When One Human Being Is Weighed Less Against Another

Back in the revolutionary era, when the U.S. Constitution declared a black man to be worth three-fifths of a white man, it did not cause the same consternation and shame that it does today, as we contemplate the fact that such a dictum was included in our original Constitution. The difference between then and now was because the formulation was intended as an electoral gimmick that would give the South more representation, by counting in blacks to a three-fifths degree, and thus more legislative power. It was not explicitly a denigration of blacks. Besides they could not be further denigrated as most were already slaves.

We now have a modern-day phenomenon whereby some peoples' lives are considered as worth less than other peoples. According to the Financial Times of August 8, Hanoch Sheinman, a law professor at Israel's Bar-Ilan University sent an email message to his students last week to assure them that a new date would be set for their final exam because of the disruption caused by the war against Hamas in Gaza:

I hope that this message finds you in a safe place, and that you, your families and those dear to you are not among the hundreds of people that were killed, the thousands wounded, or the tens of thousands whose homes were destroyed or who were forced to leave their homes during or as a direct result of the confrontation in the Gaza Strip and its environs.

The Gaza war, which hopefully will end soon, has caused so far some 1,900 Palestinian deaths and 67 Israeli deaths. However, the message of Prof. Sheinmam was not well received and has become a national news issue in Israel. Indignant students complained to the university, saying they were offended because he had equated Palestinian war deaths with Israeli ones. Q.E.D.