Community group calls for Israeli boycott

March 29, 2013 by J-Wire Staff
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An affiliate member of The Jewish Community Council of Victoria has called for the boycott of goods produced in Israel’s disputed settlements.

The Australian Jewish Democratic Society (AJDS), a progressive Jewish organisation based in Melbourne, has launched “Don’t Buy From the Settlements”… a campaign encouraging Australian Jews to avoid buying products made in settlements located in the Occupied Territories.

The move has been declared “repugnant” by the JCCV.

In a statement released to media the AJDS states: “Israeli settlements are seen around the world as a major obstacle to creating peace between Israelis and Palestinians. One way to take a stand against the harm they create is not to buy the products they produce. This sends a clear message that we will not be complicit in the settlement program.

The AJDS launched this campaign as the Jewish festival of Passover, which is commonly known as a festival of freedom, begins. On Passover we remember that Jews were once slaves in Biblical Egypt.  This year the AJDS is putting a call out to the Jewish community asking them  to join a long history of people who have fought for freedom, for both Jews and for non-Jews.”

Dr Jordy Silverstein

Dr Jordy Silverstein

AJDS executive member Dr Jordy Silverstein says: “not buying products from settlements will not work on its own, but it is one small step that we can take. When we add in the possibility of sharing knowledge about what the settlements mean and what they do, together with the capability to have these difficult conversations about what kind of Israel we want to create, we can work alongside Palestinians, Israelis, and people throughout the diasporas to create an exciting, liberating future.”

The AJDS looks forward to working with peoples throughout the various Australian Jewish and non-Jewish communities to cease buying settlement products. We are excited to join new conversations about what kind of Israel we can help to create.

But a spokesperson for the JCCV told J-Wire: “The JCCV totally repudiates the AJDS campaign- ‘Don’t Buy Settlement Products’. Whilst the JCCV recognizes that its affiliates have the right to formulate their own policies, this campaign is repugnant to the long-standing policies of the JCCV and indeed to those of the majority of our community. The philosophical differences between the JCCV and the AJDS are such that I propose to bring for discussion to our next meeting the future of AJDS as a JCCV affiliate.”

Dr Silverstein is currently co-editing a forthcoming book entitled “In the Shadows of the Shadows of the Holocaust: Narratives of the Third Generation”.



8 Responses to “Community group calls for Israeli boycott”
  1. ben eleijah says:

    Expel them by all means and they can associate with the BDS activists. Curiously the AJDS is trying to save Israel from destruction while the JCCV is doing its best to ignore Israel’s continued annexation of the West Bank, a process which will leave a segregated Palestinian population hemmed in by Israeli settlements from all sides and a demand for citizenship. Even the USA cannot hold up Israel much longer, and Chuck Hagel’s nomination ad defence secretary shows it intends to keep a distance from Israel.

  2. Philip says:

    some of you will be aware of what happened recently in the UK when YACHAD was rejected for membership by the Zionist peak body –;_ylu=X3oDMTE0Z2QyaWc1BHNlYwNzcgRwb3MDMQRjb2xvA3NrMQR2dGlkA0FVQzAwM183Mg–/SIG=135dns0mr/EXP=1364804694/**http%3a//
    On the surface, this would appear similar. YACHAD also support some form of ban on settlement products. But because they are viewed rightly as a pro-Israel body, their exclusion was condemned by many mainstream leaders, and that helped to facilitate a serious and valuable debate about Jewish attitudes to the settlements.

    In contrast, AJDS made it very clear when they first proposed this boycott that they were endorsing in principle the widely hated (and in my view overtly racist) BDS, albeit in a qualified way regarding the settlements. And if you take a close look at the eight person AJDS Executive, two of them are self-identified anti-Zionists, Larry Stillman is an anti-Zionist who sometimes pretends not to be, and the only known supporter of Israel in that group is Robin Rothfield. I am not sure about the other four who are all new names, but I doubt very much that they are pro-Israel. –

    In my opinion, it would be a very different context if a serious organisation like NIF had started this debate, but I do think that if that had happened, the issue would have been framed very differently and not in such a one-sided way. The reality being that most Israelis may not like the settlements, but they will only support a real withdrawal from the West Bank if they can be convinced that the outcome will not be the same as what occurred in Gaza. Maybe that is the type of “virtual” debate that serious supporters of a two-state solution need to be having, and constructively inviting local Palestinians to actually address that issue of what they would propose if the settlements were dismantled.

    In the meantime I think any defence of AJDS is just a red herring, and will not have a good outcome.

  3. Otto Waldmann says:


    to be honest, I am not all that impressed with YOUR JCCV. Forget about “Johny come late”. We are dealing here with an acute case of Nina, Danny and maybe even a distant Isi come late.
    AJDS have been using and abusing the “afiliation” for enough time to cause us maspik tzures. If not for persistent – what persistance !!! – calls by some of yourse Victorians, the belated victory over AJDS , if all left up to the JCCV itself, is more than questionable.
    This necessary move will cause for a while even more headaches, as AJDS will include in their menu list of kvetching against the Zionist oppressors the very “dismissal”. Now they are noch “victims”.
    Tell you what, I should have stayed in the shmate game, or rather, the shmate game should have stayed with me. At least I got real gelt for the job lots, the maker-uppers were treating me with respect – mostly in Greek and thus I learnt what a malaka is -, everybody in Surry Hills was bulshiting about their parnusse and Katies were paying on time. Twice a year would collect for the JNF with my little Bubele on tow on my overpopulated over Jewish North Bondi, the Rosenfelds would give $2.35, the Cohens $4.15 ( a Cohen is a Cohen, nu ! )…………
    Now I need to worry about “democratic rights” of fringe groups and their post Zionist ideology. Democratic, shmemocratic………………

  4. michael says:

    Hey Otto , I want to start a fringe group that boycotts all kebab shops ,do you want to help .To get some legitimacy perhaps I can get it endorsed by JCCV ?


    • Otto Waldmann says:

      Hey Burdy, I am already a member of th Vegetarians Free Corps !!! Forget about JCCV, all that meat and no potatoes.

  5. Philip says:

    It doesn’t surprise me that the JCCV is considering disaffiliating AJDS. This possibility has been on the agenda for a while. Not surprisingly, I have mixed feelings about this course of action.

    Historically, there is a world of difference between the politics and personnel of AJDS pre-2000 and post the Second Palestinian Intifada. The earlier AJDS from approximately 1985-2000 was the only organisation in the Melbourne Jewish community (as the sister organisation of the Sydney Jewish Left) that consistently supported a two state solution in what was then a very conservative Australian Jewry.

    The exclusion of AJDS from the JCCV in 1987 at the behest of some very arrogant leaders of the Zionist movement at that time greatly embarrassed the Jewish community. I was not at that time a member of AJDS, but joined soon after at least in part because I was so appalled by that episode. The AJDS seemed to symbolize democratic and pluralist debate in the Jewish community as many non-Left commentators noted at the time.

    Much changed after September 2000. The Jewish mainstream shifted sharply to adopt a two-state perspective. AJDS included new activists whose politics were primarily of the universalistic Left with very little interest in or respect for what the Jewish mainstream thought. There were a number of one-sided pro-Palestinian statements made by AJDS that seemed highly insensitive at the height of the Palestinian suicide bombings directed at Israeli civilians within the Green Line. A number of AJDS members who still considered themselves to represent a Jewish Left perspective, but thought that any Jewish-identifying organisation should have a basic position of solidarity with the Israeli Jewish people, were either directly driven out of the organisation (my experience), or more quietly discontinued their involvement.

    The AJDS position seemed to revolve around what their allies in the pro-Palestinian Left thought mattered. They did not try to find a reasonable mid-way compromise between the Palestinian lobbyists and the Jewish mainstream. Rather, they tried to sit mid-way between the hardline Palestinian lobby and the slightly less extreme Palestinian lobby. This culminated in their August 2010 vote in favour of a BDS boycott of settlement goods. Their decision was praised by hardline pro-BDS boycott advocates all over the world as cited in David Landy’s pro-BDS book Jewish Identify and Palestinian Rights (pp.101 & 162).

    I understand that successive JCCV Presidents since 2001 have attempted to communicate to AJDS that inclusion in the Jewish mainstream involves responsibilities as well as rights. And others on the Left have also tried to make the point that being a Jewish Left organisation sometimes means prioritizing particularist Jewish interests and concerns over other universalistic concerns. The AJDS response has not been positive, and has seemed to involve little more than a wall of silence.

    I do not personally want to see any organisation excluded from the JCCV on political grounds. I suspect AJDS will wrongly proclaim themselves to be martyrs of free speech if that happens. I also suspect that it will send a very bad message to the Jewish and broader community about the apparent limits of acceptable opinion in the Jewish mainstream. But equally, ADJS need to understand that the community don’t have unlimited patience for those whose political loyalties always seem to lie with the pro-Palestinian Left rather than the Jewish community (i.e. as in AJDS’ notorious support for the anti-Zionist fundamentalists at Overland Magazine). If AJDS still want to be included then they need to stop excluding themselves.

    Philip Mendes

    • Otto Waldmann says:


      can I take it that, by the time you concluded the last paragraph of the above , you no longer had those “mixed feelings” !!??


  6. Otto Waldmann says:

    Onya Jordy, where can I sign to become a member of your organisation ?

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