Dr Andre Oboler’s short-lived presidency

December 24, 2020 by J-Wire Newsdesk
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One month after being elected president of the Jewish Community Council of Victoria, Dr Andre Oboler has announced his resignation from the role, effective 29 January 2021.

Andre Oboler

The decision to resign was transmitted to the media and the community through the JCCV.

The reason stated was Oboler’s acceptance of a new international leadership role as Vice President for Member and Geographic Activities of the IEEE Computer Society.

In the JCCV statement, Dr Oboler said: “Taking up this new opportunity in the leading international organisation that advances technology for the benefit of humanity will elevate the discussion within the global technology sector about online antisemitism and other forms of online hate. My resignation date from JCCV, as agreed with the JCCV Executive, is intended to allow for a smooth handover period in early 2021.”

Oboler, a JCCV delegate since 2012 and Executive member since 2014, is also CEO of Online Hate Prevention Institute, an antisemitism specialist appointed to the Australian Government’s delegation to the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance and has been a volunteer in the IEEE since 2009.

JCCV Vice President, Frank Greenstein stated, “The Executive is disappointed that there will be a change of leadership so soon after the elections but recognises Andre’s passion remains in pursing advances on combatting antisemitism across Australia and the world.” Greenstein acknowledged Andre’s dedicated service as a JCCV Executive member for six years and wished him every success professionally and personally.

Owing to the resignation of Dr Oboler as President, Frank Greenstein will be serving as interim President and Doron Abramovici as interim Vice President.

The statement reads: “The current JCCV Executive has a comprehensive skill set to steer the JCCV and build on many community initiatives of the past year. Frank Greenstein, Vice President was co-opted to the JCCV in 2018 with particular interest in Multicultural and Government engagement, fundraising and affiliates. Hannah Greenberg, elected to the JCCV Executive as Treasurer in 2020, with substantial professional experience in accountancy and highly regarded past Treasurer of NCJWA (Vic). ”

J-Wire Dr Oboler how he spent his one month as the JCCV president.

He reported: “This first month as JCCV President has been both busy and productive.  A highlight has been assisting AUJS with its Leadership Training Seminar where I presented on the communal organisations and separately on the latest data on antisemitism. We also discussed some likely threats which will impact students on campus in 2021 and how AUJS Victoria and JCCV could work most effectively together when situations arise.

Another early phone call I received was from JCCV’s newest affiliate, Israel for Youth. They are working to get tax deductibility for a program that financially supports Jewish students from non-Jewish schools in attending a 6-week program in Israel. The tax deductibility is overseen by JCCV and ECAJ and I’m pleased to have helped this move significantly forward.

Antisemitism has been a significant focus. In particular the antisemitic incident with Dr Arthur Nasis. We’ve been working with Monash Health in charting a way forward. It is important for JCCV, as the voice of the community, to stand firmly against antisemitism, support those who become victims of antisemitism, and to prevent antisemitism in the future.

To prevent antisemitism in the future we need to be strong but not vindictive. While apologies and consequences are needed, except in the absolute worst of cases, we also need to give those who have made mistakes the chance to learn from them. We need to ensure those that are genuinely remorseful have a path to redemption and a chance to become our allies in the future. I learned the importance of this during my time in the UK from a friend, Ray Hill, who had been a leading neo-Nazi, and later became a mole in the British National Party where he helped to foil extremist attacks.

I’ve also been working to tackle the problem of antisemitism in schools. Following up on my work with the Inquiry into Brighton Secondary College, I’ve been working with the Jewish Museum of Australia and the Education department on plans to implement a recommendation of the inquiry that would see teachers trained to better understand and recognise antisemitism.

JCCV needs the capacity to respond faster and more effectively to antisemitism. I’ve started discussions on how we can reach that goal and I’ve enhanced the flow of information with our partners at ECAJ.

I’ve had meetings and emails with multiple state government ministries and departments on issues impacting the Jewish community. I’ve also had meetings and e-mails with the state opposition, including a meeting with David Southwick MP just days after taking on the Presidency.

JCCV plays a vital role in keeping the community cohesive. Through Chanukah I’ve shared a video greeting for Temple Beth Israel’s Share the Light online Chanukah celebrations, and I attended the Ark Centre’s Pillars of Light in person in the city.

The next major event is International Holocaust Memorial Day on January 27th which this year will be a national event. It is vital that the Jewish communal organisations, including the JCCV are, and are seen to be, strong supporters of this event. I have been working with the IHRA delegation and the ECAJ to ensure this happens.

Beyond this, there have been many meetings with affiliates, some to assist with specific concerns, others to plan for 2021. Concerns about risks during the recovery from COVID are high. There are also intergenerational issues impacting both the community and communal organisations. JCCV has played a vital communal leadership role in the past, providing a safe forum for discussing the hard issues that impact the community and bringing the organisations and other stakeholders together. From my discussions, more of that will be needed in the future.”

J-Wire asked Dr Oboler if he would continue to be a delegate within the JCCV. He responded: “I have been a delegate for the North Eastern Jewish Centre (NEJC, Doncaster Shule) for the last eight years, but I resigned from that position on being elected to the JCCV Presidency. It would be up to the NEJC Board if they would like to reappoint me a delegate or alternative delegate to the JCCV. ”

Speaking for Israel for Youth, Ronn Bechler said: “I have found working with Andre very positive. He is very receptive to helping out and sorting out queries and issues. It is disappointing to hear that he is leaving JCCV but I also looking forward to working with JCCV to help grow the Israel for Youth Foundation.”

Gabriella Davis, Union Vice President of the Australasian Union of Jewish Students added: “We were saddened to hear the news of Andre’s resignation. Upon his election as president, we quickly developed a great working relationship with him that we were looking forward to continuing. Despite this, we are confident that our strong relationship with the JCCV and its executive will continue into the future.”

The JCCV Executive also includes Dr Michelle Meyer, leading Child Protection Advocate and past CEO Tzedek, Rabbi Gabi Kaltmann, JCCV Spiritual Health representative throughout 2020, Rabbi of the Ark Centre, Chairman of Melbourne Fight Back Against Parkinson’s Inc, and an AFL Multicultural community ambassador;  Frances Prince, leading Jewish Studies educator and longstanding JCCV Executive member with experience in Interfaith and Multicultural focus including involvement in the Jewish Muslim Christian Association; Doron Abramovici, who is serving his 7th year on the JCCV Executive and commenced volunteering with the organisation in 2009; newly elected Howard Sachs, a highly motivated strategic and enterprising thinker with an engineering, leadership, commercial and Not for Profit background; and Yossi Goldfarb, Zionism Victoria President is an ex offio Executive member.

Owing to the resignation of Dr Oboler as President, Frank Greenstein will be serving as interim President and Doron Abramovici as interim Vice President.  

The Executive will be working closely with Judy Fetter, Executive Director, to ensure the shared vision to expand community connections, collaborate more closely with affiliates, and represent the Jewish community in a cohesive and meaningful manner across local and state government, whilst continuing to contribute to a robust multicultural Victoria.

Members of the JCCV and the CSG did not return messages calling for comment.


2 Responses to “Dr Andre Oboler’s short-lived presidency”
  1. Joseph Silver says:

    A strange report. No mention of any issue with the CSG yet at the end of the article it states “Members of the JCCV and the CSG did not return messages calling for comment”.
    There appears to have been concerns expressed by the CSG over Oboler’s JCCV presidency.
    Don’t we as members of the community deserve to know what issues are fracturing our community?

  2. michael Burd says:

    This is probably a good thing Oboler would have taken the outdated JCCV even more to the Left if that is even possible.Time for the JCCV to pick up stumps as well and fade away they are useless !

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