AJDS responds to JCCV statement to affiliates

1. On the situation in Gaza

Over the last week, the JCCV has released a statement on facebook, and then via email to affiliates, regarding the AJDS and our response to the recent events in Gaza. An article has subsequently appeared about this in the AJN on June 7th.

As we note on our website, “while we don’t have an official position for a solution, we believe that the policies of occupation in East Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza violate the human rights of Palestinians undermine the fragile state of democracy in Israel, and promote despair and violence. This policy ultimately damages the possibility for long lasting justice, peace and safety for both Israeli Jews and Palestinians.”

We would like to correct several errors in the statement released by the JCCV:

JCCV said “On 19 May the Australian Friends of Palestine Association held an anti-Israel rally in Melbourne.”

Australian Friends of Palestine Association (AFOPA) are Adelaide-based and did not organise this rally. It was organised by Solidarity for Palestine in Melbourne to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the Nakba. It was a commemoration in solidarity with Palestinians and expressed opposition to the Israeli occupation and colonisation of Palestinian land and the inhumane siege of Gaza.

JCCV said “This was followed by the AJDS releasing the following highly regrettable and inaccurate statement about the events in Gaza”

The AJDS statement about the events in Gaza was released on Thursday the 17th of May and not following the Nakba rally. We believe the statement to have accurately reflected the events in Gaza at that time.

The JCCV’s acting president Anton Hermann said that “the AJDS’s public support for the pro-Hamas rally in Melbourne in May was abhorrent to the vast majority of the Victorian Jewish community.”

AJDS did not endorse this rally nor did AJDS participate in the rally.

There was a link on our Facebook page to Jews against fascism which organised a Jewish contingent to attend.

Individuals from across the broader Jewish community, ranging in ages and backgrounds, attended the rally, many under the banner of Jews Against Fascism.

Anton Hermann asked “The AJDS claims to stand for human rights. Will they now openly condemn the Hamas rocket attacks on Israeli civilians?”

The AJDS May 17th statement ends with: We stand in solidarity with Israeli organisations rallying on Friday near the Gaza border, with those who have protested throughout Israel and Palestine throughout the week, as well as those who have protested around the world, and demand:
· Stop the shooting of unarmed protesters,
· End the siege of the Gaza Strip,
· Commence ‘good faith’ discussions with the Palestinians to end the occupation and colonisation of the Palestinian Territories and promote a life of hope, dignity and security for both peoples.”

Whilst we denounce acts of wanton violence, particularly against civilian targets, including the rocket attacks that emanated from Gaza, we believe that the kind of condemnation demanded by JCCV singles out this event, whilst ignoring the infinitely greater violence against Gazans seeking to conduct a non-violent, albeit very angry demonstration over several weeks prior to the rocket attacks. The only casualties and real damage to property over the entire period has been on the Gaza side of the fortified border, a fact missing from the condemnation suggested by JCCV.

JCCV said “If not, the JCCV will take all appropriate steps to distance the roof body for the Victorian Jewish community from the factually incorrect, anti-Israel policy positions of the AJDS.”

AJDS believes that its statement is well founded in the actual events and reflects a widely-held view that the Gazan Great March of Return was essentially a popular and non-violent protest that was greeted with a violent and deadly response by Israel.

We further believe that it is in Israel’s best interest to pursue constructive steps to end the occupation and colonisation of the Palestinian Territories and promote a life of hope, dignity and security for both peoples.

2. On relationships with the Muslim community

The JCCV statement says “It has been a long-held objective of the JCCV to play an active role in promoting tolerance, understanding and mutual respect between the Jewish community and other faith-based and cultural groups in Victoria.”

AJDS welcomes and supports this expression by the JCCV in reference to relationships with the Muslim community in Victoria, and notes that this work is often undertaken within and by the AJDS. We also call for a similar promotion of tolerance, understanding and mutual respect within the Jewish community. It is only through communication and conversations, even amongst those representing minority voices, that we can reach mutual understanding and respect for our differences.

AJDS community members and the elected committee have an open-door policy and encourage the JCCV, affiliates and Acting President Anton Hermann to contact us directly for a conversation on any perceived differences, rather than through public statements.