This is Damned Annoying

I have a lot of respect for the way in which Paul Murray presents his material.  He is a journalist with integrity, who is highly articulate, and even though I do not share his viewpoints on every issue, I find his general approach to be rational and professional.  His attitude towards Israel has often been overly critical, but he is not one of those rabid anti-Israel media freaks who can see only evil in the notion of a Jewish homeland.

Today Paul Murray published an item in the West Australian called “Publish and be damned – or damn annoying”.  Paul holisticaly looks at religious influences in the media and has a valid point when he notes that the press is often used for the purpose of preaching religious messages. 

It is in the latter part of the article that I think Paul Murray has it wrong, and needs to carefully reconsider what he wrote; 

“Some in the Jewish community seem to think that convicted price-fixer Richard Pratt should not be prosectuted under the criminal law on the basis that he is rich, philanthropic, – and Jewish” 

He basis his position on an Australian Jewish News Editorial which comments on Jewish community leaders support for Mr Pratt.

It must go on record that nobody, not the AJN, or the Jewish community leaders who have published statements supporting him, have suggested that he should not be prosecuted because he is Jewish.  Nobody thinks that a Jewish person should be above the law because of their faith or religion.  It is not correct to suggest that people in the Jewish community think Mr Pratt is immune from prosecution because he is Jewish, however unfortunately Mr Murray has said exactly this. 

For the record, I have met Mr Pratt, and have admired his committment to the community, both Jewish and Australian.  I am saddened by the allegations and previous conviction made, but do not know enough about the legal status of the current allegations to understand whether the latest actions of the ACCC have substance, or are a mere witchhunt.  It does not matter, the only thing that is for sure is that a person is innocent until proven guilty, and it is more appropriate for investigations of this nature to be carried out beyond the public eye until such time as they are admitted to Court.

It is insideous and damaging for Paul Murray to write what he did today, and as a Perth Jewish community member and consumer of the West Australian I am offended.  Jewish law has within it the concept of “Dinei Malchut Dinei”, meaning that the Civil law of the land is binding, and preferentially binding, on all citizens including Jews.  You will not find justification within Jewish dictum to excuse a Jew from their Civil and legal obligations due to their ethnic status and personal religious ideals.  That statement may not hold true for all other religions, but it does for Jews in any country or society.  Justice is a concept that is part of the Noachide laws.  It is a value that Jews assert for every nation, and it is core to our belief. 

No Jew is above the law.  No position has been advocated that attempts to place Mr Pratt above the law due to his identity as a Jew.  The only statements made have publicly defended Mr Pratt in the form of a character reference and reminder of his contribution to Australia.   Mr Murray has not produced any statement to show that a Jewish community member or media source has suggested or even implied Mr Pratt should be excused from a legal process because he is Jewish.  He has however interpreted the story to reach this conclusion, and unfortunately it is patently false and wrong.  To write in a major daily newspaper that this has happened is a big slur to Jewish people everywhere.