From Out of Left Field: The JCCV shifts to the Left

October 20, 2017 by Professor Bill Rubinstein
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Anyone familiar with the stances adopted by the Jewish Community Council of Victoria (JCCV) in recent time will surely have noticed that it has shifted sharply to the left, especially over, but not limited to, the referendum on same sex marriage…writes Professor Bill Rubenstein.

Professor Bill Rubinstein

The JCCV’s path has been paralleled by the leftward shift of the Executive Council of Australian Jewry (ECAJ) and the New South Wales Jewish Board of Deputies (NSW JBD). It should be obvious as well that a very large portion of the Australian Jewish community clearly dissents from this shift, which has occurred with remarkably little discussion or criticism. The JCCV is known as the representative body of the Jewish community in Victoria. In many respects this is misleading. The JCCV actually does not represent a single Jew in Victoria. What it does represent are the fifty or so Jewish bodies which have affiliated to it, not individual people. If a Victorian Jew is not a financial member of one of these bodies, they are no more represented by the JCCV than by the Catholic Bishops’ Conference, and have no voice of any kind in its proceedings. It is also arguable just how much of the Jewish community it actually represents. For instance, the National Council of Jewish Women (NCJW), which moved the JCCV resolution supporting same sex marriage, according to its latest Annual Report currently has 519 members. This sounds impressive- until one realizes that there are about 20,000 adult Jewish women in Victoria, meaning that less than three per cent belong to the NCJW. I would be surprised to learn that more than one per cent of Victoria’s 60,000 Jews had even heard of its current President, Jennifer Huppert, before she was elected and by my calculations only two one hundredths of one per cent of the community actually voted her into office. Moreover, by what sociologists term “the iron law of oligarchy,” leadership in any institution of any kind is invariably held by a small group of activists who have the energy, resources, and interest to dominate it. In the real world, an ordinary member of any large group of any kind has no more influence on its policies than an ordinary member of the ALP in Wagga Wagga has over the decisions of the Shadow Cabinet.

None of this would matter very much if the JCCV’s policies reflected the consensual views of the Jewish community, centring on support for Israel, for the day schools and other institutions of the community, and opposition to antisemitism, as it has done for many decades. In the past few years, however, the JCCV has, in effect, been taken over by left-wing activists who have abandoned this consensual stance for radical advocacy. Most obviously, they have turned the JCCV into gung-ho supporters of same sex marriage, despite the fact that no consensus for it exists in the community. As I write, a glance at the JCCV website shows that literally every statement on it supports same sex marriage, as if there were no other issues. But according to an online poll within the Jewish community, around one-third of respondents have voted “no.” This figure is almost certainly an underestimate of the “no” vote, as the “yes” side is obviously better organised, while a group like the 2000 strong Ultra-Orthodox Adass community almost certainly would not take part in an online poll of this kind- not many “yes” votes there I would have thought. It is likely that at least 40 per cent of Victorian Jewry has or will vote “no” in the postal poll. They are totally unrepresented by the JCCV, which no longer even pretends to speak for them. I might say that it is deplorable that JCCV delegates from groups like the Orthodox shuls, many of whom almost certainly voted “no” in the referendum, lacked the backbone to speak up for their views, caving in to political correctness and a hostile atmosphere.

Much of a piece with this was its knee-jerk rejection in September of the use of Beth Weizmann by the newly formed Australian Jewish Association to host a talk by Revd. Mark Durie on “The Threat of Islam to Jews.” According to Sam Tatarka, Beth Weizmann Chairman- a statement posted on the JCCV website, and given wide online publicity by it- “we are not prepared to have the Jewish Community Centre of Melbourne used for or associated with an event that on its face, seeks to foment fear and hatred.” Needless to say, this statement was made without knowing what would be said, and is an example of prejudice in the literal sense, of prejudging someone without evidence. The “fomenter of fear and hatred” in question, Mark Durie, is an Anglican clergyman. He also holds a Ph.D. from the Australian National University, has been a Visiting Fellow at M.I.T., Stanford, and U.C.L.A., was Chairman of the Department of Modern Languages at Melbourne University, and is an elected Fellow of the Australian Academy of the Humanities, the highest honour which can be given to an Australian academic in the Humanities, with Fellows elected by other senior academics. Dr. Durie’s most recent thesis was on “Quaranic Theology and Biblical Reflexes in the Quran,” not exactly a likely topic at a One Nation rally. But blind left-wing prejudice prevented Dr. Durie from speaking. Of course, we all know that there is no “threat of Islam to Jews.” Outside of Beth Weizmann, as there are in front of every Jewish day school and synagogue in Melbourne, there are always uniformed guards, some of whom are armed. As is well known, they are there to prevent the community from being attacked by Presbyterian suicide bombers, whose international murder campaign against Jews (and many others) is known to all. Just whom do Sam Tartaka and the JCCV think they are fooling, apart from themselves?  If they actually think that there is no threat to the Jews from Islam, why not sack the uniformed guards outside of Beth Weizmann and dozens of other Jewish venues as a total waste of money? This is another example of the biases of the left-dominated JCCV under its present leadership, which claims to favour “inclusion,” its politically correct Orwellian Newspeak term for exclusion.

But relief appears to be on the way.  Recently a new body, the Australian Jewish Association, has been organised, largely from Sydney but with support from Melbourne as well. Its founder, Dr. David Adler, a senior physician, was fed up to the back teeth by the leftism of the ECAJ and the NSW JBD, and decided to act. I should note that I had no role in organising this body and am not an office bearer in it. It was the AJA which, as its first Melbourne function, sponsored Dr Durie’s talk. Despite threats causing it to change venue twice, with no real publicity, and with an egregious and prejudiced attack by Beth Weizmann, this meeting attracted nearly 300 persons at a few hours notice, to a highly intelligent and useful talk by Durie which was the very opposite of the kind of racist, rabble rousing lecture its opponents presumably imagined. The policies of this body, set out in detail on its website, are to reflect conservative and traditional but consensual values about both Israel and Jewish life in Australia. It is difficult to believe that it will not quickly attract a large following. If the JCCV doesn’t like this, it has only itself to blame.

Bill Rubinstein held Chairs at Deakin University and at the University of Wales



80 Responses to “From Out of Left Field: The JCCV shifts to the Left”
  1. Robin Rothfield says:

    Lett’s now focus on an issue of far greater urgency i.e. getting Josh Frydenberg on board the campaign to end the torment of those hapless victims on Manus of Australia’s cruel policy on asylum seekers. Let Frydenberg use the opportunity of the doubts of his citizenship to think about statelessness more broadly.

  2. Michael Burd says:

    It appears to me this guy Bliss is totally obsessed with the SSM marriage/LGBt shtick, I thought there would be more important issues that affect more people than this topic but hey just making an observation ..

    • Henry Herzog says:

      Exactly Mr Burd: The only reason we’re being subjected to this expansive and meaningless survey is that Mr Turnbull was too gutless to stand up to Abbott and the other neocons in the coalition.

  3. Robin Rothfield says:

    My principal interest is in refugee policy and if you had asked me in 2009 about same sex marriage I would have replied “let’s maintain the current definition of marriage.”
    Why have I changed my mind?
    It started while attending a meeting of the ALP National Left. A female delegate was in tears while describing the humiliation she felt in her own family at the favouritism shown to her siblings who were in straight relationships.

    Opinion surveys have repeatedly shown that 60% or more of Australians favour allowing same sex couples to marry so why don’t we just accept the inevitability of this change which is very likely to come about in legislation before the end of the year?

  4. Bill Rubinstein says:

    I had thought that this posting had run its course, but it seems that there are a few more points which I must answer. Michel Barnett: I am shocked – shocked – that you will not support my campaign to legalize polygamy. I want to make an honest woman (pardon me, women) out of each of my three potential wives. What possible objections can you have to legalizing this form of affection among consenting adults? You aren’t some kind of Islamophobe,are you? There are probably now more Muslims in Australia than gays, and we will triumph in the end! As the limerick puts it: “There once was a man named Chaim,/Who married three wives at a time./When asked ‘Why the third?,’ he replied, ‘One’s absurd,/ and bigamy, sir, is a crime.” Robin Rothfield: The question is not whether we should “welcome the stranger” – whatever that means – but whether same sex marriage should be legalized. Jewish representative bodies should advocate the consensual position of the Jewish community, and there is no consensus on this issue. It should have left this issue entirely alone, especially as it has said many times that this affects only civil marriages and not religious ones. Larry Stillman: I am glad to see that you are rationally debating Mark Durie’s claims. He may have been criticised by other academics, but so what? Every controversial argument has critics among academics. That you are now rationally debating his claims is a welcome change from a few weeks ago, when your organization tried to get his talk cancelled without knowing what he was going to say, and its goon squad tried to intimidate people into not turning up. Even more centrally, the only reason that Islamic doctrines are analyzed critically is because radical Islam is responsible for thousands of terrorist incidents, with tens of thousands of people murdered, many of whom were the “wrong” type of Muslim. Radical Islam obviously represents a clear and present danger to the entire democratic world, and especially to the Jewish community. Virtually no one here would know or care about its doctrines if this were not the case. Henry Herzog: You appear to be mindlessly trolling. No one has said anything about global warming except you, and you are simply showing your biases by mentioning it.

    • Michael Barnett says:

      Bill, not even Muslims for Marriage Equality are campaigning for polygamy. I suppose you’ll be calling them Islamophobic now.

      • david singer says:

        I suspect the Muslims will be pushing for recognition of polygamy if “YES” wins in the SSM survey.

        Won’t you?

        Isn’t that what Marriage Equality is all about?

        • Michael Barnett says:


          • david singer says:


            Surprised at your response.

            If any two people can get married – why can’t three or four or more?

            • Michael Barnett says:

              There’s no credible movement for polyamorous marriage anywhere, most probably because polyamorous divorce would be a messy affair, taking into account property, children, etc.

              • david singer says:


                Methinks you are trying to pull the wool over J Wire readers eyes.

                Any particular reason?

                • Michael Barnett says:

                  David, you seem to be more obsessed with polygamy and polyamory than anyone else here. Neither are on my agenda.

                  As I said, there is no credible movement for polyamorous marriage that I am aware of. This is certainly not happening in Australia.

                  Given that same-sex marriage has been a thing for around 17 years internationally, and given than polyamorous marriage has not occurred in any of the countries where SSM is legal, it begs the question what you are trying to prove.

                  That you have found one story that is not actually a 3-way marriage means nothing. It is just a news story.

                  Have you watched the polyamory eposide of You Can’t Ask That? You’ll notice that it’s actually not exlusively a gay thing, and actually is quite prevalent in heterosexual circles.


                  Your homophobia is quite telling.

                  • david singer says:


                    You keep trying to avoid answering this question:
                    “If any two people can get married – why can’t three or four or more?”

                    Just answer it.

                    • Michael Barnett says:

                      Well if you can get a bill up in Parliament then I guess it’s possible. Shall I put you touch with your federal MP?

                    • Robin Rothfield says:

                      In my opinion the issue raised by David Singer has already been answered and does not need a further response.

              • Henry Herzog says:

                Michael, it’s obvious that David is trying to draw a very long bow and fearful bow to smear Muslims. And that he calls intelligent debate.

        • Henry Herzog says:

          What a fine example of logical, respectful and intelligent debate from Mr Singer. G’d help us.

          • Henry Herzog says:

            And where’s Steve Leiblich dictating the standards required of a nice and friendly debate???

          • david singer says:


            Care to elaborate on your dismissive unsubstantiated and – frankly -personally insulting comment?

            I raised the issue of recognising polygamous marriages in my article published by J Wire on 10 September.

            I wrote:

            ““Marriage” – as defined in the Marriage Act – means:
            “the union of a man and a woman to the exclusion of all others, voluntarily entered into for life.”

            Why should polygamous marriages – the practice of having more than one husband or wife at the same time – not be included in any new legislated definition of “marriage” – if marriage equality is being sought?”

            Both you and Michael need to answer this question with some “logical, respectful and intelligent debate”

            If it is ok for any two people to marry – why is it wrong for any three people to marry?

            • Henry Herzog says:

              You see no snide nor malice in that derogatory remark!!!

              • david singer says:


                Perhaps you might like to answer the following question I posed to Michael Barnett – which he refuses to answer:

                “If any two people can get married – why can’t three or four or more?”

                Like the marriage survey – a simple YES or NO is all that is required.

                • Henry Herzog says:

                  Or stop someone from marrying a camel, and if my grandmother had wheels, she’d be a bus: same (lack of) logic. This is all about same-sex marriage, nothing else. And no to your fear mongering question.
                  And besides, didn’t King Solomon have some 300 wives and he was allowed to build the Temple?

  5. Larry Stillman says:

    Rev Durie can continue his theological textual dispute with the ANU professor or other more learned specialists.

    But he does not deal with his willingness to associate with the wingnuts of American culture war politics, including David Horowitz’s FrontPage mag which peddles racial and conspiracy theory politics.

    I think I now now why.

    His is a form of activity that makes a pretence at being above politics, and only being concerned with spiritual matters such as denying that Muslims even worship a similar god to Christians and Jews as he as argued. Most people of course could not care less about such theological disputations of facts, depending on you your point of view, but in fact, it is spiritual ammmunition for Christian and now Jewish conservatives in their ideological war against Islam as a flawed faith, or at least, what they essentialize from text.

    We should not forget that Christianity (just like other faiths) has a long history of theological intolerance going back to early doctrinal wars and the denunciation of heresies. Fortunately, mainstream theologians appear to have resolved this problem, or come to terms with other religions (look at reforms in the Catholic Church). In the case of Christian conservatives like Dr Durie, this does not appear to be the case, though fortunately for Jews, his condemnations do not today include Judaism as a superseded religion (as is the case with some Christian conservatives), but instead, Islam as a lesser religion, is his target, happily handed over to political activists on the right, nested in a vile publication like FrontPage. That is really irresponsible.

    I’m done until the next episode.

    • Joe Silver says:

      Stillman has never negated, contradicted or denied one solitary thing that Mark Durie has actually said or written. He tries to counter Durie’s scholarship by accusing Durie using the cheap tactic of ‘guilt by association’. This is the method of someone who can only obfuscate and bloviate in a desperate attempt to oppose what he cannot fundamentally refute. Thus Stillman avoids the real debate on the underlying issues and demonstrates that his position is totally bankrupt.

  6. Henry Herzog says:

    Seriously, you guys on the right take yourselves too seriously. And the double standards are breathtaking: The right can spout all the conspiracy theories, e.g. climate change, marriage equality and so on. And you can make all sorts on nonsense accusations against people like me, denying you freedom of speech to be hateful, and yet, you can hurl abuse at whoever disagrees with you and claim to be the victim for being criticized .

  7. Steve Lieblich says:

    I’m very disappointed to see personal insults and abuse in the comments here.
    Don’t we have enough enemies? Please desist from sinat chinum in public discourse in our community.

  8. Larry Stillman says:

    In response to some of the comments made.

    I do not think that I am engaged in any defamation and so on. This is a completely over the top reaction.

    I am engaged in identifying the political and scholarly learnings of Mark Durie. With regard to the later, I understand them to be narrowly linguistic and theological. With regard to his politics, I think this demands some explanation and I have provided some context below. Rather than being just a benign cleric person just writing and speaking in the background, I think there is something more dangerous at play. I therefore do not think that Dr Durie can not pretend that he is not engaged in a form of politics. I have never seen Dr Durie offer a justification for his association with the far right. Perhaps it comes about through naiveté or something else. Whatever it is, other, conservative people in the Jewish community have realised that it is toxic to offer a platform to him and his supporters in the Jewish community. Sadly, others, who are on the one hand frightened by what is happening in the world, don’t appear to see the problem and take what I believe to be a simplistic viewpoint seriously.

    Some detail.

    I think I have had enough training in Semitic languages and literatures (including several years of Arabic), and the practice of academic work in universities, to recognise what I called (religiously motivated) fundamentalism and textual literalism and a real absence of a broader, sociological approach to religion in this era. If students of literature and religion have learned anything in recent decades, is that you have to understand texts in context. But this is not the case here. This problem in Durie’s work actually serves to impede a fuller view of issues beyond the Quranic and other texts, thus applying simplistic assumptions to all Muslims and different cultural practices for example, based on narrow, decontextualized textual readings that are then held to be axiomatic. Thus, while he some specialistic linguistic expertise (for which he was recognised by the Australian Academy of the Humanities), in later his work, there there is little appreciation of the crisis that the Muslim (and many other places in the work) have faced when confronted with western imperialism (in its most simple sense), the taking of land and resources since the nineteenth century, and the collapse of traditional society, which continues through to day. Narrow scholarship in the old-fashoned orientalist sense focussing on religious texts (and the use of titles and accreditations by supporters) is not a defence against strange ideas to explain all this.

    With regard to Dr Durie’s politics, he has willingly allied himself to organisations on the extreme right in Australian (QSociety and anti-halal obsessives) and fringe American politics. Thus, he is a Stilllman Fellow of the Middle East Forum. I decided to actually see what this is. It is a conservative right wing think tank run by Daniel Pipes. Pipe’s own political agenda that has been criticised for its spin doctoring (e.g. supporting the view that Obama was a Muslim).

    Durie also publishes in FrontPage magazine of the David Horowitz Freedom Centre which to outsiders, might sound like a benign think tank. However, it is an ideological outfit founded by one of the main purveyors of extreme views in American politics. Below is one set of criticisms drawn from Wikipedia, and I think this is a reasonable statement of the political leanings of the organisation and particularly Horowitz and I think anyone who willingly associates with the centre cannot be blind to the political leanings of its editors and others associated with the organisation Frontpage is renowned for the extreme positions taken by its authors. Of course, Horowitz and others claim there is a conspiracy against their views by liberal academia. My only response is that the measure of good scholarships peer review, and the kinds of things argued by Horowitz and others don’t get too much credibility in academic journals.

    “The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) has described the (Horowitz) center as a far-right organization[25] and an anti-Muslim hate group.[26][27]….

    In a 2011 report, the Center for American Progress cited Horowitz as a prominent figure instrumental in demonizing Islam and spreading fear about an Islamic takeover of Western society.[33] Horowitz responded, saying that the Center had “joined the Muslim Brotherhood”.[34]

    The Anti-Defamation League wrote that Horowitz sponsors a college campus project that promotes anti-Muslim views and arranges events with anti-Muslim activists.[35]

    If the ADL has had problems with Horowitz (in the Abe Foxman era), then this should be a warning to conservatively-oriented Jews about things published in FrontPage magazine.

    I believe that the review by Anthony John of Durie’s book The Third Choice particularly captures the problems with Durie’s approach (and also, the problem with public viewpoints based on stereotypes and fears of the sort preyed upon in the Jewish community). I know that Durie strongly objected to this review, but I do not think he offered a convincing riposte in a further issue of the relevant journal. Professor John uses the terms (or forms of them) caricature, simplistic, and bizarre in criticising some of the views expressed by Durie. For example, Durie believes that a host of western leaders are ‘dhimmis’ or lesser subjects of Islam. John is an Emeritus Professor of Asian Islam at the ANU. There are of course some fulsome reviews of Durie, but these are based upon a political view of Islam, rather than what I regard as a nuanced understanding of textual issues.
    “The book is written from an unambiguous confessional standpoint in the context of a twenty-first century Western-style civil society, which, implicitly, is regarded as a desirable norm….

    A number of the issues that he raises might properly be matters for analysis and discussion in a different framework with a more sophisticated methodology. He consciously excludes context as informing the meaning of the texts that he cites, contexts that in many cases would at least nuance some of his statements. Nowhere does he appear to realise that there is no such thing as a naked text that is self-explanatory, let alone from the seventh-century Hijaz. Or that the Qur’an is often highly specific in its rulings, that its statements may be general or specific, for a particular time, or for all time. In place of studied reflection, his book pullulates with a seething resentment of Islam and his examples are selective. Clearly he is incensed by events in recent history. Among them is the denial of the human rights of a Malaysian woman, a Muslim convert to Christianity, to marry a Christian, because the religious court refused to give legal recognition to her apostasy from Islam. Alas, in many societies, changing one’s religion is still not a matter of realigning one’s personal beliefs but is seen as rejecting and even betraying the community in which one was born. One need look no further than Northern Ireland.”

    John, Anthony H. By God, He Doth Protest too Much [Book Review] [online]. St Mark’s Review, No. 212, May 2010: 154-158.

    • Mark Durie says:

      As Stillman has cited Johns’ review of my book, here is my published response, which also appeared in St Mark’s review:


      In the May 2010 edition of the St Mark’s Review, Anthony Johns provided readers with a searing review of The Third Choice: Islam, Dhimmitude and Freedom. The book, Johns said, ‘pullulates with a seething resentment of Islam’ (p.155). His review opens with a mocking title ‘By God, he doth protest too much’ and closes with a satirical couplet.

      It is disappointing that Johns misrepresents the book’s contents. Moreover he takes material out of context, uses ‘two wrongs make a right’ arguments, and resorts to ad hominem attacks to attribute opinions and attitudes to me as author which are not in fact mine.

      1. The role of context in interpretation

      Johns claimed that I showed no understanding of the role of context in interpreting texts:

      “[Durie] consciously excludes context as informing the meaning of the texts that he cites, context that in many cases would at least nuance some of his statements. Nowhere does he appear to realize that there is no such thing as a naked text that is self-explanatory …” (p.155)

      In reality an extended section of The Third Choice (pp.33-40) is devoted to discussing the contribution of context in interpreting the Quran, working through multiple examples of Quranic passages to show how Muslim exegetes have used other verses from the Quran and material from the Sunna (the example and teaching of Muhammad) – to provide the context for Quran’s meaning. Introducing this discussion, I commented:

      “The Quran is in a very real sense Muhammad’s personal document, addressed in the first place to him. Verses would be ‘sent down’ to Muhammad in the context of a particular issue or problem which he was facing. This means that to read the Quran with understanding requires the ability to be able to link particular passages with a specific context – or ‘occasion of revelation’ (asbab al-nuzul) – in Muhammad’s career as a prophet of Islam.” (The Third Choice, p.33)

      In addition to this, I devoted a whole chapter (Chapter 6) to exploring the meaning of a single verse of the Quran (Sura 9:29), citing more than twenty commentaries on the Quran by Muslim scholars, as well as numerous other works by Muslim and non-Muslim scholars. This was not the behaviour of someone who nowhere appears to realize ‘that there is no such thing as a naked text that is self-explanatory’.

      2. The Pact of Umar

      Johns further claimed:

      “Durie takes as his benchmark the so-called pact of Umar, without pointing out that the Umar in question is the Umayyad Caliph Umar II (718-720), not the orthodox Caliph Umar ibn al-Khattab. (p.157)”

      In fact I did report the disputed attribution of this document to the second Umar, in a discussion of the origins of the dhimma regulations:

      “The Pact of ‘Umar is an important early source on the dhimma regulations, but Muslim scholars have disagreed over whether it should be attributed to ‘Umar ibn al-Khattab who ruled from 634-44, or ‘Umar ibn Abd al-Aziz, who ruled from 717-20. The time difference between these two rulers is not insignificant.” (The Third Choice, p.148)

      Johns’ critique misses the mark for another reason. Although the dating of the Pact of Umar is disputed, and some have argued that it was a concoction of the 9th century, the most recent research dates the specific provisions of this pact, if not its final form, to the period of the original conquest of Christian populations, and thus to the time of the first Umar, not the second.

      3. Sin or ignorance?

      In The Third Choice I proposed that in Islam it is ignorance — and not sin — which is the fundamental human problem, and the solution for ignorance is guidance. Johns disagrees, and cites the story of the Fall of Adam and Eve (Sura 7:19) as a counter example: Adam and Eve were expelled from the Garden, Johns asserts, ‘because of disobedience, not ignorance’. (p.156)

      However Johns has taken Sura 7:19 out of context. In its retelling of this story, the Quran’s concern with ignorance and guidance comes out in the subsequent verses, where the story is applied as a warning to the ignorant (who ‘know not’), and ‘think that they receive guidance’, but are actually being led astray:

      “O ye Children of Adam! Let not Satan [Shaitan] seduce you, in the same manner as He got your parents out of the Garden, stripping them of their raiment, to expose their shame: for he and his tribe watch you from a position where ye cannot see them: We made the evil ones [shaitans] friends (only) to those without faith. When they do aught that is shameful, they say: “We found our fathers doing so”; and “Allah commanded us thus”. Say: “Nay, Allah never commands what is shameful: do ye say of Allah what ye KNOW NOT?” …
      Some He hath guided: Others have (by their choice) deserved the loss of their way; in that they took the evil ones [shaitans], in preference to Allah, for their friends and protectors, and think that they receive GUIDANCE.” (Sura 7:27-28, 30)

      Of course human sin is one of the themes of the Quran, just as guidance is a theme of the Bible. However the Quran’s retelling of the story of the Fall refashions it into a cautionary tale about the dangers of ignorance and misguidance.

      4. Two wrongs don’t make a right

      A ‘two wrongs make a right’ argument is a logical fallacy, which defends one perceived wrong by citing a second. A specific form is the tu quoque ‘you too’ fallacy, in which the second wrong is attributed to the person whose position is being criticized.

      Instances of ‘two wrongs make a right’ and tu quoque reasoning from Johns’ review includes rejection of:

      • Criticism of the sharia for the denial of marriage rights to apostates from Islam, because ‘in many societies, changing one’s religion is still not a matter of realigning one’s personal beliefs but is seen as rejecting and even betraying the community in which one is born. One need look no further than Northern Ireland.’ (p.155)
      • Criticism of the treatment of non-Muslims under sharia law, because the institution of the dhimma was ‘a stroke of genius’ in comparison to ‘the traditional law of the church’. (p.156)
      • Referring to an account of deception practiced by an Islamic religious leader in French-occupied Algeria, and reported by a Muslim author, because (as Johns implies) the French occupation forces shed a lot of blood. (p.157)
      • Criticism of the moral requirements of the Quran, because Johns claims they ‘largely overlap’ with the teachings of the Gospels. (p.156)
      • Criticism of a Quranic view of the judgement of God because in the Gospels God is also described as a severe judge. (p.156)
      • Criticism of the treatment of non-Muslims under sharia law because, according to Johns, ‘for at least a millennium’ it was better for a Jew to live under Islamic rule than under Christian rule. (p.157)

      This last comment merits further reflection. Johns appears to adhere to what Bat Ye’or, speaking of the Western Islamologist tradition, has described as:

      “… a static conception of history. During thirteen centuries and on three continents the dhimmi peoples are presented as having uniformly and indefinitely enjoyed a status of benevolent tolerance.”

      In reality the lived conditions of Jews in Christian and Muslim societies have varied greatly across vast stretches of time and space. Human rights abuses against Jews have occurred repeatedly in both types of societies, and certain periods and localities were worse than others. Because of the great variation, it is meaningless to claim that Jews were better off under one or the other.

      In any case, The Third Choice was not a book about Christian anti-semitism. Its concern was with non-Muslims living under Islamic rule.

      In support of his sweeping comparison, Johns cite S. D. Goitein, referring to a report of Muslim and Jewish craftsmen working together harmoniously in Cairo in 1190. However Johns omits to inform the reader of Goitein’s less than flattering evaluation of the dhimmi state, also based on his geniza research (referenced in The Third Choice, pp.129, 142, 168):

      “There is no subject of Islamic social history on which the present writer had to modify his views so radically while passing from literary to documentary sources, i.e., from the study of Muslim books to that of the records of the Cairo Geniza as the jizya or jaliya, the poll tax to be paid by non-Muslims. … [Goitein’s earlier view] did not take into consideration the immense extent of poverty and privation experienced by the [non-Muslim] masses, and in particular their way of living from hand to mouth, their persistent lack of cash, which turned the “season of the tax” into one of horror, dread, and misery. … The payment of the poll tax constituted item number one in the budget of families with modest income, such as teachers or laborers. For a man could clothe inexpensively, he could eat at starvation level, as perhaps a very large section of the population did. But he could not escape the tax gatherer—at least not for long. If he was caught, he was beaten and suffered otherwise corporal punishment, ‘nquba, and was thrown into prison, where, because of starvation and maltreatment, he faced death.

      Christians and Jews were not citizens of the state, not even second class citizens. They were outsiders under the protection of the Muslim state, a status characterized by the term dhimma, for which protection they had to pay a poll tax specific to them. They were also exposed to a great number of discriminatory and humiliating laws … As it lies in the very nature of such restrictions, soon additional humiliations were added, and before the second century of Islam was out, a complete body of legislation in this matter was in existence … In times and places in which they became too oppressive they led to the dwindling or even complete extinction of the minorities.”

      5. Ad hominem attacks

      The attitudes and views which Johns attributes to me are most puzzling. It is not a sign of ‘seething resentment’ or being ‘incensed’ (p.155) to critique Islam’s treatment of apostates. It is also no ‘sneer’ (p.156) to point out that Islam treats many everyday acts – such as covering one’s mouth when yawning – as acts of piety.

      I vigorously reject and refute John’s appalling suggestion that I believe ‘the Muslims slaughtered at Srebrenica had it coming to them.’ (p.157) The slaughter of innocent people is not the fault of victims, but of perpetrators. My point was that denial of the intolerance and cruelty of jihad and dhimmitude made reconciliation through dialogue and peaceful coexistence much more difficult, and fueled a culture of hatred and retribution, which led to what I referred to as ‘barbaric war crimes’ (p.209). Denial was a contributing factor – but never a justification – for this and other bloody atrocities in the past century of Serb-Bosnian conflict.

      I also repudiate Johns’ imputation that I must be considered a supporter of the political views of Irinej, the Serbian Patriach, concerning the political future of Kosovo. There is no reference to Kosovo in The Third Choice.

      6. Conclusion

      In respect of Anthony Johns’ review of The Third Choice, the question to be asked is why a gifted and respected scholar of Johns’ standing would need to resort to misrepresentation, taking material out of context, logical fallacies, and ad hominem attacks to make his case. Surely this response to The Third Choice graphically illustrates the world view of denial which prompted writing the book in the first place.

      In our era the global Christian community is taking up the demanding task of understanding Islam. Many questions are disputed, including whether we worship the same god; whether an ‘Abrahamic’ continuity exists between Islam and Christianity; whether Islam is a peaceful or violent religion; whether Muhammad’s example is the cause of or solution to a range of human rights abuses; to what extent the teachings of Islam are the cause of oppressive conditions experienced by Christians and other non-Muslims in many Muslim states; and whether the Islamic sharia will allow Muslims to coexist on an equal basis alongside peoples of other faith in one world. To find answers to these and other pressing questions requires grace, truth and critical thinking.

      More light and less heat, please.

  9. Bella Ceruza says:

    How interesting to have the JCCV turning to the Left when today JWire published a well researched article showing that the Labour Party, Australia’s representative of Australia’s Left is abandoning Israel.

    This is highlighted by the likelihood that Israel’s strongest (?only) voice in the Labour Party and in our parliament is unlikely to remain in his seat due to this shift within the Left.

    and some say Jews are smart!!!… is the world crazy?

  10. William Rubinstein says:

    Many thanks for the comments, to which I would like to reply. First, my name is spelled Rubinstein, not Rubenstein. Dr. Philip Bliss OAM states that I am “a loud mouthed knuckle dweller,” i.e., an ape (look it up). This is a nice attitude for the President of the Council of Christians and Jews to take to Jews who disagree with him. I wonder if he also called Christians who voted “no” apes? Ignorance is indeed Bliss. Robin Rothfield argues that the JCCV has shown “leadership” on this issue. But it does not exist to show “leadership,” but to represent the views of the community. By my estimate, (at least) 40 per cent of the Victorian Jewish community voted “no.” At the JCCV, however, the result was 100 per cent “yes,” 0 per cent “no,” figures generally associated with the North Korean People’s Assembly and similar bodies, and evidence that the present claims of the JCCV to being the “representative body” of the community are absurd. Arthur Calwell, by the way, must be turning over in his grave at the prospect of same sex marriage. I don’t think that Michael Barnett wants a philosophical discussion of equality – he is asking about my attitude to SSM. I voted against it, since I, and tens of thousands of others, believe that marriage should only be between a man and a woman. The long term consequences of its enactment have never been discussed. Legalising polygamy will doubtless be next. And what legal guarantees will be given to caterers and others who refuse to participate, school curricula, etc.? And what will the attitude of the JCCV and other Jewish bodies be to protecting them? My guess is that they will do absolutely nothing to protect them. Larry Stillman’s defamatory remarks about Dr. Durie are indicative of the odious nature of the group with whichhe is associated, “Jews Against Fascism” (i.e., anything they don’t like.) What has always amazed me and numerous others about the Western extreme left is how it embraces Islamic fundamentalism, its polar opposite on every known issue – women’s status and rights, gays, minorities, violence. While no doubt the extremes always meet, it is also the case that both are engaged in a common struggle against Western mainstream democracy, and especially Israel and its supporters. To those who support my viewpoint, my advice is to organise the AJA as quickly as possible, and once it has reached a critical mass of several hundred members – as it quickly will – apply to join the JCCV, and form an alliance with sympathetic groups like the Zionists and the Orthodox, giving it significant political clout. Without political clout, it will be a voice crying in the wilderness, but with it, it can do something positive about the hijacking of our communal institutions.

    • Michael Barnett says:

      Bill, your response to my question suggests you believe some people in society should have more rights under the law than other people. If my understanding is correct, please provide justification for your position.

      It concerns me that your “slippery slope” argument may be without justification, given you appear to be using the same fear tactics used by the No campaign, and I can assure you they do not use evidence based reasoning.

    • Michael Barnett says:

      BTW Bill you neglected to note the 4 abstentions at the vote, one which was from Danny Lamm representing Mizrachi. I think the community organisations were fairly represented.

    • Robin Rothfield says:

      Yes Bill, Arthur Calwell,staunch Catholic as he was, would no doubt have opposed same sex marriage at the time but then so would almost all of us at that time. Calwell’s legacy, and where he showed leadership, was in the post war immigration program.
      The JCCV demonstrated leadership by advocating a YES vote. In years to come people will wonder what all the fuss was about.

      I note that a couple of your correspondents have referred to the Torah. The injunction which occurs in the Torah more often than any other is:
      “Do not oppress the stranger for you yourselves were strangers in the land of Egypt.”

      Do you and your correspondents go along with that injunction? Would you like me to send you the transcript of the speech on this subject made a few years ago by Rabbi Genende of the Caulfield Hebrew Congregation at Limmud Oz?

      • Robert Weil says:

        And what is the relevance, Robin, of this quote from the bible (oppressing the stranger) to voting yes or no to homosexual marriage? More apt in this debate is the quote from Genesis 2:24 “Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.

        • Robin Rothfield says:

          Robert, I referred to this Torah injunction on oppressing the stranger because many Jews on the Conservative side of politics are ambivalent about accepting asylum seekers into Australia. So the reminder that we too were strangers in the Land of Egypt is, in my view, most appropriate.

  11. Henry Herzog says:

    Yet again the Jewish right is being victimized by the bogymen of the Jewish left, oops, the far-left Jewish activists. And who are these far-left Jews shutting down the legitimate rights of the right to have representative groups like the AJA and Nothing Left on J-Air, to vilify and slander over minorities? I hope my name isn’t on the list.

  12. Robin Rothfield says:

    Sam Tatarka was one of those members of the JCCV who wanted the Australian Jewish Democratic Society (AJDS) expelled from the roof body when AJDS launched a campaign against buying from the settlements a few years ago. To identify Sam Tatarka with the Left is a complete absurdity.

    • Joe Silver says:

      Robin, there is no suggestion here that Sam Tatarka is affiliated with the Left. The sorry aspect of this is that the strait-jacket of political correctness constrains all of us, leading to the ruin of honest and open debate and discussion.

  13. Michael Barnett says:

    Bill, do you support all Australians being treated equally under civil law?

    • Joe Silver says:

      We are still meant to have a democracy. Those who believe in something don’t have an entitlement to foist their views on the rest of us and lay a guilt trip on those who may not agree.

    • Gary Luke says:

      I agree that as individuals all Australians should be treated equally under Australian law. Marriage and family is not an entity comprising a single person. It’s a specific form of partnership. Like many types of legal partnerships there are regulations and constraints on its composition, on its relationships with associates, and to determine the impact of this legal entity on other aspects of social and legal relationships which are not always so obvious until problems occur. Marriage is not a simple conjunction of only two people isolated from the remainder of society, and laws about marriage are not about isolated individuals.

  14. Michael Burd says:

    Bill Rubinstein’s observations about JCCV shifting to the left is an understatement and those that deny this are a bit like alcoholics who will never admit they are alcoholics.Though JCCV is not alone ECAJ, NSWJBD and ADC are all part of this Group Think and read out of the same progressive left handbook.The left is so sure they hold the moral high ground and own the narrative on all social issues g- d forbid if someone disagrees with them on the issue of SSM, Global warming, Immigration and the threat of Islam. Of course, what is happening to Jews in Europe and Scandinavia and the reasons for their predicament are all in our imagination.

    The behavior of Sam Tatarka and the Beth Weizmann board according to a Past President of the State Zionist Council and someone instrumental in purchasing the BW property in a scathing letter submitted to the AJN in his opinion exceeded his moral authority by imposing or condoning this form of censorship upon our community.

    The change of title of the AJA event was agreed only after BW reneged so in order to placate BW who had already agreed to let the premises for the event and knew what the topic was. The BW board was harassed and bullied by an online Radical left-wing Jewish extremist along with a member of the Anti- Zionist AJDS not to allow the event to go ahead. The same alt left-wing fascists used the same intimidation for the second venue that eventually caved into the bullying and got scared off.

    None of the vocal critics of the AJA event including Sam Tatarka had the courage to go along and make an informed opinion about the talks by DR Adler and Rev Mark Durie. I would guess MR Max was one of those that although interested enough to write his long diatribe not interested enough to go along and make an informed opinion. Prof Rubenstein was one of the nearly 300 interested that did attend and according to Peter Wertheim on Nothing Left President of the ECAJ and one of the critics of the AJA event sent along one of his ECAJ colleagues to listen to DR Adler’s same talk he gave in Sydney one week before and was unequivocal in stating there was nothing objectionable what so ever in DR Adler’s presentation.

    It appears if you are an organization that is anti- Israel, aligned with Australia’s largest Palestinian Lobby group, accompany this Lobby group to Canberra to Lobby for the Palestinians, have members of your organization willing to demonstrate outside Beth Weizmann’s offices against the JNF calling our oldest and most respected Jewish organization thieves and racists you are welcome into JCCV’s big tent and become JCCV affiliates . However, if you have a Jewish group that is ferociously pro- Israel, Pro-Zionist and consider Jewish Human rights a priority and willing to call out those who wish us [ Jews] harm then don’t bother trying to get a seat in Left-leaning JCCV’s tent >

    The AJA has never stated or insinuated for one minute that they represent all Jews no Jewish organization does, just as no one Muslim organization represents all the views of its 600,000 constituents Jews are not monolithic on all social issues or even Israel. DR Adler in media interviews including the Bolt Report has made it very clear numerous times that the AJA was created to fill a gap to represent like-minded Jews that are fed up with the shift of our Jewish organizations to the left particularly on issues relating to Multiculturalism, Immigration, and Israel.

    Judging by the number of critics of this new Jewish organization AJA must be on the right track >

    Prof Bill Rubenstein has been invited to talk about his article on Nothing Left J Air Radio Tuesday 31 st October at 9 am.

    • Henry Herzog says:

      Don’t flatter yourself or your right-wing cronies. No one gives a damn about you and your fear and hate peddling agenda.

      • Joe Silver says:

        Henry, you have a great knack of posting comments and never saying anything of substance.

      • Steve Lieblich says:

        That’s not an acceptable comment in a civil debate, Henry.

        • Mike Gold says:

          Shame you can’t just unilaterally ban him like you would in Jewish Perth, eh Steve.

  15. Robin Rothfield says:

    The JCCV represents the organized Jewish community and their decisions on marriage equality and the so called Australian Jewish Association have been responsible and appropriate. They have shown leadership, which is what they are elected to do. Responsible decisions are not always welcomed by less informed members of the community. When Arthur Calwell introduced the post war immigration program there was opposition from sections of the community, especially to Jewish migration. But Calwell did the right thing, did he not. Similarly when Malcolm Fraser allowed Vietnamese boat people into Australia there was strong opposition, but would anyone now doubt that he did the right thing? The job of leadership is to lead, not to kowtow to misinformed intolerance.

    • Johnty Dee says:

      This is the sort of standard leftist relativistic dogma that substitutes for argument these days. The false comparison with Jewish and Vietnamese refugees is a typically underhanded device of leftist rhetoric. Neither of these groups possessed cultural burdens that were inimical with the social, legal, cultural and moral norms of this or any other democratic society. Exclusion of these groups could only be by prejudice and misinformation. Inclusion of muslim immigrants can only be perpetrated by the same means.

      Secondly I dare say that if Messrs. Fraser or Howard were to be asked now whether they did the right thing I suggest that the answer would now be no, they didn’t. These ‘leaders’ acted out of ignorance and arrogance. Any cursory observation of the ME or Africa would yield that conclusion.

      Ideological dogmas based upon supremacy, conquest, subjugation and apartheid under the specious guise of religion do not satisfy the prima facie requirement of eligibility for immigrant entry. The fact that someone may (debatably) be a refugee does not supersede the obligations owed to the sensibilities, safety and expectations of the receiving population. People unable or unwilling to accept the supremacy of Australian law and its constitution are not legitimate candidates for immigrant status. Period.

  16. Dr Philip Bliss OAM says:

    I am amazed at the arrogance of Bill Rubinstein’s narrow view of Melbourne Jewry. How on earth would Rubinstein know the views of Melbourne Jews on such issues as same sex marriage or inclusion of GLBTI Jews. Rubinstein’s extreme viewpoint and his support of the new very right wing Jewish movement shows that he does not speak for the mainstream but in fact the marginal extremists. Thank goodness the JCCV in not cowered by these loud mouthed knuckle dwellers that represent no one other than their prejudiced followers. Extremism is to be abhorred whether Jewish or from any other religion. The JCCV speaks on behalf of the decent Jewish centre. Thank God for that!

    • David Schulberg says:

      There is this quick fire tendency to categorise those elements on the conservative side of politics as being far right when they are nowhere near being that. This is a dishonest tactic to discredit the significant number of Jews who don’t subscribe to the smug left-wing, appeasing, politically correct mentality that is epitomised by the JCCV. Bill Rubinstein has published widely on Jewish issues and Australian Jewish history in particular so it is very disingenuous of Philip Bliss to use abusive language like ‘loud mouthed knuckle dwellers’ to deal with someone who quite plainly knows his stuff. This kind of fallback to employing such foul language has become the province today of the Left that finds its often arrogant, opinionated views under siege, resorting to abusive tirades in an effort to fend off those who would prefer to engage in open debate and discussion.

    • Alan Freedman says:

      I am also amazed – but at the hubris of the Left who, after decades of dominating the media, seem to now claim that their views are indeed representative of the middle ground in politics.

      Doing so has thus enabled them to label organisations such as the AJA as “extremist” or “far right” whereas in actual fact, the term “centre right” would be much more accurate and honest.

      Furthermore, use of the pejorative “loud mouthed knuckle dwellers” says more about Leftists such as Philip Bliss than it does about his target.

      Derogatory labels and abusive language are the Left’s tools of trade towards anybody who happens to not agree with their world views. All the usual insults will be thrown around when a discussion on sensitive subjects is attempted, and it doesn’t take long to be called a racist, fascist, Nazi, homophobe, Islamophobe etc because that makes them right and everybody else wrong. But hey, why let the facts get in the way of a good narrative?

      The AJA was formed to address the long-unchallenged Leftist domination of discourse in this country, along with their demand to own the centre space. The silent majority are now speaking up – and thank G-d for that!

      • Henry Herzog says:

        That’s what the white supremacists and neo-Nazis of the alt-right also claim.
        Leftist domination, victimization of the right, reds under our beds: Yeah right.

        • Steve Lieblich says:

          Henry, you very-capably prove Alan’s point: “Derogatory labels and abusive language are the Left’s tools of trade towards anybody who happens to not agree with their world views….”

    • Robert Weil says:

      What I have learned from observing this JCCV SSM vote debacle.

      *The leftism disease that has marched through government, the media, our education system, the Reform movement etc. trashing Judeo-Christian values and destroying the values of Western civilization in it’s wake has now infected the NCJWA and the JCCV.

      *”Diversity”, “pluralism” and “tolerance” applies to all members of the community except those that wear a kippah and believe in the sanctity of marriage as being between a man and a woman, and who respect and live by Torah values.

      * Orthodox rabbis are to be treated with the utmost disrespect and hate if they dare state an opinion on SSM or dare to defend Torah values.

      * The JCCV has allowed itself to be brainwashed into the belief that SSM is a “civil matter” rather than what it is – a “civilizational” tragedy.

      • Henry Herzog says:

        And for how long, Robert, have you had this problem with gays? By the way, our Torah doesn’t seem to have problems with polygamy, extra marital relations and doesn’t condemn lesbian relationships, only male.

    • Dan Lewis says:

      Phillip Bliss, you state “How on earth would Rubinstein know the views of Melbourne Jews on such issues as same sex marriage or inclusion of GLBTI Jews.”

      Fair enough but with respect how do YOU it any other organisation know their views? Has there been a comprehensive silent ballot? No.

      I specify silent as there are various issues where people are afraid to say in public what they believe. The silencing of speech has resulted in this situation.

  17. Larry Stillman says:

    I’ll only take up one point and that is Mark Durie. Mark Durie is a textual fundamentalist; he sees little beyond Quranic and other textual literalism. It is the same overzealous technique used to deconstruct Jewish texts by anti-Semites. It’s completely unfair, in public, to have a Christian theologian ‘do a number’ on another religion. Imagine if (and it happens), he was an ‘expert’ on Judaism and offered a similar critique, denouncing Judaism as a false set of beliefs. Academic titles and affiliations are no guard against having crackpot views, and in fact, should be held to be irrelevant when considering the merits of a particular piece of scholarship. In fact, Durie has been criticized for his theologically-derived fundamentalism by a senior academic specialist in SE Asian Islam at ANU and I am happy to provide the reference to a review of one of his tomes.

    That’s one issue. The second is that Durie has acted for as long as I can remember, an active academically styled adviser, participant, friend of the Q-Society which aligns and has relationships with One Nation and other lunar right (Gerard Henderson’s term) in this country, and other rabid networks overseas. He is a political activist though I suspect he pretends that he is not. The Q-Society advertise Durie’s books on his website.

    Perhaps Rubenstein considers the Q-Society also mainstream. Well if he does, well, that shows up WB’s politics in no uncertain terms. Durie’s simplistic message results in total condemnation of all members of a religious group. That’s not on, and other people, far more conservative than me in the JCCV and elsewhere, also saw what poison it is to host such views.

    Of course, we do have the right to hear Durie, but after having read his stuff over the years, I am disinclined to. It is poison to audiences who don’t know where he is coming from or much about Islamic theology, texts, and history.

    • Johnty Dee says:

      Muslim apologists such as Mr. Stillman here never tire of the intellectual terrorism of trying to smear the shortcomings of Islamic intolerance, dogma and supremacy by the specious relativism of hauling out the interpretative traditions of other faiths. Apologists such as Stillman want to propagate the farce that no-one has been able to translate the Quran properly let alone understand it.

      Stillman resorts to the nonsense of equalizing deconstruction by anti-Semites of the Talmud with ‘textual fundamentalism’ of direct Quranic quotations. The former ignores any rabbinical exegesis whilst the latter invents an exegesis that does not exist.

      What is the real context when the Quran tells to kill the unbelievers wherever they find them? What is the real context when Mohammad rapes a 9-year-old child or women captured in war?

      The resort to the emotive phraseology to avert critical analysis is the same totalitarian retort of ‘racism’ to any voice of disapproval or contrary opinion regarding any of the cherished leftist canards.

      Stillman’s rush to reach for the ‘interpretive’ panacea when confronted by those that expose Islamic scripture for what it is do little but expose their own ignorance and the futility of leftist relativist dogma that axiomatically equalizes everything with everything else.

      What apologists like Stillman willfully and purposely fail to understand is that what they say falls under Islamic apostasy itself. The Quran repeatedly claims to be a “clear book” (5:15), “easy to understand” (44:58 , 54:22 , 54:32, 54:40) “explained in detail” (6:114), “conveyed clearly”, (5:16, 10:15) and with “no doubt” in it (2:1). Their claims that the Quran cannot be understood or is not clear and needs tafseer is disbelieving in the Quran itself.

      Similarly the implied blasphemy of ‘textual fundamentalism’ arrogates an authority over the divine Quranic word to mankind in general that was never supplied or intended within the model of Islamic epistemology. The greatest Islamic scholars have been the subject of vicious attacks for their tafseer and no-one is under any obligation to accept their opinions.

      The only poison we must suffer is that propagated by ideologues like Stillman that obscure the truth with their propaganda and smear unyielding academics by falsely accusing them of what they are doing themselves as a routine matter of their standard operating procedures.

    • Mark Durie says:

      It is disappointing that JWire, which states that “abusive, rude, defamatory” comments will not be published, and that it does not publish comments which “can be considered defamatnory and unfair” has aired Larry Stillman’s obsessive attack on my reputation. Vilification, name-calling, vague arm-waving, and ‘guilt-by-association’ smears are no substitute for reasoned arguments.

      In reality I am neither a textual fundamentalist, nor a literalist where the Qur’an is concerned. This allegation would be funny if it weren’t being presented with such blatant hostility.

      Rising anti-semitism is serious and it is reasonable to explore theological motivations for this disturbing global trend in a rational way, whether the roots are to be found in Islam, Christianity or any other religious ideology. If the price of speaking up against anti-semitism is vilification on the pages of J-Wire, then I count it an honour to be so abused.

    • Mark Durie says:

      Dear J-Wire – should your readers conclude that J-Wire believes language like ‘rabid’, ‘crackpot’ ‘fundamentalist’ and ‘poison’, used by Larry Stillmann of me and my presentation (which he did not attend) is not defamatory, rude or offensive?

      • Henry Herzog says:

        Hang on there, Mr Durie; aren’t you supposed to be all for freedom of speech and expression, or is that reserved only for the victims on the right?

        • Hilary Rubinstein says:

          Henry Herzog, you do yourself (and the Jewish community) no credit by acting like a troll on here, insulting Dr Durie, whose prescience is comparable to that of the anti-Appeasers who recognised the clear threat of Nazism to Western civilisation during the Devil’s Decade of the 1930s. As Dr Durie comments: “Rising anti-semitism is serious and it is reasonable to explore theological motivations for this disturbing global trend in a rational way, whether the roots are to be found in Islam, Christianity or any other religious ideology. If the price of speaking up against anti-semitism is vilification on the pages of J-Wire, then I count it an honour to be so abused.” Be thankful that Australia has such a clear-headed scholar, and Australian Jewry such a stalwart and fearless friend.

          • Henry Herzog says:

            I’m disappointed you have such a low opinion of me: Is it because I disagree with you?
            I thought my comments have been pretty poignant and meaningful: Example, how the Jewish on the right are feuding with the Jews on the left, and how the right has learnt to claim victim-hood because their bigoted views and engagement in race-hate are pretty abhorrent. And they reckon they’re doing the right thing by demonizing and vilifying whole communities. Apart from that being racist, all the security and intelligence authorities working to prevent terrorist attacks here warn against dog whistling.
            So good luck with your quest in bringing in a right-wing order, but I hope you fail

            • Hilary Rubinstein says:

              Henry, were you at the Melbourne launch of the AJA, addressed by Dr Adler and by Dr Durie? I was. And I can assure you that there was no “demonising and vilifying of whole communities” on the part of either speaker (both of whom were excellent, by the way). The tone was set by Dr Adler right at the beginning of his talk, which focused on contemporary instances of Islamic antisemitism, when he stressed that what he would be telling his audience applied to a minority of Muslims worldwide. There was no bigotry and no race-hate. So please desist from that slur. The only bigotry involved was and is the bigotry of those who have condemned the meeting without knowing what went on there.

              • Henry Herzog says:

                Hilary, no i wasn’t at that launch, but I know enough to know that the other AJA, not mine, wants a greater right-wing representation in the Jewish community; and I say, let’s not go down the path of division as, we are witnessing around the world. It’s where the right attacks the establishment for not giving them a voice, when they have as much voice as everyone else. As history shows, these are the seeds of fascism.

                • Joe Silver says:

                  Henry, the seeds of left wing fascism have long been planted and you seem to be oblivious of the huge trees that have grown that now over-shadow open, rational free debate and discussion.

                  • Henry Herzog says:

                    Joe, it may satisfy you, but peddling conspiracies, fear and hatred, about Muslims, marriage equality and climate change, isn’t what I consider open rational debate.

        • Johnty Dee says:

          Please explain how Dr. Durie must answer to a charge of speech suppression when J-Wire fails to enforce its own editorial policies and why do you think defamatory invective should be permitted here when it is not tolerated, in law, anywhere else?

          As if anyone worth their salt would dignify unsubstantiated, character assassinations with any serious consideration.

      • David Singer says:


        Larry Stillman’s crass and offensive statements only serve to underline his inability to enter into a reasoned and rational debate on your expressed views.
        It is always the path chosen by those who seek to denigrate when they lack the intellectual ability to act otherwise.

    • Bella Ceruza says:

      Jewish texts have welcomed critiques since they were written. There are always going to be a few odd folk out, but it’s pretty rare that Jewish fundamentalists issue fatwas or murder critics of Judaism. By contrast, we are in danger when we critique Islam. The danger comes not from a couple of odd balls but from the top echelons of Islam and even if only <1% of Moslems followed them, the numbers are scary – as numerous attacks on 'Judeo-Christian civilization' show.

      Not only numbers scare me but the insidious international infiltration across the globe of fundamental Islam is terrifying.

      I do have Moslem friends, but with the insidiuous spread of hatred from pulpits, the encouragement to them to donate to 'Islamic causes', our friendships are increasingly strained.

      Rev. Durie's thoughtful analysis is much needed for us to protect ourselves from becoming another Malmo (where Swedish police fear to enter) or another Charlie Hebdo.

    • Steve Lieblich says:

      Larry, you’ll “only take up one point and that is [to malign] Mark Durie….”
      What about the actual substance of the article?

  18. Gary Max says:

    Bill obviously thinks support or opposition to legalising same sex marriage is a decision determined by political ideology; his lambasting of ‘left wing views’ taps constantly throughout the above. Has he counted the number of Liberal MPs who would blanch at being called left wing, but who have spoken in favour of the issue; has he counted the number of ALP members, who would gag at being called conservatives, who spoke up for the No vote?
    The JCCV, NSW Board of Deputies and the ECAJ do not represent Jewish community views? Well that of course is true; they represent the views of their constituent organisations which may in some cases have only a handful of members (Bill cites NCJW) but others, such as Macabbi for example, represent thousands.
    Bill neglects to mention JCCV’s voting on the same sex marriage question. There was an overwhelming majority in favour. He also neglected to comment on the fact that the JCCV resolution was voted on after 60% of the Australian community had already voted, an obvious dilution of the JCCV’s effectiveness in guiding the community.
    More importantly, he did not Discuss whether a religious community body, who’s major religious institutions would not need to abide with any legislative changes regarding SSM, should be making a public statement on something that relates only to civil marriage. That in itself is a topic to be pondered.
    On to the oddly named Australian Jewish Association, which would more accurately include the term Conservative in it to reflect its views and to disavow anyone who thinks that this new association represents the entire Australian Jewish community. It does not.
    Bill knows very well that there was a concern that the name of the topic, The Threat of Islam to Jews, was incendiary and later correctly changed. The need to find a new venue bore no reflection on the standing, knowledge and expertise of the speaker. If an Islamic organisation had used a similarly worded topic about Jews (or the protocols of the elders of Zion, for example) the Jewish community would rightly have been outraged.

    • David Adler says:

      We did indeed consider the term “conservative” but that opens up a category of misinterpretation as in Judaism it is more commonly used to denote Masorti.

      So we adopted the name AJA but added an unequivocal Mission Statement to make the basis very clear to anyone who chooses to make even a cursory inquiry.

      There are certainly precepts in the ideology of Islam, in the Quran, Sura, Bukhari and Hadiths which not only literally provide a basis for threats to Jews, but are so interpreted and preached by numerous Islamic clerics. A recent extensive study by the University of Oslo of violent antisemitic incidents in 7 countries found that in 6/7 countries the predominant motivating factor was Islam. Denial is unhelpful, it is dangerous.

    • Gary Luke says:

      “More importantly, he did not discuss whether a religious community body, who’s major religious institutions would not need to abide with any legislative changes regarding SSM, should be making a public statement on something that relates only to civil marriage. That in itself is a topic to be pondered.”

      As this matter is completely irrelevant to customs and rites of Judaism, did the delegates understand they were voting as ordinary citizens of Australia, not as Jews, and not as representatives of Jewish organisations? No. They drank the kool-aid.

  19. Dorothy Stevens says:

    Thank you for eye-opening and prayer-stimulating information and Praise Almighty God for the last paragraph. He is still in control whatever it seems and His standard is still being raised. From a Christian who loves The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, His son Yeshua, Israel, Jerusalem and His chosen people. Shalom

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