BDS Litigation “inappropriate” says ECAJ

October 31, 2013 by J-Wire Staff
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The Executive Council of Australian Jewry has issued a statement detailing their reasons as to why they are not aligned with Israeli Human Rights group Shurat HaDin’s move to litigate against a NSW professor who advocates BDS against Israeli academics.

Peter Wertheim

Peter Wertheim

In a prepared statement, executive director of The Executive Council of Australian Jewry, Peter Wertheim states: “The campaign to boycott academic and other contacts with Israel is repugnant to all who sincerely seek a just and lasting resolution of the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians,” said Peter Wertheim, the Executive Director of the Executive Council of Australian Jewry (ECAJ). “The path to a just peace is through mutual engagement, not vilification. Contacts between Israeli and Palestinian academics should be encouraged and facilitated by their Australian and other colleagues, not stigmatised.”

The ECAJ has long been a vocal critic of the anti-Israel boycott campaign. “The boycott campaign is a calculated attempt to demonise, isolate and ultimately dismantle Israel through the distortion of international law and human rights. The hate-filled protests outside Max Brenner chocolate shops and the ill-considered scheme of Marrickville Council to boycott Israeli products at a cost of millions of dollars to its rate-payers, which was subsequently abandoned, have rightly been condemned and derided by most Australians. All major parties including the Greens, except for a handful of their MP’s, disavow the anti-Israel boycott campaign” Wertheim said.

“The ECAJ believes that the most appropriate and effective way to combat the boycott campaign is to expose its deceptive and sometimes racist rhetoric, methods and aims public scrutiny. In our view, attempts to suppress the campaign through litigation are inappropriate and likely to be counter-productive. It is for this reason that the ECAJ has had no involvement in the action brought by Shurat HaDin and will continue to fight the boycott campaign through public discourse. If any individuals believe they have been adversely affected by racially discriminatory policies and practices of the Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies they are entitled to have their day in court, but we are opposed to litigation if it is pursued merely as a political tactic.”

Asked whether he believes that all criticisms of Israel are antisemitic, Wertheim answered “No. Israel is a vibrant pluralist democracy and its citizens – Jews, Bedouin, Druze and other Israeli Arabs – are often its most incisive critics. But it is also false to suggest that no criticisms of Israel are antisemitic. There is clearly an overlap, as has been acknowledged by the European Agency for Fundamental Rights, the United Kingdom All-Party Parliamentary Inquiry into Antisemitism, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe and the members of parliament from many countries, including Australia, who have signed the London Declaration on Combating Antisemitism and the Ottawa Protocol on Combating Antisemitism.”


6 Responses to “BDS Litigation “inappropriate” says ECAJ”
  1. ben eleijah says:

    Good. In the short term there will be the issue of court trials for the defendants, but in the long term the issue will be tried in the open. Two thousand people have impleaded themselves as co-defendants and Israel’s practices in the West Bank and Gaza will receive a close examination in public. That should be welcomed.

  2. Sam says:

    It is way past time that the pathetic people we have as head of our communal organisations ‘step up or step down’ We keep waiting for someone with guts to stand up and tell it like it is.
    I am fully in agreement with Stuart when he asks why it necessary for ECAJ to go public with its concerns. About what is more to the point.

  3. Liat Nagar says:

    BDS litigation ‘inappropriate’! Almost unbelievable to read ECAJ’s response to this situation, which itself is inappropriate. The issue here is not the wish, sincere or otherwise, of ‘a just and lasting resolution of the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians’, rather it’s a burgeoning campaign of hatred and unreason, inflamed by the likes of Jake Lynch in academia, taken up by the hordes of ignorant activists (themselves used by Palestinian and other Arab propagandists), with the ultimate aim in mind of forming a New Palestinian State as country, without input from or resolution with Israel. And the rhetoric and actions relating to this campaign are racist – anti-Semitic. The ECAJ should be doing with words what Shurat HaDin is doing, fighting back clearly and unequivocally, using the law to back-up those words, not mincing about with platitudes. There’s a time for diplomacy and a time for clear-thinking and frank expression of reality. Israel and Jewish people and community leaders need to say it how it is, forcefully, and keep saying it until our words are out there, alongside the Palestinian words, with equal potency. Let the world know. It’s no good just muttering to ourselves in artificially polite tones. Politeness with passion and acuity and intelligence, that’s what we want. Stand up and be counted.

  4. Otto Waldmann says:


    your rationale regarding the legal avenues is flawless.
    To answer your rhetorical question about the ECAJ, I would venture the following:

    -If Andrew Hamilton (Shurat haDin) win the case , and I so wholeheartedly wish they do , then ECAJ willl end up with at least one dozen eggs on their face for not assisting at least in principle a winnable and very worthy case while coming up with the most incredible “reasons” not to be involved and also against the logic of a legal action.

    – If, G-d forbid, the case is lost, then two dozen eggs should decorate ECAJ’s face for not providing support.

    And the now redundant answer to your question is: ECAJ DO feel morally obliged to be a part of this case except that here they are arguing for a “necessary” lapse in morals. Say no more.( I doubt it !)

  5. Stuart says:

    I feel that the legal action initiated by Andrew Hamilton is a worthy exercise. We do have racial vilification legislation on the books and it should be tested in the appropriate court of law as intended to prevent such activities as secondary boycotts of individuals and organizations on the basis of their national or racial background. A product or service should be judged on its merits and cost and not on unrelated biases such as the ethnic background of the companies owners or employees.ECAJ may well be correct in its analysis that legal action is not the most effective approach in countering BDS. However, the court in our society is the common forum for aggrieved parties to seek redress. So why should this case be treated any differently? And why was it necessary for ECAJ to go public with its concerns?

  6. Paul Winter says:

    This is another example or the gutlessness of Jewish leadership. High-minded debate will not deter Jew haters and liars.

    Concern for the outcome of a trial concedes that the Israel bashers have grounds for their attitude. They have none. Their whole campaign is based on lies and distortions, with dollops of malice thrown in.

    The BDS campaign is antisemitic insofar as it targets a country where the sins of which it is accused are not committed while it includes gross violators of human rights.

    Burbling on about how Israelis are its most incisive critics is sheer obfuscation. Those self-same critics align themselves with “progressives” who support the oh so progressive PA (and HAMAS) and well qualify as antisemites, even if they are Jewish.

    The ECAJ and Jewish leaders who cannot cope with independence and the realisation that the ghetto is no more – no walls, no protectors – should stand aside. In short: stand up or step down!

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