Race and the Criminal Justice System

JSPAN Newsletter - December 17, 2010

Jewish Social Policy Action Network
In This Issue: Hanukah Greetings
Newsletter: December 17, 2010
Hold the date ...
JSPAN to present Martin Luther King Day program "Race and the Criminal Justice System"

On the evening of January 17, 2011, Martin Luther King Day, JSPAN and cosponsoring organizations will present a program examining operation of the justice system across racial lines. Speakers are experienced law enforcement officials Harvey Crudup, Philadelphia Deputy Police Commissioner and Neill Franklin, Major in the Maryland State Police (both retired). From the drug offenses to capital punishment, the justice and the effectiveness of law enforcement will be examined and discussed with the audience. Plan to join us - time and location to be announced!


JSPAN Issues Year-end Call for Your Support
We can all be proud of the battles we waged this year to advance human rights and dignity. But we cannot ignore the growing storm of efforts at retrenchment, repeal, and return to the old days and ways.

Healthcare reforms will be attacked; judicial appointment confirmations will be slow, women's rights will face further erosion. Immigration reform will remain elusive. Record state budget deficits will endanger healthcare reforms, quality public education, and the social "safety net." Confusion of church and state in the schools and in public displays will worsen. We will need to speak out on ethical violations in the legislature and courts.

A long and tough agenda, but in our democracy, all of these problems can be handled by a well informed and active citizenry.

To read our list of achievements in 2010 and sign up to help us continue to fight injustice and misguided social policies throughout 2010, click here.  


Richard Holbrooke (1941-2010)
We acknowledge the contribution of Richard Holbrooke (1941 -- 2010) to the world and, by reflection, to our country. First as an AID worker in Viet Nam, then as ambassador to the United Nations, ambassador to Germany, broker of the Dayton Accords that produced the Bosnia settlement, since 2009 our man in Pakistan and Afghanistan, he was always on the front lines and always a leader. - Ed.

Richard Holbrooke (1941-2010)

In pictures from his high-school yearbook and from his years in Vietnam, Holbrooke is almost always smiling behind the thick black frames of his glasses. His features remain deceptively mild, as does his voice, which applies pressure with the quiet relentlessness of an underwater current. Holbrooke has been known to yell (during the negotiations over Bosnia, he browbeat the Serbian dictator, Slobodan Milosevic), but his usual strategy, in the manner of Lyndon Johnson, is to deploy cajolery, flattery, criticism, analysis, implied threat, teasing humor, fibs--any means at his disposal--to exert his will on a counterpart. Usually, he prevails. "I wouldn't call it conversation," Gelb said. "It's this sort of breathless monologue that you can only engage by interrupting. Dick is an advocate. He almost always has a case to make."

- George Packer, "The Last Mission"

Holbrooke was a convincing chameleon -- able to be either the bulldozer and tenaciously committed, results-oriented diplomat or to be the softest tactician, moving cautiously and with consideration. I saw this soft side many times in his discussion of what pieces needed to be moved in Afghanistan and how America needed to become a help and resource from seed to market to Afghan farmers rather than the cause of their impoverishment as crops were forcefully eradicated.

I also saw the "restraint" in Holbrooke's own political machinations in the Obama administration. There is no secret that some of the biggest personalities on the team were at war with one another over Afghanistan policy. In the end, Holbrooke outlasted General Stanley McChrystal and National Security Adviser Jim Jones. He prevailed over efforts by Ambassador Karl Eikenberry and Jones to shove him aside -- and did this not by bulldozing his rivals but by knowing when to keep his head down and his eye on the portfolio he had in front of him.

- Steve Clemmons, Huffington Post, December 15, 2010

The legend of his career, and the flamboyance of his person, has obscured a proper recognition of his commitments. Holbrooke was not only a student of power; he was also a creature of beliefs. What he believed in most of all, I think, was in the ability, and the duty, of the United States, by a variety of means, to better the world. He was, in his cast of mind, a realist, but his cast of mind was not his philosophy: this realist—the Democrats’ most accomplished Machiavellian—was always returning to first principles, to moral considerations, to the alleviation of human suffering and the spread of political liberty as goals of American statecraft. He came away from his early years in Vietnam with lessons but without a syndrome.

- Leon Wieseltier, The New Republic, December 14, 2010


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Knowing Who to Boycott and Who Not to Boycott
In South Africa, a Jewish group placed an order for travel bags with a local supplier. A day after accepting the order, the supplier canceled with comments about "blood money." They received the following reply.

An open letter
By Maurice Ostroff

Congratulations on your brave refusal to continue to do business with a long-standing customer because of your antagonism to Zionism. To ensure that your action is not a meaningless gesture, we look forward with great interest to seeing you demonstrate your sincerity and consistency by following through with a complete boycott of all Israeli products.

You can make an immediate start by examining your computer and throwing it out if it contains software or an Intel Pentium chip that was developed in Israel. Of course you should also avoid instant messaging based on ICQ, that was invented by Israeli teenager Arik Vardi and three friends. And you will of course avoid mobile telephony, developed in Israel by Motorola, the camera telephone chip and Voice over Internet Protocol (VOIP) as used in Skype and similar applications.

You will be hard pressed to locate all the Zionist components in your Security Software, Network Firewalls, Anti- virus programs, System Software, Microsoft Operating Systems (XP and Vista ), Google, Disk on Key and Wi-Fi, but I am sure you will assiduously check your equipment and rule out everything with Zionist roots. Unless you do so thoroughly, it will appear that you don't have the courage of your convictions and that your refusal of the small SAZF order was an insincere gesture playing to the anti-Israel gallery.

I could go on and on about the items you must avoid to be consistent in your attitude, but for humanitarian reasons you will be excused if for medical reasons you or members of your family use the "camera pill" developed in Israel to investigate the intestines painlessly by swallowing a pill containing a mini camera and transmitter.

Despite your anti-Zionist feelings, if you have a heart attack, don't hesitate to let the surgeon insert a stent, which was developed in Israel .

You will also be excused if you or members of your anti-Zionist business use new Israeli methods to measure and inject insulin for diabetics or Copaxone to reduce the physical breakdown caused by MS and other MS medicines such as Betaseron and Avonex. Similarly you will be excused for using Israeli developments in computerized tomography (CT), magnetic resonance systems (MRI), ultrasound scanners, nuclear medical cameras and laser surgery.

You will be excused too, if you use the Israeli developed Resperate, an interactive breathing device, for lowering blood pressure as well as treatments for cancer, diabetes, AIDS, auto immune diseases, Alzheimer, cardiovascular diseases and aging as well as the ReWalk, a robot suit that enables wheelchair users to walk, sit and stand again.

On second thoughts I suggest that it would be more rational to re-examine your prejudices and enter into a civil discourse with the Zionists. You may be pleasantly surprised to find that we have much in common and I would be happy to enter into a dialog with you about the issues on which you feel so strongly.

Maurice Ostroff is a past chairman of the Israel South Africa Chamber of Commerce and an honorary officer of the Chamber. He is a former member of the Board of Governors of the Technion, Israel Institute of Technology. - Ed.


The Dream Act Needs Your Support
JSPAN has endorsed the policies in the DREAM Act to provide a path to citizenship for those aliens who have served in the military. Even this modest effort at reform of our immigration system has hit trouble in the Congress, however. Send your message to your Congress members now!

Hall of Shamers are trying to defeat the DREAM ... once again.
By Amy Novick, Executive Director, Immigrants List, December 2010

"Mass amnesty is not the only problem with the DREAM Act...The bill also is a magnet for fraud," says Texas Congressman Lamar Smith.

The DREAM Act is "a $20 Billion Giveaway to Illegal Aliens," says Iowa Congressman Steve King.

It seems pretty clear, the Hall of Shame and the rest of the anti-reform movement is trying to kill the DREAM Act. They succeeded three months ago when they stopped the DREAM Act from getting passed on the Senate floor. And they are trying to do the same thing now as the measure comes up for a vote in the House this week.

After the lame duck session, the new Congress will have Hall of Shamers Lamar Smith and Steve King chairing the very committees that would preside over an immigration reform bill. And all indications are that they will use their positions to kill immigration reform.

That's why it is literally now or never, and that's why we have to make our voice heard.

Please call and e-mail your Member of Congress and demand they vote yes for DREAM this week.

This is a measure that has garnered bipartisan support in the past, provides a path to citizenship for those who have served in the military, and has the support of 70% of Americans.

Passage of the DREAM Act would be a huge step forward in fixing our broken and dangerous immigration system. The opportunity is big but the window is small. Let's make sure that we get this done.


Right of Reply: US is sticking to its principles
From the Jerusalem Post December 10, 2010

Daniel Gordis's recent op-ed "When expediency becomes principle" (November 19) offers the correct analysis " we need more action, less talk " but attacks the wrong target.

Hailing Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper for his recent comments in support of Israel and against anti- Semitism, Gordis then argues that the Obama administration has not done enough in this regard. "All that talk about Washington's ironclad commitment to Israel's security has been just that," he writes, and he charges that under President Barack Obama the US is in danger of "turn[ing] its back on the Jewish people."

Gordis is just the latest voice in a misleading chorus against President Obama.

Consider the following:

In addition to significantly expanding trade with Israel, Obama played an important behind-the-scenes role in bringing it into the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), a long sought-after goal.

According to The Wall Street Journal, "US military aid to Israel has increased markedly this year," from the result of policy directives the White House gave the Pentagon early in Obama's presidency to "deepen and expand the quantity and intensity of cooperation to the fullest extent."

Obama raised the amount of US military aid to Israel, making it the single largest expense of the 2010 foreign aid budget. He also authorized $205 million to enable the completion the Iron Dome missile defense.

The Obama administration has also significantly increased the level of strategic dialogue and the depth of intelligence coordination, particularly regarding Iran, and has successfully led international efforts to intensify pressure against the Iranian regime over its nuclear program.

In September, Obama went before the UN General Assembly and challenged the international community to support Arab-Israeli peace. He declared, "Israel's existence must not be a subject for debate," and assured the world that "efforts to chip away at Israel's legitimacy will only be met by the unshakable opposition of the United States."

CONSIDERING THESE facts, I do not see how anyone can seriously conclude that the Obama administration is treating Israel's legitimacy as a bargaining chip. If anything, the opposite is true: Obama has been more action than talk when it comes to Israel's security and his administration has maintained and enhanced the special relationship. ...


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Hunger in America
One in seven Americans struggled with hunger in 2009, according to new data released by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). The annual survey from USDA and the Census Bureau showed a slight increase from 2008, rising from 49.1 million to more than 50 million Americans. The relatively modest size of this increase during the ongoing recession "compared to the dramatic jump from 36.2 million in 2007 to 49.1 million in 2008" is attributable both to improvements in nutrition programs benefits and to increased participation in these programs and FRAC [Food Research Action Center] and its partners played a key role in both.

A new analysis by FRAC gives a more current look at hunger in America by chronicling families' inability to purchase enough food ("food hardship") through September 2010. FRAC's analysis of data from the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index shows that the number of respondents saying that at points during the year they could not afford enough food for their families declined slightly in 2010, down from an average of 18.5 percent in the last quarter of 2009 to an average of 17.7 percent over the six months from April to September 2010. The number had peaked at 19.5 percent in the last quarter of 2008.


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Converting conversions
from JPOST EDITORIAL on 12/12/10

Reduce the state's direct involvement by privatizing the conversion process and opening it up to a wider range of rabbinical organizations.

In an ideal world, city rabbis, like their Orthodox counterparts who man the IDF rabbinical conversion courts, would understand the importance of promoting mass conversions for those interested as a means of fighting intermarriage and promoting integration into Israeli society.

However, the reality is different. Dozens of rabbis, many of whom belong to haredi streams of Judaism, choose to place the strict adherence to an Orthodox lifestyle before any other “national” considerations and refuse to rely on more lenient halachic opinions that acknowledge the new realities created by a Jewish state.

These rabbis, as citizens of a democratic state, should be free to interpret Judaism the way they wish. No law should be passed that would force the chief rabbi or any other spiritual leader to rule against his conscience. But there is no reason why these rabbis should be employed by the state.

The State of Israel should promote conversions among non-Jewish Israelis who are interested as a means of fighting intermarriage. But it should do so by authorizing a diverse group of recognized and responsible rabbinical organizations – Orthodox, Conservative and Reform – to perform conversions. These organizations would also be empowered to register converts for marriage


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How to Understand Israel in 60 Days or Less
When Sarah Glidden took a “Birthright Israel” tour, she thought she knew what she was getting herself into. But when she got to Israel, she found that things weren’t quite so simple. HOW TO UNDERSTAND ISRAEL is Sarah’s memoir not only of her Israeli government sponsored trip through Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, the Golan Heights, Masada and other famous locations, but of the emotional journey she never expected to take while she was there. Her experience clashes with her preconceived notions again and again, particularly when she tries to take a non-chaperoned trip into the West Bank. Sarah is forced to question first her political beliefs and, ultimately, her own sense of identity, until she finds that to understand Israel she first must come to understand herself.



Gailee Diary
Repairing the World
by Marc J. Rosenberg
Appeared in the Union for Reform Judaism, December 8, 2010.

I observed all the happenings beneath the sun, and I found that all is futile and pursuit of wind: A twisted thing that cannot be repaired, a deficiency that cannot be made good. -Ecclesiastes 1:14-15

The other night I attended an evening in honor of Avraham Infeld, one of the leading lights of informal Jewish education for the past generation. Avraham has founded and led a number of significant initiatives and institutions, and raised up a generation of disciples. And he is both a passionate educator and a great raconteur, so it's always a treat to hear him speak. Between the jokes and stories, he made clear his basic belief, which resonates strongly with me: the point of Zionism is not a refuge, nor another ethnic nation state, but tikkun olam, the repair of the world. The Jewish state must be the demonstration site for the application of Jewish values to the real world, for how we apply Torah when we finally have power. We don't hear that sermon too often around here these days, and it was encouraging and refreshing to hear it from Avraham.


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