Sunday, October 28, 2007

Assassination is Relative

1. Nadav Haetzni is hands down the best columnist and commentator in
the Israeli mainstream press. He writes in Maariv, the only newspaper
having a real semblance of political pluralism. Most of the columnists in
Haaretz dream of the day when the Israel is destroyed and replaced by an
Arab Palestinian state having a nice Jewish minority as dhimmis. (Having
tired of claiming how Israel is a warmonger trying to ignite a war with
Syria, Haaretz columnist Zvi Barel this morning writes that Israel is a
warmonger trying to ignite a war with Egypt!) Yediot
Ahronot is in the middle, having some non-treasonous columnists. But only
Maariv really allows non-leftists what almost amounts to equal time.

Unfortunately, Haetzni writes almost always only in Hebrew. He is a
prominent lawyer and is the son of longtime activist Elyakim Haetzni.
This past weekend Nadav has a superb article in Maariv. It is a bit long
to be fully translated here, but let me give you the gist and sum it up
for you.

Entitled "Assassination is Relatve," it begins by noting the obsessive
in the annual ceremonies about the Rabin assassination on the anniversary
of the murder. The death of Rabin has been turned by the Israeli media in
its annual commemoration into an event that dwarfs the Holocaust and the
splitting of the atom. In the same annual rituals, the Left and their
captive segments of the media smear the "Right" and demand that the entire
country rededicate itself to the "Rabin Political Legacy," meaning the
implementation of the Rabin policies of appeasing the "Palestinians" and
capitulation to what Haetzni calls the Ramallah gang. Amir killed one
Jew; Rabin's policies have killed about two thousand and placed Israel's
very survival in jeopardy.

The media contain endless pieces denouncing Yigal Amir, the actual
murderer of Rabin (in spite of what the psychotics and mental defectives
from the conspiracy "theory" cult say). They demand that he be denied
conjugal rights with his wife, unlike the Arab terrorists in Israeli
prison, some of whom have murdered dozens of Jews. Demonizing Amir is
the default option of the cowardly media, too pusillanimous to take any
serious position or to ask any serious question about the Oslo "peace
process" or the "Road Map."

But compare this with the indifference of the same Left and its media to
the near-assassination of Olmert, says Haetzni, news of which was released
in recent days. Where Abu Mazen, Olmert's favorite Palestinian
"moderate," released some terrorists from the resort the press calls the
Palestinian Authority's prison. These then were armed and making their
way to kill Olmert when they were apprehended. Olmert will now reward Abu
Mazen for the murder attempt on himself by appeasing the Ramallah gangster
some more in Annapolis.

Haaertz almost buried the story of the assassination attempt in its
cheery reporting of how desperately Abu Mazen and the PLO want peace.

That is of course not the only attempted murder or murder Abu Mazen's
people carried out. Just this past week a murder of a Jew next to Ariel
was carried out by the same people. Abu Mazen's TV station and newspapers
run the usual propaganda about Jews poisoning the wells and murdering
children, although you would never know that if you read Haaretz.

Haetzni asks what would have happened had the assassination attempt
against Olmert succeeded? Would the Israeli media imitate what it does
with Rabin? Turn him into a demigod? Organize annual events in which
Olmert's legacy is celebrated? Or would it immediately demand that
dialogue be held with the people behind the assassination? After all, one
can only make peace with the one-time terrorists and assassins! Would
the Left and its fellow travelers insist that the sponsors of the
assassination are the only true peace partners? The only candidates for
conducting dialogue? Haaretz would turn itself into a single-issue
propaganda sheet - demanding that dialogue with the assassins is the only
way to peace, for there are no military solutions. Shimon Peres would
grant clemency to the assassins, the same way he is about to do so with
Marwan Barghouti.

So assassination is a relative thing, concludes Haetzni. It is only cause
for soul searching and rededication to a political legacy when Rabin is
involved. Any other killing of a Prime Minister would be reason to brush
the death aside and move on with the appeasement!

2. When Moonbats get Defensive:

Let's Kill Some Palestinians!

4. Another case of campus fascism:

5. More on the axis of evil:

6. Islaomfascism Awareness Week:

7. Kristallnacht: The Original Divestment Campaign

8. The Pogromchiks of Sabeel:,7340,L-3464067,00.html

9. Oh, about hate speech:

10. More on those loyal Israeli Arabs:

11. You know how the media scream about "settlers" destroying the
crops of "Palestinians?" Well, as usual the inverse is the truth:

12. October 26, 2007


The Return of the Thought Police
October 26, 2007; Page A17
I mean no disregard for the sufferings of crime victims when I say we
should be wary of laws named after them. However well-intentioned, penal
laws that memorialize victims deter reasoned debate about the rights of
the accused. They rely on emotional blackmail: Oppose a law named for a
murdered child, and you seem to insult her memory and exacerbate her
parents' grief.
The Matthew Shepard Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act is no
exception to this rule. By invoking memories of University of Wyoming
student Matthew Shepard's brutal 1998 slaying, it makes a sentimental bid
for expanded federal hate-crime legislation covering violent crimes
motivated by a victim's sexual orientation or "gender identity," as well
as race, sex, religion, ethnicity or disability.
Its prospects are dimmed by the threat of a presidential veto, but last
month the Matthew Shepard Act was attached to the Defense Appropriations
Bill by a 60-vote majority in the Senate; a companion bill passed the
House (with the support of 212 Democrats and 25 Republicans.) Naturally,
the bill enjoys the enthusiastic support of civil-rights groups, including
the historically civil libertarian American Civil Liberties Union.
The ACLU has withheld support from hate-crime legislation in the past but
wholeheartedly embraces this bill, which applies only to acts of violence
and has been carefully drafted to avoid criminalizing pure speech: It
provides that evidence of a defendant's hateful speech or associations are
only admissible at trial if they "specifically relate" to the offense
charged. In other words, speech could be offered as evidence that a
violent act was motivated by bias, but it would not be a crime in itself.
Still, distinguishing hateful bias crimes from other hateful acts of
violence punishes ideas and expression, no matter how scrupulously the
legislation is crafted. When someone convicted of assaulting one woman is
subject to an enhanced prison sentence or a more vigorous prosecution
because his assault was motivated by a hateful belief in the inherent
inferiority of all women, then he is being punished for his thoughts as
well as his conduct.
While motive or state of mind are routinely considered in criminal cases
(as mitigating or aggravating factors,) ideology is not routinely invoked
in determining the seriousness of an alleged crime. Hate crime
legislation, however, is expressly designed to punish particular thoughts
or ideas.
Its advocates argue that hate crimes demand differential treatment because
they are crimes against communities, not just individuals. Hate crimes
"are more serious than a normal assault because they target not just an
individual, but an entire group of people," New York Rep. Jerrold Nadler
asserts. So, without directly criminalizing speech, the proposed Matthew
Shepard Act (like other hate-crime laws) does effectively and
intentionally criminalize bias, when bias is shown to bear a direct
relationship to a violent crime.
It's not surprising that civil-rights advocates concerned with what they
view as epidemics of unaddressed violence against particular,
presumptively vulnerable groups support the criminalization of bias. Civil
libertarians, however, ought to be more sensitive to the creation of
thought crimes -- even when "bad" thoughts are only punished in the course
of punishing bad acts. Free-speech advocates who believe that misogynist
pornography should be legal, for example, should question whether evidence
of a defendant's porn collection should be introduced at a sexual-assault
trial in order to convict him of a hate crime. It's sophistry to suggest
that in such a case the defendant would suffer punishment only for his
conduct, and not his beliefs.
But freedom of thought is not the only liberty at stake in this debate.
The Matthew Shepard Act would also subject defendants to double jeopardy
for a single offense. The bill expressly states that defendants prosecuted
in state court may be prosecuted for the same crime in federal court, if
federal officials determine that "the verdict or sentence obtained
pursuant to state charges left demonstrably unvindicated the federal
interest in eradicating bias-motivated violence."
The constitutionality of this provision is not in question. The Supreme
Court has long allowed state and federal authorities to conduct separate
trials for the same offense, and reasonable people will differ as to the
justice of this, especially when the state has demonstrated an inability
or unwillingness to prosecute fairly a horrendous crime.
Civil Rights era cases offer the best argument for dual prosecutions by
dual sovereigns: In 1965, federal prosecutors convicted Klan member Collie
LeRoy Wilkins of a civil-rights crime in the killing of activist Viola
Liuzzo after his acquittal in Alabama state court. More recently, in a
controversial 1993 case, federal prosecutors convicted two police officers
of beating Los Angeles motorist Rodney King (and violating his civil
rights) after their acquittal by the state of California.
Still, exceptions to double jeopardy remain controversial for civil
libertarians: The ACLU officially opposes dual prosecutions, stating,
"There should be no exception to double jeopardy principles simply because
the same offense may be prosecuted by two different sovereigns . . . even
important federal interests do not justify balancing away a defendant's
rights under the double jeopardy clause."
This policy was briefly suspended by the ACLU board in 1992, in response
to the Rodney King case, but it was reinstated in 1993 after an
impassioned debate. The ACLU's unequivocal endorsement of the Matthew
Shepard Act violates its own stated, civil-liberties principles (which
will perhaps be amended soon).
Is it necessary or fair to expand federal criminal jurisdiction to allow
for dual federal and state prosecutions of alleged hate crimes? Arguably
-- if strong empirical evidence demonstrates that states are generally
unwilling or unable to prosecute these crimes. Otherwise federal
hate-crime legislation addresses an illusory threat to civil rights, while
it exacerbates an actual crisis for civil liberty.
The continuing expansion of federal criminal jurisdiction has given
federal law enforcement officials unprecedented power over each of us. As
Gene Healy of the Cato Institute has observed, the federal criminal code
is so vast and comprehensive that it enables prosecutors to "pick targets
they think they should get rather than offenses that need to be
prosecuted." Mr. Healy estimates that about 4,000 crimes are "scattered
throughout the tens of thousands of pages of the United States code,"
stressing that the exact increase in federal crimes has been difficult to
track. One frequently cited 1999 study by the American Bar Association
noted that 40% of all federal criminal laws enacted after the Civil War
dated back only to 1970.
While libertarians have mounted consistent, principled resistance to this
expansion of federal criminal jurisdiction (and Cato offered thoughtful
testimony against the federal hate-crime bill), generally both liberals
and conservatives have adopted result-oriented approaches to federalizing
crime: Liberals who favor decriminalizing marijuana possession oppose
federal laws prohibiting it, which conservative anti-drug warriors
support. Liberal gay rights advocates support the federalization of bias
crimes against gay people, which conservatives wary of expanding gay
rights oppose.
This may look like pragmatism, but it's more like shortsightedness.
Expansions of federal criminal jurisdiction are often responses to
concerns of the moment -- from carjacking and cockfighting to child abuse
and juvenile crime -- that can be addressed adequately by the states
(especially with federal incentives). The necessity of many federal penal
laws is more often presumed than demonstrated, and outweighed by the
cumulative threat that this growing body of law poses to liberty.
Matthew Shepard's killers were convicted of homicide and kidnapping by the
state of Wyoming and are serving consecutive life sentences. His torture
and murder remain awful to contemplate, but civil libertarians ought not
be squeamish about questioning the consequences of the law that would bear
his name.
Ms. Kaminer, a lawyer and author of "Free For All: Defending Liberty in
America Today" (Beacon Press, 2002), blogs on civil liberties at
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