TEL AVIV (Jun. 21)
Israel’s High Court of Justice decided Sunday to postpone a decision on whether Robert Manning’s extradition to the United States should be made conditional on an American guarantee that his religious needs will be met if he is sent to prison there.
Manning is due to be extradited to the Unites States to stand trial in connection with the 1980 murder of a California secretary, killed in the explosion of a booby-trapped parcel mailed to her employer.
The Israeli courts are still weighing an American request to extradite his wife, Rochelle, for the same crime.
It is not known yet when the court will issue its final decision on whether to condition Manning’s extradition on American assurances.
Manning’s lawyer, Yoram Gonen, told the court that even “the minimum level” of Jewish observance — such as the right to eat kosher, wear a yarmulka and tzitzit (ritual fringes) and put on tefillin — is frequently impossible to maintain in U.S. jails.
But the state attorney’s representative pointed out that the extradition treaty does not allow for conditions to be attached, and Israel has never tried to impose such conditions for any other observant Jews.
She also said that the U.S. Department of Corrections was worried about allowing such conditions to be attached because it might be the start of a “slippery slope” — today a prisoner needs kosher food, tomorrow he will need “a certain tobacco.”
Finally, she said, if Manning’s needs are not met in the United States, he can appeal to the American courts for redress.
But Justice Aharon Barak, one of the three judges hearing the case, pointed out that since the U.S. Supreme Court had ruled that a Jew had no right to wear a yarmulka in the Army, it is not clear the American courts would uphold such a right in prison.