Aleph Melbourne was established in 1995 to provide a safe place for gay and bisexual Jewish men in Melbourne. Since then we have expanded to include LGBTIQA+ people, families and allies.
In all the years of the group’s existence we have lived in relative harmony with the wider LGBTIQA+ community.
However in recent weeks, since the October 7 terrorist attack on Israel by Hamas and the ensuing war, many of our members, their family members and their friends have contacted me regarding reports of feeling unsafe in the LGBTIQA+ community.
These people have reported being scared of presenting as Jewish in public and on social media. There have been reports of antisemitism and calls for boycotting Jewish organisations by LGBTIQA+ people. There have been reports of feeling unsafe in LGBTIQA+ venues.
Aleph Melbourne’s purpose has always been to stand up for LGBTIQA+ people on the grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity.
Now I am finding I need to support our members on the basis of their Jewish identity. This takes a personal toll on me, as it means I need to spend many more hours of my personal time fighting a different sort of intolerance.
I ask you, my friends, my community members, the leaders of the LGBTIQA+ community, to think of the ramifications of taking sides, especially when it has direct impact on the very people you care most about.
If LGBTIQA+ people are hurting in Melbourne or elsewhere in Australia because of antisemitism, or Islamophobia, or any sort of intolerance, then we are no longer a cohesive community. Together we stand. Divided we fall.
Please think hard before you take any side, especially if it’s going to cause division amongst your peers, friends, family (chosen or otherwise) or community.
Aleph Melbourne commends the Victorian Government, under the leadership of Premier Daniel Andrews, for its ongoing commitment to protecting all Victorians from hate, and for standing steadfastly strong with Jewish and LGBTIQ+ Victorians.
Along with making the public display of Nazi symbols illegal, we welcome the government’s commitment to extending anti-vilification protections to cover sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, and HIV/AIDS status.
All too often homophobia is juxtaposed with antisemitism in wanton acts of hate, as evidenced by the attack on Cranbourne Golf Club last year and the attack on the Gardiner’s Creek Trail in July this year.
It was with sadness that Aleph Melbourne’s submission to the Inquiry into Anti-Vilification Protections highlighted a litany of anti-LGBTIQ+ vilification emanating from within the Jewish community. We hope that these reforms will see the end of such intolerance, and allow those in our community who have been forced to live in the shadows to feel sufficiently empowered to come forward and live a more authentic life.
We are also grateful to David Southwick MP for inviting Aleph Melbourne to lodge a submission to the Inquiry, which the committee found most compelling.
UPDATE – July 17, 6pm City of Monash CEO Dr Andi Diamond advised Aleph Melbourne earlier this afternoon that a team was being dispatched to erase the vandalism
UPDATE – July 18, 11am City of Monash attended the site of the vandalism yesterday as advised. They have covered up the swastikas with large yellow plates. The defacement is still in place, with the “KILL GAYS” wording still visible: https://photos.app.goo.gl/BmLkRNA7q1BiMPhG8
Aleph Melbourne is disturbed by the news of a pointless and senseless act of cowardly vandalism at Melbourne’s Cranbourne Golf Club.
The antisemitic and homophobic graffiti demonstrates profound immaturity and insensitivity by the perperator/s.
As a support group for LGBTIQ+ Jews we feel the pain doubly. We are targeted for being Jewish. We are targeted for our sexual orientation.
What makes this type of vandalism especially pernicious is that it was laced with hate. It wasn’t an ordinary case of self-expression on a fence or wall, but rather, a calculated and targeted act of intolerance designed to hurt people.
We hope that the perpetrator/s are brought to justice. More than that, we hope that they come to understand the nature of their crime and make amends for their actions.
MEDIA CONTACT Michael Barnett (pronouns: he/him/his) Co-convenor – Aleph Melbourne 0417-595-541 email@example.com
Jewish radio station J-AIR, dedicated to combating hate, broadcasts an interview that vilifies gay men.
On Monday March 30 2020 Melbourne’s Jewish radio station J-AIR 87.8FM broadcast their regular syndication of the Tamar Yonah Show, which included an interview with Rabbi Mendel Kessin.
The full episode of the March 30 Tamar Yonah Show was first posted here* but has since been taken down. An archive of the podcast is here and a backup copy of the podcast can be heard here.
The description of this episode of the Tamar Yonah Show states (in part):
Internationally known lecturer on current events and the Bible, Rabbi Mendel Kessin, joins Tamar Yonah and talks about the meaning behind this worldwide pandemic, what we are supposed to learn, and DO, in order to merit seeing the coming of the Messiah. He talks about the fear of death, atonement, suffering, and the world-wide economic collapse, and tells us how we can protect ourselves, as we enter into the Messianic era.
Aleph Melbourne has transcribed Rabbi Kessin’s interview commentary from time point 12:46 to time point 14:06:
And basically he’s 98% finished, that’s how close we are to the redemption. Therefore what god wants to do is bring the redemption. However, there are certain problems that must be addressed by god in order for the redemption to actually happen. And what we begin to see is that the pandemic is an exact designer drug, if you want to use that expression, that will remove these problems. Ah, in other words the plague itself is a vehicle, is an instrument, to accelerate the messianic process by removing these major problems. What are they? You see. So therefore what we see is the following. The first major problem is that man has corrupted his nature. There is a tremendous amount of, ah, what’s called immorality in the world today. It’s widespread. There’s, in Hebrew it’s called “prichus” (פְּרִיצוּת). We want, we could say it’s also in the form of homosexuality, and gays and so on and so forth, where all of a sudden the gender differentiation is, is tremendously blurred. So that is an incredible corruption of man’s nature.
Listen to the relevant audio here:
Rabbi Kessin is saying that his god is using the coronavirus pandemic to bring on the coming of the messiah by cleansing society of immorality caused in part by the scourge of homosexual sex between gay men.
This amounts to hate speech that vilifies gay (and also bisexual) men. It squarely lays blame for the coronavirus pandemic at the feet of sexually active gay men.
Broadcasting this language could be problematic for J-AIR as it may fall foul of at least the narrowcasting Codes of Practice, which states:
1.3 Narrowcasters will not broadcast programs which are likely to incite or perpetuate hatred against or vilify any person or group on the basis of ethnicity, nationality, race, gender, sexual preference, religion, age, colour, physical or mental disability, transgender status or HIV/AIDS status…
Significantly for J-AIR, who are currently seeking a community broadcasting licence, this shocking lapse of editorial judgement reflects terribly on the integrity and good character of the station.
In Parliament on March 2 2020, Tim Wilson MP described J-AIR as “an outstanding broadcasting service …” that “… has begun working closely with the Community Security Group (CSG) to combat the rise of anti-Semitism and ensure the safety and security of the Jewish community in Victoria…”.
It’s entirely disappointing to see a radio station so dedicated to being both an outstanding broadcasting service and wanting to combat hate, find itself in a position where it is fuelling the fires of hate.
Next time J-AIR supporter Tim Wilson is mid-shtup he might want to take a moment to reflect on how he is, according to Rabbi Kessin, contributing to the kind of immorality that is causing the coronavirus pandemic. At the same time he might also want to reflect on how his praise for an “outstanding broadcasting service” dedicated to combating hate accurately describes a radio station that allows vilification of gay men like himself to go to air.
J-AIR must offer an unqualified and sincere apology, both on air and in writing, for this grave mistake and also provide air time for an in-depth interview covering the harms of intolerance of LGBTIQ+ people.
More importantly, while it still has a licence, J-AIR must comply with broadcasting standards, set the highest standard, and never again broadcast hate speech.
Aleph Melbourne stands in solidarity with the Muslim community after the Christchurch shooting.
Aleph Melbourne acknowledges the unthinkable act of hate perpetrated against the Muslim community in Christchurch, New Zealand. We offer our unconditional love and sympathy to the friends and families of those who lost their lives, and our deepest concerns and well-wishes to those injured.
Our communities have been inextricably united by crimes against our humanity, whether due to the religion we practice, our sexuality, our gender or gender identity, the colour of our skin, the language we speak, our country of birth, or the clothes we wear.
Orlando was an act of homophobia
Pittsburgh was an act of antisemitism.
Christchurch was an act of Islamophobia.
None of these make sense.
We must hold our governments to account. They have used us as a political wedge to further their own agenda, creating division and fear in the broader community.
We must ensure that they collectively stand up and decry those who promote bigotry and intolerance, starting from within their own ranks. They must also not abuse us by gaining political advantage from our pain and suffering.
Gun laws must be tightened everywhere. Racism must be condemned. Bigotry must be called out.
Our hearts have been broken.
Our humanity has been shattered.
Our communities have been fractured.
Please accept our hand of friendship and our love during this painful time and forever.