ECAJ annual conference

November 27, 2018 by J-Wire Newsdesk
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The Executive Council of Australian Jewry’s annual conference was held in Melbourne and was attended by Israel’s ambassador to Australia Mark Sofer.


Alex Ryvchin, Anton Block, Amb Mark Sofer and Peter Wertheim

Among the delegates who attended were heads of the Jewish communities in all states.

They hear president Anton Block summarise the year ending on October 31.

He said: “We live in unsettling times. The past year has seen an acceleration in the polarization of western democratic societies at every level. The benefits of advancements in knowledge and technological innovation have not been equally shared. Disparities in wealth and incomes are becoming wider, not narrower. The economic pressures on ordinary citizens who consider themselves to be part of the middle class have never been greater. The very concept of a middle class has begun to fracture, and the underpinnings of democracy are therefore under threat as never before. With the weakening of social cohesion has come fear, political instability and a resurgence of xenophobia, nativist populism and racism. We have seen this process unfold throughout Europe, in the UK, in the United States, in Israel and even in our own beloved country of Australia.

Where racism and bigotry in any form are resurgent, antisemitism is never far behind. The threats of antisemitism from Islamist and far left sources are ongoing, and the re-emergence of racism from the far right of politics across the western world has been especially rapid.

As a community, we cannot afford to allow our individual ideological predilections to blinker us from the seriousness of antisemitism from any source. Our own community is not immune from the pressures of polarisation, as increasingly shrill voices from the extremes of left and right falsely purport to speak on our behalf. The challenge to our community to stand united and vigilant has never been more difficult – and the need to meet that challenge has never been more urgent.

Jenifer Huppert, Richard Marles, Peter Wertheim, Jillian Segal and Anton Block

The work of the ECAJ during the past year focused on the following key issues:

Pursuing government funding assistance for communal security costs;

The upcoming ALP national conference resolutions concerning the Israel- Palestinian conflict and the push to endorse unilateral recognition of a Palestinian State;

Polling on Australian attitudes towards Israel;

Implementing a Jewish community-wide response to the Final Report of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, including promotion of the national redress scheme for survivors of child sexual abuse to relevant Jewish organisations;

The growing volume of antisemitic activity emanating from the far-Right of politics (including neo-Nazis) across Australia, particularly on campuses and in graffiti, posters, leaflets and online;

Digesting the results of the Gen17 Survey of the Australian Jewish community;

Josef, Sharyn and Saul

Celebrating Israel’s 70th anniversary and welcoming the move of the US embassy to Jerusalem, its withdrawal of support for UNRWA and closure of the PLO office in Washington;

Responses to Gaza protests;

The debate about whether additional legal protections are needed to guarantee freedom of religion in Australia;

Concerns about the Foreign Influence Transparency Scheme legislation; Ongoing issues with the ABC concerning bias and lack of independence in its news and current affairs coverage;

Representations to the Australian government advocating that Australia upgrade its status on the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance from Liaison status to full membership.”

Julie Nathan presented the antisemitism report showing a 59% increase of incidents.

Delegates heard addresses from Chin Tan, Race Discrimination Commissioner, Richard Marles MP, Shadow Minister for Defence and Israel’s ambassador to Australia Mark Sofer.


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