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: http://www.haaretz.co.il/news/politics/1.1649589*Translated by Sol Salbe of the Middle East News Service, Melbourne Australia . For the rest go to .
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.
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.
This article, by AJDS Executive member Harold Zwier was published, in a very slightly modified form in the Australian Jewish News of 2 Feb 2012. The AJN version is attached below. Recently The Age newspaper reported that the Executive Council of Australian Jewry (ECAJ) had complained to the SBS ombudsman about a fictional drama, The Promise, shown on SBS late in 2011. The drama is set against the historical background of Palestine at the end of the British Mandate 1947/48 and Israel in 2005. The main contention of the ECAJ is summed up in this quote from their complaint to SBS. "The basic concept of The Promise, and the premises on which it rests, are ... not merely a gross misrepresentation of history, they also fall squarely within the ... Working Definition of Antisemitism." The showing of The Promise pushed all the wrong buttons in the Jewish community. It is an unsentimental and unflattering portrait of Israel's creation. The portrayal of Jews is less sympathetic than those of the Arabs. The main Jewish family depicted in modern day Israel is wealthy. The historical narrative is biased towards the Arabs.
The AJDS has come into possession of the investigation and decision from OfCom, the UK electronic media Complaints Authority, concerning "The Promise" (attached below). This investigation was carried out in response to complaints made about the program in the UK, including that of the British (Jewish) Board of Deputies (the correspondence with Channel 4 who broadcast the program can be seen here) We understand that the ruling was issued at the start of April 2011. We are not quite sure why the ruling was not made publicly available on the OfCom website, as it is similar to other rulings they conduct, and paticularly since it was quoted in the press and seems to have been available to the ECAJ who dismiss it it in their letter of complaint to SBS management. Be that as it may, it is important that issues around The Promise" be shared as widely as possible. We suggest that you read the Ofcom document and then compare it to the ECAJ complaint. Ofcom is well experienced with hate speech in the electronic media, as a perusal of its Bulletin makes clear. In its letter published here, says "Ofcom recognises that many portrayals by UK broadcasters of the history of and current situation in Israel and neighbouring territories are controversial – whether in non-fiction or as here drama programmes. I can assure you that Ofcom took your complaint, and all the other complaints, about this series very seriously. " [read on]
An opinion by Larry Stillman of the AJDS Executive has been published on the ABC website. Another freedom of expression issue has raised its head in the Jewish community in Australia. This time, it involves a series which recently appeared on SBS and is now being sold as a DVD....for the rest, go to The Drum [and I will add that I have dealt with "the Lobby" and its censoriousness on various occasions such as this one]
Invitation to AJDS Annual Dinner - 11th December 2011 We are pleased to invite you to our Annual Dinner at Almazett Lebanese restaurant at 208 Balaclava Road North Caulfield 7pm on the 11th of December 2011. The Annual Dinner is a fantastic chance for all members and supporters to catch up and talk about issues relevant to progressive Jews in an informal setting. We’re very much looking forward to seeing everyone there.
Gareth Evans (Chancellor of the ANU, Former Head of the International Crisis Group, Former Foreign Minister): "The Role of the International Community in Preventing Genocide and other Mass Atrocity Crimes" The text of the speech is now available. This speech was delivered to a large audience on Sunday 31st July at the Leo Baeck Centre. Proceeds funded the Renate Kamener Scholarship for Indigenous students at the University of Melbourne. Renate was a beloved member of the AJDS.
The Refugee Advocacy Network is calling on all groups and individuals who support refugee rights to come together and send a clear message to the government: it’s time to end mandatory detention. The crisis in Australia’s detention system has reached a critical point. There are now almost 7,000 people locked in detention centres across the country. Increasing number have been incarcerated for long periods of time – months or even years. Asylum seekers and refugees in the camps are increasingly despairing and desperate.