The Parti Québécois’ proposed charter of Quebec values, which would forbid state employees from wearing what it calls “ostentatious” head gear, contravenes the Quebec Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms and discriminates against non-Christians (“Jewish groups denounce Quebec values charter,” The CJN, Sept. 18).
On its website, the Quebec government says the wearing of these “ostentatious” head coverings has an aspect of passive proselytism, which is incompatible with the neutrality of the state. That’s gobbledygook. Proselytism by definition means the active attempt to persuade someone to change religions. Has anyone ever heard of someone converting just because they looked at someone else’s head gear?
Of course, the crucifix in the National Assembly will remain, as it’s not considered a religious symbol, but part of Quebec’s Roman Catholic heritage. For that matter, so is the archbishop of Quebec’s skullcap.
All this reminds me of the famous quote from George Orwell’s Animal Farm. “All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.”
Something’s definitely not kosher in the province of Quebec.
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Charter prevents bias
The article “Jewish groups denounce Quebec values charter” (The CJN, Sept. 18) gives a strong impression that just about all the Jewish groups are strongly against the proposed Quebec values charter. Being a Jew by birth, I must belong to one of these groups, but I was never polled about my opinion on this subject.
Despite being an Ashkenazi Jew and even a Holocaust survivor, I disagree with the majority of opinions in this article. If I were dealing with a public service employee and needed a service or decision rendered, if the person belonged to a hostile group – this might include a devout Catholic, Muslim, or even a prominently religious Jew (because I don’t wear a kippah) – and was wearing prominently their religious garb (which would tell me they are devoted to it), I would suspect them of having strong negative biases against me.
Employment in a position of influence is not a right, but a privilege. With very few exceptions, there is no universal entitlement to it – especially in Quebec.
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Keep your eye on arts
Is Bill Gladstone feeling confined by his “Eye On Arts” reporting? He devoted more than half his Sept. 18 column to a “Political Corner,” slamming the respected Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East as “propagandistic,” insulting its members as “ridiculously simplistic [with a] myopic view” of the region. Then he repeats his Aug. 1 column’s serious omission that “relocat[ing] some Palestinians and Bedouins” actually includes forced relocation of tens of thousands of Israeli citizens without their consent.
Pity he misuses his space, presumably with the interim editor’s consent, omitting many important events – from the last chance to see outstanding performances of Fiddler on the Roof and The Merchant of Venice at Stratford, to Itzhak Perlman’s upcoming concerts with the Toronto Symphony and a Beth Tikvah lecture series on “Jews and Opera.”
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Arafat wrecked Oslo
Any objective observer would say the Oslo peace accords were wrecked in 2000 by then-Palestinian Authority president Yasser Arafat (“Twenty years later, debate on Oslo accords rages,” The CJN, Sept. 18).
At the Camp David talks between then-U.S. president Bill Clinton, then-Israeli prime minister Ehud Barak and Arafat, the Palestinians were to get all of Gaza, 97 per cent of the West Bank (with an equivalent swap of Israeli land) and their capital in a shared Jerusalem. It was everything anyone could have dreamed of. But Arafat refused to sign, and he wouldn’t make a counter-proposal. The problem was an “end-of-conflict” statement, which would not have left it open for future generations to finally “drive the Jews into the sea.”
So, when he should have been building his new state, Arafat started the second intifadah, unleashing suicide bombers on innocent Israeli civilians in hotels, restaurants, universities and buses.
Now, as the two sides are again starting talks, we will soon see who is honourable and who is not. Hopefully, both sides will prove equal to the task.