Justice & Judaism

Dr. Gerhard Falk

Commentary by Dr. Gerhard Falk


Justice and Judaism - An American View


    There are so many reminders in the Torah concerning the need for justice in the world that it can be said with confidence that a concern with justice is one of the most important messages of Judaism to the peoples of this earth.

    Perhaps the most often quoted statement in this regard is the pronouncement by the prophet Amos (5:24) which may be translated approximately from the Hebrew“Let justice roll like water and righteousness as a permanent torrent.”

    Also in Amos (5:4) we read, “hate evil and love good and establish justice in the gates of the land.”   Jeremiah 22:15-16 is translated, “If one practices justice and righteousness, if one champions the cause of the poor, then it will be well with one…..” Innumerable other admonitions to establish justice are found in the Torah and have made their way into the text of the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution and other documents of American history.

    The members of our Supreme Court call themselves “Justices” although the Constitution calls them judges. Yet, these “justices” have now used their position and privileges to place party ahead of principle as they appointed the loser in the recent election president of the United States. The injustice of that politically motivated decision is so gross and blatant that we can agree with the Republican Justice Stevens who noted that the real loser in that decision is the Supreme Court itself. Surely, after that decision no one can again trust the court to impartially judge any future issue. Instead, the Supreme Court has told us all that it is all right if some people are not allowed to vote at all and that the votes of Democrats are not to be counted if the Republican party can find any means at all to avoid the truth. The truth is that George Bush lost the election of November 7, 2000 and will be installed into the presidency by trickery and even by force. It needs to be remembered that we bombed Serbia in order to get rid of the unelected Milosovic. Now the people of Serbia have freely voted to elect a new president. Yet we, the bombers, are about to install a president who was not elected. Should we expect Serbia to bomb us now?

    Consider this:

    1. In Florida precincts in which voters are most likely to vote for a Democrat, police barricades were set up preventing voters from reaching the election site.

    2. Black voters, almost all Democrats, were told they were not registered when in fact they were registered. Others were told that the time for voting had ended when in fact the voting sites were still open. Yet others were told that they could not vote because they had a felony conviction when in fact this was not true.

    3. In the heavily Jewish areas of West Palm Beach Jewish voters were tricked into voting for Pat Buchanan although it appeared to them that they were voting for Al Gore.

    4. In Miami-Dade the votes were simply not counted at all because it is well known to everyone that Miami –Dade, the most heavily populated area in Florida, votes overwhelmingly for Democrats. The votes were not counted because Republicans from out of that state rioted outside the board of elections offices in Miami and threatened violence so that the counting was abandoned for fear of the rioters.

    5. This  “coup d’état”, as the French call the overthrow of a legitimate government, was not only engineered by the Bush family but was sanctioned by the Republican majority on the Supreme Court.

     Now we will witness the loser gaining an office to which he is not entitled while the winner is declared the loser to the detriment of the voters and the injury of the democratic process. Furthermore, it is evident that the court in any jurisdiction can now overrule the voters and install the loser into any office. Surely what is good for the U.S. Supreme Court in a presidential election is also all right in Amherst or Erie County or anywhere.

     For us Jews this is indeed a disaster, as will soon become evident. First, the second and unelected Bush administration will be “Judenrein”, or cleansed of Jews as was the first Bush administration from 1989-1992. George Bush I did not appoint a single Jew to anything. George Bush II may have a token Jew in an unimportant position here and there but certainly not in his cabinet.

    Israel will once more have to deal with the anti-Jewish activist James Baker who was Secretary of State in the Bush I administration. Remember that Baker and George Bush I repeatedly called into question the patriotism of anyone who supported Israel. We can expect the same anti-Jewish bias from George II.

    Aside from these Jewish issues is the question of justice. Millions of Americans can hardly look at the news on television or read a newspaper without being reminded of the utter inequity of inaugurating the loser and voiding the will of the majority.

    Democracy is fragile. In every generation there are those who seek to substitute their lust for power for rule by the people whom they want to govern. As the so-called president-elect said recently, he wished this country were a dictatorship because it would be so much easier for him to rule without any opposition (as did Hitler who gained only 36% of the vote in November 1932 but was installed into office on January 30, 1933 by fiat of the courts). Well, he may get his wish as we are now closer to a one party fascist state than we have ever been. For us Jews this looks very bad. Surely Jewish history teaches us that we are always the first targets of all tyrants and that we can only survive where democracy rules. Hopefully there is still a way out of this dilemma. If not, the American democracy will come to an end in four years time and so will the precarious position of the American Jewish community.


    During the past seven years Israel has made every effort to make peace with the Palestinian terrorists. Concession followed concession as Israel gave up more and more land without receiving anything in return. “Land for Peace” is nonsense. The Arabs never had any intention of making peace but used the stupid and disastrous policies of Shimon Peres and Ehud Barak to gain more and more territory only to demand yet more as soon as any agreement was signed.

     For the past two months the Arabs have launched an unprecedented terrorist attack against all the Jews in Israel and elsewhere. This makes it imperative that Israel defend itself against this aggression. Yet, the (dis)-United Nations, Amnesty International and of course the European Union all condemn Israel over and over for shooting back. Sixty years ago 6 million Jews were slaughtered by the same brutes who now scream that Jews have no right to defend their lives. These haters would love to see another holocaust. But this is denied them so far. Of course, as long as Barak is prime minister we can expect more and more appeasement and therefore no end to Arab aggression. Surely Arafat has learned that the ghetto mentality of Barak-Peres works in his favor and that he need only keep shooting until he gets everything he wants. Meanwhile there is no justice for Jews. Israel is always wrong according to the media and the State Department and, with few exceptions, our politicians. It is of course not new that there is no justice for Jews. What is new is the ability of Israel to defend itself if only the leadership would make use of that ability and not participate in is own destruction and play the games of our worst enemies. If in 1933 we Jews had the firepower Israel has now, six million would not have died. Yet, what good is power not used? Will Barak wait until another 5 million Jews have ended in the Arab gas ovens?


     We Jews need to understand that we are not exempt from perpetrating injustices upon one another. This is particularly visible in our treatment of the poor. Numerous examples come to mind. For instance, right after the 2nd World War, when the Nazi camps had come under Allied control the Joint Distribution Committee, a Jewish agency sent representatives to Europe for the purpose of helping the starving skeletons who had survived. Money for food and other needs had been contributed by the American Jewish community. Yet, there were some among these representatives who put the money into their own bank accounts and let the survivors die of starvation and disease.

     In this country too, the reception of the survivors was most rejecting. We came to the docks of Hoboken and were left there alone. No one cared. No one helped. We tramped the streets looking for work and food. No one cared. No one helped. We were denied entry into synagogues because we had no money for a ticket and had in fact never heard of the need to buy a ticket to attend a Rosh Hashana service. We were homeless and alone. That made no difference. “If you have no ticket, get out!” shouted the watchdog at the door of the shul. 

    I am reminded of all these injustices every day when I find in my mail in my office and  home demands for money from innumerable organizations. Where were all these money collectors when we were literally down and out in the streets of Philadelphia? Well, of course, then we were non-persons and the “machers” didn’t want to know us.

    Recently I saw this scene. A wealthy Jew arrived late for a Kol Nidre service and squeezed himself into a seat between many others in “shul”. Immediately, the executive of a Jewish community organizations jumped up from his seat on the other side of the  “shul”, ran to the rich man and greeted him profusely and at length. He then returned to his seat but greeted none of the lesser contributors to his cause. Has it ever occurred to the rich that if they lost their money this afternoon their sycophants wouldn’t give them the time of day?

    Let us conclude with this story which I told here once before:

    A poor man came to the offices of a wealthy temple and asked to become a member. His poverty was visible in that he wore worn-out clothes, his shoes were in sad shape and he had no car. The executive director handed him an application which the poor man filled out. He was told to come back a month later so that the board could approve his application. The next month he was told to come back once more because the board had not reached his application at their last meeting. Then he was told to come back once more because the rabbi was out of town. Finally, the poor man understood that he was not wanted. He went into the street and met G’d there. G’d said to him: “Why are you so depressed?” “Because my fellow Jews will not let me get into that synagogue,” said the poor man. “I know how you feel,” said G’d. “I can’t get in either.”

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