A Jewish attorney representing a suspected would-be terrorist in New York Federal Court has asked the judge to bar Jews from sitting on the jury, saying his client’s anti-Israel rhetoric may sway opinion.
Frederick Cohn, representing Abdel Hameed Shehadeh over charges that he lied to authorities about attempting to join the Taliban, is set to begin jury selection this week.
On Monday, Cohn was quoted in the New York Post as saying, “Given that there’s going to be inflammatory testimony about Jews and Zionism, I think it would be hard for Jews to cast aside any innate antipathy.”
In February, Cohn told federal Judge Eric Vitaliano that he was “not wild about having Jews on the jury in this case.” At the time, his request was blasted by federal prosecutors William Sarratt and James Loonam.
Sarratt told the judge at the time that he does not believe magistrate Judge Robert Levy, who will hear the case, “will be ready to violate the Constitution and exclude people from the jury on the basis of their religious beliefs.”
Ironically, both Cohn and Levy are Jewish.
Cohn acknowledged that his motion is unlikely to be accepted, but said that “sometimes you have to wield a meat ax.”
Cohn said that “the American Jewish community is heavily aligned with Israel and Zionism. Here is a guy who is a Muslim, who is opposed to those things.”
A 2011 poll conducted by the Abu Dhabi Gallup Center found that American Jews tended to sympathize with, rather than demonize, American Muslims.
The poll found that 80% of American Jews believe that Muslim Americans are loyal to the US, while 66% of the American Jews surveyed stated that Muslims in the US faced prejudice.
The same poll found that after Muslims, Jewish Americans were the least likely religious group to believe that Muslim Americans sympathize with the terrorist group al-Qaeda.
Shehadeh, who was born and raised in New York, is charged with three counts of making false statements to the FBI regarding a trip to Pakistan during which he allegedly attempted to join the Taliban, considered a terror group by the US State Department.
The trial will take place at the US District Court for the Eastern District of New York in Brooklyn. If convicted, Shehadeh could serve up to 24 years in prison.