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October 20, 2014 / 26 Tishri, 5775
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Posts Tagged ‘discrimination’

NJ Court: Non-Jew Can Sue for Anti-Semitic Remarks

Tuesday, April 24th, 2012

A New Jersey appeals court has ruled that a man who alleges he endured anti-Semitic slurs from his former supervisors can sue them – even though he is not Jewish.

Myron Cowher, a former truck driver for Carson & Roberts Site Construction & Engineering Inc., in Lafayette, N.J., filed suit against his former employers and three supervisors for anti-Semitic jabs such as “only a Jew would argue over his hours” and “bagel meister” he says they made against him for more than a year, according to a report in the Washington Post.

A Superior Court judge had ruled that because Cowher is not Jewish, he could not sue, but the appeals court said Cowher could take the defendants to court for creating a hostile work environment, and that if he can prove the discrimination “would not have occurred but for the perception that he was Jewish,” he may enjoy a favorable outcome.

Though Cowher is Lutheran, and of German-Irish descent, the appeals court said the question at hand is whether a “reasonable Jews” would have found the comments derogatory.

The ruling will enable discrimination suits to be brought by people who are not members of the classes which the law was designed to protect.

Court: Non-Jew May Sue for Anti-Semitic Slurs

Monday, April 23rd, 2012

A New Jersey appeals court has ruled that a man can sue for enduring anti-Semitic slurs from former employers despite not being Jewish.

Myron Cowher, a former truck driver for Carson & Roberts Site Constructions & Engineering Inc., sued the company and former supervisors after allegedly enduring anti-Semitic comments for more than a year. His suit alleges discrimination that resulted in a hostile work environment.

The Appellate Division of New Jersey Superior Court reversed a Superior Court judge in a 3-0 decision. The appeals court stated that the “proper question” is what effect the derogatory comments would have on “a reasonable Jew,” not on Cowher, who is of German-Irish and Lutheran background.

Experts say the ruling will expand the scope of who can sue for discrimination under the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination by allowing anyone, not just a member of the protected class, to pursue the claim. This significantly broadens the interpretation of the law, which typically has protected people based on their actual age, race, religion or sexuality.

Gregg Salka, an associate at Fisher & Phillips law firm who works with small-business clients, told The Star-Ledger newspaper that “Anyone can pretty much bring a claim, even if they’re not a member of a protected class. It moves the focus more towards the discriminatory comments rather than the actual characteristic of the plaintiff.”

Cowher, of Dingmans Ferry, Pa., said he was the subject of anti-Semitic banter from January 2007 until May 2008, when he left the company for unrelated reasons. His supervisors admitted to directing anti-Semitic slurs at Cowher but insisted that it was part of a “locker-room type exchange” in which Cowher “willingly participated.”

Seattle LGBT to Visiting Israeli Homosexuals: Gay Aveck!

Tuesday, March 27th, 2012

In the solidarity business, life can be unpredictable. Take, for instance, the story of the LGBT commission representing the gay community in the city government of Seattle, which this month canceled a Friday reception at City Hall for a visiting delegation of Israeli gay leaders.

The Seattle Times reported that the commission had initially planned to host the meeting, which was requested by the six-member Israeli delegation. The same delegation was also visiting San Francisco and Los Angeles, exchanging “ideas on advancing gay rights.” The Israelis had been made to feel welcome in SF and LA, but in Seattle – not so much.

There was a raucous meeting of gay officials on the Thursday prior to the scheduled visit in Seattle, and a tiny but very loud group were making the case that Israel was “pinkwashing” its horrible treatment of the Palestinians by showing the world how fabulous it is on gay rights.

This is the most creative argument I’ve heard in a while, making the absurd case that the more tolerant and accepting Israel is of its gay citizens, the more vicious it is to others. Remember, it came from the folks who gave us the idea of the “homophobe,” which suggests that if you object to homosexuality it’s because, deep inside, you are homosexual yourself, and the more you object, the deeper your suppressed deviation goes.

The “pinkwashing” concept was likely the brainchild of transsexual, Seattle University law professor Dean Spade, who dubbed the gay delegation’s visit “apartheid and occupation” wrapped in the rainbow flag.

As a result of the very loud objection of very few participants, the commission, which is an important player in the political life of the city of Seattle, canceled the next day’s meeting with the Israelis, because it wasn’t ready to deal with “such complex topics.”

And other scheduled meetings of the Israeli delegation, in Tacoma and in Olympia, were cancelled or pushed off as well.

Members of the delegation told the Times they were shocked. They issued a statement saying: “We expected from the Seattle LGBTQ Commission a strong declaration of its intent to support all LGBTQ activists, regardless of their color, sex or national origin. Sadly, it appears that the commission, representing a minority that continues to face discrimination, also practices that same discrimination.”

There was one righteous voice in the bunch, Wider Bridge, a California-based gay Jewish organization which was promoting the delegation’s visit, and stuck by it. Its representatives told the Times: “The truth is that Israel is a good place to be LGBT, and it is so because there are countless people within Israel doing amazing, courageous work every day … saving lives, including the lives of young LGBTQ Palestinians who often have nowhere else to turn.”

This was backed up by Avner Dafni, executive director of Israeli Gay Youth (IGY), who stated: “In the Palestinian territories, a youth who goes to a gay party can be killed by his own family. Israeli LGBT organizations are often the only places gay or lesbian Palestinians can turn to.”

And gay Jewish activist Robert Wilkes wrote: “Israeli gays or lesbians in Israel are protected from discrimination by law and by the high moral standards of the culture and society. In some respects, Israel is more accommodating to gays and lesbians than we are. For example, the gay partner of a deceased Israeli soldier gets the same benefits as a widow, unlike partners of servicemen and women in the U.S.”

But Stefanie Fox, Director of Jewish Voice for Peace, wrote: “Many of us actively support LGBTQ friends and relatives in Israel and their struggle to live a life free of discrimination, but advances for Jews have not affected Palestinians living under occupation, including those who are LGBTQ, who suffer from discrimination, persecution, restriction, and daily threats of violence from Israel.”

And don’t you go confusing us with the facts, young man…

Leading American Zionist Organization Denounces Israeli Policy on Temple Mount

Tuesday, February 14th, 2012

The Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) has issued an unprecedented press release condemning the Israeli government for perceived discrimination against Jews on the Temple Mount. The rare display of public dissent was prompted by recent clampdowns by Israeli police on visits by Jews, as well as the draconian measures police employ to “guard the calm.”

“The Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) believes that unfettered access and freedom to pray at a holy site is a basic, universally recognized right, which certainly should be accorded to Jews in the Jewish State of Israel,” the statement began. “More Jews have wanted to visit the Temple Mount in recent years . . . To their dismay, when they do visit they are subject to blatant discrimination and humiliation by the Israeli police, who are cooperating with and hoping to appease the extremist Muslim Wakf authority on the Mount.”

The press release cited the fact that Jews “have to endure . . . humiliation as they are followed and filmed by Israeli police and representatives of the Wakf . . . prohibitions against visiting the Mount more than once a day . . . ” and “arrests for ‘crimes,’ such as – praying, even silently if one’s lips are moving . . . studying Torah . . . [and] closing one’s eyes.” It also provided recent examples, like the arrest of a 67-year-old man who was quietly reciting a blessing before taking a sip of water, as required by Jewish law.

The statement goes on to criticize the disparate treatment Muslims receive: “Remarkably, if your appearance or behavior openly shows you are a Muslim you are treated with respect, and there is no disruption whatsoever for pursuing your religious activities as you wish to practice.” The disparity is all the more disturbing in light of the fact that “not one act of desecration or disrespect for Muslim holy places has been committed by Jews on the Temple Mount. No Jews ever have terrorized Muslims there or engaged in rioting.” On the other hand, “the worst acts of Temple Mount violence and desecrations have been perpetrated by Muslims, such as raining rocks on Jewish worshippers below at the Western Wall.”

The statement ends by calling on the Israeli government to “end the discriminatory policy that is applied on the Temple Mount,” and urges other prominent American Jewish organizations to join in their campaign.

Decades After Immigrating, Ethiopians Decry Continuing Discrimination

Thursday, January 19th, 2012

Thousands marched through Jerusalem on Wednesday to protest discrimination against Ethiopian immigrants, concluding a week of protests sparked by revelations that residents of Kiryat Malachi were refusing to sell or rent apartments to Ethiopian citizens.

Joined by white Israelis and representatives of several rights organizations, the crowds of mostly younger Ethiopian immigrants and children of immigrants marched to the gate of the Knesset, where so many go to air their grievances. Carrying signs calling for an end to discrimination, they decried the social and economic hardships that continue to plague the Ethiopian community, even two decades after their stunning rescue and relocation to Israel. Large sections of the 120,000-strong Ethiopian community lag behind the national average in education and employment, and domestic abuse cases – including dozens of incidents of husbands murdering their wives – have plagued the community.

Successive governments have devoted large sums to housing benefits and a range of other social welfare benefits for Ethiopian immigrants, but advocates say even more is needed for a community that has experienced such a deep culture shock in moving from rural Africa to modern Israel.

Many openly suggest that both the public and private sectors would do more to help the immigrants if they were white, claiming prejudices against the Ethiopians’ skin color and widespread suspicion of the authenticity of the their Jewishness prevent progress.

Thousands of the immigrants were made to undergo a conversion process, to remove such doubts. But religious and racial tensions remain, contributing to the community’s difficulties in integrating with the rest of Israeli society.

After The American Elections Israel, “Peace,” And International Law (Part III)

Wednesday, December 1st, 2010
            President Obama has hitherto accepted the language of a “moderate” Palestinian Authority. The PA and its associates are distinctly obligated to refrain from incitement against Israel. Going back even to the legal antecedents of the current peace process, the Interim Agreement (Oslo 2) stated, at Article XXII, that Israel and the PA  “shall seek to foster mutual understanding and tolerance and shall accordingly abstain from incitement, including hostile propaganda, against each other….” In the Note for the Record, which accompanied the Hebron Protocol of January 15,1997, the PA reaffirmed its commitment regarding “Preventing Incitement and Hostile Propaganda, as specified in Article XXII of the Interim Agreement.”  Substantially familiar if more general reaffirmations can readily be found in the Road Map.

 

            What has not yet been broadly acknowledged is that the Genocide Convention criminalizes not only the various acts of genocide, but also (Article III) conspiracy to commit genocide, and direct and public incitement to commit genocide.  Articles II, III and IV of the Genocide Convention are fully applicable in all cases of direct and public incitement to commit genocide.  For the Convention to be invoked, it is sufficient that any one of the State parties call for a meeting, through the United Nations, of all the State parties (Article VIII).

 

             Although this has never been done, the United States, especially following the recent election, should now consider very seriously taking this particular step while there is still time.  Israel, too, should be an obvious co-participant in this call, but it is unlikely that any government in Jerusalem, historically aware of always-expanding global indifference to Jewish life, will seek formal redress under any multilateral conventions. An alternative remedy/strategy could involve the issuance of specific criminal indictments for crimes against humanity by Israel’s Justice Ministry to the key Palestinian broadcasters and journalists now engaged in daily anti-Semitic harangues. In the words of Israeli attorney, Nitsana Darshan-Leitner, back in February 2004: “Those who operate Palestinian television and radio stations and the printing presses engaged in hate speech should be arrested along with the other suspected killers.”

 

            Undeniably, any public trial before an Israeli tribunal could have grave geopolitical risks. For one, as no Arab or Iranian authority could ever be expected to extradite alleged wrongdoers to Israel for trial, it would inevitably be up to Israeli military and police authorities to acquire physical custody over defendants. This is the case although such expected Arab/Iranian disregard for Israeli extradition requests would be a manifestly serious violation of peremptory international criminal law.

 

             Even if an Israeli trial could afford opportunity for a direct evidentiary connection between Palestinian media incitement and Palestinian terrorism, much of the world would be focused instead on the extraordinary means by which Israel took custody of the inciters. After all, when Israel captured major Nazi war criminal Adolph Eichmann in 1960, more states chose to condemn the abduction than to recall the prisoner’s role as murderer of 1,000.000 Jewish children.

 

            The Genocide Convention, the London Charter, and the December 2003 ICTR decision on Rwanda are not the only authoritative codifications that should now be invoked against relentless media and leadership calls for the mass killing of Jews.  The 1965 International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination should also be brought productively into play.  This treaty condemns “all propaganda and all organizations which attempt to justify or promote racial hatred and discrimination in any form,” obliging, at Article 4(a) State parties to declare as “an offense punishable by law all dissemination of ideas based on racial superiority or hatred, incitement to racial discrimination, as well as all acts of violence or incitement to such acts against any race or group of persons.”  Article 4(b) affirms that State parties “Shall declare illegal and prohibit organizations, and also organized and all other propaganda activities, which promote and incite racial discrimination, and shall recognize participation in such organizations or activities as an offense punishable by law.”  Further authority for curtailing and punishing Palestinian calls for genocidal destruction of Jews can be found at Article 20(2) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights:  “Any advocacy of national, racial or religious hatred that constitutes incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence shall be prohibited by law.”

 

            The overriding point of the judgments at Nuremberg was to ensure that all future crimes against humanity be identified, prosecuted and punished. Fully aware of these judgments, the International Criminal Tribunal in Rwanda ruled, in December 2003, that “mere words” can contain substantial criminal liability and may warrant very severe punishments. Understood in terms of ongoing homicidal and genocidal Arab and Iranian calls for violence against Israel, it is essential that every state in the United Nations now be reminded of its binding obligation not to encourage another Holocaust. This is a fully legal obligation, and certainly must not be taken lightly.

 

            Now, especially after the recent U.S. elections, there may be new opportunities in Washington to finally make things right regarding Israel’s fundamental security needs. It is imperative that any such opportunities be identified and taken quickly, while there is still time, and before a Palestinian state is declared unilaterally.

 

Louis Rene Beres  was educated at Princeton (Ph.D., 1971), and is the author of many books and articles dealing with genocide, terrorism, war and international law.  Strategic and Military Affairs analyst for The Jewish Press, he is Professor of Political Science and International Law at Purdue.

Imprisoning Emmanuel Parents Is Morally Absurd

Wednesday, June 23rd, 2010

The issue in the girl’s school controversy in Emmanuel is not about ethnic discrimination but about differences between religious groups. The school’s educational policies are based on the level of observance, not ethnic background.

“Ashkenazi” and “Sephardi,” in this case, are euphemisms for more strict and less strict.

This is not about racism and civil rights and bigotry, as some have darkly suggested. Nor is about “rule of law,” since setting rules and standards is up to the school and applies to all, regardless of ethnic background.

Israel’s Supreme Court has misunderstood the issue and turned a local dispute into political power struggle over who controls a community educational system and determines its policy. Imprisoning parents who refuse to follow the court’s decisions is not only extreme, it’s hardly intelligent. If they still refuse to submit after serving time, will they be kept in jail until they do? This is legally and morally absurd.

Such actions by the state, its courts and police, will not solve the problem and will further alienate large numbers of Israeli citizens. Prejudice is a social problem, but this is a case of discrimination over social and religious, not educational, issues. By making it a legal issue, and criminalizing its practice, the court insists on attacking the beliefs of a significant sector of the population. Since none of the justices are haredi, or know much about this community, and some of them have biases against the community, it’s doubtful they understand the haredi world.

This is a law-abiding, strictly observant Jewish population that sets its own standards and rules, especially those concerning social and educational issues – and in a democracy, they have that right. Rejecting an Israeli culture dominated by materialism, sexuality and pornography, they seek to create barriers to prevent the erosion of their values and beliefs.

The matter is more complicated because the “discrimination” of which they are accused does not seem to be based on ethnicity, since many of the students in the school are Sephardi. Moreover, in some cases, discrimination is not only appropriate, it’s obligatory.

One may question the basis for making judgments, but hardly the right of individuals, especially parents, to make decisions they believe are in their own and their children’s best interests.

School administrators need to make decisions about policies as well as curriculum, because schools are not only educational but also social institutions. Children learn more in school than what teachers offer and classrooms maintain.

Failure to appreciate the importance of schools to these communities and to respect legitimate distinctions parents and school administrators make shows a certain arrogance and ignorance – as well as a lack of tact.

The question raised by this controversy is whether parents and educators have the right to decide what goes on in their school. The court’s action is unfortunate because, by deliberately polarizing the issue, the justices have impeded a meaningful and creative solution. It further alienates haredi Jews from the state and a national ethos, it alienates non-haredi and non-observant Jews from those who are haredi by stigmatizing them as “racist,” and it tears our delicate social fabric.

The haredi community is not the enemy; it is an integral and important part of the Jewish people. Haredim are Israeli citizens and critical to our future as a state and a society. Treating them recklessly, with koach rather than moach, hurts our collective national interests.

By asserting their power rather than their understanding, the justices have damaged the Supreme Court’s own reputation. They may win this battle, and force the parents to opt out of the system, but they will lose the more important struggle for social cohesion and Zionism.

A government that imprisons its own population in order to survive loses its legitimacy.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/imprisoning-emmanuel-parents-is-morally-absurd/2010/06/23/

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