Gaza play director, Samah Sabawi, demands an unequivocal apology

i Jun 3rd 2016

‘Tales of a City by the Sea’ is a play about Gaza, which tells of a love story set amid war and siege, remains on the VCE curriculum despite accusations it spreads anti-semitism. “It seems that I, the writer, missed the memo that I can’t write an artistic piece about Palestinian life without inserting Israel’s point of view into my art” wrote Samah Sabawi in the Age, adding, “This is wrong on so many levels.”

“What the critics don’t seem to grasp is this play is not about the Palestine/Israel conflict. Ordinary Palestinian life in Gaza does not revolve around political discussion. It is consumed with the daily battle for survival.”

In this Monday, Feb. 15, 2016 photo, Palestinian women sift through used clothing at the weekly flea market in Nusseirat refugee camp, central Gaza Strip. (AP Photo/Khalil Hamra)

Palestinian women sorting used clothing at the Nusseirat flea market in central Gaza, February 15 2016. There are few other income sources for women in the Strip. Image found here.

Read the rest of “Vision of everyday life in Palestine too bleak for some” by Sabawi.

Read an earlier post about the vicious accusations and call for withdrawal of the play from the VCE curriculum.

The Anti-Defamation Commission’s chair will be speaking at Limmud Oz this month, about the subject of bigotry.


Victoria plans to protect biodiversity

i May 11th 2016

Protecting our environment is crucial. None of our activism or struggle for social justice could take place were it not for the physical environment in which we live and work. The Victorian government has recently issued a plan to protect biodiversity in our State. You can read more about this or make your own submission here:

The endangered Spotted Pardalote

Spotted Pardalote – photo courtesy of James Mustafa. Source:

The following is the introduction to the plan:

Victoria’s natural environment is rich, diverse, unique and precious. We treasure the environment not just for its own sake, but for its indispensable value to us as humans. But unfortunately, it is in decline. To continue to enjoy the social, physical and economic benefits of a healthy natural environment we must accept the massive challenge of turning around this decline.

The Victorian Government’s draft biodiversity plan, Protecting Victoria’s Environment – Biodiversity 2036, describes a new vision, in which Victoria’s biodiversity is healthy, valued and actively cared for. This will be achieved by fulfilling two goals:

  1. To encourage more Victorians to value nature, by increasing the number of Victorians spending time enjoying nature, increasing the percentage of Victorian organisations reporting on and managing their performance to support the natural environment, and increasing the number of Victorians who act to protect nature; and
  2. To ensure that Victoria’s natural environment is healthy, by halting the decline of threatened species and securing the greatest possible number of species in the face of climate change, improving the extent and condition of native habitats, and improving ecological regimes.

The draft plan’s approach to setting targets is to focus on the actions and places in the state where the best, most cost-effective results for biodiversity can be achieved.

The draft plan also has eleven key principles, which have guided its development and will guide its implementation into the future.

To answer the consultation questions in these chapters click here.

Read more about the AJDS’ environmental campaign.

AJDS statement regarding the new Rudd asylum seeker policy

i Jul 24th 2013

The Australian Jewish Democratic Society (AJDS) is strongly opposed to the Australian Government’s recent decision to send all asylum seekers who arrive in Australia by boat to Papua New Guinea. Australia has an obligation – both by law and morality – to help those who come to this country in need. By sending asylum seekers away we are breaching our responsibilities to the rest of the world, and particularly to those who need help the most.

This decision ignores the role that Australia plays in creating conditions around the world that are unsafe for people – ‘push factors’ that force people to seek asylum – as well as the dangerous effects that building larger detention centres in Papua New Guinea will have on local communities there. It makes arbitrary distinctions between how people come to this country to seek asylum, and in doing so creates and reinforces the paranoia and fear of the worst, most racist, elements of Australian society.

We look forward to the day when the lives of people in need are no longer treated as political footballs, and Australia’s immigration policies are based on care and directed at protecting and helping people who come to us seeking asylum.

Please join Jews for Refugees in a protest action on Saturday July 27. Meeting outside RMIT on Swanston Street (cnr Latrobe) at 12.50pm. Event details here.

The Aboriginal Yarra River Walk – “Walkin’ the Birrarung” – April 7

i Mar 22nd 2013
We’re very excited to invite you to a special AJDS event:
The AJDS is this year re-focusing our efforts on Jewish-Indigenous solidarity. To this end we’ve started an Indigenous solidarity group within the AJDS to make connections, run events and get involved in Indigenous campaigns. Our first event of the year is –

The Aboriginal Yarra River Walk ~ “Walkin’ the Birrarung”

We’d love for people to come along who are interested in getting involved with the AJDS Indigenous solidarity group.

Walk description:

The Aboriginal Yarra River Walk – “Walkin’ the Birrarung”  is a highly popular Aboriginal cultural walk which has been running through Melbourne’s centre for almost 10 years, it has opened the eyes, and the hearts, of many thousands of patrons of all ages and walks of life. Come and be a part of this cultural experience.

Discover Melbourne through Aboriginal eyes

Connect with Culture, Connect with Country

Come on a journey of Knowledge and of Spirit

This leisurely two hour Cultural walk begins at the small, but very significant site of Enterprize Park on Southbank, part of the ancestral lands of the Kulin people, which we today call Melbourne. This engaging journey peels away the layers of time and the dramatic irrevocable changes of both people, and place. It evokes the memories of a vibrant natural and cultural landscape. A memory that now lies beneath our urban existence. Come and dispel some old misunderstandings, hear the stories, and see a city with new eyes. “Walkin’ the Birrarung” is not only a cultural and historical journey but an intimate personal one, connecting everyone regardless of age or background, back to a connection with Place. Find Melbourne’s waterfall, its rich wetlands, its Aboriginal people
Its deeper spirit …

‘A-TAEM’ is the proud Victorian Aboriginal owned and operated business of Dean Stewart, a Wemba Wemba-Wergaia man, with almost 20 years’ experience in cultural tourism, education, interpretation and conservation.

Tour details:

Sunday, April 7 at 1 pm
Duration: 1.5-2 hours
Start : Enterprize Park (next to the Aquarium)  Melways ref: 43 G10
Concludes: Southbank Shop plaza near Princes Bridge

Patron Cost:

$35 Full price
$15 Concession/Student/Pensioner

Bookings essential
Please book online here –

Places are limited to 25 people so book ASAP.

If you can’t make the walk but would still like to be involved in the AJDS Indigenous solidarity group please send an email to Max Kaiser at