Thursday, September 20, 2012
Mark Meyer Appel http://www.thejewishstar.com/stories/Democrats-and-Jews-and-Jewish-Democrats,3566?page=1&content_source
Mark Meyer Appel
I am a life long Democrat and a religious Jew. I have upon occasion, voted for Republicans or independents, but in the main I have stayed loyal to the party of FDR, Harry Truman, JFK, LBJ and Bill Clinton. I have done so out of a profound belief that Democrats best personify all the values that we as a people have come to stand for throughout the Diaspora, and since the founding of the State of Israel.
My parents were survivors of the Shoah. They came to America with their shattered live and lost families, met, married and gave birth to my sister and myself. As soon as they arrived they became Democrats because that is where immigrants, refugees and survivors found a welcoming political home in post war America. There never was a day when they did not bless this country for giving them the freedom to practice their religion without fear. For most of my life the thought of being anything but a Democrat was as anathema to me as converting to another religion.
The two simply seemed to belong together. Jews became Democrats because there was no other moral choice. Democrats believed in what Maimonides taught “Anticipate charity by preventing poverty“ and “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime”.
Despite the horrors of pogroms, world wars and anti Semitism that never seemed to die, we still believed “All the evils that men cause to each other because of certain desires, or opinions or religious principles, are rooted in ignorance. [All hatred would come to an end] when the earth was flooded with the knowledge of God.” and we believed that the Democratic Party believed this also. It made perfect sense …to be a good Jew and a good Democrat were hand in glove with one another.
We fought on the battlefield of civil rights and social justice as good Jews and good Democrats. In our minds the Democratic party had come to stand for “Tikkun olam”. Their goal like ours, was also a just society in which humanity could “repair the world“.
We also believed that the other guys were the enemy of all of the above…that they were anti-Semites…that they were the people who established all the quotas in the colleges and country clubs and charities…that they hated immigrants.
Israel became the focus of much of our political energy. The very fact that it was there was proof that the world could be repaired. It also was proof that Jews were not only smart but that we were tough and in the course of time, “Eretz Yisrael” became that place that we as a people had lost over 2500 years ago…a national home. Since fall of the Kingdom of Judah and the absorption of Judaea and Israel into Roman provinces … Jews had no home. The survival of Israel became more than a cause to American Jews. It became part of who we are.
For all of my adult life, my faith and my culture and my identity as an American included the secure knowledge that Israel existed and was the ally and strongest friend of all Americans. That has not changed for me nor will it ever change but it has changed for the Democratic Party.
The administration of President Barack Obama has not had the same kind of relationship with Israel that other Presidents of both parties have enjoyed. We are beyond the point of pretending that the extreme left who now run the party since Obama’s election, are our friends. They are not and the pathetic voice vote to amend their platform over G-D and Jerusalem is the final evidence. There was no three quarters yea vote supporting these changes and the whole world knows it. Further, a plank in the platform condemning Hamas as a terrorist organization that cannot be recognized until it disavows the use of terror and accepts that Israel has a right to exist, was not restored to the platform. Nor was the language restored, stating it was the policy of the Democratic Party that there was no suicidal “right of return” for all descendants of Palestinians who left after partition to return to the State of Israel, to reclaim the land that supposedly had been “stolen” from them. This is a policy that would mean the end of the State of Israel as a Jewish state and the entire world knows this.
The fact that this situation occurred in the wake of an already tense situation between Israel and this administration regarding the profound nature of the existential threat of a nuclear Iran, simply magnified that despicable voice vote, and added yet another reason not to reelect this President or trust the leadership of this party.
It also should be remembered that this administration refuses to accept the reality of the Israeli “Red Line” with regard to Iran. The government of Bibi
Netanyahu has made it abundantly clear that Iran having the capacity for nuclear weapons is unacceptable and a mortal threat to the nation. The United states on the other hand has as its “Red Line”, Iran simply having a nuclear weapon. This is a gap that is as big as the Grand Canyon when your very existence is at stake.
The Obama administration has also made it extremely clear that it will not commit to multi-lateral actions to prevent Iran from reaching nuclear weapon capacity. At the end of August in London, US Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin E. Dempsey stated unequivocally that “the United States would not have Israel's back if it unilaterally attacked Iran“. He added that such an attack would "clearly delay but probably not destroy Iran's nuclear program" and speaking personally stated. "I don't want to be complicit if they [Israel] choose to do it."
No one can convince me that General Dempsey said all of the above without the explicit approval of President Barack Obama. The President certainly did not disavow it. These statements also occurred within a larger context. Simultaneously with this, the Jewish Daily forward reported that “U.S. military officials admit that an upcoming joint U.S.-Israel military exercise has been downsized, but deny that it is because of mistrust of Israel.
Time Magazine reported Aug. 31 that Austere Challenge 12, the ballistic missiles exercise scheduled for the end of October, was greatly downsized, with Washington cutting by more than two-thirds - to about 1,500 - the number of U.S. troops participating, and reducing the number and quality of missile interception systems to be used.
“Basically what the Americans are saying is, ‘We don’t trust you,’” Time quoted an unnamed senior Israeli military official as saying.”
Again all of the above was happening as the Iranians were being publicly disrespected at their 120 Non-Aligned Nation summit in Tehran. The new President of Egypt Mohammed Morsi and UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon both took advantage of the international press attention their attendance had created and which had given Amadinijad and the Ayatollah Ali Khamenei a diplomatic triumph in the face of American led economic sanctions. Each refused to back the bloody regime in Syria, and denounced threats of genocide in the region while also calling on Iran to adhere to UN resolutions. Moon later also brought up Iran’s horrid human rights record. Morsi in an even bigger insult began his remarks with praise for the “successors” of the Prophet which in Shia Iran is tantamount to blasphemy since they only recognize the “descendents” of the Prophet.
Why is all of this important? It is important because American sanctions which General Dempsey so admires are not working. The summit was a diplomatic coup for Iran until Morsi and Moon humiliated them. What does the US do to capitalize on this? It sends a clear signal to Iran that contrary to what Obama says…the US does not have Israel’s back with regards to a preemptive strike. It leaves a larger more dangerous message hanging in mid air…does this President and this Democratic Party have Israel’s back at all such as in the event of an Iranian attack?
There are other reasons besides Israel that force me to the painful conclusion that I cannot support this President for re-election or remain in this party with far too many anti-Israel factions that are frankly a thinly disguised veneer for outright anti-Semitism. Democrats no longer want to teach men to fish so they can feed themselves. They espouse public charity by decree rather than by voluntary means. They have a clear and sometimes vicious animus toward G-D and all those who believe in G-D. They are no longer liberal in the classical sense. They don’t believe our unalienable rights come from G-D or nature as our founders believed and instead believe that our rights come from government. They don’t want equal opportunity…they want equal results. They don’t understand or believe in capitalism which is the freest system with all its imperfections, ever known to man.
This party of my father and mother, this party I have loved so much because it accepted us when we were truly “Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.” …this party of dreamers who did great things to make us a great and good people is gone for me. The sad fact is it is gone not because I have changed but because it has changed and changed so dramatically that it has all but disappeared.
As an American and a Jew I now go in search for a new political mishpocha and I welcome all with a good heart and an open mind to join me. After all A nahr bleibt a nahr − A fool remains a fool if he stays where he is not wanted.
AM ISREAL CHAI
MARK MEYER APPEL
NOTE: this is a personal story not the opinion of the voice of justice
Thursday, September 13, 2012
The Prosecutor Plays Defense: Can D.A. Hynes Have It Both Ways on Hasidic Molesters?
By Daniel Geiger 9/11 8:00pm
On a steamy night on the corner of a Bedford-Stuyvesant block in late August, District Attorney Charles Hynes stood waiting for the Reverend Al Sharpton.
Though he has fought crime in the borough for decades, Mr. Hynes, who is in his sixth term as the Brooklyn district attorney, looked slightly out of place loitering on a dark patch of sidewalk in front of a dicey-looking housing project near midnight.
Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes
at the Brooklyn Tribute to Dr. Martin Luther
King at BAM (photo courtesy of Getty Images)
Well into his 70s, Mr. Hynes is grandfatherly in appearance, white-haired and slightly hunched. He wore a bright blue checkered shirt, cleanly pressed, with an open collar. He waited patiently, a sizable police detail nearby, until Rev. Sharpton arrived, 20 minutes late, in a chauffeured black Navigator.
The gathering, which its organizers called Occupy the Corner, had been staged to protest the gun violence that has sprung up in recent months. Though the event was aimed at a spate of recent deadly shootings in problem Brooklyn neighborhoods like Brownsville and East New York, the message had been made all the more poignant by a shooting earlier that day in Manhattan in which a gunman murdered a former colleague outside the Empire State Building before being killed in a hail of fire by the NYPD.
“We’re not going to be intimidated … these are our communities, these are our streets, and this won’t continue,” Mr. Sharpton said in front of a small crowd of community members, news media and politicians, including Councilwoman Letitia James and Assemblyman Hakeem Jeffries, who is running for congress.
“We’re not going to stand by and let them overwhelm our streets and kill our children,” Mr. Hynes added when it was his turn to speak. “Whatever it takes, the people rule this city and not the thugs.”
There’s no doubt Mr. Hynes is proud of his record taking on violent crime in the borough—and he has a right to be. During his 23-year tenure in office, homicides have fallen precipitously.
“Brooklyn had less than 200 murders last year,” Mr. Hynes told The Observer, indulging his habit of frequently trotting out the impressive crime statistics of his tenure. “That’s the least since 1963, and this year we’re 23 murders fewer.”
As big an issue as guns are, however, and as much as Mr. Hynes cares about it, in the murky and sometimes cynical world of Brooklyn politics, the night seemed more than an opportunity to take a stand against violence; politically, it was a chance to grab some screen time with some of the most prominent leaders of New York’s black community—a voting bloc Mr. Hynes knows he would be wise to court.
“We’re happy D.A. Hynes has joined us tonight,” Rev. Sharpton said. “Most D.A.s just prosecute us; he’s one that is standing with us.”
DA Hynes announcing a large seizure of counterfeit items in July (photo courtesy of Getty Images)
In the wake of withering criticism, Mr. Hynes can certainly use endorsements like this.
In May, The New York Times ran a series of articles about the district attorney’s cozy relationship with influential rabbis in Brooklyn’s Orthodox Jewish neighborhoods. Among the reports were disclosures that Mr. Hynes and his office had agreed last summer to allow a prominent religious organization, Agudath Israel, to vet sexual molestation accusations within the Hasidic community internally before reporting the allegations to the authorities.
The story drew a sharp rebuke from Mayor Bloomberg, who according to the Times said he “completely disagrees” with such an arrangement—the kind of top-level complaint rarely lobbed at a D.A. in this city, especially one as tenured and respected as Mr. Hynes.
The reports also took a critical view of techniques Mr. Hynes has employed to encourage victims of sexual abuse to step forward, and they questioned whether his office has pursued meaningful sentences against admitted molesters. To this day, Mr. Hynes will not release the names of accused Hasidic suspects of sexual assault, even though sheltering the identity of someone indicted for a crime is a highly unusual practice among district attorneys and has drawn persistent criticism from victims’ groups.
“We have completely disagreed with the policy of not releasing the names of the abusers,” Mark Appel, founder of a victims’ advocacy group, told The Observer. “A Jewish child should be identical to any other child.