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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 July 7, 2013/ 29 Tammuz, 5773

A bullet through the heart

By Kathleen Parker

Kathleen Parker


JewishWorldReview.com | In the annals of murder trials, few testimonies can rival the impact of slain teenager Trayvon Martin’s mother, Sybrina Fulton: “I heard my son screaming.”

She was referring to the voice on a recording of a 911 call that has been at the center of the prosecution’s case against George Zimmerman, accused of fatally shooting Martin during a scuffle.

That is, until late Friday when the defense called Zimmerman’s mother, Gladys, to the stand. She identified the recorded voice as her son’s. She was certain, she said, “because he’s my son.”

Suddenly, this high-stakes trial has become a test of the credibility of two mothers.

If the voice heard screaming in the background of the recording belonged to the dead teen, as the prosecution claims, then it is less easy to believe that Zimmerman was acting in self-defense, as he claims.

If the voice belongs to Zimmerman, then one might conclude that he felt sufficiently threatened to squeeze the trigger. Zimmerman, 29, was acting as a volunteer neighborhood watchman the night he shot Martin, 17, whom he has described as acting suspiciously.

Into the mix enters a ghost witness that is both more amorphous and exponentially more powerful than any other: maternal instinct. Clearly, attorneys for both sides are plowing this fertile field, counting on the maternal synchrony of the six jurors — all of whom are women, five of them mothers.

One of the mothers testifying is obviously wrong, and jurors will have to rely largely on their own instincts to determine who is right. The judge has ruled against allowing voice experts to testify.

The jurors’ answer is likely to be the most probative piece of evidence in the trial despite the fact that there can be no certainty. The truth, to the extent it can be surmised, may well hinge on an assumption that is interesting to consider. It isn’t so much a gut feeling but is primal, deep-brain and fiercer than mere logic.

Does maternal instinct convince these mothers that they are right? Or does maternal instinct compel each to protect her son regardless of what may be true?

Second-guessers have an array of questions to entertain: Would a mother lie about such a thing? Could she? Would she wish another woman’s son convicted on the basis of her sense of things? Can she know with certainty that the voice in the background, barely audible, is that of her son and not of the other man?

The last question is most compelling. Can she?

Most mothers know the sound of their child’s cry from the moment of birth. From personal experience, I can vouch for the strange ability to discern one’s own from all others. If my baby was crying in the hospital nursery, I was halfway down the hall to retrieve him before I realized I’d left the bed.

Does this sort of attunement last through time? Logic suggests that as a child’s dependency decreases, so does the acuteness of a mother’s instinctive responses. But experience tells us that the mother-child bond does not diminish with time. Every dead soldier is still his mother’s baby.

Would a mother recognize her son’s cry for help on a recording? It is possible to believe so while also possible not to believe so. Recordings often distort voices; other noises interfere. Further complicating matters are the unconscious desires or needs of the listener. A mother needs to believe that whatever harm came to her son was not his fault.

In fact, it was when defense attorney Mark O’Mara suggested that Fulton might have hoped to hear her son’s voice that she uttered those five words and said, “I didn’t hope for anything. I just simply listened to the tape.”

Trayvon Martin was undoubtedly a beloved son who didn’t deserve to die. He was unarmed, on his way home from a convenience store. Did he attack George Zimmerman? Was Zimmerman, also a beloved son, so mortally afraid that he had no choice but to shoot Martin in the heart?

No one envies the terrible decision these jurors must make. Matters were made worse Friday when medical examiner Shiping Bao testified that Martin probably lived one to 10 minutes after he was shot and opined that he suffered and was in pain.

Maternal instinct may not be a reliable witness, but in the absence of verifiable truth, she/it may prove to be the bullet through the heart of this case.

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