Mercy to the cruel spawns cruelty to the merciful

By Abraham Cooper From the very first day back in 1985, when officials of the Simon Wiesenthal Center first presented … Continued

By Abraham Cooper

From the very first day back in 1985, when officials of the Simon Wiesenthal Center first presented a list of Nazi war criminals living in the United Kingdom to then- Home Secretary, Douglas Hurd, I have never quite grown accustomed to this stock question from the media: “Just how long are you people with Wiesenthal going to seek vengeance”?

It pained me that so many were prepared to reduce one man’s lonely quest for justice for 6 million innocent Jewish victims of genocide. And Simon Wiesenthal had every reason to seek vengeance. The Nazis murdered 89 members of his family. Yet, from his first day of freedom in May 1945, until his death at the age of 96, Simon Wiesenthal committed himself to rehabilitating justice, a concept the Nazis had almost succeeded in destroying. When asked whether the trials of the 1,100 Nazi war criminals he exposed amounted to vengeance, he would often answer, “There is no measure of vengeance for a person who killed 10,000 people. What we are striving for is a symbolic measure of justice, convicted criminals, not martyrs for neo-Nazis.”

In truth, a symbolic measure of justice is all Wiesenthal achieved, and some cases–none at all. One of the most outrageous miscarriages of justice involves Antanas Gecas, a former WWII Lithuanian police platoon commander who murdered his fellow Jewish citizens. All efforts to bring him before the bar of justice have been successfully thwarted. Mr. Gecas found refuge, not in the jungles of South America, but in Edinburgh, Scotland.

Which brings me to the latest lecture on a “culture of vengeance” to emanate from the UK. This time, the target isn’t the children of “the vengeful G-d of Israel”, but the United States Senate who have had the audacity to want some answers as to why a Libyan mass murderer of 270 innocents blown from the skies over Lockerbie, Scotland was released last year to return home to a heroes welcome in Tripoli and who has yet to succumb to the cancer that was imminently threatening his demise.

The stern lecture was delivered by Cardinal Keith O’Brien who accused the American justice system of being based on ”vengeance and retribution” and said he was glad to live in a country where ”justice is tempered with mercy.”

I imagine that Nazi War criminal Gecas, would be in full agreement with the Cardinal’s assertion that ”In Scotland over many years we have cultivated through our justice system what I hope can be described as a ‘culture of compassion’.

“On the other hand,” he added, “there still exists in many parts of the US, if not nationally, an attitude towards the concept of justice which can only be described as a ‘culture of vengeance’,” O’Brien said. The religious leader compared the U.S. to Iran and Saudi Arabia because some states still use the death penalty and urged US Senators wanting to question Scottish and British government ministers to instead ”direct their gaze inwards.”

The Cardinal concluded: ”I believe that only God can forgive and show ultimate compassion to those who commit terrible crimes and I would rather live in a country where justice is tempered by mercy than exist in one where vengeance and retribution are the norm.”

Rather than personally respond, this “vengeful” Jew from the Simon Wiesenthal Center respectfully recalls the reaction of Christian leaders to Scotland’s decision to release Abdel Basset Ali al-Megrahi. Archbishop Timothy Dolan, the leader of New York’s 2 million Catholics, said it was “a sad and perplexing mistake.”

“While as a follower of Jesus Christ I believe in mercy, I also believe that mercy must always be tempered with justice,” the Archbishop said in a statement. ” Mercy can be demonstrated in ways other than by releasing a man responsible for so much pain, suffering, and death. Those who lost loved ones also deserve mercy and justice. Finally we must consider that the release of this man could encourage others to engage in similar acts of terrorism in the future which would be a tragic result.”

The leader of New York’s Episcopal Diocese also condemned his release: “It seems to me to be a truly terrible misunderstanding of what compassion is,” said Bishop Mark Sisk. “It truly undercut the sensibilities of those who are the survivors. And in that sense, it is, I think horrific.”

“‘I have great difficulty with this decision,” the Bishop added. “‘This is a man that according to the courts was found guilty of masterminding a horrendous crime. He was given a life sentence with a minimum of 27 years. He should have had to abide by that sentence and to abridge that does not seems to have been a just thing to have done.’”

As we Jews enter the 40 day period of reflection and repentance leading up to Yom Kippur, perhaps it would appropriate for Jew, Gentile, and atheist alike to ponder the universal truth of this ancient Jewish Medrash: “He who is merciful to the cruel will become cruel to the merciful.”

Rabbi Abraham Cooper is associate dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center.

  • KaddafiDelendaEst

    The irony (clearly lost on Cardinal Quisling) is that Kaddafi was the IRA. Kaddafi financed, supported, directed, trained and armed the IRA for decades. They were among his favorite Marxist hired goons.Up to 6,000 innocents were killed or injured with Libyan supplied guns and explosives. And many IRA bombs employed the same Semtex that sent what was left of Clipper Maid of the Seas crashing into Christmas dinner tables in tiny Lockerbie (incinerating 11 Scots on the ground). Kaddafi has accepted liability and responsibility for both IRA terrorism AND Lockerbie terrorism– along with many other mass murders of innocents orchestrated by his terror-state. Kaddafi’s IRA proxies might still be in business if not for the tireless efforts of the Victims of Pan Am 103 to sanction and isolate Libya. But (apparently) no good deed goes unpunished– at least among the cheap Scotch-adled SNP brains of Kenny MacAskill fans.IRA and Lockerbie bombing victims properly hold Kaddafi responsible for his bloody atrocities. They can no longer afford to ignore the kabuki theatre of Libyan state-sponsored terrorism.Guilt riddled priests can blame America all they want– meanwhile the jihadists continue their demographic conquest of your quaint little island.Good luck with that, Cardinal Quisling.

  • KaddafiDelendaEst

    Quislings don’t confront real evil; and hate those who do. You can see this on almost any school playground. The kid who confronts the school bully is often resented more than the bully. Whether out of guilt over their own cowardice or out of fear that the one who confronted the bully will provoke the bully to lash out more, those who refuse to confront the bully often resent the one who does. Today, Euro-Quislings express that cowardly contempt for those of us who take a hard line with Qaddafi. It’s ever our fault (you see) for provoking the bully. Better to remain supine while Q satisfies himself prison-raping EU nurses; extorting jizya tribute; tormenting American widows and orphans; parading his murderous henchmen triumphantly.The Quisling answer: Just display false “compassion”, stay quiet… and hope the crocs eat you last.There’s a word for that: Qowardice. Own it, Cardinal Quisling.

  • KaddafiDelendaEst

    There’s an ugly pattern of Scottish clergy interference in these affaires of State– a grotesque moral failure of church leaders to obey our Lord’s admonition to “render unto Caesar.”FLASHBACK 2009: The Church of Scotland intervened in the case of the Lockerbie bomber, urging the government to free the man convicted of the worst terrorist atrocity in British history.Bob Monetti of New Jersey, whose son Rick was among the victims of the bombing, said: “This is nonsense. This is the first word I have ever heard from the Church of Scotland in 21 years. They didn’t send us any condolences, they didn’t send us any support. “The reason the United States has separation of church and state is because church people usually get it wrong. I’d like to be compassionate but this man may die next week or he may live 10 years.” /shame on Scottish clergy

  • TheVoice2

    I seem to remember some comments on the BBC that there were serious doubts about the evidence and conviction of Abdel Basset Ali al-Megrahi.

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