The hypocrisy within the Jewish community of calling for a “respectful” debate (or silence) on Marriage Equality

On Monday September 4 2017 the Rabbinical Council of Victoria (RCV) issued a statement advising citizens to vote No in the upcoming federal government postal survey on marriage equality.  A backlash to this statement ensued, with no less than Rabbi Daniel Rabin, President of the council that issued the statement, and the Executive Council of Australian Jewry distancing themselves from the aforementioned statement.

On Wednesday the Jewish Community Council of Victoria (JCCV) issued a statement calling for “a respectful debate in the lead up to the same sex marriage survey”.

Also on Wednesday Rabbi Yaakov Glasman, Senior Rabbi of the St Kilda Hebrew Congregation and President of the Rabbinical Council of Australia and New Zealand, issued a statement explaining his rationale for participating in a position of silence on the postal survey.

On Thursday Rabbi Daniel Mirvis, Senior Rabbi of the Mizrachi Centre, issued a statement saying of the upcoming postal survey: “I plan on remaining silent on the matter”.

On Friday Rabbi James Kennard, Principal of Mount Scopus Memorial College issued a statement urging “all who choose not to remain silent to ensure that all comments, on all sides, are made with respect, sensitivity and understanding”.

By calling for a “respectful debate” the underlying message being sent is that debate must be respectful over whether the Marriage Act should continue to exclude same-sex and other non-heterosexual couples.  Ultimately this amounts to insisting on a polite conversation on the merit of legalised discrimination.

Engaging in silence on a matter of discrimination amounts to tacit endorsement of the status quo.

But what if the topic of conversation were not Marriage Equality, but instead the banning of non-medical circumcision, the banning of religious slaughter of animals, government support for BDS, or the removal of religious and racial protections?

Would it still be acceptable to have a debate, or maintain silence, on any of these topics, respecting the underlying premise of each issue?

Would Jewish community leaders stand around and silently tolerate the wider community respectfully debating the merits of these topics, with a laissez-faire approach to the conversations?

Probably not.

Yet it’s acceptable for some senior Jewish Community leaders to insist on tolerating a “respectful debate” or maintaining a silence over whether the government can continue to enshrine discrimination in the law against a marginalised and highly vulnerable minority group for no good reason.

And this isn’t double standards?  Where is the respect in that?

JCCV Calls for Respect and Decency in Same Sex Marriage Debate

JCCV Calls for Respect and Decency in Same Sex Marriage Debate
06 September 2017

The Jewish Community Council of Victoria (JCCV) calls for a respectful debate in the lead up to the same sex marriage survey.

JCCV President Jennifer Huppert stated, “We call for respectful behaviour from everyone, regardless of their views and beliefs on same sex marriage, and remind community organisations, community leaders and members of our community of the JCCV policy on respect when engaging in the debate.”

The JCCV policy on respect:

3.7.1 ACKNOWLEDGES the distinctive character of the Victorian Jewish community as part of the Jewish people worldwide, with a shared history, culture and religious tradition.

3.7.2 RECOGNISES that irrespective of the common traits that bind us as a community, Victorian Jewry is also diverse and pluralistic and that this is reflected in different, often strongly held views, on a range of issues affecting the Jewish and larger communities.

3.7.3 CALLS FOR respect for any such differences, while affirming that disagreement is only permissible in ways that do not vilify other persons or their views.

3.7.4 CALLS FOR abstention from any public or private conduct that incites hatred against, serious contempt for, revulsion, vilification or severe ridicule of, another person or group on the ground of their identity (including race, religion, colour, disability, sexual orientation, gender and national origin) or views of that other person or group.

Ms Huppert stated, “It is not acceptable to denigrate, insult or intimidate people, simply because they don’t share your views. Vulnerable people, especially young LGBTI people, must feel included in the community, supported and embraced.”

If you feel in the need of support, please contact:

Switchboard Victoria (LGBTI): 1800 184 527
Beyond Blue: 1300 22 4636
Jewish Care: 03 8517 5999

Rabbi James Kennard calls for respect when commenting on same-sex marriage survey

I will not be making any comment on the Same-Sex Marriage survey, or on the various public statements that have come from members of the community, since it is not my role, as a Rabbi, or a Principal or even a humble citizen to tell any other person how to vote.

I would urge all who choose not to remain silent to ensure that all comments, on all sides, are made with respect, sensitivity and understanding.