by Reb Akiva at Mystical Paths
I've been occasionally discriminated against in the US. Nothing major mind you... The boss who always referred to "you people", the flight where a nearby couple went on about "he thinks he's special" for my kosher meal request, the elderly neighbors who repeatedly reported us to the Department of Children's Services for "having so many children running around they must be uncared for". Nothing major or really worth complaining about, and besides - African Americans were still underrepresented in corporate hallways and concerned by the authorities response to them just walking the street at night (and for good reason).
No, to get a little taste of African American style discrimination I had to come to Israel. In Israel, the ultra-orthodox are referred to as "blacks" (as the men mostly dress in black coats). There's a natural assumption of lower job skills and capabilities, certainly of professional experience. Many a Tel Aviv professional has never interacted with a blacky before. There are many neighborhoods where (the ultra-orthodox) blacks are not welcome to live, and schools they are not welcome to attend. Senior positions in regular political parties are not open to them.
Yesterday Israel was noted for creating a new Organ Donation policy. As a country with a low rate of organ donation, they "established a special committee, including ethicists, philosophers, religious representatives and transplant surgeons to review the problem." Well and good, and the idea they came up with a bit unusual but also sounds like a reasonable motivator, "Israel is to become the first country to give donor card carriers a legal right to priority treatment if they should require an organ transplant. Under the planned point-based system, people who have signed a donor card will be given priority for a transplant. Their spouses and other close relatives will also qualify."
But when they interviewed the leader of this committee, he stated "we have a subset of the population that doesn't believe in brain death and therefore doesn't contribute organs, but is willing to accept organs if in need. This policy will make sure they don't get priority."
In other words, the primary reason for the new policy is not the 7 in 10 secular Israeli's who don't agree to organ donation, but rather the 2 in 10 religious Israeli Jews who don't agree with doctor defined brain death as the end-of-life allowing for a still breathing person to be harvested for organs. (1 in 10 Israelis sign up for organ donation, including some but not many orthodox Jews.)
Now I'm not arguing against organ donation, or for it. There are ultra-orthodox rabbis who permit it, and those who prohibit it. The sanctity of the human body as a vessel for a divine soul is a part of Judaism with a strong tradition, as is a quick burial without body mutilation (no embalming or putting on display). (I know that most orthodox Jews in the US are surprised to hear that there is religious allowances for organ donation in Israel at all!)
I'm simply surprised at being the specific target of a national organ donation policy based on my religious belief. I don't have to wonder, yes the man is out to get me.
Tuesday, December 29, 2009
// 12/29/2009 //