ADC responds to Bill Leak’s “Waffen-SSM” cartoon

Out in Perth has published a response from the Anti-Defamation Commission in response to Bill Leak’s “Waffen-SSM” cartoon:

Dr Dvir Abramovich, Chairman of the Anti-Defamation Commission (ADC) said he understood why cartoonists are drawn to the Nazi analogy but described the comparison as repulsive.

The ADC describes itself as one of Australia’s leading civil and human rights organisations. The Australian Jewish community organisation aims to fight anti-Semitism and all forms of racism.

“I recognise how irresistible the Nazi analogy is for cartoonists looking to generate shock and headlines and grab attention. But no matter how strong Leak’s objections to marriage equality advocates, to compare them to the Waffen SS, part of Hitler’s demonic regime and responsible for the murder of millions, only adds to the cynical debasement, twisting and abusing of the Holocaust so prevalent today.” Dr Abramovich said.

“To  draw such repulsive equations is deeply offensive, shows a gross  lack of understanding of the historical truth, and only fans the flames of hatred and demonisation of the LGBTI community. It also insults the memory of the victims, which included gay people, as well as hurts the survivors and all those who fought valiantly against the Nazis in WWII.

“Such analogies are totally unacceptable, even in satirical cartoons,  and only serve to coarsen public debate. They  have no place in Australia’s civil discourse and must be repudiated.” Dr Abramovich concluded.

This is the original cartoon:
20160921-the-australian-bill-leak-waffen-ssm

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ECAJ responds to Bill Leak’s “Waffen-SSM” cartoon

The Australian has published a letter from the Executive Council of Australian Jewry in their September 22 letters column, in response to Bill Leak’s “Waffen-SSM” cartoon:

I refer to Bill Leak’s cartoon (“Waffen SSM”, 21/9). It can be readily accepted that hyperbole is a stock in trade of any cartoonist, and Leak is entitled to give satirical expression to his opinion that certain advocates of same-sex marriage are intolerant to any contrary point of view. Yet to compare them to Nazi SS divisions does little credit to the point he was presumably trying to make.

To liken any advocate of SSM to the perpetrators of mass murder and cruelty in the Nazi era is an inversion of history. In Nazi Germany, about 100,000 suspected homosexuals were arrested and up to 15,000 of them were interned in concentration camps where many were killed.

As a political cartoonist, it is Leak’s job to be provocative and controversial, but this was not his best work.

Peter Wertheim, Executive Council of Australian Jewry, Sydney, NSW

This is the original cartoon:
20160921-the-australian-bill-leak-waffen-ssm

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Thank you very much Alan Goldberg

Aleph Melbourne remembers Alan Goldberg QC for his part in making Tasmania, and all of Australia, a better place.  Our deepest condolences to his family on their loss.

“And proudly, perhaps most proudly, he acted for Mr Croome, in the attack on Tasmania’s anti-homosexuality laws, an attack which lead to their repeal.” — Ray Finkelstein reflecting on the achievements of the late Alan Goldberg

This clip is a 10 second extract from Ray Finkelstein’s address (at around the 27 minute mark) from the MCK recording of the service of Alan Goldberg’s funeral on July 25 2016. Ray Finkelstein’s address starts around the 20 minute mark.

From the postscript of Rodney Croome’s 1995 article “Sexual (mis)conduct: The High Court and gay law reform in Tasmania“:

“Senior Counsel in the case will be Alan Goldberg QC, immediate past President of the Victorian Council for Civil Liberties. Alan Goldberg has offered his services pro bono, because his clients were unable to obtain Commonwealth or State legal aid, despite fulfilling the criteria for funding as a public interest test case. It was also despite a legal opinion from Mr Goldberg which addressed concerns about standing. Toonen and Croome have both expressed concern to the press that the decisions not to fund their case have been made for political and not legal reasons.”

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Gender-diverse? Get noticed in the 2016 Census.

With the increasing visibility of gender diverse people in the Australian Jewish community, it’s important to get an accurate understanding of how many identify beyond the gender binary of female and male.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) has advised that in the 2016 Census, respondents may identify a non-binary gender if they so choose.  This applies to people who do not always identify just as either one of male or female.

There are two official ways to achieve this:

  1. If you are using a paper census form, leave the Female and Male box boxes blank and write in your preferred gender identity in the space next to them.
  2. If you are using the online census form, call the Census Inquiry Service on 1300‑214‑531 and request a special online form that has an Other option for gender on it.

Source: Australian Census to offer ‘other’ option for gender question | SBS

UPDATE 03/08/16: Official ABS instructions here.

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Media Release: Aleph Melbourne welcomes Mount Scopus Inclusivity Statement

ALEPH MELBOURNE
MEDIA RELEASE
JULY 22 2016

Aleph Melbourne welcomes the “Inclusivity Statement”[1] issued to parents by Mount Scopus Memorial College on June 20 2016.

This statement is the first public acknowledgement by the school for the need to offer specific support to same-sex attracted and gender diverse students, as well as students from rainbow families.

Whilst the school has not yet adopted a comprehensive program such as that offered by the Safe Schools Coalition Australia[2] (SSCA), this is an important first step, as it offers a foundation for the school to build on.

Increasingly, the Australian school landscape is understanding that the era of marginalising same-sex attracted, intersex, and gender diverse students is over and is seeking better ways to include and value the diversity of these students.

Strong leadership has already been demonstrated in the Victorian Jewish school community, with The King David School, Sholem Aleichem College and Bialik College being long-standing members of SSCA.

As Mount Scopus finds its feet in supporting their previously neglected students, it will discover a fantastic surge in performance from those students it enables to be authentic to themselves.  The more support these students receive, whether at school, at home or in the community, the more they will thrive.

Aleph Melbourne looks forward to further initiatives from Mount Scopus Memorial College that actively demonstrate support for their LGBTIQ students and wishes the school a hearty congratulations for taking this first brave step.

Media contact: Michael Barnett – 0417-595-541

[1] http://aleph.org.au/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/2016_07_20_-_Mount_Scopus_Inclusivity_Statement_Letter.pdf
[2] http://www.safeschoolscoalition.org.au

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R. I. P. Elie Wiesel | HRC

“Those who are bigots do not stop at classes, at races, or again, at gays or lesbians.”

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Petition – Equality 4 Students

PETITION: EQUALITY 4 STUDENTS

Petition - Equality 4 Students

To Members of the Victorian Parliament:

Under Victoria’s laws, religious schools are allowed to discriminate against students on the basis of their sexual orientation or gender identity.

This means students could be expelled, excluded or otherwise treated unfavourably just for being lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender.

The Victorian Greens Equality for Students Bill will protect students from discrimination by removing the right of religious schools to discriminate against students on the basis of their sexual orientation or gender identity.

All students should be protected from discrimination, regardless of the type of school they attend.

I urge you to support the Victorian Greens Equality for Students Bill.

Download the bill here. Read the second reading speech here.

SIGN PETITION HERE.

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AIJAC should apologise for unsubstantiated criticism of Greens policy

On June 27 2016 the Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council (AIJAC) published an article by Ahron Shapiro critical of the Australian Greens entitled “The Greens and Israel“.

The article opened with the following caution:

Pre-election polling and analysis suggests the Australian Greens party is likely to pick up one or more lower house seats this election – on top of retaining the seat of Melbourne. This gives it the potential to not only hold the balance of power in the Senate, but if a hung parliament results from this election, also determine who forms government – with very significant leverage over the minority government thus formed.

and concluded with the following section on domestic policy:

Religious Exemptions

A further issue in the Greens platform likely to concern many in Australia is its policy of removing clauses granting limited exemptions to religious organisations from anti-discrimination laws. This would likely impact significantly on Jewish schools and other communal institutions and concern has been expressed about this policy by Jewish community leaders.

Aleph Melbourne approached AIJAC for clarification of the “significant impact” and the “expressed concern” referred to in the article.

Colin Rubinstein, AIJAC Executive Director, provided the following explanation:

In response to your query I refer you to the story below in the Australian from May 24.
While it may be that there was not much Jewish reaction in the press on the Greens plan, the reaction that was published was top-level.
Peter Wertheim does not comment on every story he is approached for, and his decision to comment here, I would say, well  reflected his confidence and our feedback too that he was conveying the community’s sentiment expressed anecdotally behind the scenes.
At any rate, our mention of this plan took up a very small part of our overall report on the Greens, and should be put in proper perspective.

Colin also provided the two source paragraphs from the May 24 2016 article “Federal election 2016: Greens under pressure on religion reforms” in The Australian by David Crowe:

Christian, Jewish and Muslim leaders are objecting to the Greens plan to remove the religious ­exemptions, saying it could force people to act against their faith.

and:

Executive Council of Australian Jewry director Peter Wertheim said: “It would be wrong and unworkable for the law to compel people to do things that are contrary to their religious beliefs or conscience.’’

Independently, Aleph Melbourne had contacted Peter Wertheim, Executive Director of the Executive Council of Australian Jewry, on May 24 2016 about the aforementioned article, querying if he had been quoted accurately.  Peter provided the following response:

Here is the whole quote I gave to The Australian.

It is appropriate for the law to ensure that people are  not discriminated against at work or in accessing education, housing and other services, because of their race, gender, sexual preference, age or disability.    However, it would be wrong and unworkable for the law to compel people to do things that are contrary to their religious beliefs or conscience. 

My comment would therefore not apply to a proposed change to the definition of marriage in section 5[1] of the Marriage Act.  But it would apply to a proposed repeal of section 47[2] of the Marriage Act. My understanding is that the proponents of marriage equality are only seeking the former, not the latter. I didn’t refer specifically to the Greens, but given the vagueness and generality of Senator McKimm’s statements I couldn’t work out what he was proposing, and therefore thought it was right to comment.

It is evident that AIJAC was not aware of Peter Wertheim’s full quote supplied to The Australian, and by inference was similarly unaware that Peter was referring to issues relating to the Marriage Act and not anti-discrimination legislation.

AIJAC was lobbying their interest groups to vote unfavourably for the Greens in the July 2 2016 Federal election.  Religious exemptions to anti-discrimination legislation directly impact LGBTIQ Australians, some of whom are Jewish, who are employed by Jewish organisations.  It is deeply disappointing that AIJAC targeted the Greens anti-discrimination policy based on an unsubstantiated claim, more so when it has the potential to hurt some of the most vulnerable members of society.

It is also deeply disappointing that AIJAC attempted to minimise the significance of mentioning the paragraph about the Greens policy on removal of religious exemptions to anti-discrimination legislation.  The damage to people’s lives due to this exemption is amply significant.

An apology from AIJAC to the Greens and to LGBTIQ people for their unfair criticism of the Greens policy would be appreciated.

[1] http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/legis/cth/consol_act/ma196185/s5.html
[2] http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/legis/cth/consol_act/ma196185/s47.html

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Cathy Wilcox: We won’t mention it if you don’t

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Media Release: Aleph Melbourne Voters Guide for Marriage Equality

ALEPH MELBOURNE MEDIA RELEASE
2016 VOTERS GUIDE FOR MARRIAGE EQUALITY IN JEWISH MELBOURNE
June 21 2016

Aleph Melbourne proudly announces its 2016 Voters Guide for Marriage Equality in Jewish Melbourne.

Following on from the successful 2013 edition, this voters guide is an essential resource for the savvy voter who is keen on prioritising equality for same-sex attracted, intersex and gender diverse people.

The guide covers the electorates of Goldstein, Higgins, Hotham, Kooyong, Melbourne Ports and Menzies.  These electorates are selected as they span the suburbs where Melbourne’s Jewish community are predominantly located.

Individual candidates’ positions are provided where known along with links to party and social media profiles.

A list of supportive senate candidates will be added in coming days.

A range of resources are provided in the guide to allow further research into the key issues around achieving equality and organisations that are working to help achieve it.

View the guide here: http://aleph.org.au/2016/06/11/2016-voters-guide-to-marriage-equality-in-jewish-melbourne

CONTACT: Michael Barnett | michael@aleph.org.au | 0417-595-541

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