AJDS December 2009 Newsletter is available.

As usual, the Newsletter is jam-packed with commenty and opinion, including: -A critical view of the latest Australian anti-Semitism report from the Executive Council of Australian Jewry, by Sol Salbe -Opinions on the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions Campaign - Ten Reasons to send more (US) troops to Afghanistan, Arthur Washkow Dafna Golan on Israeli Denialism and the Goldstone Report.

The Qalandiya crossing–one Palestinian’s account.

I have been through there a couple of times, and that's enough. It's disgusting and degrading, even having an Australian passport doesn't stop the dirty looks and ritualized humiliation.But let a Palestinian speak for her frequent experience. Qalandiya's Horrors By Joharah Baker for MIFTAH December 23, 2009 Anyone who knows me knows how much I hate to cross Qalandiya checkpoint.

Denis Altman: Coming Out Jewish

Denis Altman delivered a powerful address at the AJDS dinner on December 13 2009, which addressed issues of not just gay and Jewish identify, but the politics of Diaspora communities, and a new role for Australia in working with its Muslim neighbours to break down anti-Semitism. Denis is a thought leader in both Australia and the US, and his speech covered many issues of concern to progressive Jews. His remarks suggest a new role for Australians in working with neighbouring Muslim countries. Due to a bug, the Youtube video won't screen on this page, but use the links below . Please note, there are 5 videos in sequence, with a slight overlap between each (total about 45 minutes). Video 1 Video 2 Video 3 Video 4 Video 5

Swiss mosques–A rocky path

This letter, slightly edited appeared in the Melbourne Age. THE success of the referendum in Switzerland to ban minarets on new mosques (The Age, 1/12) fills us with disquiet. This concern arises whenever laws are enacted that target a minority community, whether limiting the display of religious symbols in France, quarantining welfare payments to Aborigines in the Northern Territory or restrictions on Muslim places of worship.

Stop those settlements! AJDS Editorial

Many people within the Jewish community, whose support for Israel is not in question, have watched and noted the way in which the occupation of Palestinian land has had a corrupting influence on Israel's soul. Many Jewish Israelis are blind to the indignity and abuse on a daily basis accorded to ordinary Palestinians passing through Israeli checkpoints. They are insulated from feeling the deprivation, frustration and powerlessness in the lives of people under occupation behind a wall and out of view.

Freeze is essential

A letter in the Melbourne Age, 18 Nov 2009 THE Australian Jewish Democratic Society concurs with your editorial's conclusion that ''the only way that Israel can avoid having to choose between its Jewish identity and democracy is to keep the two-state solution alive''. A settlement freeze is the essential precondition to any credible negotiations.

Is it time to revisit the Geneva Accords?

In October 2009, Geneva Initiative commissioned a public opinion poll on a representative sample of the Israeli public regarding the peace process and the current government's performance. With respect to the Geneva Initiative, the majority of the Israeli public (56%) supports an endgame agreement along the Geneva Accord principles; however, as in the past the majority of Israelis (55%) does not believe that such an agreement is possible. It is important to remember that the Geneva Initiative is the result of work by both Palestinians and Israelis committed to a middle way--no ifs, no buts, but coming to an agreement. The summary of the accords includes: Accord principles: * End of conflict. End of all claims. * Mutual recognition of Israeli and Palestinian right to two separate states. * A final, agreed upon border. * A comprehensive solution to the refugee problem. * Large settlement blocks and most of the settlers are annexed to Israel, as part of a 1:1 land swap. * Recognition of the Jewish neighborhoods in Jerusalem as the Israeli capital and recognition of the Arab neighborhoods of Jerusalem as the Palestinian capital. * A demilitarized Palestinian state. * A comprehensive and complete Palestinian commitment to fighting terrorism and incitement. * An international verification group to oversee implementation. Description The Geneva Accord is a model permanent status agreement between the State of Israel and the State of Palestine. The accord presents a comprehensive and unequivocal solution to all issues vital to ensuring the end of the conflict. Adopting the agreement and implementing it would bring about a solution to the historical conflict, a new chapter in Israeli-Palestinian relations, and, most importantly, the realization of the national visions of both parties. The extensive documentation that has been developed is necessary reading. The ideas in the documents allow us to rise beyond the day to day fray and avoidance tactics, to look to a solution.

A slap in the face to the ultras

Vanessa Redgrave, no shrinking violent in her opposition to Israeli policies, has made clear her opposition to cultural boycotts. She must have realised that this step would set loose the cat amongst the pigeons. [and a point of historical correction to the letter--Tel Aviv was builton sand dunes purchased from local beduin]. The text: see http://www.nybooks.com/articles/23192

Lobbying, the Left and web 2.0: a blueprint for the Australian Jewish community?

Over the past year, a new organisation called J Street has stormed Washington with the help of a number of young enthusiasts, some liberal-minded philanthropists, and contemporary web 2.0 connecting and lobbying. J Street has shocked the Jewish establishment (AIPAC, the ADL) by being invited to meet Obama, and being heard by Cabinet secretaries and officials. Traub’s article agitated AIPAC so much that the Times had to issue a ‘clarification’, stating AIPAC’s views were not sought for the article.