…and Jewish rabbinical authority as well…and British Jews aren’t faring much better
Some months ago, we discussed Ontario’s consideration of giving equal weight under the law with respect to civil matters to Islamic shariah law. After some deliberation and considerable discussion and protesting in Ontario, it appears that Ontario’s current government has rejected the proposal.

However, it appears that in coming to this decision, Ontario’s government has decided to also eliminate the jurisdiction other faiths, including Christian groups and Jewish groups, held over their own civil affairs.

In a telephone interview with the national news agency, McGuinty announced his government would move quickly to outlaw existing religious tribunals used for years by Christians and Jews under Ontario’s Arbitration Act.

“I’ve come to the conclusion that the debate has gone on long enough,” he said.

“There will be no Shariah law in Ontario. There will be no religious arbitration in Ontario. There will be one law for all Ontarians.”

McGuinty said religious arbitrations “threaten our common ground,” and promised his Liberal government would introduce legislation “as soon as possible” to outlaw them in Ontario.

“Ontarians will always have the right to seek advice from anyone in matters of family law, including religious advice,” he said. “But no longer will religious arbitration be deciding matters of family law.”

The Jewish community seems to have been blindsided by this decision.

“We’re stunned,” said Joel Richler, Ontario region chairman of the Canadian Jewish Congress.

“At the very least, we would have thought the government would have consulted with us before taking away what we’ve had for so many years.”

Richler said the current system – in place since 1992 – has worked well and saw no reason for it to be changed for either his or other communities.

“If there have been any problems flowing from any rabbinical court decisions, I’m not aware of them,” he said.

In other news, advisers to British PM Tony Blair are recommending that future Muslim terror attacks like the one in London, might be prevented if he accepts their recommendation to eliminate a Holocaust memorial day and replace it, as per the suggestion of some leading British Muslims, with a Genocide Day that will include – of course – mention of a genocide against the Palestinians.

A member of one of the committees, made up of Muslims, said it gave the impression that “western lives have more value than non-western lives”. That perception needed to be changed. “One way of doing that is if the government were to sponsor a national Genocide Memorial Day.

“The very name Holocaust Memorial Day sounds too exclusive to many young Muslims. It sends out the wrong signals: that the lives of one people are to be remembered more than others. It’s a grievance that extremists are able to exploit.”

The recommendation, drawn up by four committees including those dealing with imams and mosques, and Islamaphobia and policing, has the backing of Sir Iqbal Sacranie, secretary-general of the Muslim Council of Britain.

He said: “The message of the Holocaust was ‘never again’, and for that message to have practical effect on the world community it has to be inclusive. We can never have double standards in terms of human life. Muslims feel hurt and excluded that their lives are not equally valuable to those lives lost in the Holocaust time.”

Ibrahim Hewitt, chairman of the charity Interpal, said: “There are 500 Palestinian towns and villages that have been wiped out over the years. That’s pretty genocidal to me.”

Hmmm, I don’t know that there’s anything that will change the pace of change in countries where the Muslim community has achieved prominence, but perhaps the Jewish community should stop feeling blindsided. In Ontario, the community actually supported the idea that Sharia should be adopted for fear that our own rabbinical tribunals and leaders would lose their authority. In England, the Jewish community is opposed to the change in this commemorative day. In both cases they have little influence and even if they manage a short term gain, will ultimately find themselves on the losing side.

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13 Comments

  • And in other news, other advisers to Blair claim that it was the Jews and Freemasons that forced him to go to war in Iraq.

    By the way, I’m wondering if Genocide day will inculde the genocides in Armenia and Darfur. Or will that be too inclusive for the overly sensitive Muslium community.

  • Yeah, I’d have to be surprised that anyone was “blindsided” by the Ontario decision. The principal justification for Shariah arbitration was the pre-existing religiuous bodies.
    I think the government here did the right thing. Religious civil codes do not belong in the secular domain of the courts. I trust Muslim, Jewish and Christian civil arrangements can be just as well handled privately without invoking the court’s blessing.

    As for the memorial-day fracas, how in God’s name does anyone rationally deal with Palestinian issues without acknowledging the unique, historical facts (and consequences) of the Holocaust? The last thing we need is to de-contextualize genocide, forced evacuation, state-sponsored-assassination and land-grabbing as “a bunch of equivalently bad stuff that happened.”
    It’s as if George Bush has become everybody’s president in a Global War Against History.

  • Become a vegetarian.
    They have tried this all over the world w/out success yet, so I doubt that Canada will pull this off. If push comes to shove, the Yidden will get some American Senator, or bushy, to make a few phone calls. Many laws that Canada wants to establish are vetoed like that.

  • Aw man, that’s just what the overtaxed legal system in Ontario needs – the elimination of a tried and tested alternative method of dispute resolution. I had no opposition to religious tribunals, based on Jewish or Sharia law but now McGuinty’s made a really boneheaded move. My prediction? McGuinty’s going to be slapped in the ass and the whole issue will be reconsidered again.

    As far as the nutters in the UK go, well … the notion that a Holocaust Memorial Day caused the London Bombings is just so patently stupid, I am embarassed for the dumbass that actually said that. It hurts my brain to consider that a world leader on par with Tony Blair has assistants that are THAT idiotic. Good grief, my neighbourhood pimp has more backbone, common sense and intelligence than that! How do these people find gainful employment? Is there a Hire The Moron Act in the UK?

  • Jews need to get the hell out of other countries and get back to the LAND! We should know by now that no one else is going to give a rodent’s behind about us. Poland didn’t protect us, France didn’t protect us. I’m not counting on the US or Canada to protect us, respect us, or consult us in any way.

    I’m selling off all of my furniture as we speak, and getting ready to sell my house so I can make aliyah.

  • Alternate dispute resolution in the form of religious courts works pretty well over here… the Sydney Beth Din is considered to be the same level as the District Court in New South Wales (state of Australia of which Sydney is the capital). If a case fails in the Beth Din, it goes to the Supreme Court (which, unlike in the US, is not the highest court of the land. That would be the High Court over here). Notable recent Beth Din cases that made it over to the Supreme Court and caused a ruckus include Yeshiva Properties No 1 Pty Ltd v Lubavitch Mazal Pty Ltd [2003] NSWSC 615 (8 July 2003) (Gutnick v Feldman).

  • I am glad we have a condtitutional law in this country, i feel that religious law is inferior. While our principles and constitution are from natural law/rights wich is embraced by Deism and was espoused by believers in such a thing. I realise the supiority of it all.

    Peace!

  • Hey, I am a resident of Ontario and I dont think that they will be able to kick out the rabbinic law so easily…we have a constitution too and Jewish agencies are already bringing it to court saying it isn’t constatutional…so we’ll see what the result it but I suspect that we will win because Jewish law doesn’t really contradict Canadian law severly as opposed to the harsh law of shariah.

  • Ah, but Eric, the point is that the government is trying to be equitable to all faiths here. They can’t come out and say that Jewish law is more in line with Canadian culture and law than Sharia law.

  • I might add that no one will be prevented from resolving disputes within private religious mechanisms. The government may have withdrawn its sponsorship, but these bodies’ decisions were already subject to slam-dunk overrulings under common and statutory laws. It’s not as though anyone’s power has been taken away.
    The Charter provides Canadians the right to live according to their religious tenets, but it is very clear that the foundation of Canadian Justice flows from the courts, not the cathedral, synagogue or mosque. There is no Charter guarantee that religious bodies should expect any role within the legal system.
    Eric, as for picking one set of religious law as better than another … show me ANY immovable ideology and I’ll show you the roots of injustice.

  • Ahhh but you dont get what is going on here. It was the Jews that helped out the muslims to get shariah allowed. We are not saying ours is better but rather ours has nothing that would give the candian gov’t a reason to disallow it.

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