CAVEAT: I am a dual national - U.S. and Israel; my daughter is in Israel and, with my son-in-law and almost 4-year-old grand-daughter, having to hide in a "safe room" while Hamas rockets fall indiscriminately near her home. She is a non-combatant; my grand-daughter certainly is not a military target, yet Hamas has been, and continues to, attack civilians (but rarely a military target). I fully expect The World to condemn Israel for retaliation and for injury or loss life of any Gazan not in uniform; never mind that civilians are Hamas' preferred - of not only - target.
I'm between a rock and a hard spot, a hammer and an anvil.
Two Broward Country assistant public defenders (PDs) were fired for (allegedly) posting anti-Palestinian rants on their Facebook pages. (One admits the act, the other denies it.)
Bruce Raticoff and Gary Sheres were dismissed by elected PD and tv personality Howard Finkelstein for comments made on their individual social network pages. The comments were discovered and published by the Sun-Sentinel, a local newspaper.
According to an article on the Sun-Sentinel web site, The remarks from the two men's' personal Facebook accounts last week were posted under an item about Palestinians allegedly celebrating the kidnapping and murder of three Israeli teen boys. The killings were blamed on the Islamic militant group Hamas.
Blogger's comment: I was in Israel at the time and there is no "allegedly" to the celebration of the kidnapping and murder of three youths, two 16 and one 19.
"They are the filthy swine they don't eat. Their ignorance to the world bewilders the dumbest people I have ever met," Sheres posted.
A bit later, a comment came from Raticoff's account: "That's why the Palestinian people are considered the cockroaches of the world. Reprehensible and despicable with utter disregard for civility and humanity. Burn them to the ground."
Strangely enough, according to the same Sun-Sentinel article, a fellow assistant PD, of "Palestinian" heritage, Lubna Abualown, apparently defended the pair's right to continue employment with the PD's office: Finkelstein said she argued for their jobs.
The article notes that Abualown asked the standing room only crowd of co-workers, "Ask yourselves, are you living the example you want your children to be? Or are you perpetuating the racism that this country fought so hard to destroy?''
So what's my quandary? There are several.
FREEDOM OF SPEECH
The PD's office is concerned primarily with criminal matters. It is charged with defending people charged with a crime.
Consequently the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, a/k/a the Bill of Rights declares unequivocally
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
I'm not a lawyer and I don't play one on tv, but it seems to this scrivener that the two assistant PD's freedom of speech has been not merely violated by trampled upon by Finkelstein's action.
The language may be less than delicate and certainly not "politically correct," but does it rank down there with the "N" word (OK for some to use, not for others - I never figured out the logic there). It's OK, albeit not polite, to disparage a person's linage, but when the subject is protected, as Palestinians apparently are, then retribution will be swift and sure.
Why is it that Palestinian text books at all grade level demonize Jews in general and Israelis in particular. Granted, this is Broward Country Florida USA and the text books are in Gaza and the so called "West Bank," but the books are funded - at least in part - by American dollars. Despite rare UN criticism of the Palestinian Authority over the text books' content, it remains in place - along side children's tv programs having the same goal.
Finkelstein is a political animal.
His office is often under fire for defending people we all know are recidivistic criminals who ought to be put away forever and a day. We know that because the equally political DA's office tells us these are the facts and nothing but the facts.
While we don't have many (obvious, i.e., wearing jubba or galibiyya for men or abaya, and hijab for women) Muslims in Broward County, there are a few. (The population is sufficient to support 11 mosques in the county, all are Sunni save for one "independent" organization.) It would not be unreasonable to assume that at one time or another a Muslim would need the services of a public defender.
A perception that the PD's office is "anti-Palestinian" or "anti-Arab" might give a Muslim client a feeling that the assigned assistant PD won't work as hard for the client as required by law.
At the same time, the Broward PD's office has at least one assistant PD (Abualown) whose parents are from the West Bank, and her husband from the Gaza Strip, according to the Sun-Sentinel.
WHAT TRUMPS WHAT?
Unless Finkelstein at least publicly offers the two fired assistant PDs the opportunity to return to their posts, it become patiently obvious that political correctness trumps the Constitution's First Amendment.
This won't be the first time the Constitution has been ignored.
Maybe it's time to toss out the ideals of the founding fathers and to replace the increasingly trampled upon document with something modern, something "politically correct."
Like a realtor's cry of "location, location, location," politicians - and Finkelstein is a politician - cry "image, image, image."
I like Finkelstein on tv (Tell Me, Howard), but I think he may have gone to far in his effort to be politically correct.
2 Public Defenders Fired Over Anti-Palestinian Facebook Posts