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or Belief and State
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Now is the Time

 

 
 

Prefatory Note: The Tandem Project is using an attached article on an Ultra-Orthodox protest in Jerusalem by parents over a Supreme Court ruling against ethnic segregation in a children’s school for a follow-up to the Israel Universal Periodic Review. This is an invitation to organizations and individuals in Israel to exchange ideas on how to apply International Human Rights Law on Freedom of Religion or Belief  and childhood human rights education in the third Tandem Project proposal below.  Others in Israel and beyond will be invited to exchange information on this and other issues at a later date.

THE TANDEM PROJECT
http://www.tandemproject.com.
info@tandemproject.com

UNITED NATIONS, HUMAN RIGHTS,
FREEDOM OF RELIGION OR BELIEF

The Tandem Project is a UN NGO in Special Consultative Status with the
Economic and Social Council of the United Nations

Separation of Religion or Belief and State

EXCHANGE OF INFORMATION ON JUDAISM IN ISRAEL

Judaism: Wikipedia
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Judaism

The Tandem Project requests an exchange of ideas with Israel organizations and individuals as a follow-up to the Israel Universal Periodic Review & Freedom of Religion or Belief; including how they would create programs on awareness, understanding and use of International Human Rights Law on Freedom of Religion or Belief in Article 18 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the 1981 U.N. Declaration on the Elimination of All Forms of Intolerance and of Discrimination Based on Religion or Belief. (see Attachment).

  • PROPOSAL: exchange with; Israel Ministry of Justice, Israel Ministry of Education, Human Rights and Humanitarian Affairs, Permanent Mission Geneva, Authors of 28 Stockholder Letters, Yedidia Z Stern, Bar-Ilan University, Boaz Okon, Legal Commentator,  Yediot Aharonot, Tzohar, Zionist Orthodox Rabbi’s, Arye Carmon, Israel Democracy Institute (Others to be listed and sent separate e-mail invitations later).

Separate e-mail invitations to exchange ideas.  Each organization and individual on this list will be sent an invitation on their ideas on this issue and a request to fill out a Questionnaire on inclusive and genuine approach to human rights and freedom of religion or belief.

OBJECTIVE: Apply International Human Rights Standards on Freedom of Religion or Belief in the United States through Integration, Dialogue and Education; teaching children from the very beginning, that their own   religion or belief is one out of many and it is a personal choice for everyone to adhere to the religion or belief by which he or she feels most inspired, or to adhere to no religion or belief at all.

Excerpt: Israel’s Ultra-Orthodox Protest Schools Ruling.

JERUSALEM — Tens of thousands of ultra-Orthodox Jews took to the streets of this city on Thursday to accompany dozens of Hasidic parents who were on their way to prison for two weeks after refusing to comply with a Supreme Court ruling against ethnic segregation in their children’s school.
This latest battle in Israel’s simmering culture war, pitting ultra-Orthodox Ashkenazim of European origin against their slightly less stringent ultra-Orthodox Sephardic peers from Arab and North African backgrounds, has raised accusations of racism on one side and infringement of religious freedom on the other.
But on Thursday, most ultra-Orthodox were united in protest against what they see as the state’s meddling in their religious affairs and in their conviction that the religious law of the Torah — or at least their interpretation of it — transcends that of any Israeli court.

Men in black coats and hats filled an ultra-Orthodox neighborhood, blocking main roads and hailing those going to prison as if they were holy martyrs. Banners waved with slogans like “Don’t touch the Messiah,” while people looked down from rooftops.

Israeli television broadcast tearful scenes outside the central Jerusalem police station as fathers heading for prison parted with their young children. By midnight, a bus carrying the mothers had still not shown up.

In recent years, Israel has grappled with a series of issues testing the boundaries of secular and religious law, and many legal experts here see this as one of the most profound, with implications for the future of Israeli democracy.

“It is a very important moment,” said Yedidia Z. Stern, a professor at Bar-Ilan University Law School near Tel Aviv and an expert in issues of religion and state. “It is about a competition for control.”

Boaz Okon, the legal commentator for the newspaper Yediot Aharonot, wrote Wednesday that racism and the ultra-Orthodox parents’ contempt of court “must not be treated lightly, since a lax attitude is liable to become a curse that will be inscribed like an epitaph on the state’s tombstone.”

The debate has taken on extra weight and urgency because of the growing numbers and power of the ultra-Orthodox, known in Israel as Haredim. The word is Hebrew for the fearful ones, or those who tremble in awe of God.

The ultra-Orthodox, who make up about 10 percent of the population, have eight to nine children per family and are growing at a faster rate than their secular counterparts. According to one recent study, 61 percent of Jewish first graders in Jerusalem are now Haredim.


The principle of universality of human rights is the cornerstone of international human rights law.

http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/Pages/WhatareHumanRights.aspx

International Human Rights Law 

Everyone shall have the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion. This right shall include freedom to have a religion or whatever belief of his choice and freedom either individually or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in worship, observance, practice and teaching.

No one shall be subject to coercion which would impair his freedom to have a religion or belief of his choice.

Freedom of manifest one’s religion or belief may be subject only to such limitations as are prescribed by law and are necessary to protect public safety, order, health, morals or the fundamental rights and freedoms of others.

The States Parties to the present Covenant undertake to have respect for the liberty of parents and, when applicable, legal guardians to ensure the religious and moral education in conformity with their own convictions.

THE TANDEM PROJECT FOLLOW-UP

In 1984 a co-founder of The Tandem Project represented the World Federation of United Nations Associations (WFUNA) at a two week Geneva Seminar called by the U.N.  Secretariat on how to implement the 1981 UN Declaration on the Elimination of All Forms of Intolerance of Discrimination Based on Religion or Belief. In 1986 The Tandem Project hosted the first International Conference on the 1981 U.N. Declaration on Freedom of Religion or Belief.

In 1986 Minnesota held the first International Conference on how to implement the 1981 United Nations Declaration on the Elimination of all Forms of Intolerance and of Discrimination Based on Religion or Belief. 35 international delegates and 45  Minnesota delegates were invited. Minnesota organizations and individuals proposed 27 Community Strategies on how to implement the 1981 U.N. Declaration under: Synopsis, Strategy, Objectives, Program Approach, Obstacles and Outcomes. These Community Strategies can be read on the following link:  
1986 Minnesota Community Strategieshttp://www.tandemproject.com/tolerance.pdf

The 1986 International Conference accomplished awareness and understanding of the 1981 U.N. Declaration but no  use after the conference. International treaties are worthless if there is little to no recognition or use at national and local levels. Freedom to manifest one’s religion or belief subject to limitations by law as necessary to protect public safety, order, health, morals or the fundamental rights and freedoms of others may be an ultimate test of the twenty-first century for the hope of humankind.  

In 2010 this is a proposal to exchange ideas on how new strategies can be developed to use International Human Rights Law on Freedom of Religion or Belief.   The Tandem Project three generic proposals on Integration, Dialogue and Education are written for an exchange of information worldwide with organizations and individuals. 

1. Develop model integrated approaches to International Human Rights Standards on Freedom of Religion or Belief at national and local levels to test the reality of implementation as appropriate to the constitutions, legal systems and cultures of each country.

2. Use International Human Rights Standards on Freedom of Religion or Belief as appropriate to each culture and venue for inclusive and genuine dialogue on freedom of religion or belief.   

3. Apply International Human Rights Standards on Freedom of Religion or Belief in education curricula as appropriate in all grade levels, teaching children, from the very beginning, that their own religion is one out of many and it is a personal choice for everyone to adhere to the religion or belief by which he or she feels most inspired, or to adhere to no religion or belief at all.

Reflections

The First Preamble to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights reads: Recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world.

Surely one of the best hopes for humankind is to embrace a culture in which religions and other beliefs accept one another, in which wars and violence are not tolerated in the name of an exclusive  right to truth, in which children are raised to solve conflicts with mediation, compassion and understanding.

There is an increase in dialogue today between religions and other beliefs to embrace diversity, but few persons, less than one percent of any population, ever participate. This is a challenge. The value of such dialogues is proportionate to the level of participation. For civil society increased participation would create opportunities for education on inclusive and genuine approaches to human rights and freedom of religion or belief. 

 In 1968 the United Nations deferred passage of a legally-binding convention on religious intolerance saying it was too complicated and sensitive. Instead, they adopted a non-binding declaration on the elimination of all forms of intolerance and of discrimination based on religion or belief. While very worthwhile, the declaration does not carry the force and commitment of a legally-binding international human rights convention on freedom of religion or belief.

Religions and other beliefs historically have been used to justify wars and settle disputes. This is more dangerous today as the possible misuse of nuclear and biological weapons of mass destruction increases. Governments need to revisit whether religions and other beliefs trump human rights or human rights trump religions and other beliefs or neither trumps the other; whether culture trumps the universal or universal human rights sensitively and with respect trumps culture in the face of this historical truth.

  • QUESTION: International Human Rights Law on Freedom of Religion or Belief is worthless at a local level if there is no awareness, understanding or use. In 1968 the U.N. deferred work on a legally-binding Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Religious Intolerance as too complicated and sensitive. Human nature seems intractable as weapons of mass destruction increase with national-ethnic-religious justification. This is a contemporary issue as the recent U.N.  Review Conference on the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty and U.N. studies on the use of biological weapons demonstrate. The question is whether the present human rights law on freedom of religion or belief has enough strength and support without core treaty status to be an important aspect of human rights education to reduce the future risk of weapons of mass destruction. Ways to promote long-term synergy between the U.N. Security Council and U.N. Human Rights Council should be considered.

HISTORY & STATISTICS

  • HISTORY: The United Nations failed to achieve consensus on a legally binding international treaty on religious intolerance, settling instead for the non-binding 1981 UN Declaration on the Elimination of All Forms of Intolerance and of Discrimination based on Religion or Belief.

http://www.tandemproject.com/program/history.htm

  • STATISTICS: The United Nations protects all theistic, non-theistic and atheistic beliefs, as well as the right not to profess any religion or belief. Statistics: builds the case for an    inclusive and genuine approach to implementing human rights and freedom of religion or belief.

http://www.tandemproject.com/program/major_religions.htm

The Tandem Project is a non-governmental organization (NGO) founded in 1986 to build understanding, tolerance and respect for diversity, and to prevent discrimination in matters relating to freedom of religion or belief. The Tandem Project has sponsored multiple conferences, curricula, reference materials and programs on Article 18 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights – Everyone shall have the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion - and 1981 United Nations Declaration on the Elimination of All Forms of Intolerance and Discrimination Based on Religion or Belief.

Attachments: Israel – Universal Periodic Review & Freedom of Religion or Belief, Israel’s Ultra-Orthodox Protest Schools Ruling; Human Rights Education & Freedom of Religion or Belief.