…Speaking at a press conference at the National Press Club Tuesday, Rabbi Chaim Dovid Zwiebel of Agudath Israel of America said the rabbis weren’t there to discuss Rubashkin’s actual and supposed wrongdoings. (In addition to the financial fraud, Rubashkin also faced charges that he violated federal immigration laws at the Iowa plant where 389 illegal immigrant workers were notoriously arrested in a federal raid in May 2008. Prosecutors dropped the 72 charges after Rubashkin’s first trial.) Rather, Zwiebel said they sought to address “a humanitarian issue” - that Rubashkin, himself an Orthodox Jew, has been unable to fully practice his faith in prison, and that prosecutors have unjustly pushed to keep him behind bars until he gets his prison sentence.
“We believe local federal prosecutors have been extraordinarily inflexible and harsh” in their urging the courts to reject bail, Zwiebel said.
The rabbis denied allegations that Rubashkin would be a flight risk, arguing that his and his family’s travel documents have been surrendered and that Rubashkin fully complied with the terms of his bail before his trial began. Zwiebel pointed out the “heart-rendering aspect” of the case, that a father of 10 may not be able to spend time with his wife and kids before beginning a long prison term. (Federal prosecutors are recommending between 21 and 27 years behind bars.)…
Previous Posts: 1, 2.
The rabbis, who planned to deliver a letter to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder requesting his consideration of the case following the press conference, balked at calling Rubashkin’s treatment anti-Semitic.
“The phrase ‘anti-Semitic’ is one which needs to be used with extreme care,” Zweibel said. “We can’t say that we have any evidence of anti-Semitism here.”