Tag Archives: Minister of Justice

Jew of the Week: Adolphe Crémieux

The French Abraham Lincoln

Isaac-Jacob Adolphe Crémieux (1796-1880) was born in Nimes, France to a wealthy Sephardic Jewish family. He became a lawyer and, following the Second French Revolution of 1830, moved to Paris to enter politics. In 1848, he was appointed minister of justice. One of his first acts was to abolish slavery in all French colonies, for which he has been called “the French Abraham Lincoln”. Crémieux was made a life senator in 1875. Meanwhile, he was always a passionate defender and advocate for the rights of Jews. In 1834, Crémieux became vice-president of the Central Consistory of the Jews of France, a role he held for the rest of his life. In 1860 he was co-founder of the Alliance Israelite Universelle, with a mission to protect Jewish rights and Jewish communities around the world, and a special mission to help impoverished Sephardic and Mizrachi Jewish communities across the Ottoman Empire. Crémieux served as president of the Alliance for nearly two decades. The Alliance was most famous for its top-notch schools (meant for Jews but open to all people), the first opening in Morocco in 1862, the second in Baghdad in 1864, and then a school in Jerusalem in 1868. Ironically, Haj Amin Al-Husseini, founder of the Palestinian Arab resistance (and terrorism) movement—a Nazi sympathizer and good friend of Adolf Hitler—studied at the Jerusalem Alliance school in his youth! In 1870, with permission from the Ottoman government, the Alliance started a network of agricultural schools in the Holy Land, going on to play an instrumental role in the Zionist movement and the establishment of the State of Israel. By 1900, the Alliance ran 101 schools with over 26,000 students across the Middle East and North Africa. Crémieux was famous for defending Jews around the world. When the Jews of Saratov, Russia were accused of a blood libel in 1866, he travelled to St. Petersburg to defend them, and won the case. In 1870, his “Crémieux Decree” finally granted citizenship to all Jews in Algeria. Today, there are streets named after him in Paris, Tel-Aviv, Haifa, and Jerusalem.

Haj Amin al-Husseini meets with Adolf Hitler in Germany, 1941.

From Gaza Mosque to IDF Soldier

Why the Dome of the Rock is the Perfect Monument to Islam

The Spiritual Significance of the Coming Solar Eclipse

Words of the Week

Human life is undoubtedly a supreme value in Judaism, as expressed both in Halacha and the prophetic ethic. This refers not only to Jews, but to all men created in the image of God.
– Rabbi Shlomo Goren

Jew of the Week: Irwin Cotler

Irwin Cotler

Irwin Cotler

Irwin Cotler (b. 1940) was born in Montreal and studied law at McGill University. After continuing his education at Yale, he returned to McGill as a law professor, and directed its Human Rights Program for over 25 years. As an expert on international and human rights law, Cotler served as a counsel for famous political prisoners like Nelson Mandela, Maher Arar, and Natan Sharansky. He has advised the Middle East peace process, and was involved in the Camp David Accords that brought peace between Israel and Egypt. In the 1980s, he served as President of the Canadian Jewish Congress, while also working to combat apartheid in South Africa. In 1999, he was elected as a Canadian Member of Parliament with a landslide victory that gave him 92% of the vote, described as “the most stunning electoral victory in this century.” Between 2003 and 2006, he served as Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, and has been lauded for his work in ensuring human rights and citizen privacy, particularly in the face of increasingly restrictive anti-terrorism legislation. He has worked against discrimination, anti-Semitism, and racism, appointing two women to the Supreme Court (making Canada’s the most gender-representative in the world), and appointing the first aboriginals and visible minorities to appellate courts. He issued the first national initiative against racism, worked to bring justice to victims of the Rwanda massacres, and even to indict former Iranian President Ahmadinejad for inciting genocide. Cotler reverted more wrongful convictions than any other minister in history. Having been re-elected as MP no less than 5 times, Cotler recently announced that he will not seek further re-election, and is ready to retire, though he intends to remain very active in social justice and peace activism. Awarded ten honourary degrees and the Order of Canada, Irwin Cotler is described as a key global player “in the struggle for justice, peace and human rights.”

Words of the Week

And God said: “. . . Abraham shall be a great people . . . Because I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him that they shall keep the way of God, to do righteousness and justice.”
– Genesis 18:17–19