Thursday, May 6, 2010

Something's Not Kosher With the Rubashkin Case

i received the note below from a friend with a huge trail of people to whom it had been sent. i am always suspect of quotes such as the one stated below, or the notion that watching a clip on YouTube can affect social change, public policy or the outcome of the trial of anyone. I took the liberty of contacting Nathan Lewin to ask if the quote below was attributed to him. if it was, in my mind it would have a lot more weight. But it seemed suspect to me. Mr. Lewin replied that he had never said this and had not see the video until someone told him he was being quoted. he concurred with me, however, that It is an interesting video. the merits of the case are not clear to me personally though the video is compelling. As a former Soviet Jewry activist (you can watch my own YouTube clip from ABC News in 1988 though i make no representation that it will affect any social change and Israel activist, among other things, i do believe in the value of grassroots activism even as simple as letter writing and phone calls. As the video suggests, it's probably worth writing such letters. it even occurred to me to go as high as the White House because politically, if Obama wants to prove he's not anti-Israel or anti-Jewish, while its unthinkable that he might release Jonathan Pollard, perhaps he'd intercede with clemency or a pardon for Rubashkin. but I am not a fan of spreading rumors and myths, even with what may be a valuable and compelling social objective. Lets evaluate the Rubashkin case on the merits, not on a made up quote of a prominent attorney and respected leader in the American Jewish community. to those compelled to write, pass this along with the endorsement of an American Israeli who has seen his days of public protests and quiet activism, and encourage people to write to elected officials as the video suggests. Write letters of support and encouragement to Mr. Rubashkin in jail as well. But lets do so with full integrity and not base it on a myth made up to appeal to the masses. if the case does not have the merits, even though the video has been seen by well more than 100,000 people, no amount of smoke and mirrors will make the cause righteous or the outcome just. Jonathan Feldstein Watch five of my fifteen minutes of fame at BS"D Natt Lewin said if this video on youtube about rubashkin gets 100,000 views it will help sholom mordechai rubashkin very much. Send it to all your contacts. Within less than an hour of sending the prior message about the Rubashkin YouTube piece and that Nat Lewin did not make the statement which was attributed to him, i received several e-mails back, all with the same theme. One from the west coast, someone up late, and several others locally. (see below for a sample) Allow me to clarify for the record and not respond to each individually. it seems that my previous message suggested that I supported the case against the Rubashkin sentencing. i certainly did not mean to suggest that i supported the case. rather i was trying to rebuke those who made up this story about Nat Lewin making such a statement and give them a constructive direction for their efforts that did not offend integrity of the readers, regardless of the merits of the case. One friend asked why would it make a difference what Nat Lewin thinks. My answer is that he is a noted and respected attorney who does take on cases that are generally rooted not only in upholding the law but things that are good for the Jewish community. If he had made such a statement, it would force me to look at the case in a different light. the opposite is also true and it was important to clarify the point. I generally agree that, as some suggested, unless there are extenuating circumstances if you do the crime you do the time. as a former (or more passive) activist, i always weighed how, when, where and under what circumstances it might be worth my being arrested for breaking a law or in a case of civil disobedience, but never thought of breaking the law and running or hiding from the legal outcome, or jail. In one case, knowing full well that a law I was considering violating carried with it a severe jail sentence and fine, i still decided to do it. (aren't you curious? you'll have to wait for the book.) I think the statute of limitations has passed so i can freely own up to it now because to be arrested for this twenty five years later, married with six kids, would definitely be an inconvenience. I have not followed the Rubashkin case. If he violated the law, he should pay the penalty according to the crime he committed. If a sentence is unjust, the US courts provide ways to appeal that. A Jew is obliged by Torah law to uphold the law of the land. if he did not do that, he's also guilty according to Jewish law. Either way, his actions are a brazen chilul hashem, a desecration of God's name. As compelling as the You Tube video was, looking at him in handcuffs, part of my response was embarrassment. the You Tube video is compelling, but i assume does not represent the merits of the case. I was taken however by the part about the sentence being not just a sentence against him, but also against his wife and kids. that may be true ultimately, but it reminds me of how i felt after my father died, wondering (inappropriately) what I HAD DONE to deserve the punishment of my father's death. its a shame that his family will have to go on without him, but this pulling of the heartstrings does not strengthen the case, it weakens it. Rubashkin should have considered the outcome of his actions before doing them, or even corrected the actions after he was engaged in them. as a neighbor of mine said, we should spend much more time trying to get Gilad Shalit home. Rubashkin in jail still gets to exercise and go outdoors, he gets three square (kosher) meals a day, and heat in the winter and a/c in the summer. He has the chance to do tshuva (repentance) for his actions against God and the Jewish community, and rehabilitate himself and have his sentence or incarceration shortened. His family will be able to visit him as well. he can even write a book or sell his story as a TV movie. I dont think that we should be heartless toward him and his family, but i am not convinced that the arrest and imprisonment of a Jew under all circumstances calls for our playing the pidyon shvuyim (redeeming captives) card. this case is weakened in my mind by the falsehood that is being spread that Nat Lewin made a statement he never made. I still do want the hot dogs however. And a package of soft and fluffy kosher hot dog rolls. Oh, and a jar or two of real deli mustard. Not the "spicy brown" fare that passes as the next best thing. that's like drinking blended whiskey, or putting CATSUP on a hot dog. Jonathan Feldstein Watch five of my fifteen minutes of fame at some of the immediate responses i received are: You need to read Postville. Rubashkin is devil spawn. The entire Rubashkin affair has been a terrible chilul hashem and and absolute travisty. The fact that youtube support of any kind containing falsly atrtributed quotes is justthe tip of the iceberg. Thanks for sending the message out. I prefer this type of mail to those who claim thatthe US government is anti-semitic and a bunch of nazis in their treatment of this guy; who has done terrible things that no-one should be allowed to get away... Mr. Rubashkin has been convicted of multiple extremely serious crimes including bank fraud and money laundering, and has been charged with violations of child labor laws and more! Who supports this criminal? And why should we? If we, as the Orthodox community, do not stand up and scream that this sort of behavior is anti-Torah, unethical and immoral, then what right do we have to set ourselves up as G-d - fearing Jews? Rather than make efforts to help people like this, we ought to evict him and declare that he is not a true representative of the holy Jewish people. It is about time that we stop sheltering the crud, clean our cupboards and return to be honest, ethical and moral. not by reading the biased jewish media, but the mainstream one....& then, i beg u, think abt writing another email to yr lg email list, telling them that every time a jew is convicted of a crime, do we jews need to play the pidyon shvuin card or maybe, just maybe, there r jews who r real criminals & deserve the punishment that is meted out & we, the bystanders, shud uphold & respect the law of the land that dealt out the sentence? u touched on this theme a bit in yr email, but not strongly enuf imho. stop with the rubashkin case already! you do the crime, you serve the time. yes, life term is excessive. but rubaskin is a total CHILLUL and he deserves rot. i have gotten many emails this week - mostly from israelis. here, we are sick and tired of this. it has made the entire american jewish community ashamed. we are more angry than anything else. the best part of your email was the hotdogs...yes, i sorely miss them, too!

1 comment:

  1. I loves this post so much I called Jonathan to thank him. I'm so bothered by the youtube campaign that i haven't even watched the video because i didn't want my click to act as some sort of a statement that i support him. The Jewish community should be uniting behind our positive community tzedaka efforts and not behind some chilul hashem who clearly broke the law.