Sun, Nov 21, 2010 | IsraelNationalNews | by Chana Ya’ar
US 2010 Religious Freedom Report Toned Down Criticism of Israel
Israel National News, as did several other media, wrote a report last Thursday on the U.S. International Religious Freedom Report released last week, but had received the document that was released for 2009 by mistake. That document included the Jewish State in a list of 30 nations on its Executive Summary that singled out nations where “violations of religious freedom were noteworthy.”
However, the U.S. State Department’s 2010 International Religious Freedom Report that was released last week [nov 17, 2010], actually toned down the unjustified criticism that for years was the norm in the document authored by American Foreign Service personnel.
The following is a corrected review of the report.
In the 2010 Executive Summary, Israel was removed from the Executive Summary list, where it did appear in 2009.
In fact, the list designation itself has been altered to reflect the “Obama engagement” approach. Part I of the Executive Summary now summarizes overall conditions “in some countries where violations, improvements, or positive developments of religious freedom have been noteworthy.”
Israel does not appear on this executive list, which has been pared down to 27 countries. However, Egypt does, along with Afghanistan, China, Eritrea, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Laos, Malaysia, Morocco, Nigeria, North Korea, Pakistan, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan, Venezuela and Vietnam, among others.
The list of eight Countries of Particular Concern (CPCs) does not include Egypt, but it does include Eritrea, Iran, Saudi Arabia and Sudan.
The full-length document, which surveys the status of religious freedom in 198 countries including Israel and the Palestinian Authority (that is, PA-controlled areas of Judea, Samaria and Gaza), covers the period from July 1, 2009 through June 30, 2010.
It begins by describing Israel’s Basic Law on Human Dignity and Liberty, explaining that although Israel has no constitution, nevertheless the law of the land provides for freedom to worship according to one’s religion, “although governmental and legal discrimination against non-Jews and non-Orthodox streams of Judaism continued.” The quote does not take into account the halakhic (Jewish legal) issues which would make any change discriminatory against the Orthodox instead.
The sources for the report this year were many and varied, according to the document, and included “nongovernmental organizations, journalists, human rights monitors, religious groups and academics.”
There were, however, a number of inaccuracies in the report. With regard to the issue of protection for holy sites throughout the country, the State Department continued to state that Israel extends more and better protection to Jewish holy sites than it does to those of other religions, which is untrue.
The report also devoted a significant amount of space to the fate of missionaries and so-called “Messianic Jews” – a misnomer for Jews who have become Christians — and their difficulties with entering or staying in the country.
Read the full article here.