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No place in democracy

An attack on language is an attack on cultural identity
Jody Whitehill, Wednesday, September 12th, 2018


Unite delegate Claire Lees today (September 12) told a packed TUC conference how pleased she was to be able to second an emergency motion submitted by train drivers union ASLEF.

 

“Congress, as you have heard the Israeli parliament has recently passed a new law that says that Israeli national self-determination is unique to Jews,” she said.

 

“But Israel has citizens from many other ethnic and religious groups – Palestinians obviously – but Druze and Christians also,” she added.

 

This new law promotes one ethnic and religious group above all others.

 

“Even with a sizable Palestinian minority in Israel – a minority but citizens nonetheless – the new law has relegated the status of Arabic as an official language,” said Lees.

 

Lees made clear an attack on language is clearly an attack on cultural identity and national aspiration.

 

“These measures have echoes of the apartheid years in South Africa and we unreservedly condemn such actions,” she said.

 

“Congress, we do not stand alone in making such condemnations,” she added.

 

Quotes taken from the Jewish Chronicle – “There is concern that some of the measures in this law are regressive steps.”

 

“This law is a slap in the face to Arab Palestinian citizens of Israel. Legislation that identifies first and second class citizens has no place in democracy.”

 

“As British Jews … we must speak up in opposition to this racist bill which turns minorities in Israel into second class citizens.”

 

The first quote is from a senior member of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, the second from the Chief Executive of the New Israel Fund and the third from Yachad, campaigners for a two state solution.

 

“If the traditional cheerleaders for Israel are so critical of the national law we should have no fear in our condemnation,” said Lees.

 

“We should call it out for what it is – racism and apartheid. Congress, I have no time to speak about the unspeakable Donald Trump other than to say we unreservedly condemn his actions,” she added.

 

Lees urged congress to support the motion.

 

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