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"...public opinion deserves to be respected as well as despised" G.W.F. Hegel, 'Philosophy of Right'

Questioning Zionism in Australia « Previous | |Next »
March 9, 2007

I have referred to Independent Australian Jewish Voices --- a loose coalition of Jews who desire a civil public debate in the diaspora about the actions Israel --in previous posts. They argue that the Jewish establishment in Australia does not represent the full range of Jewish opinion, and they call for a more diverse debate about Israel and its government policies and actions.

Louise Adler, a member of the Independent Australian Jewish Voice, addresses the issue of the lack of diversity amongst Australian diasporic Jews.She says that this results when the critics of Israel's policies are reflexively characterised as anti-Semitic by those conservative Jews; ie., Likud style ones who recycle the views of the Israeli Government, or adopt a a pro-Zionist/anti-Palestinian view. Adler says that their

...argument, put simply, is that Israel is the Jewish homeland, a refuge for all Jews against incipient, ever-present anti-Semitism of both the Orient and the Occident.Today the duty of diaspora Jews is to support Israel against the Arab world's desire to drive the Jews into the sea and to reclaim Jerusalem. This political position is clearly the product of anxiety, predicated on the notion of Jews as victims. Critics of Israel are deemed to be both anti-Zionist and anti-Semitic. Debate has to be suppressed because Israel is forever on the precipice of annihilation and diaspora Jews should support the state, whether its position is right or wrong.

Questioning this argument in a public debate is a modest call in a liberal democracy that is based on the principles of free speech; yet, suprisingly, the conservative/Zionist Jews have responded by saying that it represents an unreasoning attack on Israel and the Australian Jewish community.

The angry response overlooks,forgets that "the Australian Jewish community" consists of diverse voices with different opinions.
Dr Colin Rubenstein, the executive director of the Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs, is reported in Australian Jewish News as describing the new coalition as “destructive” and said that it would help Israel’s enemies:

Despite the wording of the declaration, it is clearly being used as a publicity stunt by a minuscule number of Jewish-born individuals who have adopted the ugly but increasingly common belief that alone among the world’s nations, Israel has no right to exist.The claim that they put forward that all Jewish voices critical of Israeli policies are being ‘silenced’ is not only inane and untrue, but clearly plays into the conspiratorial mindset of the growing number of people who are violently hostile to both Israel’s existence and the Jewish community.

This is pretty extreme and misleading language when the petition of the Independent Australian Jewish Voices states:
We are committed to ensuring a just peace that recognises the legitimate national aspirations of both Israelis and Palestinians with a solution that protects the human rights of all. We condemn violence by all parties, whether state-sanctioned or not. We believe that Israel's right to exist must be recognised and that Palestinians' right to a homeland must also be acknowledged.

Rubenstein favours a black and white view of complex issues. For instance, he argues that there is a serious problem in Australia and globally posed by an extremist totalitarian ideology generally known as Islamism. This he says:
asserts that all problems can be solved by the creation of a divinely sanctioned "caliphate", and that all means are justified in achieving this end. It also sets out to convince Muslims that Christians, Jews and other non-Muslims are inevitably and eternally hostile to all Muslims, and there is no alternative for Muslims except to join the Islamists in a ruthless struggle to the death against them.

He sees moderate (ie liberal) Muslims as playing into the hands of the fundamentalists.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 5:19 PM |