5 Oct 2012
The Australian Jewish News Melbourne edition
‘Israel’s not Disneyland’
ONE of Israel’s top civil rights campaigners will arrive in Australia this week to speak to audiences in Sydney and Melbourne. Hagai El-Ad (pictured), the executive director of the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI), said he is excited to meet with Australians and discuss their views on the Jewish State.
“This will be my first time in Australia and I am very much looking forward to meeting openminded people that are curious about the real Israel,” said El-Ad, who is being brought to Australia by New Israel Fund Australia.
“I want to open people to a real relationship with Israeli society because Israel is not always the Disneyland image that some people think.”
El-Ad, who completed an astrophysics degree at university, became an activist for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community in his youth. “One thing just led to another and gradually my eyes were opened to the broader reality of some of the discrimination in Israel.”
He said the biggest challenges in Israeli society now are the occupation of the West Bank, which he claimed is the cause of countless human rights violations, as well as the fight for complete and full equality for Israeli citizens and the need for social justice reforms.
“Israel has become one of the less equal countries in the West in the context of economic disparity and a lot of work needs to be done to reduce the disparity in society.”
He reflected on the recent spate of public rallies in support of social and economic reform.
“People think in the beginning that it’s about the lack of rent control in Tel Aviv and the lack of affordable houses when they protest, but the conversation continues and it gets to planning policies in the Arab sector, the unrecognised Arab and Bedouin villages and other forms of inequality.
“It doesn’t matter what door they go through to talk about human rights and equality, it is good that people are discussing it.”
For information on El-ad’s speaking dates go to www.nif.org.au.