Jewish Justice for Convert Charles Taylor

Charles Taylor and the Jewish delicacy
Charles Taylor and the Jewish delicacy

A couple of years ago, former Liberian President and current war crimes indictee Charles Taylor converted to Judaism.   Somehow I missed this astounding fact.   From the perspective of Jews, could there be a less appealing candidate for conversion?  It is likely that Taylor will be convicted in the next month for his responsibility for the gruesome deaths of over 50,000 people in Sierra Leone.  The manner of killing and torture – including eating people alive and amputating thousands of childrens’ hands and feet – would make the average Nazi squirm.

This week marks the beginning of Rosh Hashanah, the beginning of the Jewish high holidays.  I hope it is some satisfaction that if Taylor is observing Rosh Hashanah in Scheveningen Prison where he awaits judgment, he does so in the very same prison in The Netherlands that Dutch Jews were detained by occupying Germans in WWII before being shipped off to death camps.  But I think it also makes sense that Taylor should be given a steady diet of gefilte fish during the holidays.  And I don’t mean some Williams Sonoma recipe with cilantro and capers that may actually be palatable, I’m talking the old school, Mannischewitz, jellified in the jar variety.   Now that would be justice.

4 thoughts on “Jewish Justice for Convert Charles Taylor”

  1. David – while you missed the astounding fact that Charles Taylor converted to Judaism two years ago, I missed the astounding fact that on every Yom Kippur since his conversion, Charles Taylor has asked forgiveness from each person that he hurt in Sierra Leone and Liberia. Oh wait, I’m pretty sure he has yet to do that.

    While a diet of gefilte fish for Taylor sounds adequate for Rosh Hashanah, in accordance with the laws of Judaism, it is only Tshuvah, repentance and asking for forgiveness of those he has harmed, that will get him through Yom Kippur.

    So with 9 days left before the Day of Atonement, and probably over 6 million people that Charles Taylor has yet to personally apologize to or ask forgiveness from, it sounds like Charles Taylor has his work cut out for him. Charles Taylor, welcome to Judaism.

  2. From Professor William Schabas, University of Essex:

    Charles Taylor must be the first Jewish defendant at an international criminal tribunal. He’s free to change his religion and convert just like anyone else. Ben Gurion said: ‘Anybody who is crazy enough to want to be Jewish, is Jewish enough for me.’ Do you know that Taylor actually made an application to the Trial Chamber complaining that the food in the detention centre was not ‘culturally specific’. They brought him an African chef to cook fish, beans and rice, which he said was closer to what he was used to eating. Some find that a bit over the top. But if you’ve eaten much Dutch food, you might think he had a point to complain. Dutch food is like kosher food, only more so.

    Best wishes


  3. Thanks for the comment Bill.

    Charles Taylor, human rights pioneer — leading the way on the normative development of the right to culturally specific food in detention.

    I wonder if Fujimori petitioned for sushi while in custody in Peru?



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