WOMEN-GAYS JEWS always facing discrimination and hatred
WOMEN-GAYS-JEWS always facing discrimination and hatred — Edited by Aviva Rubin
I don’t know if you noticed the order in which my title was printed but it is not that way by chance. It has to do with the numbers and representation in our world to-day. As a Jew now in my late eighties, I have become preoccupied with growing anti-Semitism. But recently, I started thinking more about numbers. Jews make up only 15 million of the world’s population. They do not face the level and magnitude of the hardships faced by women and gays. They are however a bellwether, a strong indication that things are heading in a bad direction.
A bit of history. When voting rights were established in many Western countries, women were not equal to men. Women had to fight for legal rights. It was only in 1951, that women in the North West territories got voting rights. Quebec was the last province to extend voting rights to women. But equality has many parts to it. At least a third of all women killed ,are murdered by male partners, not by strangers. Males are only killed by women 2.5% of the time but men kill women 34% of the time. The number of women who were victims of homicide in the U.S. grew by 21 percent in 2016 compared to the previous year, rising to the highest level since 2007. Women who engage in extra marital sex are called sluts, prostitutes, very negative terms. Men are called Don Juan`s, philanderers, players, all terms with an aura of the exotic and excitement. In 2016, in the U.S, the most recent year for which data was available 12.2 out off every 100,000 women were victims of homicide, up from 10.2 in 2015. Most top and high power positions in companies are held by men, as in Sweden a so-called equal rights country. Women hold only 4.4 % of Fortune 500 CEO roles and 4.4% of Fortune 1000 CEO positions. Ever heard of the glass ceiling. Women in the work-place climb the corporate ladder to a certain point . No further. The Middle East is home to many countries oppressive to women, such as Saudi Arabia but slowly but surely that is changing, except in Turkey where the pendulum is swinging in the other direction. Women are not employed in significant positions in the auto and technology industry. Is there a way women have the advantage? Well they live longer however when I see some old men, I wonder how advantageous that really is?
How could I have left out Canada? A few years ago in a Canadian Engineering school called Ecole Polytechnique in Montreal a male entered a class room asked the male engineering students to leave the room and proceeded to shoot all the women, killing 15. He was a man who felt they had taken his place in the school. It was driven by pure hatred. Many men hold the opinion they are being replaced by women in the employment world.
Let’s talk about gays. That’s a life and death issue. Gay relationships are still criminalized in 72 countries, but in 8 countries it can result in the death penalty. 50 years after homosexuality was decriminalized in England and Wales these 72 countries criminalise same sex relationships, including 45 in which sexual relationships between women are outlawed according to the report by the Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA). Southern and East Africa, the Middle East (except Israel) and South Asia persist with these draconian approaches.
It is as far as I can tell a religious approach to homosexuality. The Western Hemisphere including Europe are the most tolerant. But England was not the frontrunner when it moved 50 years ago to partly decriminalise homosexuality. Some 20 other countries led the way including France, Belgium. Netherlands, Brazil and Argentina all of which legalized it well before 1900. In Iran, Sudan, Saudi Arabia and Yemen, homosexuality is still punishable by death under Sharia law. In Syria and Iraq where there is very little government, the death penalty is carried out by non-state actors like ISIS. Same sex relationships which are criminalised under laws covering sodomy, buggery and acts against human nature could lead to a prison sentence . Russia has recently introduced laws banning the promotion of homosexuality probably because Putin is trying to ingratiate himself with the Russian Orthodox church. A co-author of the ILGA report, Aengus Carroll, argues there is “no country in the world where LGBT people are completely safe from some discrimination, stigmatisation or violence.” As of this time more than 120 countries have decriminalized homosexuality which is shown by ads of lovers on T.V. which on occasion shows two men kissing, a no no 20 years ago. In Botswana, Kenya, Zimbabwe and Tunisia advocates have recently won court cases affirming the right to form organizations to lobby for rights. Germany recently voted to legalize same sex marriage, which has been legal in Canada for a long time. Marriage equality in Malta will bring to 24 the number of states allowing gay marriage. A similar number offer civil partnership recognition. I have no idea how many Gay people there are in the world and because some Gay people are bi-sexual it is hard to come by numbers. When I went on Yahoo they gave me a figure of 1 in 10 gays but some gays and straights can switch back and forth.
Let me come back to growing anti- Semitism, which is in ways all the more curious, given how small our numbers are throughout the world. The Israelites, the forbearers of the Jews, were a tribe in the middle east that brought monotheism to the world. The Israelite tribe was under constant attack from the Romans until their temple was destroyed by them and their tribe was dispersed throughout the world even as far as China.
At first the pejorative anti-Semitic term was” Dirty Jew” but than the word anti-Semite was coined by a German anti-Jewish person Wilhelm Marr. The Jews were dispersed throughout Europe and North and South America. I am not a historian, but a realist and the fact that the Jewish people would not give up their religion to Christianity was the core of anti-Semitism. The early Christians were all Jews who sought to form a new religion by replacing Judaism. The Jews were stubborn and would not convert. Why did the Romans not choose Judaism? Maybe it’s because making Roman Pagans Jews would require a lot of circumcisions, not a happy prospect for a Roman politician.
The stories about Jews hold some truth, many lies, many many exaggerations and that is what can make this last part of my blog interesting. Jews are all “Cowards” . I think the Palestinians in the Middle East would take exception to that statement, but I have to interject here that the Jews had no choice but to fight. When the five Arab nations attacked, they had to bravely fight or they would have been thrown into the sea. Arabs have no mercy for their defeated foes. Nasser said publicly he would throw them into the sea. Look what’s going on in Syria.
The Jews were blamed for the Black Death, the Spanish Flu and now for Covid19. How ridiculous. (It’s also worth noting that some have blamed homosexuals for Covid-19 as well.) I believe that the Jewish denial of Jesus Christ is the root of all anti-Semitism. Having this statement repeated over the centuries in churches throughout Europe had this undeniable effect. All through the middle ages the Jews were systematically slaughtered in Europe in large or smaller numbers. In the 14th century the Jews were massacred in France. The “Chosen People” concept is another problem for other religions. They interpret chosen as better, but what it means in the Jewish religion was chosen to make other people believe in monotheism. Chosen does not mean superior. Jews may be more educated. Jewish families promote education and Jews usually finish at least high school but many groups of people promote education, for example the Chinese. In the “Crusades” in the 13th century the Christians attacked the Muslims but also killed the Jews. Throughout Europe at one time or another the Jews were thrown out of individual countries, killed and their property confiscated to the crown. The ‘Blood Libel” has been a way Jews were attacked, where in different countries the Jews were accused of taking blood from Christian children for Matzo . They ignore the fact that the Jewish religion forbids Jews from eating blood.
There is less alcoholism and spousal beating among Jews but it is not completely absent. Many Jews have a double loyalty. I support Israel but not over Canada, but then I am asked what if Israel and Canada went to war. A ridiculous question. Never in the history of the world have democracies fought each other. But I can say that my loyalty is completely to Canada . The worst tragedy to befall the Jews was in the WW2 when Hitler killed 6 million. He accused the Jews of failing Germany in WW1. The German Jews were very patriotic to Germany and 18,000 gave their lives in the German army. As a matter of fact German Jews who had left for Israel came back to fight for Germany. In the 20th century many Jews could not get jobs in the government and for banks, get enrolled in schools for higher education. That has changed. But anti-Semitism has come roaring back in Europe and also to a lesser extent in the U.S. and Canada.
A quick glance around at how the world is treating women, gays and Jews, is not very reassuring. As Mahatma Ghandi said “A nation’s greatness is measured by how it treats its weakest members” and its minorities. We have seen many improvements over the decades, but also recently, a lot of backsliding.
I’ll end by quoting Bob Rae, former premier of Ontario. “The mistake is to see anti-Semitism as a catastrophic illness which has now been resolved. Anti-Semitism is in fact a chronic condition.”