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April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review June 24, 2013/ 16 Tammuz, 5773

George Zimmerman's jury of peers

By Kathleen Parker

Kathleen Parker


JewishWorldReview.com | The headlines were immediate: All-women jury chosen for George Zimmerman’s trial.

What is the likelihood that you, a man, would face a jury of all women?

What are the chances that one-third of the jurors judging you on a charge of second-degree murder identify their hobby as saving animals?

Finally, what’s your bet that the victim in the case, an unarmed African American teenager, will receive justice from a panel that is five-sixths white?

We depend on reassuring answers to such questions, but our headlines belie our skepticism. Do we really trust our peers?

To briefly recount, Zimmerman, 29, is charged with the fatal shooting of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin. Zimmerman, a volunteer watchman, saw Martin walking through his neighborhood and thought he looked suspicious, and the rest is familiar to anyone reading this.

What makes the six-member jury interesting, other than the head-snapping reporting of its composition, is that it forces to the fore all the implications we try to avoid: Do gender, race, ethnicity, age, sexual orientation and so on matter when it comes to judging one another? We like to think not. Yet, admit it: The reason the all-women jury made headlines is because it raises those very questions.

Indeed, those questions are at the heart of the prosecution’s case.



Zimmerman, who avers that he acted in self-defense, is accused of profiling Martin and acting accordingly. Because Martin was African American and wearing a hooded shirt (it was raining), Zimmerman presumably took him to be dangerous — inherently so, not because of anything overtly threatening.

Martin, en route from a convenience store back to his home, was, to Zimmerman’s eyes, wandering, aimlessly. Ergo: Doesn’t belong? Up to no good? We now know that Martin was talking on the phone to his girlfriend, perhaps daydreaming a little, meandering in his conversation rather than “acting suspiciously.”

Would a white teen similarly attired have been adjudged suspicious and potentially dangerous by Zimmerman? The prosecutors think not. Yet we also know that Zimmerman, who is Hispanic, worked as a volunteer with black youth. He wasn’t, by any apparent standard, a racist. But he decided that someone who looked like Martin didn’t belong in a neighborhood where several break-ins had recently occurred. Was his deduction logical or racist — or both?

Consciously or not, we all make such judgments every day. We cross the street to avoid someone whose dress, behavior or some other signal makes us feel less secure. It’s human nature deeply rooted in thousands of years of survival.

Understanding this is no justification for harmful actions, obviously, but behavior can’t be judged independent of context. That is the essence of what Zimmerman’s jury will have to consider. Under the circumstances, might a reasonable person have responded as Zimmerman did? As to what really happened during a scuffle only Zimmerman is alive to describe, jurors will have to fill in blanks using their own best judgment.

And what about that jury?

Most likely, news of the all-women panel prompted involuntary thoughts: Can such a jury fairly judge a man? Would we ask the same were the defendant a female and the jury all-male?

If two jurors are so softhearted that they rescue animals (would that everyone did), are they tough enough to condemn a man to life in prison? Will five white women be inclined to side with Zimmerman because of their similar skin pigmentation and possible experiences with race?

We naturally recoil at such questions because they offend our sense of justice. We trust juries because there is no better alternative. By our consent to the process, we are putting our faith in the better angels of man’s nature. We console ourselves with the knowledge that jurors typically take their jobs seriously and try to be fair.

But history also reminds us that intentions are not reliable predictors of behavior. We tend our biases in secret, sometimes even from ourselves, and we project our own experiences onto others. Even the president of the United States stepped forward to identify himself with Martin, about whom he said, “If I had a son, he’d look like Trayvon.”

What is that if not racial identification? And is the president’s statement itself prejudicial to jurors who, wanting not to appear racist, may be more inclined to convict?

In our racially diverse, proudly multicultural nation, it isn’t clear whether a jury of one’s peers is possible. Whatever the outcome, the Zimmerman trial will force us to confront our own biases — a necessary step toward the aspiration we call blind justice.

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