Monday, September 12, 2005

Recognizing the writing on the wall...

The last string of stories on Bloghead -- all basically about Jews' rights being curbed as a result of European and Canadian attempts to deal with their Muslim populations, or about Muslim anti-Semitism in the diaspora being supported by Western authority -- have left me a little depressed. (C'mon, Madonna, can't you do something stupid so I can have something lighter to blog about?)
Jews have had hundreds of years living in the West in which both parties have (mostly...) learned how to live with each other. The Muslim encounter with the West is at a much earlier stage and is still very rough, causing massive problems of integration.
Nevertheless, we're all being lumped together -- because all 'minority religions' must be treated the same -- and Jewish religious liberties, some of which we had to fight hard to win and then fine-tune, are now under consistent assault because of the Western difficulties integrating Islam. To make matters worse, because the Muslim electoral power is always so much greater, Muslim sensitivities far outweigh those of Jews in the eyes of those in power.
So far, off the top of my head, just in the last few weeks and months we've had:

  • France -- ban on kippot and other religious symbols in schools, as a result of the desire to ban the hijab
  • Ontario, Canada -- Premier declared intention to ban batei din, because didn't want to allow sharia law courts
  • Ontario, Canada -- Jewish schools don't receive state funding -- partially because that would mean Muslim schools would have to be funded by state as well (as far as I know -- please correct me if I'm wrong on this one)
  • UK -- government and public discussing whether faith schools (state-funded) were good idea after all -- because of worry about Muslim faith schools. Any move to regulate or change status of faith schools will affect Jews.
  • UK -- Muslim pressure to turn Holocaust Day into Genocide Day because they felt it was 'offensive' that the suffering of Jews was 'singled out' became official advice to Tony Blair; although the PM has said he won't accept this advice, there's a definite push in this direction
  • Belgium -- recent attempts to ban shechita (to be debated in the Senate this week, I believe), connected to attempts to crack down on Muslim ritual slaughter.
Obviously, there are many other areas where Jews are going to continue to be affected by the Muslims' encounter with the Western states, some we can't even foresee now. For example, our "Canadian correspondent" has told me that this morning there was a discussion on Canadian radio about whether Canada should continue recognizing religious marriages (!!!!), as a result of a larger discussion on the separation of church and state provoked by the Sharia-related events of the past few days, and a desire to look again at the way religious communities and religious authorities function in larger society.
The question is (and I recognise this is mostly directed at European and Canadian readers), how are we, as a community, going to deal with this? Short of getting up and getting outta here, is there anything at all we can do? How should we be planning for the future where this problem looks likely to only grow?
I don't have the answers. I'd really like to hear Bloghead readers' take on this.

UPDATE: SIW responds -- as an American.

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