What are the Boundaries of Anti-semitism?– Harold Zwier

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.

What the ECAJ tried to outsmart: the ruling from the UK complaints authority about “The Promise”

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]

The attack by the “Lobby” on the SBS network for showing ‘The Promise’.

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]

AJDS Annual Dinner – 11th December 2011

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 : Second Renate Kamener Oration

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.

March on World Refugee Day, June 19

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.

Naomi Chazan: Who Seriously Wants Peace? A Frank Assessment.

The AJDS is pleased to invite you to drinks, canapes and a talk by Naomi Chazan. Where: Izzi/ Brown Cow Cafe/Bar, 272 Glen Huntly Road Elsternwick VIC 3185 (Right next to Elsternwick Railway Station). When: Wednesday, 15 June, 7 for 7.30-9pm. Entry: $25 waged/$17 students/non-wages for canapes and a drink. Cash bar as well. RSVP for catering purposes: info@ajds.org.au OR @ Facebook

Should the Left support the BDS campaign against Israel? Two leftists in hot debate.

Two activists line up to debate the merits of BDS: KIM BULLIMORE who has worked on the ground in Palestine with the Women’s International Peace Service since 2004 will be putting the case for the Global BDS. Israeli-born SOL SALBE, a campaigner for Palestinian human rights in this country for 42 years and a well-known member of AJDS will be putting case for a more selective, pinpointed approach.

The Renate Kamener Oration: Peter Singer

The Renate Kamener Oration: Peter Singer (Professor of Bioethics, Princeton University) “Living Ethically in a Divided World” 7.15 for 7.30pm, Sunday 11th July 2010 Leo Baeck Centre, 33 Harp Rd East Kew. $15 admission. Proceeds will go to the establishment of a scholarship for Indigenous students at the University of Melbourne. Additional donations welcomed.