Nov-29 Melbourne: The Senator Sam Cohen Affair

Read on for article
The AJHS Vic Inc will host a public meeting on The Senator Sam Cohen Affair.

During the period from 1960-62, Sam Cohen, a long-time Jewish Council to combat Fascism and Anti-Semitismactivist and president, was involved in two public brawls which brought both the Council and the Jewish community to national media attention.

Firstly, there was Cohen’s controversial selection ahead of veteran Jewish communal leader Maurice Ashkanasy for the ALP Federal Senate ticket. This provoked a backlash from critics of the Council both within the Jewish community and the ALP. Secondly, Cohen’s subsequent speech in the Federal Senate, which appeared to minimize the extent of anti-Semitism in the Soviet Union, provoked enormous criticism from the Victorian Jewish peak ruling body – the Jewish Board of Deputies (VJBD). The VJBD’s personal vilification of Cohen led to a significant rift in the traditionally friendly relationship between the Jewish community and the ALP. It also generated considerable tension between the Victorian and NSW Jewish leaderships.

Why did Cohen, who was a moderate social democrat enjoying good relationships with many mainstream Jewish leaders, chose to align himself with an arguably radical pro-Communist view on the question of Soviet Jewry?

Our guest speaker, Associate Professor Philip Mendes, is the Acting Head of the Department of Social Work, Faculty of Medicine, Monash University, Australia. He has numerous publications in local and international journals, and is a frequent contributor to our own AJHS Journal. Philip is the author or co-author of 12 books including Jews and the Left: The rise and fall of a political alliance (2014), Boycotting Israel is Wrong (co-authored with Nick Dyrenfurth, 2015), and most recently Empowerment and control in the Australian Welfare State (2018).

Thursday 29 November at 7.30pm, at Temple Beth Israel,
76 Alma Rd St Kilda.

Speak Your Mind

Comments received without a full name will not be considered
Email addresses are NEVER published! All comments are moderated. J-Wire will publish considered comments by people who provide a real name and email address. Comments that are abusive, rude, defamatory or which contain offensive language will not be published

    Rules on posting comments