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Trayvon Martin, George Zimmerman and Din Rodef

Trayvon Martin, George Zimmerman and Din Rodef

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It’s rare that Saturday nights and Sunday mornings in America are so focused on a court decision. But since last night’s acquittal of George Zimmerman in the shooting of 17-year-old unarmed Trayvon Martin, it seems that all of America is talking about the verdict reached by six anonymous female jury members in Florida.

Individuals and groups reeling from the decision have taken to the streets, Twitter and Facebook to express their anger and grief. “Today, justice failed Trayvon Martin and his family,” Roslyn Brock, who chairs the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, said in a statement.

Others took to social media to call for calm but thoughtful reactions. Civil rights activist Jesse Jackson tweeted: “Avoid violence, it will lead to more tragedies. Find a way for self construction not deconstruction in this time of despair.”

In the spring of 2012 an editorial in the Forward about the case said “we would do well to consult [Jewish idea of] the ‘din rodef’” and that is even more true today.

The enforcement of the idea however poses challenges (the concept was used by Yigal Amir to justify his killing of Yitzchak Rabin) and has been “molded to circumstance” throughout Jewish history. The editorial continues:

“How does one perceive a threat?” that is something each of us must answer, but the editorial reminds us that “The din rodef is to be applied in only the rarest of circumstances, and only when every other alternative has been attempted.” While Jewish law differs immensely from American law, this final point is something the jury would have been wise to consider when making their decision about Zimmerman’s actions.

Written by

Forward Staff

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Trayvon Martin, George Zimmerman and Din Rodef

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