The answers to the questions you wanted to hear

August 28, 2013 by  
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The Australia/Israel and Jewish Affairs Council has asked both Labor and Liberal questions seeking answers the Jew Jewish community wants to know…

The Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council (AIJAC) has published the exclusive answers it received to a series of ten pre-election policy questions sent to the campaigns of both Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and Opposition Leader Tony Abbott.  The questions  and answers –  published in the September edition of the Australia/Israel Review – revealed some significant differences on aspects of both Middle East and domestic policies between the two major parties, as well as some new pre-election commitments.

The ten questions, designed to focus on political issues of special concern to the Australian Jewish community, address the following topics:
1. Australia’s relationship with Israel
2. Australia’s role in Israel’s quest for peace with its neighbours; Voting on Israeli-Palestinian issues at the UN
3. Response to Iran’s clandestine nuclear program; Future options
4. Counter-terrorism policy;  Security costs for the Jewish community
5. Legal status of Hezbollah in Australia
6. Educations reforms and funding for independent Jewish schools
7. Response to the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel
8. Laws against racial hatred; Section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act
9. Preserving and enhancing Multiculturalism
10. Immigration and asylum seeker policy
(Click on the links above to read each question in full and the answers from both the ALP and the Coalition)

A comparison of the answers from the two sides reveals a number of significant differences, many commonalities, and some new policy commitments, including:
•    Both major parties expressed strong support for Australia’s robust and ongoing relationship with the State of Israel, new efforts to further expand Australia-Israel economic cooperation and a negotiated

Dr Colin Rubenstein

Dr Colin Rubenstein

two-state outcome to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. However, the Coalition is critical of the Government’s decision to abstain on last year’s UN vote to upgrade the status of Palestine at the General Assembly. The Coalition also announced a new commitment to add Israel to the list of countries whose citizens can access virtually instant electronic visas for short-term visits to Australia.
•    There were clear differences regarding responses to the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel.  The Coalition said it  would institute a new policy to guarantee that “no grants of taxpayers’ funds are provided to individuals or organisations which actively support the BDS campaign.”  The ALP said that while it “strongly opposes and publicly condemns” the BDS campaign, it would not ban funding to pro-BDS organisations –  arguing this would amount to a “collective sanction… that would be akin to the BDS program itself.”
•    The most contentious domestic issue was the future of section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act 1975, which provides sanctions against public racial vilification. The ALP stated that it “strongly believes in the continued need for anti-discrimination laws, including laws that prohibit racial hatred in Australia.”  The ALP noted that 18C had been used to protect against Holocaust denial, and ties the provision to the London Declaration on Combating Antisemitism, signed by the leaders of both major parties – with Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus quoted as saying “section 18C is precisely the kind of legislated protection against anti-Semitism and racial discrimination that the London Declaration calls on its signatories to enact.” In contrast, the Coalition said that it views section 18C as “a threat to free speech in Australia.” However, for the first time, the Coalition made a public commitment that “Any changes we make to the law would not give license to Holocaust deniers.”
•    In another significant difference, the Coalition said it favoured a ban on the extremist Islamist organisation Hizb Ut-Tahrir and would “seek fresh advice from ASIO on whether there is a case for banning Hamas and Hezbollah in their entirety – not just their external military wings as is currently the case in Australia.”  The ALP noted that it had relisted Hezbollah’s External Security Organisation as a terrorist organisation under the Criminal Code, and that Hezbollah is listed in its entirety under the Charter of the United Nations Act 1945.
On the release of the questions and the answers received from the Rudd and Abbott campaign teams, AIJAC Executive Director Dr. Colin Rubenstein stated, “We are most appreciative that both major political parties were willing, at a time when both are intensely busy, to address so directly some key concerns of the Australian Jewish Community. We think the comparison provided by publishing both sets of answers side by side will be of great benefit to both Jewish and non-Jewish Australians as they make their voting decisions before they head to the polls on September 7.”

“We are also deeply gratified that the responses we received from Labor and the Coalition to the questions re-affirms that parliamentary support for Israel, from both sides of the aisle, is deep, enduring and unshakeable, and that both sides of politics are very receptive to hearing and responding creatively to the other particular policy concerns and preferences of the Australian Jewish community,” he added.



5 Responses to “The answers to the questions you wanted to hear”
  1. phil says:

    It is a disgrace that the current laws allow australians to wave the flag of hezbollah at anti-Israel protests.
    The current (jewish) federal attorney-general continues to ignore this issue.
    Perhaps the greens influence is stronger than we think???

  2. John M says:

    I find it extraordinary that AIJAC appears to have undertaken to usurp the role of the ECAJ. As it’s title quite clearly states it is the Australia/Israel and Jewish Affairs Council it is a privately funded organization, Questions 4, 5, 6, 8, 9 and 10 are the domain of the elected representatives of the Australian Jewish Community the ECAJ. If AIJAC has an interest in these areas then the questions should have been directed via the ECAJ. We should be seen to have one voice the elected voice. The primary role of AIJAC is Israel advocacy and the role of Jewish Affairs that relate to Israel. It is and has been extremely successful in this role, it should stick with this and leave Australian Jewish affairs to the ECAJ.

    • Sam says:

      Putting your comments here is pointless. You need to write to the parties concerned. In particular the weak feeble ECAJ

      • admin says:

        I really thank you for your remarks that posting a comment on J-Wire is pointless. Doesn’t so much appreciation of what we do…

        • Sam says:

          If you think that our community organisations sit pouring daily over comments posted here or elsewhere, then you are badly mistaken. These big guns aren’t worried about what a handful of us nobodies think, as much as we would like them to.

          You do not think that Dr Colin Rubenstein is in major meltdown because John M posted

          AIJAC appears to have undertaken to usurp the role of the ECAJ. As it’s title quite clearly states it is the Australia/Israel and Jewish Affairs Council it is a privately funded organization, Questions 4, 5, 6, 8, 9 and 10 are the domain of the elected representatives of the Australian Jewish Community the ECAJ.

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