Come to a reading vigil of #NauruFiles, 12-16 September 2016

i Sep 12th 2016

We share with you the following initiative from Love Makes a Way:

Join us in a Powerful Act of Truth-Telling!

Can you sense change is coming? In response to the #NauruFiles, refugee advocates from all different organisations have been holding vigils, rallies and peaceful acts of civil disobedience to let the Government and Opposition know that enough is enough — Australia’s inhumane treatment of people seeking asylum must end.

As part of this ongoing effort, a coalition of organisations, including LMAW, will be holding #NauruFiles reading vigils around Australia during the week of 12–16 Sept, 2016. At these vigils we will be aiming to read as many of the 2,116 incident reports as possible, as a way to publicly narrate the cruelty that’s occurring in Australia’s detention centres.

Please share this event on Facebook,
and announce it at your church on the weekend.

We want to send a message to the Government and Opposition that the abuse, assault and conditions detailed in the Nauru reports must end, and that they must take responsibility for their poor decisions and the culture of secrecy that has been created around immigration detention.
Most of all, we want to see Australia’s offshore detention camps shut down immediately. Will you join us?

Whether you can give an hour or ten, head to your nearest reading vigil to help us narrate the truth from within our detention centres.


Monday 12 September
BRISBANE: 8am–6pm, Department of Immigration and Border Protection, 299 Adelaide St, Brisbane

Tuesday 13 September
ADELAIDE: 8am–5pm, Pilgrim Uniting Church Forecourt, 12 Flinders St, Adelaide

Wednesday 14 September
MELBOURNE: 8am–6pm, Department of Immigration and Border Protection, 2 Lonsdale St, Melbourne

Thursday 15 September
PERTH: 8am–6pm, Wesley Church, 75 William St, Perth

Friday 16 September
SYDNEY: 8am–6pm, Queen Victoria Building (south end), Cnr George St and Druitt St, Sydney

Asylum Seekers at Nauru Detention Center plead for their freedom.

People in the Nauru prison pleading for freedom. Image found here.


“Plant Peace, Harvest Justice” / The Centre for Jewish Nonviolence

i Jul 21st 2016

The following is taken from the campaign page of the Centre for Jewish Nonviolence:

This summer, Jews from around the world are working with Palestinian and Israeli nonviolent activists to end the occupation and build a just future for all.

We’re invited to stand in solidarity with Palestinians living under daily threat of displacement.

Help us stand up to injustice with courage, so that we can plant hope for a future grounded in dignity and justice.

We need your support to:

  • Purchase 5,000 seedlings to plant in threatened Palestinian communities
  • Invest in 10 wheelbarrows, 20 shovels & 50 pairs of work gloves for use in Hebron & the South Hebron Hills
  • Secure the long-term sustainability of this grassroots, nonviolent movement

We’re thrilled to announce that we have a matching grant of $1,000! During the first week of this fundraising campaign every dollar raised up to $1,000 will be matched by our Israeli partners in All That’s Left.

“The situation in Susiya is only one of many such situations in Area C of the West Bank. Several villages near ours have pending demolition orders as well. If Susiya is destroyed and its residents expelled, it will serve as a precedent for further demolitions and expulsions through the South Hebron Hills and Area C of the West Bank. This must not be allowed to happen.”

Nassar Nawaja, New York Times, ‘Israel, Don’t Level My Village’ 

For years, Jews around the world have commemorated significant life events such as bar and bat mitzvahs or weddings by giving money to plant trees in Israel. The planting of a tree symbolizes life, growth, hope and steadfastness. This summer, the Center for Jewish Nonviolence is carrying these values into the fight against the injustices of Israeli occupation. Alongside our Palestinian partners we will be planting Za’atar herbs and helping to build infrastructure for future agricultural projects in communities that are struggling under Israel’s military occupation.

Agriculture is the economic life-blood of these communities, but Israeli policy and settler violence and intimidation prevent and suppress efforts made by community members to plant and harvest their fields.

Planting is not just about securing economic livelihood, it is also an important form of resistance to the Occupation. Our partners in the South Hebron Hills endure unending threats ofdisplacement as a direct result of Israeli governmental policy which has often resulted in home demolitions (for more information see Ma’an, Haaretz or +972mag). Planting trees and working the land demonstrate rootedness (Sumud) and a firm stand against the occupation, solidifying these communities’ ongoing presence on their lands.

* Donations to the Center for Jewish Nonviolence are tax-deductible under US law.

The Center for Jewish Nonviolence is a fiscally sponsored project of T’ruah: The Rabbinic Call For Human Rights.

*All handicrafts the CJNV offers at various Donation Levels come from socially-conscious  Palestinian artisans and crafts-makers, such as the Women in Hebron embroidery cooperative.

Recent Media:

The young Jewish campaigners calling time on the Israeli occupation of Palestine — Oriel Eisner

Beinart and Rosen sign up for Occupation Is Not Our Judaism— Ilana Sumka

Top Ten Reasons to Join the Center for Jewish Nonviolence this Summer — Erez Bleicher

Who are we?

The Center for Jewish Nonviolence organizes international Jewish support for Palestinian & Israeli nonviolent resistance activists working to end the unjust occupation of the Palestinian Territories. Our campaign this summer, Occupation Is Not Our Judaism, will bring Jews from around the world to engage in direct action and nonviolent opposition to the occupation. We will spend 10 days with our partners in Hebron and the South Hebron Hills engaging in solidarity activism, standing with Palestinians being evicted from their homes and pushed off their land. As Jews from across the anti-occupation spectrum, we say to our own communities, to the Israeli government, and to the world that the occupation must not continue.

Will you help us stand in solidarity with the people of Hebron & the South Hebron Hills?

Answer the call and support this growing movement by contributing to our campaign.

Help us build a more just future for Palestinians, and for all the people who live between the River and the Sea.

Please give generously and Share this campaign with your networks!

Get to know the Center for Jewish Nonviolence’s Leadership team here

Get more information and check out these Top 10 reasons to support the movement.

Donate to Plant Peace, Harvest Justice


Antisemitism in the Left and other racial issues for Jews

i Nov 6th 2015

This post includes excerpts from April Rosenblum’s “The past didn’t go anywhere: making resistance to antisemitism part of all of our movements” (2014), available here. Posting excerpts from this document has been permitted, so as to promote a discussion of antisemitism. All excerpts from Rosenblum’s paper have been indented and appear in green.

Graffiti in Tel Aviv, October 2015

Swastika in a graffiti in Tel Aviv, October 2015

The AJDS provides a forum for critical thinking, dialogue and challenging contemporary progressive issues. We do not necessarily hold all the same views reflected in Rosenblum’s paper.

What does antisemitism look like and why is it a it a problem in the Left?

“From one side, progressive and radical activists and scholars are being attacked by organized campaigns to brand us anti-Semites. In particular, it’s virtually impossible to speak out critically about Israel without being charged with antisemitism.”

“At the same time, we face real currents of unchallenged anti-Jewish oppression in our movements and the world.  This endangers Jews, corrupts our political integrity, and sabotages our ability to create the effective resistance our times demand. The Left has long procrastinated on taking on anti-Jewish oppression. In part we’ve had trouble because it looks different from the oppressions we understand, which enforce inferiority on oppressed groups to disempower them. Anti-Jewish oppression, on the other hand, can make its target look extremely powerful.”

“Antisemitism’s job is to make ruling classes invisible.  It protects ruling class power structures, diverting anger at injustice toward Jews instead. But it doesn’t have to be planned out at the top. It serves the same ends, whether enshrined in law or institutionalized only in our minds; whether it’s state policy, popular ‘common sense,’ or acts of grassroots movements like our own.”

Why is antisemitism often not incorporated in the Left’s discourse of oppression?

The oppression of Jews is not necessarily associated with systemic socio-economic marginalisation, but rather the application of a mythical racist view that Jews yield too much power.

“The oppression of Jews has a lot in common with the oppressions that all kinds of other people are struggling with today.  Racism, classism, sexism, homophobia and all oppressions serve twin functions: they control, endanger and disempower the targeted group, and at the same time, they help to keep a wider system of exploitation and inequality running smoothly.”

“Many oppressions rely on keeping a targeted group of people poor, uneducated, designated non-white, or otherwise ‘at the bottom.’ Anti-Jewish oppression doesn’t depend on that. Although at many times it has kept Jews in poverty or designated non-white, these have been “optional” featuresBecause the point of anti-Jewish oppression is to keep a Jewish face in front, so that Jews, instead of ruling classes, become the target for peoples’ rage, it works even more smoothly when Jews are allowed some success, and can be perceived as the ones “in charge” by other oppressed groups.”

Jewish oppression is used to scapegoat the world’s injustices on Jews, obfuscating the power structures that global justice movements are centred on tearing apart.

“That’s the nature of anti-Jewish oppression: To cover up the roots of injustice. To make people think they’ve figured out who’s really pulling the strings. This is one of the biggest reasons why it’s important for social justice movements to figure out and confront anti-Jewish oppression, for the movement’s own sake: because anti-Jewish oppression is designed as a way to keep people from understanding where the power lies. And it works.”

What is antisemitism and where does it come from?

Antisemitism, or anti-Jewish oppression, is defined as the system of ideas passed down through a society’s institutions to enable scapegoating of Jews, and the ideological or physical targeting of Jews that results from that.

“Antisemitism as we know it, with its images of special, evil Jewish power, began as a Christian, European phenomenon; though Jews faced mistreatment in Muslim lands, it was a more generic second-class citizenship applied to all non-Muslims.  However, with European colonization and inroads made by the Nazis, European-style antisemitic theories have increasingly also entered Arab, Asian and other societies.”

The term ‘Semite’ was itself an invention of European Orientalists, imposed on Jews and Arabs.

“‘Antisemitism’ was a word popularized in 1879 by someone who was neither Arab nor Jewish, Wilhelm Marr. From the beginning it was chosen as a chic, new scientific word to show that Jews were an inferior race (not a religion that they could convert out of), and to replace the word Jew-hatred (Judenhass) so that Jew-haters could enjoy sounding more sophisticated.”

Whilst Semites are an ethnic grouping of peoples, including Arabs and Muslims, the term ‘antisemitism’ is used specifically against Jews from its historic context.  Jews did not invent the concept to appropriate the oppression of other Semites.

What does antisemitism in the Left looks like?

“What has the bigger impact is not those individual Leftists who promote anti-Jewish beliefs, but the way that institutionally, people and organizations on the Left are so silent, uncomfortable, defensive, and even accusatory  when someone brings up concerns about antisemitism.”

“Jewish communities are filled with people who once made their home in the Left, only to back away after continual encounters there with antisemitism. We’ve now had three generations of Jewish activists pull back from the Left for this reason: First in the ’50s, coming to terms with Soviet antisemitism; next, those discouraged by the New Left’s ignorance of Jewish oppression; now, young activists starting to feel hopeless about the tolerance of anti-Jewish rhetoric in the anti-globalization, anti-war and Palestine solidarity movements.”

Standing up for Palestinian justice and self-determination is not antisemitic!

“Yet instances of anti-Jewish behaviour do come up in Palestine work more than many parts of the Left:  Why? It’s not because Palestinian or Arab activists are more anti-Jewish than other people. In fact, they often have a sharper eye than others for catching and interrupting anti-Jewish thinking.”

“One reason is simple: any issue where Jews are very visible will bring out the antisemitism that already exists in the world. Another is more complex: In an issue where some Jews do have real power; it can get hard to tell what’s an accurate observation of unjust actions they have done, and what’s antisemitic thinking.”

“A third problem arises from normal activist tactics. We often fight campaigns by making our opponents look as bad as possible. The Left doesn’t have tons of money, or muscle on Capitol Hill. One of the strengths we do have is moral power to make the other side look bad enough that the world shames them into reversing their policy. One of our main tactics is to make our opponents out to be cold, cruel and inhuman. But when you use tactics like that on a group that’s historically been portrayed as evil and inhuman, where that image has been used for centuries as a tool to incite mass violence against them, you tap into a larger historical power.”

Furthermore, Rosenblum elaborates:

  • If you’re white, understand: When you take no action to stop anti-Jewish patterns in our movements, you set Palestinians, Arabs and Muslims up to take the fall. Though historic Left mistreatment of Jews has largely been a legacy of white, European/American movements, Arabs and Muslims are the ones who today get publicly scapegoated for charges of Left antisemitism.
  • Anti-Jewish oppression is necessary in disentangling broader political analyses of oppression and the causes of global power inequity.
  • The ways that antisemitism conjures unsafe climates globally for Jews intersects and feeds with the ideologies that Zionism provides a safe space for Jews.

The Mizrahi experience jews

According to Loolwa Khazzoom in “A big piece is missing from this ‘peace'”, the Israel Palestine conflict is often posited in binaries, both by the Left and the Right, completely negating the Mizrahi experience and Arab Jewish interactions, complexities, and oppressions. Anti-Jewish experiences in Arab regions present other narratives, in which complicated historical, religious and cultural factors intersect. Khazzoom states here, that:

“Seeing Arab resistance and hostility to Israel only from the slant of Arab-as-victim and Jew-as-oppressor overlooks and erases thousands of years of Arab-Jewish history in the Middle East and North Africa. It is inherently Eurocentric: It only recognizes the existence and experience of European Jews, and it only recognizes power as in the hands of Europeans.”

Racisms within the Jewish community… Because Jews come in all colours

The idea that all Jews are white, or Ashkenazi, is held by members of both the Jewish and non-Jewish communities. You might wish to have a go at this checklist, which was developed so as to educate about the widening range of privilege experienced in the Jewish community



From the Archives: “The making of a Jewish feminist activist!”

i Nov 6th 2015

By Eva Cox

[Originally published in the AJDS newsletter, 30th January 2003, available in our archives, here.]

I am writing this piece in a time of huge turmoil for Jews in the Diaspora as well as for the Israelis and Palestinians. The question for many of is whether we will judge Israel by the same criteria as we might judge others on the ways the campaigns in Palestine are being fought. I am conscious, as maybe most Jews are, that there have been tensions for many of us about the actions of the nation of Israel and the ways we would like it to act.

I write this as a feminist, aware that within Jewish cultures women have not always had their voices heard. I hear too few Jewish women in Israel or the Diaspora speaking out maybe because war is too often still seen as men’s games. We are told that women are influential in Judaism, and that our presumed dominance in the home gives us more power. However, in terms of finding any solutions to the stand off that has been the dirty history in the Middle East for some time, there have been few women seen publicly in positions of power. We see grieving mothers, some women from the peace movements but few women in power positions maybe because a culture of killing and force sits in masculine stereotypes.eva-cox

I’m not sure that more women would offer more gentle solutions but maybe they could broaden the debate and options from the current versions of ‘my grievance is bigger than your grievance’. Maybe the stereotype of the Jewish mother is affecting my political judgment but I want someone to say ” I don’t care who started it, both of you stop fighting and do it now!”

Would more women make a difference? I do not know because I do not believe that, as potential mothers, we are biologically more caring, gentler or less likely to manifest aggression. However, women have often been socialized into less aggressive ways of solving disputes, which could be why we have more often been leaders of peace movements that armies. Why are there so few women in leadership positions in Israel, despite their long term involvement in politics and even the army?

I read the emails which give a wider coverage than the daily media, and listen to the radio as both sides seek to justify their stance. Both sides have valid complaints against the other but the question is whether the legitimacy of the opposing claims justify the violence being used on both sides. I acknowledge the real fear of Israeli civilians and their anger about their vulnerability, as civilians, to suicide bombers. I do not accept, or in any way approve of, the deliberate targeting of civilians as targets.

However, I also acknowledge the legitimacy of Palestinian anger against occupation and the encroaching settlements and how their anger is fuelled by Israeli army actions and the injuries and deaths of civilians. Both types of actions end up with the deaths of non-combatants, both create residual hate and both fuel resentment which make any negotiations harder.

It’s the intransigence on both sides, which seems to be partly tied up with the masculine values of pride and saving face. Sharon is the ultimate militarist, steeped in traditions of toughness as indicator of righteousness. Arafat is in a more ambiguous position, probably caught between his own hard men and a somewhat duplicitous confusion of statements. Both sides have their elements of extremists, religious and ideological, that do not want peace. Neither side should allow these to have the influence they have. We need new negotiators who have both the courage to reject and control their own warmongers and the capacity to understand that sitting righteously on competing grievances cannot solve the problems.

If both sides have what they see as legitimate claims over the same land, there needs to be some real compromises. There needs to be a recognition of that both have been wrong and wronged and that competing for the high moral ground is not going to work. Maybe if the negotiators have had more maternal experience in breaking up sibling fights they would recognise the need for different processes to move on.

I am appalled by the levels of anti Palestinian prejudice (racism?) and their demonising in both Israeli propaganda and often comments by local Jews. Whatever our desire to support the continuation of the state of Israel, we need to recognise that it was at the expense of the then inhabitants. The claims that this was given by God is not acceptable as anyone can make similar claims on the basis of their different beliefs and who is to adjudicate on their legitimacy.

We have accepted reparations for losses under Nazis but somehow deny the Palestinians’ case. They should not have to pay for the sins of anti-Semites in Europe. I recognise that many originally denied the right of Israel to exist but, now, most of the moderate states would not support this stance. There is a good basis for new agreements but not if Israel continues to create aggrieved and angry potential bombers by gross military interventions.

Why am I writing something like this? I want to see more debate within the Australian Jewish community, as there is in Israel, about the way forward. Loyalty should never be blindly given but should be able to be critical to ensure that the country we want to support deserves not just our but the support of others. The present aggression by Israel, whatever its basis, is making enemies and losing the vestiges of high support that it gained because of collective guilt at inaction on the holocaust. Israel was necessary because it offered us somewhere safe to go, but we need to pay the rent and recognise its survival depends on its reputation and the goodwill of others, not the power of its army.

I am a feminist, secular, humanist Jew. I come fully equipped with a desire to make the world a better place because of what happened to me and my family in Europe in the thirties. I was born in Vienna in February 1938, and Hitler took over early in March. My mother was in her final year of a medical degree; My father, was a university drop out and I suspect, political activist, son of a well off coffee merchant. We became aliens in a short time and joined the exodus.

What happened to me and my family was because we were Jewish. This was not a matter of choice but attribution so I remain indelibly Jewish and have never, as an adult, wanted to deny this. I learned much from two men and two woman in my life: my grandfather Philipp Kantor, who taught me civility; my father Richard Hauser who made me responsible for the fate of the world; my stepmother Hephzibah Menuhin who helped me to care about others but it was her bad example, and that of my mother, who taught me that women should not be silent and complicity with unfair use of power, neither in the household nor in the wider world. That is one basis of my feminism.

Eva Cox

April 11th 2002