Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington and Ralph Bunche’s achievements didn’t make Jim Crow kosher

on 60 Comments

Sid Shniad wrote this letter responding to a column in yesterday’s Vancouver Sun. He says they probably won’t publish it, so we can.

Letter to the Editor, Vancouver Sun,

[Columnist] Barbara Yaffe sides with Stephen Harper and Michael Ignatieff, taking issue with student activists’ use of the term ‘apartheid’ to describe the situation facing Palestinians at the hands of Israelis (Israel, apartheid-era South Africa not comparable). 

By way of rebuttal to the charge, Yaffe cites the fact that Arab-Israelis have won as many as 12 of the 120 Knesset seats in a single Israeli election and that there have been Arab members of the Israeli Supreme Court, along with the fact that Muslims and Druze have served as ambassadors representing the country abroad. But these examples do not refute the charge. 

In the era when American blacks were subject to Jim Crow laws and other forms of racial segregation, a number of blacks held prominent positions in the United States. Artists like Louis Armstrong and Duke Ellington were sent on international goodwill tours by the U.S. State Department. Ralph Bunche served as a U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. None of this vitiated the fact that the U.S. was a segregated society which could validly have been described as practising a form of apartheid. 

Given the fact that Bishop Desmond Tutu and other South African social justice activists who visited Israel and Palestine found the conditions facing the Palestinians worse than the plight of black people in apartheid South Africa, it is not surprising that the Palestinian cause is resonating with increasing numbers of people around the world. Isn’t it time for people like Stephen Harper, Michael Ignatieff and Barbara Yaffe to end their embrace of Israel Right or Wrong and join the growing ranks of people like the courageous students who are putting on Israel Apartheid Week activities out of concern for Israel’s unconscionable abuse of the Palestinian people?

Yours truly,

Sid Shniad

Surrey, BC

About Philip Weiss

Philip Weiss is Founder and Co-Editor of Mondoweiss.net.

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60 Responses

  1. Potsherd2
    March 19, 2011, 12:12 pm

    Isn’t it time for the people who proclaim Bunche, Armstrong and Elllington as their early heroes to come out now and denounce segregation when the US Congress rises up in a body to defend it.

  2. Richard Witty
    March 19, 2011, 12:17 pm

    Are you speaking about the status of non-Jewish citizens of Israel, or of Palestinians on the West Bank and Gaza?

    • Citizen
      March 19, 2011, 12:24 pm

      What’s the difference Witty? They are all under the control of the Israeli government.

      • Richard Witty
        March 19, 2011, 12:32 pm

        Within Israel, the parallel to Jim Crow is relevant. (Requiring reform to conform to Israel’s primary laws, describing equal rights for all citizens.)

        In the West Bank, the parallel to apartheid is relevant. (Requiring establishment of genuine Palestinian sovereignty.)

        In Gaza, I’m not sure what would be parallel.

      • annie
        March 19, 2011, 12:43 pm

        here’s my letter witty, i don’t even address the inequality ‘inside’ israel

        Ms Yaffe,

        It doesn’t surprise me Stephen Harper and Michael Ignatieff agree on this issue, here in the US the only issue unifying the Dem and GOP politicians is Israel! What I have not been able to figure out is why we even need a lobby with all this unification. One way Canada can solve this problem is simply criminalize all criticism of Israel, or all discussion of Israel.

        I noticed you failed to mention the Occupation in your article. I bring that up because it occurred to me you weren’t aware that half the people the government of Israel represents are not allowed to vote in Israeli elections. They simply have no representation over the governing body who makes vital decisions concerning their lives. I think that might be one of the reasons people use the term Apartheid when discussing Israel. They are not solely referencing the people who do have representation, they are referencing the people who do not.

        Another aspect of the Apartheid conditions is that same government has separate rules for half the people. They live under military rule. They also can be picked up on administrative detention and held without any charge whatsoever at the whim of the Israeli government.

        I hope that clarifies the situation for you somewhat. It really isn’t that complicated once your analysis includes the other half of the population in the region Israel controls, the other half being the Palestinians living in the Occupied Territories.


      • Richard Witty
        March 19, 2011, 12:57 pm

        It is only the West Bank Palestinians that live under military rule.

        And, Israeli Arabs/Palestinians do have the right to vote (not 3/5 of a vote), to speech, press, petition, peaceably assemble, equal access to the courts, employment (with prejudices certainly).

        The distinction between within Israel and the West Bank and Gaza, is a critical one, a clarifying one, that lends itself to actual reform because it is clear.

      • James North
        March 19, 2011, 1:13 pm


      • Polly
        March 19, 2011, 1:33 pm

        “It is only the West Bank Palestinians that live under military rule.

        And, Israeli Arabs/Palestinians do have the right to vote (not 3/5 of a vote), to speech, press, petition, peaceably assemble, equal access to the courts, employment (with prejudices certainly).

        The distinction between within Israel and the West Bank and Gaza, is a critical one, a clarifying one, that lends itself to actual reform because it is clear.”

        In practice none of this means jack-shit to arabs in the west bank being made to watch their homes being bulldozed, or to arabs in Gaza who don’t have access to the basic necessities of living.
        None of what you point out applies in any meaningful way in the real world.

      • Mooser
        March 19, 2011, 1:34 pm

        “The distinction between within Israel and the West Bank and Gaza, is a critical one, a clarifying one, that lends itself to actual reform because it is clear.”

        Oh yes, it sure is! It shows the distinct possibility that the West Bank Palestinians can move on up from foreign military rule to second-class citizens! Whoopee!

      • pjdude
        March 19, 2011, 1:52 pm

        de jure maybe but certainly not de facto

      • Hu Bris
        March 19, 2011, 2:53 pm

        The Resident Dick™ said: “In Gaza, I’m not sure what would be parallel.”


        Well let me help ya there, Dick….

        Concentration Camp – link to google.com would probably be the best description,

        Or may be ‘Warsaw Ghetto’, no Dick?

      • yourstruly
        March 19, 2011, 4:35 pm

        gaza and the warsaw ghetto

        same place

        different time

        while the world stood by



        *slow motion, gaza & fast time, warsaw

      • Saleema
        March 19, 2011, 5:39 pm

        splitting hair.

      • eljay
        March 19, 2011, 6:56 pm

        >> RW: The distinction between within Israel and the West Bank and Gaza, is a critical one, a clarifying one, that lends itself to actual reform because it is clear.
        >> Mooser: Oh yes, it sure is! It shows the distinct possibility that the West Bank Palestinians can move on up from foreign military rule to second-class citizens! Whoopee!

        Well said, Mooser. It continues to amaze me that, in the 21st Century, supremacists like RW can’t seem to understand that supremacism is immoral. Plain and simple. Not “currently not necessary”, not “a required evil”, just wrong.

        The kicker is that when his co-collectivists are the victims of the same type of immorality that he has trouble identifying as immoral when it’s applied to others, he’s up in arms and “Remember[ing] the Holocaust!” and blue-dotting in a sea of green and all that kind of stuff. Nothing is vague, nothing is “grey”, nothing is uncertain. Socio-philosophical bullshit such as “the PRESENT is what matters” disappears from his vocabulary.

        Must be the Ziocaine. (I hope I’m not infringing on any copyrights by saying that. ;-) )

      • tree
        March 19, 2011, 7:10 pm

        Oh yes, it sure is! It shows the distinct possibility that the West Bank Palestinians can move on up from foreign military rule to second-class citizens! Whoopee!

        I think it more aptly shows the distinct possibility that the Palestinian citizens of Israel can move down from third-class citizenry to foreign military rule. I’m not aware of any Jewish Israeli political party that is advocating making the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza citizens of Israel. Conversely, there are numerous Jewish political parties advocating “transfer” of Palestinian citizens out of Israel, and the idea polls around 50% or so among Jewish Israelis.

      • RoHa
        March 20, 2011, 2:51 am

        “infringing on any copyrights ”

        eljay, you have been reading RW too much. His bad grammar has infected you.

        That should be “infringing any copyrights”.

        When “infringe” is used to mean “violate”, it does not take “on”.

        When it is used to mean “trespass”, it takes “on”.

      • thetumta
        March 20, 2011, 10:48 am

        I don’t think Witty’s statement(s) deserves a response, but you took the words right out of my mouth. Thanks.
        If Doctor King was facing these Zionists, he would have been lynched long ago. So even the “Jim Crow” south may not be a sufficient “parallel”.

    • Hostage
      March 19, 2011, 3:52 pm

      Are you speaking about the status of non-Jewish citizens of Israel, or of Palestinians on the West Bank and Gaza?

      The crime of apartheid applies to any de facto “policy or practice”, not just legislation. Nonetheless, in actual policy and practice Israel uses its legislation to discriminate against all Palestinians regardless of where they live. Refugees are barred from returning. Their lands and their properties have been stolen. The Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank have been forced into isolated racial enclaves and have been living under an apartheid regime for decades. Palestinians in Israel were kept under martial law and frequently recruited for forced labor. That regime lasted until 1963 and was used to prevent them from returning to their own so-called “abandoned properties”. All of the existing laws that discriminated against non-Jews and made them second class citizens in the areas of access to land; family reunification and freedom to choose one’s spouse; unequal funding of infrastructure and education; prohibitions against political parties that promote equality for Arabs and the abolition of “the Jewish state” were all grandfathered under the terms of Article 10 of the Basic Law: Human Dignity and Liberty. Any new law that befits the values of a racist regime can be adopted under the terms of Article 8 of the same basic law.

      Hope that clears up your confusion.

      • tree
        March 19, 2011, 6:31 pm

        Great post as usual, Hostage. But I think you got one of your dates wrong. Palestinian citizens of Israel were under military rule(martial law) until 1966, not 1963.

      • Hostage
        March 20, 2011, 6:56 am

        You are correct. I was having a “senior moment”. The forced labor cases were reported in Volume II of the Yearbook of the International Law Commission for 1963. They usually involved non-Jewish civil servants who were held-over until they could be replaced. They were then let go without pay or pensions – usually based upon some minor technicality such as where they originally entered the service. Article 28 of the Mandate and the UN Partition plan both required the successor governments to assume responsibility for the public debts and treaty obligations of the mandatory government. Like everything else, the Jewish leadership’s “acceptance” of the partition plan didn’t include that part:

        Following the decisions in Shimshon Palestine Portland Cement Factory Ltd. v. Attorney-General (see para. 416 below) and Sifri v. Attorney-General (see para. 310 below), the Court proceeded from the proposition that Israel is not the successor of the Government of Palestine.

        Upon the establishment of the State of Israel, one of the Justices stated, a new personality was created. This retains no signs of identification with the previous political body, which completely disappeared as May 14 1948, drew to its close. When the Mandate came to an end the appellant’s right also came to an end. If there is doubt how far a successor State is bound by the contracts and concessions of its predecessor, how much the more is this so as regard a State which is not a successor.

        Even if Israel was the ” successor ” of Mandated Palestine, another of the Justices said, even then it would not be burdened by obligations acquired in relation to any part of Palestine or its inhabitants who remained outside the boundaries of the State; but now that Israel is not the successor, how much the more is it not encumbered, except to the extent of its own volition, by rights acquired outside the present area of the State. To be precise, that is what was decided in Shimshon v. Attorney-General.

        So according to the parastatal WZO, if you were an Arab, your rights under the mandate were terminated when it ended. However, if you were Jewish, your legal rights and equitable interests in all of Palestine were subsequently preserved by article 80 of the United Nations Charter.

    • Justice Please
      March 20, 2011, 6:09 pm

      “Are you speaking about the status of non-Jewish citizens of Israel, or of Palestinians on the West Bank and Gaza?”

      Are you speaking about the status of non-Arian citizens of Germany, or of non-Arians on occupied soil (you know, occupied soil like Auschwitz, which was was by your standards not in Germany but in Poland.)

      See what I did there?

  3. Citizen
    March 19, 2011, 12:21 pm

    A tag-along point: in 1967 the US Supreme Ct (the Loving case) ended discriminatory laws against mixed marriages, while in 2011 such laws have existed with judicial approval since the founding of Israel and more such legislation is advanced daily in Israel. And the black US president approves by his knowing silence, right along with the congressioal Black Caucas. Both countries are often proclaimed to have the same values.

    • Hostage
      March 19, 2011, 4:21 pm

      The 1947 UN resolution on the partition of Palestine contained a minority protection plan that required Israel to adopt a constitution that would guarantee women and minorities equal rights and protections under the law. Abba Eban lied and claimed Israel had adopted those guarantees during the hearings on Israel’s application for membership in the UN. Since that time, whenever the subject comes up the official response has always been not no, but Hell no! (despite 60 years of armed conflict).

      Compare that with Egypt, where Under Secretary of State Bill Burns was dispatched to conduct hasty consultations with authorities regarding the constitutional amendments that are being voted on … …this weekend.

      • annie
        March 19, 2011, 4:38 pm

        i read something really freaky the other day.


        A curious disappearing act

        Over the past decade, and especially in haredi communities, it seems that fewer women are seen in the public realm….Fewer women are seen on buses, in medical clinics, at public celebrations or even on the streets.

        The strange disappearance is because in more public spaces, women are asked to move to the back, or to the side, go through the back entrance, into the other room or not attend at all. In the name of modesty, women are requested to minimize their appearance in public, to be unnoticeable, to stay at home, to disappear.

        Since 2001, the Israel Religious Action Center (IRAC) has been monitoring demands by haredi extremists to introduce gender segregation in the public sphere. These demands first emerged on buses, and were met with approval by the Transportation Ministry and Egged. Segregated buses grew in number, until at the end of 2010 there were about 90 segregated lines. They were soon joined by segregated health clinics, where women come in by a different entrance and sit in a different waiting room. IRAC’s report “Excluded, for God’s Sake: Gender Segregation in Public Spaces in Israel” documents this growing number of segregated public places and services.

        Women’s testimonies prove that the segregation is enforced by verbal and even physical violence, and that women who refuse to comply are met with scorn, humiliation, even assault.

        For example, segregation on buses was translated into the demand that women must board by the rear door and sit in the rear seats, while the front door and seats are reserved for men. It is no coincidence that women did not sit at the front, or that women should sit on the righthand side of the bus and men on the left. The demand for women to sit in the rear of the bus illustrates the fact that any demand for segregation is based on an identification of women with the private realm, and on a desire to remove them from the public realm.

        ACCORDINGLY, “GENDER segregation” does not refer to a system that divides public space into two equal halves, maintaining equal access for both sexes. Almost invariably, it entails the removal of women from the public realm.

        This patriarchal approach is, surprisingly, accepted by state authorities, who choose to meet the demands of the haredi leaders (all men of course), on the pretense that maintaining segregation protects the community’s right to practice its unique culture. This attitude ignores three key facts: that women in haredi society cannot voice their resentment; that the growing extremist “modesty” rules are a new phenomenon, not an integral part of haredi culture; and that segregation is illegal because it is discriminatory.

      • Mooser
        March 19, 2011, 5:12 pm

        Yes, sir, Witty’s kid will be ready to make of his life, as Somerset Maugham put it, “a complete and rounded thing” when he leaves the cult.

      • annie
        March 19, 2011, 5:17 pm

        it does sound rather cultish from this article.

        maintaining segregation protects the community’s right to practice its unique culture.

        unique alrightie!

      • Mooser
        March 19, 2011, 5:25 pm

        annie, if that is what goes on in public, gender segregation or exclusion, what do you think goes on in private?

      • fuster
        March 19, 2011, 5:30 pm

        free love and bestiality, whips and chains, klezmer music and corn likker.

      • annie
        March 19, 2011, 5:38 pm

        what do you think goes on in private?

        generally that’s not something i think about. do you think i may be missing out?

        should i let my imagination go wild? somehow i’m not really motivated.

      • Ellen
        March 19, 2011, 7:42 pm

        I live in an Orthodox neighborhood and it is probably mild compared to the Haraedi. Have been to events at the community center because my husband is a physician and has patients from the community, so we get invited as resident goyim and it works as he is their doc. Of course women are separated completely, even during social events. But troubling, he tells me, are the physical and metal health issues for women. 25 year old women with seven children; mental health issues, etc.

        Even though it has its socially repressive sides, I admire many of the community/family aspects my neighbors share. But life is much more difficult for the women.

      • Richard Witty
        March 19, 2011, 7:58 pm

        It could happen in some households I imagine.

        NONE that I’ve seen (and I’ve seen many) resemble that picture.

      • Potsherd2
        March 19, 2011, 8:06 pm

        Yep, it’s always men in front, women in back. Men first, women last. Men in the good seats, women in the balconies (remember the “nigger section at the movies?) Men at the sacred wall, women not allowed.

        This is the religion where men thank god they were not born a woman, and Israel is the only nation besides Saudi Arabia where a Jew can be arrested for praying.

      • Potsherd2
        March 19, 2011, 8:09 pm

        Israel is probably the most segregated country in the world. Jews can’t live next to other Jews who wear a different hat. There was a piece in the news a week ago about a kindergarten in Jerusalem where they erected a wall between the haredi kindergarten and the secular one, so the haredi kids wouldn’t be able to look at anyone different from themselves.

        Absolutely a cult society.

      • Hostage
        March 20, 2011, 5:01 am


        A while back we discussed Connex line 322 in Tel Aviv and in connection with Macy Gray’s visit to that city. I mentioned that women ride in the back; made a reference to the laws of Kol Isha (e.g. Berachos 24a & Kiddushin 70a) which are cited in order to forbid a woman from singing in public; and noted a news report about a woman who was assaulted on one of the segregated buses in Jerusalem. Women have also been brutally assaulted for wearing sleeveless blouses, cutoffs, or walking shorts on hot summer days, e.g. Girl stoned for ‘immodest dress’

        A few years back the same thing nearly happened to Natalie Portman. She was shooting a scene for a film near the Western Wall. The stars and crew were chased away for kissing in public. Ynet reported the Haredim screamed “Immoral! Immoral!” (but the Hebrew versions of the account said it was Whores! Whores! IIRC).

      • annie
        March 20, 2011, 5:14 am

        yes i recall our conversation hostage. for some reason i thought it was only a few buses tho

        Segregated buses grew in number, until at the end of 2010 there were about 90 segregated lines.

        that’s a lot. check this out: Secular neighborhoods unite to counter ultra-Orthodox takeover

      • Citizen
        March 20, 2011, 7:13 am

        Reminds me of Children Of The Corn. Shouldn’t they have their own version of HBO’s Big Love? It could take place in Brooklyn?

      • Hostage
        March 20, 2011, 8:03 am

        Several years ago the Jewish Agency for Israel ran an article about the Ka’adan case in which one of the members of the community admitted that neither Arabs nor Haredim were suitable candidates:

        “They won’t fit in. We’re different, Arabs and Jews. We have different holidays and different customs. In communities like ours, people should have the same values and customs.

        I don’t think that haredim should live here, either. Arabs and Jews should live next to each other, in mutual respect, with equality, but separately.”

        I think “next to each other, in mutual respect, with equality, but separately” is a very obtuse or round-about way of saying hatred and loathing. Only a few years ago the Chairman of the Jewish Agency, Sallai Meridor, was furious and slammed the German government for enticing Jews to immigrate to Germany.

        Nowadays even Lieberman’s settlement bars Russian-Israeli families from buying homes. So, tribal hatred is dished out on an almost non-discriminatory basis.

      • Citizen
        March 20, 2011, 9:32 am

        Gee, Potsy, I watched the former US citizen and now Israeli ambassador to the US explaining to Bill Maher last night that
        all Israel wants is a Palestinian partner for peace in the face of
        Israel’s charitable giving up so much land already to the Palestinians while the latter constantly bombard Israeli civilians with rockets; and genteel ambassador went on to explain to Bill
        that “everybody” knows most of the settlements are on land that will go to Israel anyway. You see, Bill, both peoples have an equal right to the land and you don’t even have to be religious to know that. Further, Bill, you have the right derived from your mother’s side of the family (his other side is Irish, which is why he constantly attacks the Catholic church and says the Irish are drunks) to be a Jew under Jewish religious law. You see Bill insisted it was his right to choose and the good ambassador agreed with him. They didn’t discuss that Bill could move to Israel now and take over the home of a Palestinian who had lived there for centuries. Bill ended his testy interview by apologising for being so hard on the Israeli ambassador, who laughed and said no problem. Bill went on to join his panel and be amazed at the sudden use of a new word to him, NIMBY, as in to nimbyize the nuclear plant issue in the wake of Japan’s problem now. Bill was also floored by a number of other words one of the guest’s used, who’s name escapes me. That Bill Maher, he’s really sophisticated. After all he wrote a book panning all religion.

      • Mooser
        March 19, 2011, 5:04 pm

        “The 1947 UN resolution on the partition of Palestine contained a minority protection plan that required Israel to adopt a constitution that would guarantee women and minorities equal rights and protections under the law.”

        Wait a minute. Is it possible that this never-adopted resolution has been quoted by Zionists has if it was an established fact when they try to trumpet Israel’s values? I sort of think it has, but I’m not sure. I would be almost certain that Zionists trumpet Israel’s “democratic” values in exactly the terms of this rejected resolution.

      • fuster
        March 19, 2011, 5:41 pm

        it’s in the third paragraph of the Israeli Constitution. look it up.

      • annie
        March 19, 2011, 5:44 pm

        the Israeli Constitution

        do you have a link to the israeli constitution?

      • tree
        March 19, 2011, 5:59 pm

        Of course he doesn’t because there is none.

        They are working on one, though. Give it a couple more decades. These things take time ya know.

        Welcome to the Constitution for Israel website
        The purpose of this website is to inform the public of the continuous work of the Constitution, Law, and Justice Committee of the Knesset towards drafting a constitution for the State of Israel.

        link to cfisrael.org

      • Cliff
        March 19, 2011, 6:22 pm

        The frog is as lazy to make a point as it is to ask a question. Recall when it asked another poster to prove Sadat was a stooge of the West (or something along those lines).

        Lazy trolling.

      • tree
        March 19, 2011, 6:26 pm

        I highly recommend reading Hostage’s link above on deliberation in 2007 on a proposed constitution for Israel.

        Religious and secular MKs participating in a meeting of the Constitution, Law and Justice Committee were at loggerheads Teusday over the inclusion of the principle of equality in the draft of Israel’s constitution.

        During the meeting, members of the ultra-Orthodox parties and the National Religious Party reiterated their objection to the incorporation of the concept of equality into a constitution, as they say it contradicts their religious beliefs.

        “There cannot be a constitution in a Jewish and democratic state if it does not defend the unequal values of Judaism – and they are unequal,” MK Yitzhak Levy (NRP) said. “Equality in fact will close the rabbinical courts,” a contingency he was not prepared to allow for. “If you want equality in the constitution, it must be limited. We cannot write off the entire Jewish aspect of the country because, in the end, Judaism will be nothing more than eating a donut during Hanukkah.”

        MK Moshe Gafni (United Torah Judaism) said he was in favor of a constitution, on principle, but only on condition that equality is carefully defined.

        “I am among those who want a constitution,” MK Gafni said: “[But] we must decide what the word ‘equality’ entails. [Does it relate to] marriage and divorce? Yeshiva students? Laws of kashrut?” He said that if equality means the cancellation of those things, then it would “cancel the idea of Israel as a Jewish state.”


        When the Basic Law on Human Dignity and Freedom was ratified, in 1992, the principle of equality was not incorporated into it. A High Court of Justice decision, however, ruled that one may interpret from the text that it upheld the principle of equality. Human right activists who attended Tuesday’s meeting mostly agreed that a constitution that does not mention equality is a lame constitution. “I’m sorry to spoil to party,” Levy told them: “But if there’s no constitution and no equality, then that’s a good option.”

        link to haaretz.com

        Israel still has no constitution.

      • Ellen
        March 19, 2011, 7:44 pm

        Fus, Israel never adopted a constitution.

      • annie
        March 19, 2011, 8:10 pm

        he knows that. he’s just wasting our time.

      • Citizen
        March 20, 2011, 7:46 am

        According to Wiki, the elected Israeli Constituent Assembly convened on 16 February 1949. It held several discussions about the constitution which soon reached a dead end.
        Several arguments were proposed against the adoption of a formal constitution. The Religious Jews at the time opposed the idea of their nation having a document which the government would regard as nominally “higher” in authority than religious texts such as the Tanakh, Talmud, and Shulkhan Arukh.

      • Hostage
        March 20, 2011, 4:59 pm

        A High Court of Justice decision, however, ruled that one may interpret from the text that it upheld the principle of equality.

        Not in reality. Article 10 of the Basic Law on Human Dignity and Freedom stipulates: “This Basic Law shall not affect the validity of any law (din) in force prior to the commencement of the Basic Law.

        For example, the Women’s Equal Rights Law of 1951 specifically excluded marriage and divorce laws from its guarantees of “equality for women”. It can’t be challenged on the basis of the principle of equality. Note: Ben Gurion owed that piece of legislation to the religious parties under the terms of the June 19, 1947 “Status Quo Agreement” between the Jewish Agency and the World Agudat leadership.

        The same “safeguarding clause” locked-in constitutional protections against judicial tampering with any of the existing discriminatory laws on citizenship, abandoned property, immigration, land, & etc.

        Article 8 of the Basic Law permits the Knesset to adopt new discriminatory legislation such as the 2009 Israel Lands Authority Law and the 2010 amendment of the Land Acquisition Law: There shall be no violation of rights under this Basic Law except by a law befitting the values of the State of Israel, enacted for a proper purpose, and to an extent no greater than is required.

        So, “one may interpret from the text that [the Basic Law on Human Dignity and Freedom] upheld the principle of equality”, but your lawyer had better remember that Palestinians, members of other religious groups, and women do not fall within the scope of the basic law regarding humans – thanks to the draft constitution “befitting the “democratic and Jewish” values of the State of Israel.

  4. Shmuel
    March 19, 2011, 1:47 pm

    Good letter. Sid Shniad is active in Independent Jewish Voices – Canada
    ( link to independentjewishvoices.ca ).

    As long as we’re sharing unpublished letters, here’s mine to the National Post:

    Letter to the Editor, National Post

    In the name of mutual respect, tolerance and democratic freedoms, the Honourable Michael Ignatieff has once again attacked the organizers and participants in Israel Apartheid Week at Queen’s University and throughout the country. Yet these are precisely the values at the heart of this event, and what the Israeli apartheid system continues to deny Palestinians both in the Occupied Territories and in Israel proper. Nick Day rightly defended the students he represents against such an ignorant and intolerant smear by the Liberal leader.

    As a Jewish Canadian who has lived most of his life in Israel, I applaud Mr. Day’s response, and his refusal to allow an anti-racist campaign against “a system of separateness and dominance” to be tarred with the brush of anti-Semitism.

    Shmuel Sermoneta-Gertel
    Rome, Italy

    • James North
      March 19, 2011, 1:56 pm

      A Jewish-Canadian! Saul Bellow! Mordechai Richler! Duddy Kravitz!

      • Shmuel
        March 19, 2011, 2:56 pm

        … David Frum! Hillel Neuer!

      • Philip Munger
        March 19, 2011, 6:57 pm

        Naomi Klein

      • tree
        March 19, 2011, 7:13 pm

        Neta Golan, of ISM. (She’s Israeli-Canadian.)

      • Citizen
        March 20, 2011, 8:06 am
      • Citizen
        March 20, 2011, 8:36 am

        And here’s the real insight on this book/film–in the pdf, go to pp 25-45: link to lib.haifa.ac.il
        Note the analysis of the Canadian diaspora’s relationship with the goy circa 1947 & the analysis of allegorical Zionism, in this story of a young Canadian Jew loyal to his own family and ruthlessly on the make who believes he needs to own & control land to become a real man, to “be somebody.”

  5. JohnAdamTurnbull
    March 19, 2011, 3:24 pm

    And here’s my letter to Yaffe –

    Shimoni’s — how long is “temporary”?

    Canadians make up their minds about politics without much help from their politicians. Not only are Harper and Ignatieff irrelevant to the international politics of the Middle East, they are irrelevant to Canadian public opinion on the matter.

    Your survey of reaction to Israeli Apartheid Week seems to be simply an opportunity to quote Gideon Shimoni. Shimoni wishes that “apartheid” were a more complex word; that it might castigate the former South African regime while excusing Israel.

    So, Shimoni, deplores the occupation but claims it’s temporary. Maybe 40 years is only temporary to him, but as Israel continues to grow toward the Jordan, permanent occupation looks more like theft — and more like a mainstream assumption than a radical hope.

    John Turnbull

  6. Miura
    March 19, 2011, 3:54 pm

    …there have been Arab members of the Israeli Supreme Court, along with the fact that Muslims and Druze have served as ambassadors representing the country abroad.

    From what I recall until recently there had been only one ‘non-Jew’ appointed as Israel’s ambassador in more than 60 years. Does anyone know if this number has increased? Victor Klemperer also noted in his diary how the Nazis — under Joseph Goebbels’s keen sense of international PR — cleaned up their act for the fortnight of the ’36 Olympics:

    I find the Olympics so odious because they are not about sport — in this country, I mean — but are an entirely political enterprise. “German renaissance through Hitler,” I read recently. It’s constantly being drummed into the country and into foreigners that here one is witnessing the revival, the flowering, the new spirit, the unity, steadfastness, and magnificence, pacific too, of course, spirit of the Third Reich, which lovingly embraces the whole world. The chanted slogans on the streets have been banned (for the duration of the Olympics), Jew-baiting, bellicose sentiments, everything offensive has disappeared from the papers until August 16, and the swastika flags are hanging everywhere day and night until then too.

    The Nazis even had admirals, generals, and 150,000 soldiers of varying ranks who ‘served’ the Third Reich and ‘represented the country abroad’ — to put it no stronger than that — even though they were Jewish.

    • Miura
      March 19, 2011, 4:15 pm

      Also, during the ’36 Olympics one of the propaganda triumphs of the Reich was the silver medal in fencing won by Helene Meyer, of which Klemperer noted, ‘I don’t know which is more shameless, her participating as a German of the Third Reich, or the fact that her achievement is claimed for the Third Reich.’

  7. yourstruly
    March 19, 2011, 6:32 pm

    israeli apartheid = south african apartheid = u.s. of a. apartheid (prior to ‘the civil rights legislation of 1964)

    as with seperate and unequal

    as with needing identity cards (except not in the u.s. of a., although now necessary in arizona

    as with either not having the right to vote (apartheid u.s. of a., apartheid S.A.,) or, having the vote but restricted as to where one can live & not acceped into the military (israel)

    boycotts utilized in each to to end apartheid

  8. Avi
    March 19, 2011, 8:10 pm

    been Arab members of the Israeli Supreme Court, along with the fact that Muslims and Druze have served as ambassadors representing the country abroad. But these examples do not refute the charge.

    There are several problems with that sentence.

    1. The author is clearly not familiar with the Divide-and-Control strategy implemented within the Green Line (i.e. Inside Israel)

    (a) The newly established Israel signed an agreement with the Druze community wherein Israel promised to protect the Druze as an ethnic minority — so Israel claimed, but they are not an ethnic minority nor do they consider themselves to be so. In return, the Druze community agreed to serve in the Israeli army.

    (b) The aforementioned special status afforded to Druze still did not qualify them to be considered as equals by the Israeli government or by most of Israeli society. To that extent, there have been less than five high ranking Druze officers in the Israeli army. There was an article on Mondoweiss not long ago about a Druze soldier who attempted to rent an apartment in a Jewish town and was chased out by angry neighbors.

    (c) Though the Bedouin community in the Negev (Naqab) is Muslim and considers itself as such, the community was subject to special classification by the Israeli government — Divide-and-Control. Here, again, said community served in the Israeli army, mostly as trackers. Yet, despite said loyalty to the state, Israel treats them the same way it does the rest of the Palestinian population in Israel, both de facto and de jure.

    2. One Palestinian in the High Court of Justice — Salim Joubran — does not amount to “members” in the plural.

    3. As for “Muslims” and “Druze” appointed as ambassadors, that too is a false claim. Israel’s only non-Jewish ambassador is Ali Yahya. He is a Druze, to boot.

    I’m afraid whoever wrote that sentence found his/her information on the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affair’s website. The website uses the plural to describe individuals — typical Hasbara.

    So, to conflate that with grandiose statements about “Muslims serving …..” is false.

    And finally, a point of emphasis is needed here.

    * Druze is a religion, it is a sect in Islam.
    * Bedouin refers to the nomadic people in Palestine — see about the village of Al-Araqib to learn of Israel’s treatment of this minority.

    * “Palestinian” is a nationality. Druze, Christians, Muslims can be members of the same nationality (i.e. Palestinian).

    * As part of its Divide-and-Control strategy, Israel and Israeli Jews distinguish between three members of the same Palestinian nationality — Druze are called “Druze”, non-Druze, non-Beduin are called “Arabs”.

    Some might rush to the conclusion that the distinctions merit the separation and division imposed by Israel on the basis of religion. But, when one looks at the territorial distribution of Palestinians in Israel (i.e. “Bedouin”+”Druze”+”Arabs”), one finds that the division serves a political purpose. Why?

    The “Druze” live in the north, in the Galilee (Upper and Lower).

    The “Bedouin” live in the Negev (Naqab) in the south.

    And “Arabs” live in central Israel, from Nazareth and Umm-al Fahem down to Kufur Qassem.

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