The following letter has been communicated to  Jewish Cultural Centre and National Library Kadimah, by the AJDS Executive in response to their cancellation of an event booked with them.
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The Australian Jewish Democratic Society is very disappointed that the “Kadimah” committee has cancelled the booking for our function with Aziz Abu Sarah, a Palestinian peace activist, entrepreneur and journalist, born and raised in Jerusalem.
Aziz Abu Sarah is in Australia to present at the Global Shifts 2012 – Social Enterprise Conference, at RMIT University to be held in December. He will also be the speaker at a function organised by the Australasian Jewish Medical Association on Health Care, Israel and Peace in the Middle East. Aziz has spoken in hundreds of universities, Churches, Synagogues and Mosques on the subject of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, peace, reconciliation, and interfaith dialogue.
While we don’t question the right of “Kadimah” to accept or reject bookings for their venue, the AJDS booking was initially accepted and then cancelled by letter, citing concern about our function being potentially politically charged and potentially a “security risk”. The nature of the security risk was not specified.
The “Kadimah” itself, according to your letter, is a strictly apolitical institution prevented by its constitution from providing facilities for any such event. However, the “Kadimah” has previously provided their venue to the AJDS and other Jewish organisations, for functions that have had political content, and in any case this particular AJDS function falls well within several of the “Purposes, aims and objects” cited in the “Kadimah” constitution.
In particular, the following passages are relevant:
2.2   To promote tolerance, understanding and dialogue within the Jewish community and the
community as a whole.
2.6   To promote harmony and tolerance in Jewish and broader life.
2.8   To promote understanding and goodwill between Jews and citizens of other cultures and faiths.
2.15 To acquire, equip, maintain, manage premises for use as an asset by the Kadimah and for the
Jewish community of Victoria.
(The AJDS is an affiliated organisation of the Jewish Community Council of Victoria)
The cancelling of the AJDS booking at “Kadimah” for a function with a young Palestinian who has embraced engagement and dialogue, does not fit well with the proud 100 year history of the Kadimah and seems to be out of step with its constitution.
Melbourne is a safe space for activities between communities in conflict. Thus, there are Synagogue and Mosque visits, as well as other interfaith activities, involving representatives of the Muslim and Christian communities. We ultimately don’t understand the decision of the “Kadimah” committee in this matter and feel that our pluralistic and diverse community is the real loser. We believe the “Kadimah” committee should reconsider its decision to cancel the booking.
AJDS Executive.
Further correspondence is now added and is now added to the page. But the AJDS position still has deep concerns about the attitude taken by Kadimah.
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From: ajds-executive
Sent: Tuesday, 27 November 2012 11:25 AM
To: Alex Dafner
Subject: [AJDS Executive] RE: Kadimah decision to cancel the AJDS booking
Alex,
Thanks for your reply. You are correct to interpret
the foreshadowing of our posting the
correspondence on-line as an intention to be open
with you.
Our disagreement with Kadimah is on this issue
alone.
Regards,
Harold
From: “Alex Dafner” To: “‘Harold Zwier'” Subject: RE: Kadimah decision to cancel the AJDS booking Date sent: Mon, 26 Nov 2012 20:38:40 +1100
You are of course free to do as you like re your website and to post our letter of response there, so I will not interpret that as a threat. However, I do not accept your references to previous Kadimah “political” event bookings, which may have indeed been made without our knowledge of their content and I resent the AJDS questioning and reinterpreting our rules and practices regarding this long held principle.
Obviously our reading of principles such as “promote tolerance, understanding, harmony and dialogue” differ. Whatever your guest’s credentials may be, the statements made re Israel on the web link and the fact that you do not provide an opportunity for a presenter with an opposing view to what you call a “community” event, has the potential to make it in our view, politically “charged” and a security risk, which we cannot afford to take.
If the AJDS wishes to hold a non-political event such as an AGM or a fund raiser, without political content, we would be happy to hire the LFH out to you, as I also indicated in my letter.
Regards, Alex Dafner Pres Kadimah
—–Original Message—–From: Harold Zwier Sent: Monday, 26 November 2012 1:33 PM To: Alex Dafner; Subject: Kadimah decision to cancel the AJDS booking
Alex,
Below is the formal response from the AJDS to the decision of the Kadimah committee to cancel the booking for our function on December 10, 2012. Our intention is to post the letter from the “Kadimah” committee and our response, onto the AJDS website and social media first thing tomorrow (Tuesday) morning. If the “Kadimah” committee wishes to respond before then, we would be happy to consider that response. If you want to respond after tomorrow morning, then we would be happy to also post that response on our website.
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About Aziz Abu Sarah.
Kadimah Letter to AJDS 12 Nov 2012
AJDS Letter to Kadimah 26 Nov 2012