NEW YORK (JTA) — The Anti-Defamation League has asked the U.S. attorney general to ensure that Israel’s Law of Return is not used to deny bail to Jewish defendants.
In a letter Wednesday to Michael Mukasey, an Orthodox Jew, ADL National Director Abraham Foxman took note of a federal magistrate judge’s recent denial of bail to the former manager of the Agriprocessors kosher meatpacking plant.
The judge, Jon Scoles, ruled that Rubashkin posed a risk of flight and declined to release him on bail, pointing to evidence that he had a travel bag with cash and travel documents on hand at the time of his arrest. He also noted that two others accused of crimes connected to their work at Agriprocessors are believed to have fled to Israel.
Scoles took note of Israel’s Law of Return, which grants automatic citizenship to Jews.
On Monday, the judge denied a request to reconsider the judgment. Rubashkin’s attorneys are said to be considering an appeal.
“The most troubling aspect here is that the government does not appear to have alleged, nor does the Detention Order conclude, that Defendant Rubashkin has any particular ties to Israel (he is alleged to have visited Israel in December 2007),” Foxman wrote. “Instead, the government and the Detention Order appear to conclude that simply because Defendant Rubashkin is Jewish, and because Jews may have a claim on Israeli citizenship, his religion is relevant to a bail hearing.”
In their request for consideration, Rubashkin’s attorneys argued at length that invoking the Law of Return was illegitimate, noting that under the government’s reasoning, every American Jew would be viewed as a heightened flight risk, including Mukasey himself and two justices of the U.S. Supreme Court. They further proposed several additional measures to ensure Rubashkin did not flee, including 24-hour security surveillance at the defendant’s expense.
In denying the motion, Scoles asserted that Rubashkin’s attorneys “attach too much significance” to the Law of Return factor in the original decision and that they had not produced any new information bearing on his risk of flight.
Rubashkin was arrested in late October on charges relating to the hiring of illegal workers at the company’s Postville, Iowa, packing plant. While free on bond, he was arrested a second time and charged with bank fraud.