Where we stand

This is an official AJDS statement, issued 2 November 2015.

The AJDS formally acknowledges that we, as an organisation, have members who live and work on the land of the Wurundjeri and Boonwurrung peoples of the Kulin nation, owners of the Melbourne region. We also have active members in other parts of Australia, all of whom reside on Aboriginal land.
We pay our respects to elders past and present, and acknowledge the history of the lands we stand, work and live on, noting that Indigenous sovereignty has never been ceded, and that colonisation continues.  We are committed to stand in solidarity with Aboriginal peoples in the fight for justice and real land rights. In doing so we pay tribute to a history of Aboriginal-led resistance, from struggling against initial colonial invasion, to the Gurindji, Cummeragunja, and other walk offs, the Freedom Rides of the 1960s, the self-determination movement, organisations, and Tent Embassies which began in the 1970s, the fight to retain control of spaces such as Lake Tyers, legal battles to attain land and cultural rights, and the resistance of actively practicing culture and fighting for self-determination and sovereignty in the face colonisation and forced assimilation, and everything else in between.
Since its colonisation, Australia has perpetrated genocide against the Aboriginal peoples, dispossessed them of their lands, split up their families and left a long history of trauma and oppression.  Furthermore, this colonialisation continues, informing government policy and benefiting non-Indigenous people. Aboriginal peoples and nations are still being dispossessed and in some cases removed from their lands, and Aboriginal people live in stark socio-economic disadvantage compared with the living standards of the rest of the population.
Instead of addressing the gaps in health, education and employment, successive governments have cut funding from Aboriginal services and undermined Aboriginal-run services such as health and legal centres. The AJDS affirms that self-determination at all levels of life is crucial to Aboriginal communities. As one of a series of measures, this requires the negotiation of a treaty.
Aboriginal communities across Australia are extraordinarily diverse, and AJDS seeks to affirm that understanding this – and understanding its implications – is crucial to creating justice for Aboriginal peoples.
Differences abound in terms of language, cultural practice, history, identity and politics. Differences also exist in forms of resistance, and in the differentiated ongoing impacts of colonisation. These differences are created by factors including location, gender, sexuality, class, poverty, age, and relationship to Aboriginality, amongst other facets of life.
Jewish communities and Aboriginal communities working together
In a manner in many ways reflective of the broader society, while the Jewish community has not always stood in solidarity with Indigenous peoples, there are some groups and individuals who have histories of mutual solidarity with Aboriginal peoples. These have often drawn on commonalities of persecution.
On December 6th 1938, less than one month after Kristallnacht, William Cooper, a Victorian Aboriginal man, led a delegation of Kooris from the Australian Aborigines* League to the German Consulate in Melbourne with a statement condemning the persecution of Jews in Germany. Not only were they first group in Australia to lodge a formal protest against Nazi Germany’s persecution of Jews, but they are acknowledged as the only private protest against the Germans following Kristallnacht.[2]
There has also been much involvement by the Jewish community in Aboriginal civil rights and land rights movements.  Indeed, the AJDS was established in 1984 with four major aims, one of which was “to support rights for Aborigines [sic], including land rights.”
Over the years the AJDS has been a member and supporter of various Indigenous groups and institutional faculties, including the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies, the Koorie Heritage Trust, Justice for Indigenous Australians and the Monash Indigenous Centre at Monash University, as well as having been involved in numerous grassroots campaigns.
The AJDS is currently a subscribing member of the Black Nations Rising publication put out by Warriors of Aboriginal Resistance.
While the Jewish community has been recognised as a supporter of Aboriginal rights and calls for justice, we believe it is important to acknowledge that while we are living in this country, we are living on land stolen from the Aboriginal peoples, and participating in continued dispossession.  It is therefore important to continue to be aware of the structures of colonialism and how they impact Aboriginal people in many different ways today.

[2] National Indigenous Times, “Holocaust museum to honour William Cooper”, 5 August 2010, p. 5. Gary Foley, 1997 ‘Australia and the Holocaust: A Koori Perspective’ from the Koori History Website. 


Related posts:

What we are doing

Acknowledgement
Solidarity with Indigenous led campaigns.
Supporting Indigenous organisations and media.
Holding events that highlight Indigenous issues and groups.
Education of local issues and history such as organising a local Indigenous cultural walk
Encouraging conversations around justice, sovereignty, treaty, and self-determination in order to pursue and help enact concrete change and decolonial practices.
We co-organise the yearly Renate Kamener Oration which raises funds towards providing bursaries for Indigenous students studying at the University of Melbourne.

Get involved

Support Warriors of the Aboriginal Resistance

WAR have been leading extraordinary campaigns for justice for a number of year and have seen extraordinary success in mobilising supporters.

Donate to Scholarship

The Renate Kamener Scholarship was estbalished between the family of Renate Kamener and the AJDS and supports Indigenous students in tertiary education

Australia and the Holocaust

Read this essay from Gary Foly on Koori perspectives of the Holocaust.

Renate Kamener Oration and Scholarship

Inspired by Renate Kamener’s committment to peace and social justice, the Kamener Family and the Australian Jewish Democratic Society set up a scholarship with Melbourne University’s Ormond College, to help and encourage Indigenous students to achieve their tertiary education ambitions.

The annual Oration is the main fund raising event, and the scholarship’s continuity is a result of the efforts of the three groups above and the generosity and good will of their friends, families and associates.

Recent news from AJDS

Migrant Justice in Settler-Colonial Australia (published in Arena)

By Sam Levnad This article was originally published in Arena Magazine. How can we work towards refugee and asylum-seeker rights while acknowledging Aboriginal sovereignty? The death in September last year of Aylan Kurdi, a three-year-old Kurdish Syrian boy, filled the front pages of international media. Aylan, along with his elder brother, Galip, and his mother, […]

Invasion Day / Survival Day / Amnesia Day 2017

This year we continue to stand firm in our commitment to acknowledging our privileged presence on this land, traditionally owned by the Wurundjeri and Boonwurrung peoples of the Kulin nation. We are equally committed to bringing about change in our own as well as others’ perceptions of their role in ongoing colonisation. Read our Statement […]

AJDS Decolonisation Forum: From Australia to Israel-Palestine – insights

On September 4, 2016, the AJDS held the Decolonisation Forum: From Australia to Israel-Palestine. The event took place at the Multicultural Hub and was well attended, drawing together an eclectic crowd that had gathered to hear our esteemed panelists: Dr. Gary Foley, Dr. Clare Land, and Dr. Sary Zananiri. An additional presentation was delivered electronically by Nina Grunzwieg from Zochrot. […]

South Australia’s push to be the world’s nuclear waste dump

By Jim Green. The South Australian Nuclear Fuel Cycle Royal Commission released its report in May. Its main recommendation was to consider turning SA into the world’s nuclear waste dump by importing 138,000 tonnes of high level nuclear waste and 390,000 cubic metres of intermediate level nuclear waste. How much money might be made by […]

Statement about Aboriginal incarceration and call to action

Like many around the country, members of the AJDS were appalled watching the Four Corners episode last Monday which told the stories of the brutality of Don Dale prison. Although these stories have been previously reported on and shared – particularly by Aboriginal peoples, groups, and media – it was this airing which captured the […]

Walking the Birrarung: an AJDS Aboriginal Cultural Walk with Dean Stewart

By Keren T Rubinstein Dean Stewart’s guided short walk across Enterprise Park, a bit of the Yarra River – or Birrarung, as it was named originally – and a small patch of bustling Southbank, was all it took to change my perspective on Melbourne’s CBD. Dean has been speaking to groups of all ages and […]