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Tuesday, 25 August 2009

A "Repulsive" Mockery Of Justice

I'm very glad I was unable to post this piece in time for Shabbat Shoftim - when Jewish people look at the nature of justice.

I intended to run headlong into the subject and say that all things considered, I was glad that the Scottish authorities had released putatitve Libyian bomber, Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al- Megrahi, to die at home.

After all, I began to write, we are not one hundred-and-one per cent certain he is guilty. Further,  as Jewish tradition insists that "an eye for an eye" means retribution, not revenge, he must have already paid the price for this terrible mass murder as he suffers a death of "a thousand cuts" from his prostate cancer every sentient moment. What difference should it make where he dies? Would it really have mattered if he travelled home or if his relatives had instead visited him in Greenock Prison?

This was before al-Megrahi did arrive home - to a sickening hero's welcome - which in turn caused Prime Minister Gordon Brown to be  accused of damaging Britain’s international standing. Mr Brown insists no deals had been done between Britain and Libya and that he was “angry and repulsed” at the scenes of jubilation in Tripoli.
However, The Times reports that he twice refused to give a view on the release and has also failed to give assurances that al-Megrahi will not appear as “guest of honour” at next week’s celebrations to mark the 40 years of Colonel Muammar Gaddafi’s leadership, despite predictions that he would do so. This suggests that Britain has been unable to secure the assurances from Tripoli that it had wanted.

I now leave readers to watch the charming cartoon above so they may adjudge the fine lines between revenge, justice and craven  stupidity.

But before I close, I'd like to share a little about the Saperstein family.

Rabbi David Saperstein, who narrates the piece, is one of North American Jewry's best known communal figures and has served as the director and chief legal counsel at the Union for Reform Judaism's Religious Action Center for more than 30 years. He is also leader of the Washington D.C.-based political lobbying arm of the North American Reform movement.

More important (for Brian and me!), he is the brother of Rabbi Marc Saperstein, who has been principal of the Leo Baeck (Rabbinical) College, London since 2006. In the autumn of last year, Rabbi Marc visited our congregation, Sha'arei Shalom North Manchester Reform Synagogue for Shabbat when he proved himself a utterly charming, considerate and self-effacing overnight guest as well as a first-class preacher the next day!

More Torah cartoons at
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