CNN assures us, “A rabbi, a reverend and an imam (no, it’s not a setup joke) are partners in a decadelong quest to bring together the three Abrahamic faiths — Judaism, Christianity and Islam — to share and worship on the same property.” The “Tri-Faith Initiative” is a 65 million dollar project to build a church, a temple and a mosque side by side on an old golf course, which had been built by Jews in the 1920s since they were banned from other area golf courses.
Where is this taking place? What region, poignant to adherents of these three faiths, will finally enjoy a harmonious atmosphere of free worship and inter-faith cooperation?
“If you can’t create peace in the Middle East — what about Omaha?” quipped Rabbi Azriel, 67, a polio survivor from Israel.
He likes to share a story from one of his congregants who was initially apprehensive about sharing land with Muslims. The man, who would later become a donor, privately expressed fears about Islamic extremists attacking the synagogue. “What if there’s a live hand grenade rolled in the middle of the aisle during the high holidays,” the man asked.
The rabbi answered there were two options. “One is to run away. But as a polio survivor, I can’t run far away,” he said with a mix of sarcasm. “The other one is for me to fall on it.”
The answer, Azriel said, brought tears to the man’s eyes…
Yearning for a new opportunity, Imam Mohamad Jamal Daoudi agreed to lead the congregation after a stint with another mosque in Augusta, Georgia.
“Refreshment for my soul. I was very enthusiastic to join the group,” said Daoudi, 52.
A Syrian native, Daoudi has been in the United States for 22 years and says it’s the first time he’s seen such an ambitious idea materialize.
For legal experts, the trial put an unusually public prism on the ambiguities in such cases: the challenge to women’s credibility, the legal presumption of innocence, inconsistent police procedures and the science of memory itself.
In many cases, a central tension persists between the fundamental legal principle that a defendant is innocent until proven guilty and the ability to prove assault without a witness or much corroborating physical evidence. Jeannie Suk Gersen, a professor at Harvard Law School, has a provocative thesis: There is an inherent bias against women, but it doesn’t stem from sexism.
“We chose to set up our system to be stacked in favor of the defendant in all cases,” she said. “So, in areas where most of the defendants are male, and most of the accusers are female, it’s a structural bias in favor of males. Even if we were to get rid of sexism, it would still be very hard to win these cases. I think this is what we have to live with on the criminal side, because we’ve made the calculation that this is the right balance of values.”
Others argue that courtrooms still reflect lingering cultural biases about women’s credibility. Laura Beth Nielsen, director of the Center for Legal Studies and professor of sociology at Northwestern University, said that it was important to safeguard due process and the Constitutional protection of presumption of innocence rather than guilt, but that juries too often assume that women are not telling the truth.
“Yes, lying happens,” she said. “But the presumption is that she is always lying. But why do we think people would lie to be in the position this woman is in right now?”
I commend Chira for writing this article and quoting several legal professors who comment on how difficult it is for sexual assault victims to receive justice in the courtroom. What victims need are more articles like this to convince them they shouldn’t come forward.
Good job, Chira. You truly are a hero.
And that’s the way it is, as far as you know.
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