Friday, April 18, 2008

In which I ask, "Why not indeed, Israel?"

“We call ourselves a Jewish, democratic state. But the less Jewish we are the easier it will be for others to say, ‘Why not just be a democratic state for Jews and Arabs to live in together?’ ”

The quote is from an article in the NY Times about the secular/religious divide in Israel, and how even secular Israelis support the public imposition of religious laws in order to bolster the state's collective religious identity.

I can't wrap my head around how being "a democratic state for Jews and Arabs to live in together" is bad, let alone a nightmarish worst-case scenario. I am such a devoted little classical liberal.

On the other hand, things like this baffle me just as much: the Ontario Human Rights Commission is investigating whether York's practice of closing for the High Holy Days is discriminatory (see the Excalibur article). From what I can tell, Jewish students are the largest religious minority group at York:

But a recent report prepared by York professor Thomas Klassen paints a highly diverse picture of the 51,000-student campus, with Jewish students estimated to represent about 5.8 per cent of students, Muslim students about 4.8 per cent, Catholic students 34.9 per cent, Protestant 22.1 per cent, other Christian 7.3 per cent, Hindu 3.6 per cent, Buddhist 2.1 per cent and Sikh 2 per cent. (Toronto Star)

All that tells me is that maybe we should have more days off for the major Muslim holidays. I hesitate to say Hindu because different sects celebrate different holidays to differing degrees...which I guess is true of Muslims as well...hmm...

I'm developing a suspicion that take off Christian and Jewish holidays only because they're the easiest to schedule...

1 comment:

Omar Ha-Redeye said...

Muslims don't celebrate religious holidays that are any more difficult to schedule than any other religion.

There are two major holidays that are celebrated by all adherents, which can be calculated to the degree of an accuracy of a 2-3 day span. Because some celebrate on different, adjacent days, scheduling all of these off would be prudent.

I agree with you though, that the appropriate solution is to accommodate all other religious groups when the numbers warrant. As you indicate, this appears to be happening.

But as we've seen with family arbitration, religious school, and now, free speech, some minorities are unfortunately better protected than others.