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January 31, 2003 - Image 58

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2003-01-31

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

Sarah Tugman Bais Chabad Torah Center

Torah Portion

and

Hyman 8 Sonia Blumenstein Outreach Center

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TORAH PORTION

from page 57

96/1/Witt

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Dr. Lawrence
Natalie
Lipnik

Dr. Daniel Pipes

Director of the Middle Eclat Forum

Comments by

With the
Litz Chaim Award

Morton Klein
National President
Zionist Orsanization of America

Dr. Jerome
& Mindy
Kaufman

Dinner Committee

Paul Draznin, Chairman

Honorary Committee

Martin Goodman 8 Ken Kohn

With the
Community Service
Award

Sunday, March 9, .2.003
Fifth of AcLar II, 5763

Program Chairman

Stuart Weiss

Tribute Journal Chairmen

Arthur Liss, Paul Malty

Part of the proceeds will be distributed to
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1/31

2003

58

likely to execute innocent defendants,
who often reject offers to plea bargain.
There is simply no way to justifi, these
abhorrent practices.
What about Rabban Shimon ben
Gamliers argument of deterrence?
Except in situations of self-defense, this
argument has little relevance for our
day. America, which executes criminals,
has a murder rate roughly four times
higher than that of similar nations that
do not practice capital punishment.
Michigan, which does not execute crim-
inals, has a lower murder rate than
Illinois, which did (until outgoing GOV.
George Ryan commuted death sen-
tences to life in prison for 167 death
row inmates Jan. 11). Indeed, death
penalty states in America have a signifi-
cantly higher rate of violent crime than
do their sister states. Where's the deter-
rence?
America is not a theocracy — the
U.S. government does not represent
God, who alone creates life. What prin-
ciple then entitles it to kill citizens
whom it can remove from harm's way
with lifelong imprisonment? Revenge
and revulsion are natural human
responses to violent crime. But are these
principles of justice?
Jewish opposition to the death penal-
ty is not absolute. If capital punishment
can protect the public — as in the case
of Wartime treason — then it can be
justified as a way of saving lives. If a
serial murderer is finally apprehended, it
may be possible to establish that crimi-
nal intent is amply proven. The Israeli
system of reserving capital punishment
for genocide, active terrorism and
wartime treason is far more defensible
than is America's uneven system of exe-
cution.
The alacrity of our nation to kill
criminals, even in the face of proof that
our system is terribly flawed, is a moral
abomination. Judaism may support cer-
tain forms of the death penalty, but cer-
tainly not what we have mandated in
our time. Our job as Americans and as
Jews is to protect society and to strip
violent criminals of the freedoms that
we all cherish. Let's let God decide who
shall live and who shall die. El

Conversations

Should Jews advocate specific
public policies on the basis of
Jewish law? Is a Torah perspec-
tive relevant to non-Jewish citi-
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