically, at the same time it legitimizes the state that was created as their haven. If ever the Anti Defamation League had a slanderous assertion to protest, this is it. It not only defames law-abiding American Jews, but threatens the legitimacy of that prefix.
This week, Chassidic Jews celebrated the anniversary of the miraculous release of Rabbi Shneur Zalman of Liadi from Czarist imprisonment. The founder of the Chabad Chassidic sect was incarcerated for supporting Jews living in the Ottoman controlled Land of Israel. Two hundred years later, a Chassidic Jew is being imprisoned, lest the State of Israel support him.
This weekend, Jews will be studying the story of scripture’s favorite son in synagogues across the world. Joseph was cast into the despairing dungeons of Egypt after being hurled into a world of misery by his own brothers. Today a modern Joseph is unjustly detained, as his brethren keep their outrage retained. Given the nature of the Magistrate’s ruling, all Jews are with Mr. Rubashkin not only in spirit, but in alleged culpability.
Sholom Rubashkin is being held under conditions that should be reserved for dangerous criminals. If terrorists were given such treatment, this country would be a safer place. Murderers, rapists and mega-swindlers are released on bond, while an accused but not convicted man is given the treatment that they would deserve post-conviction.
To view this development as an isolated incident is to adopt the view of the isolationist. Some have seen the attack on the Rubashkins as a crackdown on a rogue company, while others have understood it to be a war on kosher. But to disregard this blatant assault on Jewish credibility, and to ignore the plight of a Jew who has been targeted as its scapegoat, is to be a brazen escapist.