Say NO to Pinkwashing!

The spin doctors in the Israeli government and organizations like ‘Stand With Us’ are trying to exploit the fact of Israel’s progressive environment for gay, lesbian and transgender people to divert attention from the effects of the Occupation.
Speaking tours sponsored by hasbaraniks are encountering opposition in the US, and this happened in Seattle.
” On March 15, 2012, the Seattle Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender Commission (SLGBTC) cancelled an event because the Commission wanted to stand up to “Pinkwashing”—diverting attention from Israel’s occupation and abuses of human rights by praising Israel on LGBT issues. This is a huge victory for the queer Palestinians and Jews who testified in favor of the decision and all who support them and will make real dialogue possible. ”
Read more more here.
A New York Times oped also discusses the politics involved:” The growing global gay movement against the Israeli occupation has named these tactics “pinkwashing”: a deliberate strategy to conceal the continuing violations of Palestinians’ human rights behind an image of modernity signified by Israeli gay life. Aeyal Gross, a professor of law at Tel Aviv University, argues that “gay rights have essentially become a public-relations tool,” even though “conservative and especially religious politicians remain fiercely homophobic.” ”

Gaza violence

The current round of violence between Israel and Gaza militants is another reminder, more than ever, of the need for international intervention in the region because both sides are incapable of resolving the situation. The civilian deaths in Gaza are to be particularly deplored, because based on past experience, this will do nothing to change the behaviour of those who fire rockets at Israel.
We also urge the Australian government do to all it can to bring about a cessation of hostilities and a long-term resolution of the Palestine-Israel conflict.
In 2010 AJDS passed a motion at its AGM which included the following points which we continue to endorse.
“We call upon Israel to end the blockade of the Gaza Strip and restore the supply of fuel, food and medicines, school supplies and other materials needed to support the population;
2. We call on Israel to immediately cease the practice of collective punishment and to stop any military action endangering the life of the civilian populations inside the Gaza Strip, and an end to Palestinian attacks;
3. We also call upon Egypt to open the Rafah border crossing to restore the fuel, food and medicines, school supplies and other materials needed to support the population;
4. Furthermore, we call upon Egypt and Israel to open the borders and airport to so that ordinary export and trade from Gaza can occur into local and international markets.
Endorsed at the AGM.”
The following letter also appeared from the AJDS in The Australian on Jan 4 2010 and remains pertinent.
“THE civilian population of Gaza continues to suffer a a year after Operation Cast Lead. The Israeli government, while using propaganda to deny the facts, continues to besiege the Palestinian population through collective punishment. The price of the siege of Gaza and the illegal occupation of the territories is one that provokes violence, extremism, and retaliation while Israel continues to be cruelly repressive. Because of this, Palestinians will continue to suffer far more than Israelis, and Israel itself become more cocooned and devoid of any moral authority. Even if Israeli Jews and Palestinian Arabs cannot live easily together, they should at least have the opportunity to live in two independent and viable states without permanent militarisation.”

AJDS Letter to Australian Foreign Minister Bob Carr

Below is the text of a letter sent by the AJDS Executive to Bob Carr on 7 March 2012.
Dear Senator Carr,
The Australian Jewish Democratic Society (AJDS) welcomes your appointment as Minister for Foreign Affairs.
As an organisation within the Jewish community, we particularly aim to offer a considered and alternative viewpoint to members of the Jewish community and others in Australia. The AJDS was formed in 1984 by Norman Rothfield and others including Moss Cass, a former Labor government minister in the Whitlam government. It aims to promote free discussion on issues of social justice, politics, human rights and conflict resolution – particularly in relation to the Israeli Palestinian conflict where we have consciously avoided the stereotyping and fear-mongering that are all too common in public debate on both the Left and Right.
The AJDS actively counters the false view that the Australian Jewish community speaks with a single voice on the Israeli Palestinian conflict. We have all complained at some time about the indifference of the world to the plight of the Jewish people at their most horrific period in human history. Neither can we then ignore the plight of Palestinians seeking their own self determination. Just as the international community supported the establishment of Israel, so too it is equally important that the international community support resolution of the conflict through a two state solution with the establishment of Palestine and resolution of the Palestinian refugee problem.
The public position taken by the main Jewish organisations such as the Executive Council of Australian Jewry (ECAJ), the Zionist Federation of Australia (ZFA) and the Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council (AIJAC) downplays the complexities of the conflict and avoids casting a critical eye over Israeli policies that prolong the conflict, while readily highlighting Palestinian policies that do likewise. This does not in fact reflect the diversity of opinion in the Jewish community here, or indeed in Israel itself, particularly amongst younger people.
The AJDS believes that Australia can take a more forthright role through the power of international diplomacy, to bring an end to Israel’s 45 year-long occupation of the West Bank, by encouraging Israel and Palestinians to negotiate a settlement based on UN resolution 242 and other key decisions internationally, including an equitable distribution of resources such as water. Australia’s good relations with Israel and the Arab and Muslim world places Australia in a better position of influence than many other countries.

David Grossman: Why? Who died?– translated by Sol Salbe

Sol Salbe has done the world a great service by translating David Grossman’s essay about the death of a Palestinian in Israeli police custody. It is all too reminiscent of an Australian indigenous death in custody story.
As Sol writes:
Last Friday Haaretz did something unusual: it placed an opinion piece on top of its front page. But it wasn’t just an ordinary opinion piece, it was written by one of the country foremost novelists, David Grossman. The article, like Emile Zola’s J’accuse, to which it has been compared, was a moral critique. Many who read it were very moved. But the moral missive never appeared in English (at least to my knowledge). The English Haaretz has always been somewhat reticent in presenting Israel to the world. And of course translating Grossman is not easy, he is a master of the language and the art of writing.I have no idea whether I have done justice to this work. But it needed to be translated. The message is too important.*Hebrew original:*Translated by Sol Salbe of the Middle East News Service, Melbourne Australia .
For the rest go to

Liberty Victoria: The Kafkaesque world of security assessments.

Liberty Victoria has issued an important press release concerning security assessments of refugees in Australia. The text is below, and also in the attachment.
Yesterday evening, some 50 people in Australia went to sleep not knowing whether they will ever be released from immigration detention. These people have committed no crime. They have spent more than a year in detention seeking to demonstrate that they are genuine refugees. At the end of that process, they have been found to be genuine refugees. That is, their case that they would be persecuted if they returned to the country from which they fled has been accepted.
They had the fair and legal expectation that they would then be released so as to pursue new lives either in Australia or some third country that would accept them for resettlement. They are still locked up.

AJDS  supports   anti-bullying program   in  schools 

In an article recently published in the Australian Family Association journal, Rabbi Dr Shimon Cowen writes that the real goal of the homosexual “anti-bullying” program for schools is “the teaching and validation of homosexual behaviour at the early stages of child education”. He further argues that homosexual behaviour is a moral wrong.
Rabbi Cowen is essentially claiming that the homosexual “anti-bullying” program for schools has an agenda hidden behind the overt purpose of eliminating bullying behaviour.

The Solution to Bigotry is more Free Speech

Rabbi Shimon Cowen has published an article in a conservative journal highly critical of programs to promote anti-bullying of young gay people, because he believes them to ‘normalize’ homosexuality.
His views aside, the issue is an important one for advocates of free speech and how to deal with what is seen as offensive speech.
I offered this opinion in Galusaustralis.

EVENT: Re-imagining the Jewish Community: A Forum for Young Jews

Sunday, 4 March 2012
15:00 until 17:00
Multicultural Hub Melbourne -Green Room, 506 Elizabeth Street (opposite the Queen Victoria Market), a short walk from Melbourne Central station
What kind of Jewish community do we want?
What issues are important to us and what do we want to do about them?
Lots of us young Jews are searching for a Jewish identity which is relevant to the issues facing the world today. Many of us also feel alienated from the mainstream Melbourne Jewish community.
So let’s come together to talk about the kind of Jewish community that would be meaningful to each of us. We’ll talk about the kinds of ideas, events and programs which could exist: we’ll challenge the idea that there can only be one Jewish community, or one Jewish way of thinking, in Melbourne.

Dealing with Iran– James Zogby

James Zogby is one of the most intelligent voices in the Arab-American community, and this is an excellent article (in Tikkum magazine) about Iran, Israel, and the US
“There are lessons to be learned in order to avoid a confrontation from which no one will emerge a winner. Those in the U.S. who point to Israel’s 1981 strike against Iraq, conveniently ignore the fact that Saddam emerged undeterred. The next two decades witnessed Iraq and Iran engaging in an orgy of blood-letting, in part leading to Iraq’s fatal occupation of Kuwait and all that followed. Then there were Israel’s repeated invasions, occupations and bombardments of Lebanon which only devastated that country, leading to the emergence and empowering of Hizbollah. Or Israel’s war and strangulation policy against Gaza which only resulted in death and destruction, increasing bitterness and a deepening Palestinian divide, making the search for peace more difficult.”
Full text

Much too promised land– Hal Wootten

Wootten offers a long critique of the Executive Council of Australian Jewry’s critique of The Promise.
He is a distinguised jurist and public figure in Australia
“If it is to maintain balance among the destabilising forces raging within and without, Israel is in desperate need of trusted but frank and independent critical voices such as the Diaspora could provide. Australian Jews can play such a role only if they open their eyes and ears and hearts and minds to the messages of the writers, artists, thinkers and people of insight and goodwill in the world, rather than attempt to shoot the messengers. Fortunately more and more are doing this. ”
Read his critique.