Progressives and Refugee Week

June 27, 2012 by J-Wire Staff
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The UPJ’s Jewish Religious Action and Advocacy Centre (JRAAC) launched Refugee Week activities with premier showings of the highly praised documentary “The Last Survivor” in Sydney and Melbourne.

Steve Denenberg and Rabbi Jeffrey Kamins walk together

In Sydney, at Emanuel Synagogue, Woollahra, following the moving film, which compared the experiences of a Survivor of the Shoah, a Sudanese Refugee in Israel, a Rwandan Refugee in America and a Congolese Refugee in America, a discussion took place led by Fabia Claridge from the Refugee Action Coalition and UPJ Executive Director, Steve Denenberg.
“The themes of this film have great relevance to our current situation in Australia” said event organiser, JRAAC Research Officer, Madeline Davey, “as it removes the myth that seems to exist here that asylum seekers are somehow not ordinary people fleeing terrible circumstances.  It is most important that we put the small number of people attempting to reach here by extreme means into the global context of millions of refugees seeking new homes.  It is time that we regained our compassion for the victims rather than blame them.”
“It also shows that the Jewish community’s call “Never Again”, following the Germans’ attempted genocide of the Jews, has been ignored time and time again in various parts of the world,” said Davey, “and that we in the Jewish community must take action and speak out to condemn the ignorance, envy and hatred that leads to such awful violence.”
On Thursday night the film was screened in Melbourne at the King David School’s Magid Institute. JRAAC coordinated this screening in partnership with Jewish Aid Australia and Jewish Aid’s Refugee programs coordinator, Lisa Buchner, spoke on the panel along with Sudanese Refugee Francois Adam, Netzer and Progressive community Shlicha Lior Argaman and Human Rights lawyer and co-founder of the SAIL (Sudanese Australian Integrated Learning) Program Matthew Albert.
During the panel discussion Francois spoke of his gratitude towards the Jewish community which had helped him and his community settle into Australia when other communities had ignored their plight. The discussion also focussed on the rhetoric that often surrounds this issue and the panellists emphasised the need to understand Australia’s refugee intake within its global context. Australia takes in 13,000 humanitarian refugees each year out of 100,000 refugees who are resettled globally. Yet the UNHCR estimates that there are 16 million people who are refugees outside of their home countries and another 26 million people who remain internally displaced. It is clear that there is still much work to do on this issue.
The evening was coordinated by JRAAC Research Officer Lisa Gelbart who spoke of the exciting opportunity JRAAC had to express a strong progressive Jewish voice on issues of social justice. Donations given on the night will go towards supporting Jewish Aid Australia’s refugee support programs.
Over the weekend representatives of the Progressive Movement participated in the national “Walk Together” programme which seeks to recognise that although we’ve all arrived here via different pathways we share a common Australian experience and need to work together in order to create a future where diversity is celebrated, fear is replaced with welcome and where everyone belongs.
These activities are part of JRAAC’s Refugee Week activities and the UPJ’s programme of speaking out on a wide range of social and humanitarian issues.


6 Responses to “Progressives and Refugee Week”
  1. Michael says:

    I’m sorry but this Jew does not look forward or wish to encourage more unauthorized asylum seekers coming from Iraq, Iran , Afghanistan, Pakistan and Palestinian Terror torries countries that have a pathological history of hatred and obsession with Jews. Perhaps other Jewish Australians don’t have a problem being part of a minority in Australia the only group that requires special guards outside their community Centers, day schools houses of worship and special protection required for visiting Israeli and Jewish speakers, Athletes , Politicians and Entertainers. Perhaps there are Jews that think its it ”their lot in life ‘to live under this siege mentality in their own country, good luck to them . I don’t want to end up like the Jews of France having to purchase property in Israel as insurance for a quick get away.
    Australia needs to increase its population with tolerant, on racist immigrants who integrate add value to Australian society , who don’t bring their age old hatred and Politics with them don’t make other Australians feel threatened or expect their host country to make cultural changes to suit them. We once had these type of immigrants in the 1940,s, 50,s,60,s and 70 ,s .

  2. Otto Waldmann says:

    Busy, busy, busy !!
    Them our Progressive chaps. When not marrying Christopher to Moishe under the huppa they cook up almost anything to show the rest of the so called Orthodox Jews, who pretend that Shabbos has anything to gain by not driving to shul, that spiritual chollent tastes much better with a dash of prawns in the mix, something their muslim chef friends enjoy as well, those friendly, cool party aminals.

  3. Otto Waldmann says:

    This place is so full of sarcasm !!!
    Yes, Michael, muslims have always shown that they DO have Jews in their sites ( just ask Shirlee for some links ) and why don’t you give us your full name . address and phone number ! Out there there are countless muslims who would like to invite you to join their cause of concerns for the Jews . I, for one, would love to join them, but I am chronically shy and otherwise busy writing messages on specific web walls.

    • Shirlee says:


      Though I love you dearly ( great deal of sarcasm needed here ) I would appreciate it if you would not presume to keep referring back to me to issues you have no idea about, as far as I’m concerned. Thanks

      • Otto Waldmann says:

        Would I dare cross the Fist of Finchley (South) and encounter the Kurse of Kensington (West) !!

  4. Michael says:

    I,m sure if it were Jews that made up the bulk of the Asylum seeker/ Refugees looking for a better economic future in Australia and not Muslims the Australian Islamic community would be out there publicly , loudly advocating support for those Jews.>.?

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