UN report on Israel and the Occupied Territories & then Israel spits the dummy.

For uncritical or one-eyed supporters of Israel, this report will be rejected out of hand as biased and exaggerated. In fact, this is a very sobering document about the situation in Israel proper and the Occupied Territories from the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination of the UNHCR. The report has two key findings-- -- "The Committee recognizes the issues related to security and stability in the region. The State party [Israel] should, however, ensure that, in conformity with the principles of the Convention, measures taken are proportionate, do not discriminate in purpose or in effect against Palestinian citizens of Israel, or Palestinians in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, or any other minorities whether in Israel proper or in territories under the State party's effective control; and that they are implemented with full respect for human rights as well as relevant principles of international humanitarian law. --- "The Committee reiterates its view that the Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, in particular the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, are not only illegal under international law but are an obstacle to the enjoyment of human rights by the whole population, without distinction as to national or ethnic origin. Actions that change the demographic composition of the Occupied Palestinian Territory and the Occupied Syrian Golan are also of concern as violations of human rights and international humanitarian law. Within the 1967 borders, The Committee is also highly critical of Bedouin relocation laws, saying that they "would legalize the ongoing policy of demolitions and forced displacement of the indigenous Bedouin communities" and that "The Committee is concerned about the current situation of Bedouin communities, particularly with regard to the policy of demolitions, notably of homes and other structures, and the increasing difficulties faced by members of these communities in gaining access on a basis of equality with Jewish inhabitants to land, housing, education, employment and public health. " The report also comments on the need for stronger anti-discrimination laws, and "to make every effort to eradicate all forms of segregation between Jewish and non-Jewish communities". Unfortnately, Israel appears to have spat the dummy. I cannot locate any official response to this report, and Israel "will bar a U.N. team from entering Israel or the West Bank for a planned investigation of Jewish settlements". The team comes from an associated UNHCR body. Source.

UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) report on Israel and the Occupied Territories

For supporters of Israel, this report will be rejected out of hand as biased and exaggerated. In fact, this is a very sober document. For those who admit that there is human rights abuse, in the Occupied Territories, the report is very much what we already know, that institutionalised separation that is par for the course, particularly in the Occupied Territories and that the Bedouin are subjected to a forced removal. The report has two key findings-- -- "The Committee recognizes the issues related to security and stability in the region. The State party [Israel] should, however, ensure that, in conformity with the principles of the Convention, measures taken are proportionate, do not discriminate in purpose or in effect against Palestinian citizens of Israel, or Palestinians in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, or any other minorities whether in Israel proper or in territories under the State party's effective control; and that they are implemented with full respect for human rights as well as relevant principles of international humanitarian law. --- "The Committee reiterates its view that the Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, in particular the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, are not only illegal under international law but are an obstacle to the enjoyment of human rights by the whole population, without distinction as to national or ethnic origin. Actions that change the demographic composition of the Occupied Palestinian Territory and the Occupied Syrian Golan are also of concern as violations of human rights and international humanitarian law. Within the 1967 borders, The Committee is also highly critical of Bedouin relocation laws, saying that they "would legalize the ongoing policy of demolitions and forced displacement of the indigenous Bedouin communities" and that "The Committee is concerned about the current situation of Bedouin communities, particularly with regard to the policy of demolitions, notably of homes and other structures, and the increasing difficulties faced by members of these communities in gaining access on a basis of equality with Jewish inhabitants to land, housing, education, employment and public health. " The report also comments on the need for stronger anti-discrimination laws, and "to make every effort to eradicate all forms of segregation between Jewish and non-Jewish communities".

Say NO to Pinkwashing!

The spin doctors in the Israeli government and organizations like 'Stand With Us' are trying to exploit the fact of Israel's progressive environment for gay, lesbian and transgender people to divert attention from the effects of the Occupation. Speaking tours sponsored by hasbaraniks are encountering opposition in the US, and this happened in Seattle. " On March 15, 2012, the Seattle Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender Commission (SLGBTC) cancelled an event because the Commission wanted to stand up to "Pinkwashing"—diverting attention from Israel's occupation and abuses of human rights by praising Israel on LGBT issues. This is a huge victory for the queer Palestinians and Jews who testified in favor of the decision and all who support them and will make real dialogue possible. " Read more more here. A New York Times oped also discusses the politics involved:" The growing global gay movement against the Israeli occupation has named these tactics “pinkwashing”: a deliberate strategy to conceal the continuing violations of Palestinians’ human rights behind an image of modernity signified by Israeli gay life. Aeyal Gross, a professor of law at Tel Aviv University, argues that “gay rights have essentially become a public-relations tool,” even though “conservative and especially religious politicians remain fiercely homophobic.” "

David Grossman: Why? Who died?– translated by Sol Salbe

Sol Salbe has done the world a great service by translating David Grossman's essay about the death of a Palestinian in Israeli police custody. It is all too reminiscent of an Australian indigenous death in custody story. As Sol writes: Last Friday Haaretz did something unusual: it placed an opinion piece on top of its front page. But it wasn't just an ordinary opinion piece, it was written by one of the country foremost novelists, David Grossman. The article, like Emile Zola's J'accuse, to which it has been compared, was a moral critique. Many who read it were very moved. But the moral missive never appeared in English (at least to my knowledge). The English Haaretz has always been somewhat reticent in presenting Israel to the world. And of course translating Grossman is not easy, he is a master of the language and the art of writing.I have no idea whether I have done justice to this work. But it needed to be translated. The message is too important.*Hebrew original: http://www.haaretz.co.il/news/politics/1.1649589*Translated by Sol Salbe of the Middle East News Service, Melbourne Australia . For the rest go to .

The Solution to Bigotry is more Free Speech

Rabbi Shimon Cowen has published an article in a conservative journal highly critical of programs to promote anti-bullying of young gay people, because he believes them to 'normalize' homosexuality. His views aside, the issue is an important one for advocates of free speech and how to deal with what is seen as offensive speech. I offered this opinion in Galusaustralis.

EVENT: Re-imagining the Jewish Community: A Forum for Young Jews

Sunday, 4 March 2012 15:00 until 17:00 Multicultural Hub Melbourne -Green Room, 506 Elizabeth Street (opposite the Queen Victoria Market), a short walk from Melbourne Central station What kind of Jewish community do we want? What issues are important to us and what do we want to do about them? Lots of us young Jews are searching for a Jewish identity which is relevant to the issues facing the world today. Many of us also feel alienated from the mainstream Melbourne Jewish community. So let’s come together to talk about the kind of Jewish community that would be meaningful to each of us. We’ll talk about the kinds of ideas, events and programs which could exist: we’ll challenge the idea that there can only be one Jewish community, or one Jewish way of thinking, in Melbourne.

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]