ECAJ and state roof bodies unite in support of 18C

September 27, 2016 by J-Wire News Service
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Plenary meetings of the NSW Jewish Board of Deputies and the Jewish Community Council of Victoria during the last week have unanimously passed identical resolutions in support of retaining the existing sections of the Racial Discrimination Act which prohibit the public promotion of racial hatred. 

The moves come in response to a Bill that was recently reintroduced into the Senate seeking to omit the words “offend” and “insult” from section 18C of the Act.

ECAJ-LOGO290The Committee of Management of the ECAJ, which met last Thursday night, passed a resolution in virtually the same terms.

The resolutions read:

This Plenum:

reconfirms its long standing support for sections 18C and 18D of the Racial Discrimination Act in their present form;

affirms that sections 18C and 18D strike an appropriate balance between freedom of expression and freedom from racial vilification;

endorses the continuing efforts of the ECAJ, in concert with its State constituent organisations and also organisations in the wider community, to defend the current legislation against attempts to repeal or water down its protections;

NSWJBD290logonotes that sections 18C and 18D provide a means of legal redress against racist discourse, including antisemitic discourse, only if such discourse has profound and serious effects impacting adversely on the quality of life of those against whom it is directed;

considers such discourse to be an abuse, rather than an exercise, of the right of free speech;

rejects all attempts to misrepresent the legal effect of sections 18C and 18D;

opposes the Bill that was recently reintroduced into the Senate seeking to omit the words “offend” and “insult” from section 18C;

jccvurges members of the Jewish community to communicate their support for the current legislation to their local Federal MPs.

Peter Wertheim

Peter Wertheim

ECAJ Executive Director, Peter Wertheim, said “These resolutions leave no doubt that there is overwhelming support in the Jewish community for the current legislation.   That legislation is one of an array of tools used by Jewish organisations to combat all forms of antisemitism, including Holocaust denial, blood libels, conspiracy theories and other forms of misrepresentation and denigration of the Jewish people.

Although it is rare for us to take a case all the way to court, the legislation gives us a basis upon which we can negotiate fair outcomes with ISPs, social media platform providers and corporate and other owners of conventional media.  Without that legal backup we would be reduced to approaching these powerful entities with cap in hand and begging them to do the right thing, often in direct opposition to their commercial interests”.

Wertheim stressed that the Racial Discrimination Act was only one of several means used to combat racism.  “Of course formal and informal education are another key to fighting prejudice, but legislative and educative tools are not mutually exclusive. They are mutually reinforcing.  The law too serves an educative purpose by declaring the standards of conduct that society deems to be acceptable and unacceptable.”


One Response to “ECAJ and state roof bodies unite in support of 18C”
  1. Henry Herzog says:

    How sad that after some 40 years, during which time section 18C had proved not to infringe anyone’s free speech unless, they were out to vilify people on grounds of race by using misinformation and lies to do so, that now, all of a sudden, the Liberal party’s hard right, One Nation and Mr Hinch want to change the law. What these Jewish bodies have done is to represent the Jewish community and try to protect them from baseless hatred. It’s even sadder that right wing Jews agree with the changes: What, do they think they’re immune to anti-Semitism.

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