Diverse voices, different opinions and an open forum for debate
The Australian Jewish Democratic Society is a progressive voice among Jews and a Jewish voice among progressives. Members of the AJDS organise and participate in fund raising, educational campaigns, film screenings, demonstrations and vigils in order to provide a platform for discussion and debate on issues affecting contemporary Jewish life.
These issues are discussed and debated within the group, but most of our events are open to the public. We want to engage people from the Jewish community as well as the wider population, and collaborate with other organisations.
Since 1984, AJDS members have spoken out about many issues in order to promote freedom and offer advocacy for marginalised groups. These issues have included:
- Indigenous Australians
- Asylum seekers and refugees
- Climate change, biodiversity & environmental conservation
- LGBTIQ identities
- Secular Jewish identity
The AJDS functions through a core committee which is elected at our AGM to represent the voice of our membership. Any member is welcome to join the committee throughout the year. Please get in touch if you would like to join! We also actively network and engage with other groups, projects and actions alongside the activities of the committee. If you have an idea, or are involved in something you would like to work with us on, please get in touch.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Q: Are you an anti-Zionist organisation?
A: No. Our members hold a range of views about Israel/Palestine. But we share a belief in the right of both Palestinians and Jews to self-determination, and the right of both Palestinians and Israeli Jews to a safer, more just, future, free of Occupation. We support activists from Israel and elsewhere, those who share our values. We encourage a critical, informed debate about where Zionism is today and how it affects Australian Jewish life and the Middle East. We also reject the notion that criticizing Israel is anti-Semitic but we’ll continue to address anti-Semitism, racism and xenophobia in all their forms.
Q: What is your position on BDS?
A: Members of the AJDS support boycotting the Settlements, an end to the Occupation and a solution which respects the aspirations and security of both nations, as long as it is democratic and abides by International Human Rights conventions. However, we are not unanimous on the contentious issue of non-violent forms of resistance, including boycotts, divestment and sanctions. When the AJDS launched its boycott the settlements campaign, we also published the views of four of our members to reflect this plurality. You can read that post here.
Q: How do I get involved?
A: You can become a member, join our mailing list (at the bottom of this page), come to our events or contact us if you have specific ideas and interests. We are always trying to find creative and effective ways to work with people in our community.
WHAT IS THE AJDS
The AJDS was formed in 1984 to promote free discussion on Jewish and general social and political issues. Specifically, it grew out of a profound concern at the continuing Israeli-Arab conflict.
History of AJDS (Summary) The conflict had taken its toll in the Australian Jewish community, where people with views some what different from the “official leadership” were not being heard. break In addition to expressing views on the Israeli-Palestinian confilict, the AJDS also promotes cooperation with broader social groups on a range of issues.
We in AJDS believe that in a genuinely multicultural society like Australia, Jews should be concerned with Indigenous rights and the rights of other minorities. We have all complained at some time about the indifference of the world to the plight of the Jewish people at their most horrific period in human history. Neither can we then ignore the plight of other minorities.
The Australian Jewish Democratic Society aims to provide an open forum for discussion and debate on issues affecting contemporary Jewish life. These pages are an extension of the magazine of the Australian Jewish Democratic Society.
We hope to reflect:
- A pluralistic Jewish community, by encouraging contributions from a wide range of viewpoints and perspectives
- A Judaism that grants equality of expression and participation to all streams of Jewish thought.
- The traditional Jewish concept of Tikkun Olam: “Heal, repair, and transform the world”
- A specificially Jewish approach to the issues of Peace and Social Justice.
- Recognition of the rights of Palestinians and Israelis to live in peace in their own lands
- Jewish concerns with the continuing struggle against all expressions of racism
- The interrelationship of our Jewish community with the rest of Australian society
- We will also feature commentary on current issues of concern, and links to other material from organisations in Australia and elsewhere.
Need to contact us? We would love to hear from you!
0423 234 069 firstname.lastname@example.org
PO Box 450 Elsternwick VIC 3185
AJDS Oral History Project
The Oral History Project, developed in celebration of the AJDS 30 year anniversary, focuses not just on the ins and outs of the history and politics of the AJDS but also on the personal stories of the interview subjects. We’re interested in how people became part of the AJDS and what impact their involvement with the AJDS has had on their lives. We want to explore the historical context of people’s lives and what forces, events, political and social groupings led people to the AJDS. Through looking at the written record – letters, editorials, statements, and newsletters – one can get a fair idea of the politics of the AJDS and its public positions on a range of issues throughout the past thirty years. But the oral history project aims to uncover something that can only be barely glimpsed in the written record. That is the personal stories, the characters, the personalities and the importance of the organisation itself in the lives of AJDS members. Part of what we’re hoping to capture is the humour, the enjoyment of political involvement and the challenging of boundaries of Jewishness and identity.