Israel Under Pressure To Change Domestic Policies
What It’s About: Thursday saw Israel come under intense criticism and scrutiny for its domestic policies regarding immigrants, living conditions in Gaza, and the relocation of Jewish settlers:
- NGO’s have called on Israel to end the blockade of Palestine so that resources could be spent on development and not humanitarian work.
- The deportation of 1500 African immigrants (a significant number illegally) as threats to the “Zionist dream” has led to some considering it to be an act of racism.
- The Israeli government has come under fire from pro-settlement groups for its decision to evict Jewish settlers from the West Bank.
Why It’s Important: As a nation that receives a significant amount of financial and political support from the United States and Canada, Israel’s desire for a Jewish (rather than Israeli) state and its disregard of UN resolutions and human rights laws implicates its Western allies. This largely unquestioned support (at the government level) weakens our arguments to enforce human rights in other countries. For those interested in promoting human rights the Israeli-Palestinian situation is one area where your voice can have a direct impact by contacting your elected representative.
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Bold Moves and A Casualty, For LGBT Around the World, :
What It’s About: The last forty years has seen a surge in acceptance and activism for individuals professing non-hetero-normative gender and sexual identities and Thursday saw some important gains, and losses, in these areas:
- In China, a sexually conservative country, Quian Jinfan has made the transformation from man to woman at the age of 84 with the support of his wife and former employer.
- Progress has also been made in the United States as the Pentagon has announced its first Gay Pride Event after recently abolishing the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy.
- Unfortunately, the death and mutilation of a prominent member of the gay community in South Africa has highlighted continued intolerance of “feminine men” and lesbians in Africa.
Why It’s Important: Increased acceptance of non-hetero-normative lifestyles around the world not only allows for greater access to human rights for previously marginalized peoples, it also allows for the development of transnational relationships and networks between LGBT groups. These networks allow individuals and groups around the world to meet and share ideas that can further expand acceptance of individuals that identify as LGBT and counter negative stereotypes.
One Nation United Under A Single Twitter:
What It’s About: A Swedish experiment in democracy using Twitter has aroused a great deal of controversy due to one participant using the experiment to ask about Anti-Semitism. Each week the @Sweden Twitter account is given to one Swedish citizen to post anything they want. The organizers of the experiment will not take action against the individual would the posts as part of their effortto promote transparency and openess and not censorship.
Why It’s Important: One of the most important tests of democracy is determining to what degree it will allow people to say what they want. Although this particular case highlights the problems with adopting a purely democratic model of free speech, it forces us to think about what is “politically correct” and why we’ve established such boundaries on speech.
- How far are you willing to suppress your freedom of speech in order to avoid offending others?
- Why do you think we should avoid asking difficult questions?
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