Posts Tagged ‘religious discrimination’

Israel moves closer to constitutional apartheid

May 5, 2014

John Kerry caused a bit of a fuss a few days ago by using the apartheid word with regard to Israel.

With immediate pressure from the Jewish lobbies in the US, he backed away from his use of the word. But there is little doubt that he meant it and that Israel – which already has two classes of citizenship in practice – is moving closer to a form of constitutionally sanctioned differentiation of nationality for Jews and non-Jews. Which is indistinguishable from a separate treatment of peoples by religion. Constitutionally sanctioned, religious discrimination it surely will be. Apartheid is not too strong a word.


Binyamin Netanyahu will push ahead with a rare change to Israel’s basic laws – which amount to the country’s constitution – to insist Israel is “the nation state of one people only – the Jewish people – and of no other people”.

At Sunday’s weekly cabinet meeting, Netanyahu said the civil rights of minorities, including Arabs, would be guaranteed, and the move was vital at a time when aspects of Israel’s legitimacy were “under a constant and increasing assault from abroad and at home”. …

The proposed law would be in addition to Israel’s declaration of independence of May 1948 – the anniversary of which is celebrated on Tuesday – which defines Israel as a Jewish state.

Most of Israel’s basic laws deal with procedural issues relating to elections, the appointment of the prime minister, state payments and the administration of the judiciary, but some laws have been more controversial, including the 1980 law that designated Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

Despite the intention that the new law should guarantee full equal rights, critics say it strays into contentious territory in its explicit definition which, regardless of passport and citizenship, would codify a differential notion of nationhood.

Every religion which claims some kind of special position for its own adherents – inevitably and of necessity – denigrates and sanctions discrimination against all who do not follow the “true faith”. Which is of course the fundamental weakness of every organised religion which claims to be the “true faith”. There are as many Heavens as there are organised religions.

A “faith” – by definition – is unproven and unprovable and its “truth” is indemonstrable.

Every religious state has practised apartheid

April 29, 2014

I note that John Kerry is backing away from his (self-evident) statement that without a two-state solution, Israel would become an apartheid state.

Daily Beast: John Kerry apologized Monday for warning last week that the lack of a two-state solution in the Middle East could lead to Israel becoming an “apartheid state.” Kerry’s remarks, made in a closed door meeting of the Trilateral Commission and first reported by The Daily Beast Sunday night, provoked strong reactions from across the political spectrum. 

In a statement issued Monday evening, Kerry defended his record as a supporter of Israel but also said, “if I could rewind the tape, I would have chosen a different word to describe my firm belief that the only way in the long term to have a Jewish state and two nations and two peoples living side by side in peace and security is through a two state solution.” 

But Israel is already an apartheid state.

The simple reality is that all states which have or have had an official state religion have practiced apartheid. They inevitably created different classes of citizenship. Some countries (UK, Scandinavia) have now softened their positions and have legislation to protect those of other religions while still maintaining an “official religion”. In the UK the top 25 servants of the Church of England still have an automatic place in Parliament. Many states still give strong preference to those following the official religion and in such states – whether they admit it or not – a form of religious apartheid is in place. Many of these are Muslim countries (Iraq, Pakistan, Palestine, Malaysia, Indonesia, Iran, Afghanistan and the Muslim countries of the Middle East and Africa).To be a non-Jew in Israel is to be a second-class citizen. Israel still has no provisions for civil marriage or for marriage between people who do not belong to one of the 9 recognised religions. To be a Hindu in Sri Lanka is currently a distinct disadvantage. To be a non-Buddhist in Cambodia has its difficulties.

Religious discrimination is much more widespread and is practiced at community level and at the level of individuals all over the globe. In most of Europe it is a clear disadvantage to be visibly a Muslim. Most of the right-wing, nationalistic parties would like to return to a “Christian” state religion – but that is not because they wish to be Christian but because they want to give their anti-Islamic views a cloak of “officious”  respectability.

Politics and religion make a heady mix and nationalistic and religious fanaticism will continue as long as religions continue and nation-states continue.

I won’t live to see it but there will come a time when individual faith takes precedence and organised religions and their brainwashing will be abandoned. And nation-states could – hopefully – have become obsolete by then.

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