Monday, February 19, 2007

Separate but Equal Water Fountains and Jewish Holy Sites

As I read Israel’s justification for only naming Jewish holy sites, black seats at the back of the bus came to mind. America’s favored democratic ally in the Middle East discriminates based on race in housing and employment according to a Bush State Department assessment. The recent naming of an Arab to the Israeli cabinet was vilified by avowed racist Avidgor Lieberman, a fellow cabinet member.

The Jewish state will defend itself with Southern “separate but equal” language as it sits before a United Nations anti-racism panel. How will the U.S. weigh in when our own State Department had this to say in Bush’s second year in office?

The overwhelming majority of non-Jewish citizens are Muslims, Druze, and Christians. Of this group, most are Arabs, and are subject to various forms of discrimination, some of which have religious dimensions.

The Government has recognized only Jewish holy places under the 1967 Protection of Holy Sites Law.

…the Government does not provide Israeli Arabs, who constitute approximately 20 percent of the population, with the same quality of education, housing, employment, and social services as Jews. On a per capita basis, the Government spends two-thirds as much for Arabs as for Jews. Although such policies are based on a variety of factors, they reflect de facto discrimination against the country's non-Jewish citizens.

Israeli Arab groups allege that many employers use the prerequisite of military service to avoid hiring non-Jews, including for jobs that are unrelated to national security.

The U.S. Embassy consistently raised issues of religious freedom with the Foreign Ministry, the police, the Prime Minister's office, and the Ministry of the Interior.

Separate but equal? The South used that and the Bible to justify segregation and discrimination. Our Jewish ally plays a similar game to its own discredit.

How does Condi Rice visit her home state of Alabama to speak of courageous leaders who challenged Jim Crow and remain silent on these issues during visits to Israel? Most who rose up against Southern prejudice weren’t elected government leaders. The common folks got tired of it and stood up nonviolently. Will that ever happen in Israel? God willing…

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