The right of reply

October 4, 2010 by J-Wire Staff
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The Jewish Community Council of Victoria voiced its objections to the support given by the Australian Jewish Democracy Society for boycotts, divestment and sactions against Israel. The AJDS responds…On August 17, the JCCV published its objections andhave today made available the response from the AJDS, which is an affiliate of the Melbourne community’s umbrella organisation.

J-Wire publishes the AJDS response and the original statement from the JCCV.

from the AJDS:

The Australian Jewish Democratic Society considers the Occupation of the West Bank to be a significant obstacle to the achievement of a lasting peace, and the settlements to be one of its worst manifestations.

The effects are numerous:

*Israel’s youth must risk their lives in policing a hostile aggrieved Palestinian population, and risk becoming brutalised by the experience;

* Jewish settlers and their Palestinian neighbours have an understandably impossible relationship which often results in openly violent and destructive behaviour;

*It breaches international law, the very system that actually made possible the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948;

*Development of Palestinian civil society and its economy, which are the prerequisites of prospects for peace, is stifled.

Many Israelis share this view. The AJDS has decided that it does not wish to give financial support to those who produce and export from the settlements, and wishes to discourage others from doing so.  We are taking this stand because we hope that it will encourage people to think about the question of the Occupation, and, at a more fundamental level, because we don’t wish to be supportive of people who breach International law, with or without the approval of the Israeli Government.

This is why we refer to this as a limited Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions policy. Our position relates only to the Occupied Territories. We reiterate that we are opposed to a full BDS position which does not distinguish between the two sides of the Green Line. We agree with the Jewish Community Council of Victoria that a full BDS is likely to be counter-productive, however it is not clear whether the JCCV position is an in principle opposition to all boycotts, as the JCCV and the Executive Council of Australian Jewry have supported boycotts and blockades targeted at Iran and Gaza.

The strength of a community is reflected in the range of voices that it encompasses. To exclude ours would suggest that the JCCV does not represent the full community but just those who are to the right of centre mainstream. The JCCV has a right to criticise an affiliate when it considers it appropriate.  However, the JCCV did not first discuss its concerns with the AJDS and many of its “accusations” are incorrect.  Our point by point rebuttal of the JCCV accusations is available on our website but we do suggest that the JCCV now talk with us directly to clarify their misunderstandings. Indeed, an apology would be in order. If it is considered that the AJDS is on the fringe of the Australian Jewish community, could we draw attention to one of the findings of the community survey undertaken last year by Monash University? Using a liberal definition of Zionism it found that 20 per cent of Australian Jewish respondents self-defined as non-Zionists. We suggest that this puts us well and truly within the mainstream. But seemingly some would prefer the JCCV to not represent Melbournians of our persuasion at all, let alone those to our left.

Furthermore it should be pointed out that one third of the membership of the AJDS lives outside traditional Jewish areas of Melbourne. Our membership of the JCCV brings them into the orbit of the JCCV. Likewise many of our members have no involvement with any other Jewish group. Our affiliation truly puts meaning to “community” in the JCCV’s title. It behoves the community, led by our roof body, to reach out to all Jews, no matter their differences, whether political, religious adherence, geographic, ethnic or of sexual orientation.

The Aug-17 statement from the JCCV’s president John Searle:

By resolving to support “selected BDS actions”, the AJDS has placed itself clearly outside the prevailing views of Victoria’s Jewish Community. The JCCV formally distances itself from the statements, and calls on the AJDS to withdraw this resolution.

The fact that the AJDS has sought to legitimate its views by describing itself as a ‘community-affiliated Jewish organisation’, claiming credibility by associating itself with the JCCV is reproachable. While the AJDS is an affiliate of the JCCV, this is a tribute to the latter’s inclusive nature rather than an acceptance of the AJDS’ views. Indeed this decision to support certain boycotts is totally out of step with the vast majority of Jewish and general opinion, both in Victoria and world-wide.

Most responsible trade unions, governments, leading universities and the like reject BDS out of hand as counter-productive.  It is not only that boycotts are reminiscent of the 1930s when various Fascist movements undertook such action in order to demonise Jews.  There is also tremendous irony that organisations such as the AJDS supposedly support dialogue as a means of resolving the Israel-Palestinian conflict, yet resort to such crude victimisation of Jewish Israeli organisations, institutions and individuals.  Most importantly of all, there is simply no evidence whatsoever that BDS activity actually has any effect in achieving peace.  On the contrary, it will only harden attitudes, particularly those of Hamas and Hezbollah and their Iranian puppet-masters, whose sole intention is the destruction of Israel and the establishment of another hardline Islamist State.

If the AJDS were serious about justice, then why did it give a platform to pro-Palestinian activist Samah Sabawi at the meeting where this decision was made without allowing a countering point of view?  Sabawi defines Israel as an ‘Apartheid State’ and advocates the Right of Return which of course would mean no possibility of a two-State solution.  It is indicative of what the AJDS stands for when it gives such ideologues a voice and makes a mockery of the AJDS’ claims to be ‘Jewish’ and ‘Democratic’.

In accord with almost all Jewish institutions and organisations around the world, the JCCV is committed to a balanced solution that meets as best as possible the aspirations of the Jewish and Palestinian peoples.  This can only be achieved a by a genuine commitment to peace and dialogue and the recognition of the rights of all.  Finger-pointing and victimisation as advocated by the AJDS are designed to frustrate the Jewish People’s legitimate national aspirations and can only take us backwards.


5 Responses to “The right of reply”
  1. Aurelia Jebbra says:

    LN: What has the Catholic Church to do with this?

    • Lynne Newington says:

      Just caught up with your comment Aurelia, I hope you see it. The answer is the Catholic Church thrives on a divided house syndrome even amongst it’s own. Just look up some of Bishop Pat Power’s rhetoric across the board on the Palestinian platform, there’s plenty on record.

  2. Lynne Newington says:

    Good on you Rita; I’m not Jewish either.

  3. Rita Liddle says:

    Disclaimer: I am not Jewish and I do not belong to any association, but in the light of soooo much vilification and demonisation of Israel and the Jewish people going on world-wide (mainly driven by Islamists supported by the Left and even by organisations claiming to be Jewish lik AJDS), I on my own little self have decided to do something for Israel every day, and be it as small as buying a salad bowl made in Israel, or posting here.

    I have a feeling that this Group “AJDS” would have approved of the Kristallnacht, which was also a “kind of boycott” of Jewish owned businesses.

    “If Palestine stopped fighting there would be no ongoing conflict. If Israel stopped fighting there would be no Israel.” !

  4. Lynne Newington says:

    The Catholic Church will have a field day with this.
    There’s a giviing, a house divided you know what…. that’s why we never never expose our weakest links although it’s a little difficult at the moment.
    You need to unite on this.

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