New conversation for B’nai B’rith and ECAJ

May 13, 2015 by J-Wire
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The Executive Council of Australian Jewry and B’nai B’rith’s Alfred Dreyfus Anti-Defamation Unit successfully launched their “In Conversation” series in Sydney last week.

The first of the series featured host, Alex Ryvchin, from the ECAJ, in conversation with Macquarie University’s Associate Professor John Langdale, an expert on energy security in the Middle-East and terror financing.

and Alex Ryvchin     Photo: J-Wire

Associate Professor John Langdale and Alex Ryvchin      Photo: J-Wire

Ryvchin opened the discussion with questions regarding an incident that Ryvchin described as “weighing heavily on the minds of many in the community.” That is, the issue of free speech on our campuses in light of the Colonel Richard Kemp lecture at Sydney University, which was stormed by anti-Israel protestors intent on shutting the lecture down.

Ryvchin asked whether the incident “should be viewed as an aberration or as a symptom of an increasingly hostile anti-Israel climate on our nation’s campuses.”  Langdale suggested that the anti-Israel movement was being led by a small group of fanatics who enjoyed very limited support.

The conversation then turned to energy security and an examination of why the countries of the Middle East and North Africa have comprehensively failed to engage in the global economy. Langdale opined that a combination of factors including corruption, the power of religious institutions and the weakness of education systems contributed to economic disengagement, poverty, unemployment and ultimately radicalisation. Langdale suggested that large-scale emigration from these countries looks an increasingly likely prospect.

On the issue of terror financing, Langdale spoke extensively about how international crime, including the drug trade, is used by terrorist organisations, including Hezbollah and Hamas to finance their crimes. Langdale suggested that the regional hub of Dubai is particularly important to money laundering and embezzlement of foreign aid.

The evening concluded with a vibrant Q&A session.

The next instalment in the series is slated for late June.

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