CJF spreads its wings – but the clippers are out

May 29, 2011 by Henry Benjamin
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Manny Waks, the Executive Director of the Canberra-based Capital Jewish Forum has insisted that the inaugural Melbourne Capital Jewish Forum event at which the guest speaker will be Izzat Abdulhadi, Palestinian Authority Head of Delegation to Australia will take place in spite of objections to the event.

Manny Waks

Waks told J-Wire he had advised Dr Danny Lamm, president of the Executive Council of Australian Jewry that the CJF had consistently adhered to its mission ‘to promote discussion and engagement with intellectuals, dignitaries and leaders on topics which are relevant to Jewish academic, policy, business and other professionals.’

But Waks added: “I have received demands from Victorian and National leadership organisations that I must cancel this event.”

J-Wire asked Waks if he had consulted the community before planning the event….or if he thinks that was not necessary. He said: “We are effectively a national group – currently with over 550+ email subscribers from around Australia – offering a unique opportunity to the Jewish community. We are not in “competition” with other groups. Holding an event in Melbourne is a natural progression for the CJF and this vision has been made public in various forums, including directly to some within the Jewish community leadership group.

Also, these events have been running basically every month in Canberra with a range of ambassadors, including those who represent countries that do not have a formal relationship with Israel. Not only have I not received criticism for holding these events, in fact these events have been encouraged, including from some within the leadership group.”

Waks outlined the aims of the CJF

1.      Focus attention of leaders and key decision makers on issues pertinent to the Jewish community and allow CJF members to meet and interact with these leaders and decision makers.

2.      Provide a unique and contemporary framework open to Jewish professionals with diverse political and ideological views.

3.      Offer stimulating opportunities for Jewish professionals to enhance their Jewish identity through meaningful engagement and networking with their Jewish contemporaries.

He added that the CJF is not a representative body but simply a facilitating organisation. The Melbourne meeting, according to Waks, is in response to demands to broaden the CJF’s activities in other Australian cities.

First Secretary Mohammed Abu Daga, Izzat Abdulhadi and Manny Waks at the 2009 event

Waks said: “I take no issue with the fact that CJF events may not have a universal appeal. Our intent is straightforward and ideologically innocuous, to encourage discourse and a free exchange of ideas in a respectful manner. Mr Abdulhadi has made it clear that he will respond to each and every question posed to him. I extend an invitation to the entire community, including those in leadership positions, to attend this event and accept his offer.

It is my sincere hope that this event will be the first of many around Australia—a number of ambassadors have already agreed to participate in such a program.”

Abdulhadi addressed the CJF in 2009…its inaugural year.

J-Wire was told by the Executive Council of Australian Jewry that they had no comment to make on the issue.

Waks told J-Wire: “Despite the significant pressure emanating from some circles within our community to cancel the Melbourne event, I can confirm that this is not an option—it will proceed.”


One Response to “CJF spreads its wings – but the clippers are out”
  1. sheree waks says:

    As one who has driven from Sydney to Canberra and back to attend a number of CJF events, as they were not available in Sydney, I can attest to these events being stimulating and enlightening, as well as extremely inclusive – I met people there whose views encompassed a very broad spectrum indeed, yet never encountered anything other than respect for both speakers and participants from all those in attendance. Instead of denigrating the attempt to broaden the geographic reach of CJF because, presumably, these critics do not want the Palestinian Authority Head Of Delegation Mr Izzat Abdulhadi (a most intelligent and interesting man, whose 2009 CJF address is there to be read online for anyone interested) such endeavours should be encouraged. This appears to be yet another attempt to stifle debate, that is only reinforcing the opinions of many who no longer frequent the Jewish establishment organisations.

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