Saturday, December 12, 2015

The Wolmark-Epstein gang's Hamas / ISIS defense by Nathan Lewin

Guest post by a concerned Jew and American

The Epstein-Wolmark cirminal gang argued, in a brief written by Nathan Lewin, that the relgious aspect of their activies somehow immunizes them from criminal prosecution under Federal law. Judge Wolfson rejected this claim in her ruling on this issue earlier this year.

It is far from clear that the criminal gang acted out of any religious motivation, or even believed that they were actually helping women receive divorces considered valid (under any interpreation of Jewish Law). It is clear from the case that the defendants received large sums of money to commit kidnapping and torture. Even if the gang really believed what they were doing was pursuant to Jewish law, were they acting out of religious principles or were they trying to enrich themselves?

Even according to the most lenient opinions in Jewish Law, there must be some basis for a legitimate beis din to conclude that a get procured through the use of coercion has any validity. The facts established by the prosection in the case demonstrate very clearly that the the gang did not perform any real due diligence in the cases it took on. To the contrary, the gang attempted to kidnap and torture a fictitious husband to "free" a woman from a "marriage" that did not exist. This completely undermines the claim that the gang itself believed that they were acting according to any interpretation of Jewish Law or that they were procuring divorces that were valid under Jewish Law.

Even if the gang was acting pursuant to their beliefs under Jewish law, Mr. Nathan Lewin's argument that those committing violent crimes pursuant to their religious beliefs may not or should not be prosecuted or that the religious component of their motivation should be treated as a mitigating factor is shameful and reprehensible, not to mention extremely dangerous, particularly for the Jewish community. Mr. Lewin's argument would also justify arguments by members of Hamas, Hizbollah, al-Queeda, or Islamic State or other radical Islamist groups that they may murder Jews with impunity because they believe that their religioun commands them to do so.

The Wolmark- Epstein gang's argument that the religious angle somehow shows that the prosecution overcharged the case, and inappropriately charged the gang with kidnapping where much less serious charges should somehow have been appropriate has things exactly backwards.

The U.S. Attorney's office generally argued that the gang committed kidnapping and that any religious motivation did not make kidnapping into some lesser crime.

But well beyond neutrality, the religious angle of the case illustrates that if anything the defendants were under-charged for their heinous crimes in this case.

Regardless of the gang's true MOTIVATIONS (whether motivated by religion, money, or sadistic desire to torture), what the gang actually DID was to kidnap, or attempt to kidnap, Jewish men and torture them in order to force the men against their will to perform the religious act of giving a get . For these purposes, it does not matter whether the men had a religious obligation under Jewish Law to give a get, were allowed under Jewish Law to give a get, or whether the men were prohibited by Jewish Law from giving a get. In any case, they were coerced (or the gang attempted to coerce the men) into perfoming a religious act against their will.

Congress decided that coercing individuals into religious actions is a particuarly heinous crime as it involves the violation of their most fundamental rights as human beings and as Americans. Thus, Congress enacted several laws specifically addressing this behavior, and subjecting such behavior to the most severe possible penalty.
(To be continued)

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