Australian Jewish organisations demand end to cruel treatment of ‘boat people’

Australian Jewish organisations demand end to cruel treatment of ‘boat people’ 

Seven years have now passed since the then Australian government announced that all people seeking asylum who arrived on unauthorised boats would be processed offshore and that none would ever be resettled in Australia, a policy that has been continued by all Australian governments since. 

A July 2020 report by the Refugee Council of Australia shows again the immense suffering thus caused for thousands of despairing men, women and children, including self-harm, 12 deaths offshore, by suicide or for want of medical care, and other deaths while in limbo in Australia. Despite the passage of seven long years and expenditure of $7.6 billions of taxpayers’ money, hundreds of people still remain trapped in Papua New Guinea or Nauru or, having been brought to Australia for proper medical care, are in detention and not receiving it. 

Only last century, thousands of Jews fleeing persecution in Europe were denied entry to other countries, or escaped only by recourse to ‘people smugglers’. As a result, all states, including Australia, now have obligations under the Refugee Convention of 1951, its 1967 Protocol, and international humanitarian law, to receive people who claim asylum because of well-founded fears of persecution and to process their claims expeditiously and compassionately. Australia has repeatedly breached those obligations and shamefully continues to do so in respect of the asylum seekers still in Papua New Guinea and Nauru or evacuated for medical reasons and detained in Australia. 

Together with many fellow Australians, we demand that our Government take immediate and effective action to resettle these people safely and give them some hope again in what remains of their interrupted and damaged lives. 

Signed as of 30 July 2020 

Aleph Melbourne | Ameinu Australia | Australian Jewish Democratic Society | Betar Australia | J-Greens (Vic) | Jewish Labour Bund Melbourne | Jewish Lesbian Group Victoria | Jews for Refugees (Australia) | Jews for Refugees (Sydney) | Jewish Voices for Peace & Justice (NSW) | Kehilat Koleinu | Habonim Dror Australia | Hashomer Hatzair Australia | Inner West Chavurah | Meretz Australia | Music for Refugees | NIF Australia | Progressive Judaism Victoria | SKIF

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Voice, Treaty, Truth – Jewish organisations reaffirm support for First Nations Australians

Voice, Treaty, Truth – Jewish organisations reaffirm support for First Nations Australians from the heart

We recognise the deep moral and political significance of the Uluru Statement from the Heart in our own hearts.

Jews have also experienced the deep silence that follows atrocity and genocide, the experience of being abandoned by humanity, the struggle for recognition of confronting truths, and the tormenting powerlessness of not being heard.

In this year of 2020, which marks the 250th anniversary of the arrival of the British in Australia and dispossession of its original inhabitants, it is very important to recognise how much work and structural change is still needed to heal the relationship between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians. The health crisis this year in Australia is but one of many issues that highlight the continuing vulnerability and powerlessness of First Nations in their own country.

We reaffirm our full-hearted support for:

  • amendment of the Commonwealth of Australia Constitution Act to enshrine a First Nations Voice in the Constitution;
  • establishment by legislation or letters patent of a Makarrata Commission to oversee a process of truth-telling about our history as a path to reconciliation between First Nations and other Australians and to oversee the making of agreements between First Nations and Federal and State governments.

Despite what has happened over the past 250 years, the First Nations of Australia have shown great dignity, patience, tenacity and generosity of spirit, inviting all Australians to walk with them to create a fuller expression of our shared nationhood.

We accept the invitation of the Uluru Statement from the Heart with gratitude and pledge to work with First Nations, all Federal and State politicians, local and city authorities, religious, ethnic and civil society organisations, business leaders and our fellow citizens in moving together towards a better future.

All Australian Jewish organisations are invited to declare their support for this statement during 2020 and the following have done so as at 27 May 2020, the 53rd anniversary of the 1967 Referendum and three years after the release of the Uluru Statement from the Heart:

ALEPH Melbourne, Ameinu Australia, Australian Union of Jewish Students, Betar Australia, Emanuel Synagogue, Habonim Dror Australia, Hashomer Hatzair Australia, Inner West Chavura, Jewish Labour Bund, Jewish Voices for Peace & Justice (NSW), Jewish Lesbian Group of Victoria, Jews for Refugees (Victoria), Kehilat Nitzan, Meretz Australia, Music for Refugees, Netzer Australia, NIF Australia, North Shore Temple Emanuel, NSW Jewish Board of Deputies, Progressive Judaism Victoria, SKIF, StandUp

View statement PDF here.

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Voice, Treaty, Truth – Jews support First Nations Australia

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Beyond politics – a Jewish call for serious climate action

Aleph Melbourne is a signatory to this statement because as an organisation that cares about the well-being of individuals and families, we understand that we must also care about our environment and all life on the planet if we wish to live safely and harmoniously.

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Statement on Moshe Feiglin’s Visit to Australia | NIF

Twelve Jewish and Zionist organisations in Australia from across the religious, political and social spectrum have come together to issue a statement regarding former Likud MK Moshe Feiglin’s visit to Australia this month.

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The statement reads:

“Moshe Feiglin’s views on women, homosexuality and Palestinian citizens of Israel are inconsistent with Jewish values. They have no place in a modern democracy such as Israel that was established on the principle of respecting the human rights of all its minorities.”

The following organisations have signed on to the statement:

  • Aleph Melbourne
  • Ameinu Australia
  • Australian Reform Zionist Association
  • Habonim Dror Australia
  • Hashomer Hatzair Australia
  • Hineni Australia
  • Jewish Labour Bund and SKIF
  • Keshet Australia
  • Netzer Australia
  • New Israel Fund Australia
  • Progressive Judaism Victoria
  • Shira Hadasha Synagogue

In addition, a number of the organisations’ leaders have commented:

Dr Ilana Snyder, President of New Israel Fund Australia, said:

“The views of many people in the Australian Jewish community do not line up with Moshe Feiglin’s which is why it is important to point out when such anti-democratic values are being promoted. NIF is working hard in Israel to bring different sectors together, promote shared society and coexistence, and uphold the values of the Declaration of Independence.”

Johnny Baker, President of Ameinu Australia, said:

“Whilst we respect the right of different voices to be heard in our community, we are equally concerned that the impending visit of Israeli extremist, Moishe Feiglin, will bring the Jewish community into disrepute and play into the hands of our adversaries.”

Daniel Stiglec, Meta’em (Vice President & Community Liason) of Hashomer Hatzair, said:

“Hashomer Hatzair Australia believes Moshe Feiglin’s views about minority groups in Israel are divisive and detrimental to the character of the Jewish State. Whilst he has the right to freedom of speech, we condemn his views and would like to highlight the fact that these are not the views of Australian Jewry and the larger Israeli mainstream society.”

Shira Appelboom, Federal Mazkira (Chairperson) of Netzer Australia, said:

“Moshe Feiglin’s disrespect for marginalised groups in Israel goes against Netzer Australia’s fundamental beliefs in equality and respect for all human life. Though he is entitled to his views, we strongly believe they are an obstacle to the pursuit of peace and democracy in Israel.”

Brian Samuel, President of Progressive Judaism Victoria, said:

“We are concerned about Mr Feiglin’s visit to Melbourne. He is a disruptive person in the Jewish world and shares few values with the Jewish community.”

Jonathan Barnett, President of Keshet Australia, said:

“The board of Keshet Australia, wishes to express our concern regarding the proposed visit by Mr Feiglin to Australia. Keshet aspires to encourage and teach inclusivity. Mr Feiglin’s philosophy is diametrically opposed to our core values. Mr Feiglin has expressed views which seek to oppose the inclusivity and rights of GLBT Jews. Keshet Australia believes his views are damaging and hurtful to people here and in Israel. We feel it is incumbent on us to highlight to the greater community that such views are not held or supported by most Jewish people in Australia or elsewhere.”

Barbara Ford, Acting President of the Australian Reform Zionist Association (ARZA), said:

“ARZA Australia supports discussion about sensitive issues in Israel, including the treatment of minorities, the status of women and the issues of pluralism and sexual orientation. However, such discussions should be respectful and focussed on constructive dialogue. It is highly questionable if the views and presentation of Moshe Feiglin meet these basic criteria.”

New Israel Fund Australia
Ameinu
Hineni
Habonim Dror
Hashomer Hatzair
Progressive Judaism Victoria
Keshet
ARZA
Shira Hadasha
Dayenu
Netzer

### ENDS ###

For more information, please contact:

Liam Getreu
Executive Director, NIF Australia
liam@nif.org.au
0413 374 401

‘Israel’s not Disneyland’ | AJN

5 Oct 2012
The Australian Jewish News Melbourne edition
JOSHUA LEVI

‘Israel’s not Disneyland’

Hagai El-Ad
Hagai El-Ad

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.