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Remembering France’s Minister of Justice Who Was Shaped by Holocaust Past

Robert Badinter was a French lawyer, politician, and author who enacted the abolition of the death penalty in France in 1981, while serving as Minister of Justice under François Mitterrand. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

Until 1981, the guillotine continued to be used as the means of implementing death sentences in France. However, in that year, France abolished the death penalty. The person who played a pivotal role in achieving this outcome was a Jewish lawyer, Robert Badinter, who had just been named Minister of Justice by the newly-elected President François Mitterand.

Badinter, who died at age 95 on February 9, was a renowned lawyer, a politician, and a historian. He was proud of his Jewishness.

Some years ago, I had the honor of meeting Badinter here in Washington at a lunch organized by B’nai B’rith during one of Badinter’s tours of the United States in his unsuccessful effort to persuade Americans to follow France’s example and eliminate the death penalty. Sitting next to Badinter for a couple of hours, speaking in my native French, I discovered a brilliant exponent for liberal causes.  Even though we did not agree on much, we got along famously.

Our common interests in the law, about history, and in matters Jewish made conversation easy.  The fact that the bushy eyebrowed lawyer, whose family came from Bessarabia in Eastern Europe, looked strikingly like one of my uncles, made me feel a certain closeness to Badinter.

Indeed, his family’s history is a reflection of both the suffering of the Jewish people in the 20th century and the success that Jews have experienced in the Western world. His immigrant parents met in France, married and had two sons, of which Robert was the younger. When Nazis occupied France in 1940, in an effort to evade German persecution, the family left Paris and moved south. Unfortunately, in 1943, Badinter’s father was arrested by Klaus Barbie, the sadistic SS officer in charge of the region, and was sent to Sobibor, where he was murdered.

Following the liberation of France, Badinter went on to study law. As a criminal lawyer, he defended a number of murderers and attended the execution of one of them. That experience turned him into a ferocious opponent of the death penalty. His opposition bore fruit when, having been named Minister of Justice, he was able to persuade the French National Assembly to vote for the abolition of the death penalty in spite of significant public dissent.

He also championed other causes, including, in particular, the decriminalizing of homosexuality. At the end of his term as Minister of Justice, for nine years he served as President of France’s Constitutional Council, effectively its Supreme Court.

While pursuing his legal and political career, he became an author. He most notably wrote an important book regarding the grant of equality to French Jews during the French Revolution. He also wrote a book that was significantly less laudatory of France. That book, entitled An Ordinary Antisemitism, focused on the role of the Paris Bar during the German occupation. In meticulous detail, Badinter described the complicity of the Paris Bar in the implementation of the discriminatory laws which sought to strip the vast majority of Jewish lawyers of their right to practice law.

In an annual lecture that I give to law students at the Holocaust Museum, I cite Badinter’s book as an example of how lawyers can lose their moral compasses when they get too focused on the details of law practice and fail to keep their eyes on the moral components of the law. My reference to Badinter’s research invariably has an impact on my audience.

Most recently, Badinter wrote a moving book about his grandmother, Idriss, who had immigrated to France in response to the pogroms in her native Bessarabia. He wrote with affection and respect of the struggles of the immigrant generation in adapting to life in a new land. Not surprisingly, the book struck a chord with the French public and was widely read.

All of Badinter’s accomplishments have had a profound impact on France. His importance to France is such that he will be given a special public tribute by President Macron. It is possible that he will ultimately be buried in the Pantheon in Paris, the mausoleum in which France’s greatest heroes are interred. Only three other Jews have been similarly honored to date.

While all of Badinter’s accomplishments are an eloquent memorial to a distinguished Frenchman, I will always remember him by reason of an exchange we had at our lunch. When speaking about the Holocaust and his family’s suffering, he noted that, as the son of a martyred father, he had had an uncommon opportunity to rectify a terrible wrong. In 1983, while he was Minister of Justice, Klaus Barbie, the man who had arrested and sent Badinter’s father to his death at Sobibor, was found in Bolivia and extradited to France. Badinter told me that, in memory of his father’s suffering, he decided that it would be appropriate to reopen the abandoned prison in which his father had been incarcerated by Barbie, and that he sent Barbie there to serve out a life sentence.

But I also noted that, even though Barbie had been previously sentenced to death in absentia, long before the abolition of the death penalty (and notwithstanding his personal desire to avenge his father), Badinter stood by his opposition to the death penalty and did not wish nor seek to have his father’s killer executed. He thereby demonstrated a rare willingness to place principle over the powerful personal desire to avenge the brutal death of a beloved parent.

Badinter was an important French political figure, a brilliant lawyer, an erudite historian, and a man of principle. He was, as President Macron stated recently, “a man of great significance.”

Gerard Leval is a partner in the Washington, D.C., office of a national law firm. He is the author of Lobbying For Equality, Jacques Godard and the Struggle for Jewish Civil Rights during the French Revolution, published by HUC Press. 

The post Remembering France’s Minister of Justice Who Was Shaped by Holocaust Past first appeared on Algemeiner.com.

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‘Looming Disaster’: Hamas Releases Video of Operatives Shooting at Israeli Community From West Bank

Palestinian fighters from the armed wing of Hamas take part in a military parade to mark the anniversary of the 2014 war with Israel, near the border in the central Gaza Strip, July 19, 2023. REUTERS/Ibraheem Abu Mustafa

Hamas has begun releasing videos of its operatives opening fire from the West Bank into Israeli villages, raising fears the Palestinian terror group will eventually try to stage a significant attack in the territory.

On Wednesday, Hamas terrorists in the West Bank city of Tulkarm opened fire into the Israeli village of Bat Hefer, which is in Israel proper. They staged the attack from the top of a hill. This is not the first time it has occurred. Last month, terrorists in the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades — the armed wing of Fatah, the political party of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas — fired into the Israeli community as well.

NEW: Hamas terrorists in the West Bank opened fire on houses in the Israeli town of Bat Hefer at 7am as children were preparing to go to school pic.twitter.com/yuAMob7v8B

— Eitan Fischberger (@EFischberger) May 29, 2024

Yoav Zitun, a military correspondent for Ynet News, reported that Hamas is paying people in the West Bank between 500 and 1000 shekels who take a video of themselves shooting into Israeli communities and distribute the footage.

Seth Frantzman, an adjunct fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and executive director of the Middle East Center for Reporting and Analysis, responded to the report on X/Twitter, writing it “reminds me of the Great Return March antics of Hamas that paved the way to Oct. 7.”

For the march, Hamas mobilized more than 40,000 people to try and breach the fence between Gaza and Israel to attack its citizens. Rioters lit fires, threw stones at the Israel Defense Forces, and attempted to plant a bomb on the fence and breach it. Hamas paid people between $200 and $500 if they were injured and $3,000 if they were killed.

Terrorist attacks from the West Bank against Israeli targets have been on an upswing. Last month, terrorists shot from within the West Bank into the Israeli kibbutz Ma’ale Gilboa.

Beyond shooting attacks, a terrorist killed two Israeli soldiers in Nablus in a ramming attack this week.

The terror incidents in the West Bank began to increase more than a year ago, but they have continued to occur since Hamas’ Oct. 7 massacre across southern Israel.

Frantzman called the situation a “looming disaster.”

“The rising attacks in the West Bank using the masses of stolen weapons will eventually become more sophisticated and can lead to an Oct. 7-type event because Israel has ignored security in the West Bank as it did at the other borders and allowed terror groups to exponentially grow over the last years,” he wrote.

The concern has been made more acute by the fact that the Palestinian Authority, which controls the Palestinian areas of the West Bank, is increasingly weak. In certain cities, such as Jenin, terrorist groups have effectively made the PA police obsolete and now have a significant ability to operate.

This is compounded by the fact that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has threatened to take punitive measures against the PA, which could make it more likely to collapse and create a vacuum for terrorists to assert greater control.

The post ‘Looming Disaster’: Hamas Releases Video of Operatives Shooting at Israeli Community From West Bank first appeared on Algemeiner.com.

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Jury Finds Donald Trump Guilty on All 34 Counts at Hush Money Trial

Former US President Donald Trump appears in Manhattan Criminal Court, May 30, 2024, in New York. Photo: Seth Wenig/Pool via REUTERS

Donald Trump became the first US president to be convicted of a crime on Thursday when a New York jury found him guilty of falsifying documents to cover up a payment to silence a porn star ahead of the 2016 election.

After deliberations over two days, the 12-member jury announced it had found Trump guilty on all 34 counts he faced. Unanimity was required for any verdict.

Trump watched the jurors dispassionately as they were polled to confirm the guilty verdict.

Justice Juan Merchan set sentencing for July 11, days before the July 15 start of the Republican National Convention expected to formally nominate Trump for president.

Merchan thanked the jurors for their service. “Nobody can make you do anything you don’t want to do. The choice is yours,” Merchan said.

The verdict plunges the United States into unexplored territory ahead of the Nov. 5 presidential election, when Trump, the Republican candidate, will try to win the White House back from Democratic President Joe Biden.

Trump, 77, has denied wrongdoing and was expected to appeal.

“This was a disgrace. This was a rigged trial by a conflicted judge who is corrupt,” Trump told reporters afterwards.

“The real verdict is going to be Nov. 5 by the people,” Trump said, adding: “I am a very innocent man.”

He faces a maximum sentence of four years in prison, though others convicted of that crime often receive shorter sentences, fines, or probation. Incarceration would not prevent him from campaigning, or taking office if he were to win.

Trump will not be jailed ahead of sentencing.

Opinion polls show Trump and Biden, 81, locked in a tight race, and Reuters/Ipsos polling has found that a guilty verdict could cost Trump some support from independent and Republican voters.

A source familiar with the Trump campaign’s inner workings said the verdict was expected to prompt him to intensify deliberations on picking a woman as his vice presidential running mate.

Biden’s campaign said the verdict showed that no one was above the law, but noted that Trump still would be able to run for president.

“There is still only one way to keep Donald Trump out of the Oval Office: at the ballot box,” the campaign said in a statement.

The jury notified the court they had reached a verdict at 4:20 pm (2020 GMT) and read out all 34 guilty counts shortly after 5 pm.

Trump‘s fellow Republicans quickly condemned the verdict. “Today is a shameful day in American history,” House of Representatives Speaker Mike Johnson said in a prepared statement.

The jury found Trump guilty of falsifying business documents after sitting through a five-week trial that featured explicit testimony from porn star Stormy Daniels about a sexual encounter she says she had with Trump in 2006 while he was married to his current wife Melania. Trump denies ever having sex with Daniels.

Trump‘s then-fixer Michael Cohen testified that Trump approved a $130,000 hush money payment to Daniels in the final weeks of the 2016 election, when he faced multiple accusations of sexual misbehavior.

Cohen testified he handled the payment, and that Trump approved a plan to reimburse him through monthly payments disguised as legal work. Trump‘s lawyers hammered Cohen’s credibility, highlighting his criminal record and imprisonment and his history of lying.

Trump lawyer Todd Blanche asked Merchan to throw out the guilty verdict, arguing that it was based on the unreliable testimony of Cohen. Merchan denied his request.

Trump‘s near-certain appeal of his historic conviction on criminal charges in New York is likely to focus on porn star Daniels’ salacious testimony about their alleged sexual encounter as well as the novel legal theory prosecutors used in the case, but he faces long odds, legal experts said.

Falsifying business documents is normally a misdemeanor in New York, but prosecutors in Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s office elevated it to a felony on grounds that Trump was concealing an illegal campaign contribution.

Trump complained that he could not get a fair trial in his heavily Democratic hometown.

The case was widely regarded as the least consequential of the four criminal prosecutions Trump faces. Jurors heard testimony of sex and lies that have been public since 2018, although the charges themselves rested on ledger accounts and other records of Cohen’s reimbursement.

It was known as the “zombie case” because Bragg brought it back to life after his predecessor opted not to bring charges.

This case was also likely to be the only one to go to trial before the election, as the others are delayed by procedural challenges.

If elected, Trump could shut down the two federal cases that accuse him of illegally trying to overturn his 2020 election loss and mishandling classified documents after leaving office in 2021. He would not have the power to stop a separate election-subversion case taking place in Georgia.

Trump has pleaded not guilty in all the cases, and has portrayed his various legal troubles as an effort by Biden’s Democratic allies to hurt him politically.

The post Jury Finds Donald Trump Guilty on All 34 Counts at Hush Money Trial first appeared on Algemeiner.com.

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Iran’s ‘Supreme Leader’ Welcomes Anti-Israel Campus Protesters to ‘Resistance Front’

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei delivers a televised speech in Tehran, Iran. Photo: Official Khamenei Website/Handout via REUTERS

Iran’s so-called “supreme leader,” Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, applauded the anti-Israel protesters who have thrown university campuses across the US into chaos over the past several weeks, declaring them part of a new “branch of the Resistance Front” against the Jewish state.

“Dear university students in the United States of America, this message is an expression of our empathy and solidarity with you,” Khamenei wrote in an open letter published on Thursday. “As the page of history is turning, you are standing on the right side of it.”

Rehashing antisemitic conspiracies of Jewish control, he derided “the global Zionist elite” for speaking against the campus demonstrations.

“The global Zionist elite — who owns most US and European media corporations or influences them through funding and bribery — has labeled this courageous, humane resistance movement as ‘terrorism,’” Khamenei wrote. “You have now formed a branch of the Resistance Front and have begun an honorable struggle in the face of your government’s ruthless pressure — a government which openly supports the usurper and brutal Zionist regime.”

Khamenei also praised students in other countries who have launched anti-Israel demonstrations on campuses, noting the leading role that faculty have played in fostering and supporting the unrest.

“Besides you students from dozens of American universities, there have also been uprisings in others countries among academics and the general public,” he wrote. “The support and solidarity of your professors is a significant and consequential development. This can offer some measure of comfort in the face of your government’s police brutality and the pressures it is exerting on you. I too am among those who empathize with you young people, and value your perseverance.”

Khamenei’s letter came amid an outpouring of praise for the anti-Zionist students by Islamist terrorist groups, including al-Qaeda.

“While we support the assassination of the infidel Zionists and the beheading of them, we also appreciate and value the movement of Western demonstrators and sit-in students from Western universities, who through their sit-ins and protests expressed their rejection of the genocide taking place in Gaza,” al-Qaeda leadership wrote in a recent communique

Hamas and Hezbollah, both backed by Iran, have also cheered the protests.

“Today’s students are the leaders of the future, and their suppression today means an expensive electoral bill that the Biden administration will pay sooner or later,” Hamas official Izzat Al-Risheq said in a statement last month.

Naim Qassem, the deputy head of Hezbollah, also praised the protesters during an interview with Al-Manar TV earlier this month.

“We appreciate and value this very much. Perhaps in the future, there will be cooperation among the youth of the world — in America, France, Britain, Germany, and all the activists,” he said. “The [campus protests] are important, especially because they will have an impact on US elections. They will have an impact on the American position.”

Earlier this month, when some universities suspended students who had occupied sections of campus and refused to leave unless school officials agreed to condemn and boycott Israel, the Iran-backed Houthi militia, a terrorist organization that has repeatedly violated freedom of the seas by attacking international shipping vessels passing through the Red Sea, offered to admit the disciplined students as transfers to Sanaa University, an institution it administers.

Some anti-Zionist student groups have reciprocated the admiration.

Last week, Columbia University’s chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) endorsed Hamas, the latest sign of its growing extremism and willingness to embrace Islamic extremism and antisemitism.

“The Palestinian resistance is the only force materially fighting back against isr*el [sic],” the group said in a series of posts shared by Documenting Jew Hatred on Campus, a social media account which exposes antisemitism on college campuses. “There is no way to eliminate the resistance without ending the occupation. When you see a video of a young palestinian [sic] boy traumatized in a hospital talking about how iof [the Israel Defense Forces, or IDF] shot his pregnant mother in cold blood in front of his own eyes, do not question how he chooses to resist years later.”

Campus Reform, a higher education watchdog which first reported Documenting Jew Hatred on Campus’ posts, noted that Columbia SJP has added an “inverted red triangle” to its social media biography, further indicating its support for Hamas. The Palestinian terrorist group has used an inverted red triangle in its propaganda videos to indicate an Israeli target about to be attacked, and anti-Israel protesters on university campuses have been using the symbol in their demonstrations.

Columbia SJP, a group that has re-formed under multiple names since being suspended by school administrators during the fall semester, was central in staging a slew of riotous demonstrations in which anti-Zionist activists verbally assaulted Jewish students with antisemitic epithets, clamorously expressed support for terrorism and Hamas, and caused thousands of dollars in damages to school property.

The anti-Zionist student movement’s support for terrorism and anti-American ideologies has been expressed before.

Footage of the protests which erupted on college campuses at the end of spring semester showed demonstrators chanting in support of Hamas and calling for the destruction of Israel. In many cases, they lambasted the US and Western civilization more broadly.

“Yes, we’re all Hamas, pig!” one protester was filmed screaming during the fracas at Columbia University, which saw some verbal skirmishes between pro-Zionist and anti-Zionist partisans. “Long live Hamas!” said others who filmed themselves dancing and praising the al-Qassam Brigades, the military wing of the Hamas terrorist organization. “Kill another solider!”

Follow Dion J. Pierre @DionJPierre.

The post Iran’s ‘Supreme Leader’ Welcomes Anti-Israel Campus Protesters to ‘Resistance Front’ first appeared on Algemeiner.com.

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