Thursday, October 10, 2013

Can You See The Writing On The Wall????

For those who've read some of my earlier posts, in one of them I mentioned the ridiculousness of Quebec's Parti Québécois' 'Values Charter'.  In short, this shameful Canadian province is attempting to pass a law that would, if passed, ban all those employed by the province from wearing "overt and conspicuous" religious symbols at work including yarmulkas, hijabs, turbans and large Star-Of-David or crosses.  In today's Jerusalem Post, there was a fascinating article updating the situation in Quebec:

As it happens, news got out that Quebec's premier, Pauline Marois, received emergency treatment at Montreal's Sir Mortimer Davis Jewish General Hospital, otherwise known throughout Montreal as "The Jewish Hospital".  Apparently, the hospital was established in 1934, primarily by Jews, at a time when Jewish doctors were finding difficulty procuring positions in the medical community.  Even though it is still referred to as a "Jewish" hospital and is staffed by many Jewish doctors, the hospital is Quebec's most diverse hospital, serving all patients regardless of religion, ethnicity or race.  Quite ironic, then, that Pauline Marois chose to be treated in a place that likely had a bunch of doctors walking around wearing kippot on their head... It got me thinking if, mid-treatment, she had the nerve to ask "Dr. Goldstein" to remove his kippa before taking whatever life-saving measures he had to take in order to save her life....

Truth be told, Stephen Harper, the Canadian Prime Minister, is probably the best friend Israel has at this time.  He has staunchly stood in support of Israel, its policies, and its right to defend itself.  He has - and good for him - publicly vowed to determine whether this xenophobic law is constitutional and if it does indeed violate the freedom of religion that all Canadians are entitled to, he will "defend those rights vigorously".  But it still boggles the mind that there was a democratic legislator out there that had the chutzpah to even propose a law like this in the first place.  And that they somehow found a following among their peers is deplorable.

Remember that the Holocaust all started because of the "vision" of one man named Adolf Hitler...

Unfortunately, this is not the only example of anti-semitism in Quebec.  There are government leaders who call for the boycotting of stores selling Israeli-made apparel.  There are media-personalities who refer to Israelis as modern-day Nazis.  And another radio-personality who called on his listeners to honk their horns while passing through a Jewish neighborhood in Montreal on Rosh Hashanah to protest a bylaw against noisy outdoor activity on the High Holy Days.  And yet another radio personality who didn't stop an Arab caller from comparing Israelis to dogs and referred to the Holocaust as - and I quote - "the most beautiful event in history".  I still can't read that without shuddering...

I suppose it's not a shock then, that local polls show overwhelming support for the "Quebec Charter of Values".  We're talking close to 70% and rising.... The numbers are beyond disturbing.

Montreal's Jewish community has decreased significantly in the last 40 years, most of them moving to Toronto among other places.  But there are still quite a large number of Jews living there.  If you ask me, I'm still in shock that there are approximately 90,000 Quebec Jews hanging around a place that will support a law that would make it ILLEGAL to wear a kippa if you happened to be employed by the government.  Once that law passes, it'll only be a skip and a jump before other anti-Semitic laws become the norm. 

On a personal note, I find it rather fascinating that 75 years ago Jews in Eastern Europe were forced to wear a symbol that declared to the public that they were Jewish.  Walking in the streets of Poland and Germany with yellow stars sewn onto their clothing was the "punishment" for being a Jew.  The Nazis enforced this law as a means to shame the Jews.  It was meant to make the Jews feel acute embarrassment about their heritage.  The oldest reference to using mandatory articles of clothing to identify and distinguish Jews from the rest of society was in 807 CE.  In this year, Abbassid caliph Haroun al-Raschid ordered all Jews to wear a yellow belt and a tall, cone-like hat.  As early as 1217, King Henry III of England ordered Jews to wear "on the front of their upper garment the two tables of the Ten Commandments made of white linen or parchment."  In France, Louis IX decreed in 1269 that "both men and women were to wear badges on the outer garment, both front and back, round pieces of yellow felt or linen, a palm long and four fingers wide."  In Germany and Austria, Jews were distinguishable in the latter half of the 1200's when the wearing of a "horned hat" otherwise known as a "Jewish hat" -- an article of clothing that Jews had worn freely before the crusades -- became mandatory. 

Now, at a time when we're supposed to have learned from the mistakes of the past, when we are supposed to be tolerant of all races and ethnicities, this disgraceful province is demanding that the Jews HIDE their symbols of Judaism.  

We've come a long way, our people, and we've suffered and persevered and miraculously are still around when other great and majestic empires have long disappeared off the face of the earth.  And we've earned the right to wear our Stars-Of-David and our kippot - not because we are being forced to by whatever regime we are living under, but because we CHOOSE to.  And you, stupid Quebec, should not be allowed to take that away from us.

For all the Jews still living in Quebec, I have something to say:  seriously, people.  Do you NOT see the writing on the wall?  What on earth are you waiting for?  For this law to pass, or something worse?  Yes, you should fight for your rights and choose to wear your religious symbols with pride, but please don't forget that there is a land that will welcome you with open arms where you don't have to deal with the prejudices of a racist regime.

It's called Israel....

1 comment:

  1. Well written as usual with lots of food for thought!
    I once heard someone say that we Jews can come to Israel like a dove or like a cloud. The dove comes using its homing instincts. The cloud has no choice and is blown by the winds (wars, antisemitism...) We should be well aware of our choices.