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Just Voices #8, February 2016

Welcome to the first issue of Just Voices for 2016. This year our newsletters will appear monthly, so stay tuned for more frequent updates and articles about Jewish progressive actions, opportunities to advocate for asylum seekers in Australia and elsewhere, the continuing struggle for equal rights for Indigenous Australians and campaigns to resist ongoing human rights abuses in Israel and Palestine. 

Stay tuned for more information about the Jewish culture street festival, In One Voice, on 20 March 2016.

Our new film club has had its first installment recently, with a special screening of The Village Under the Forest, which deals with the Jewish National Fund's parks and the catastrophic exile of Palestinians that they mask. And speaking of films, it was great to see so many AJDS members and supporters at the Australian branch of the New Israel Fund's screening of Censored Voices, a film about the aftermath of the 1967 war. That Six Day War has been touted by some as one of Israel's greatest triumphs, and decried by others as an event that cemented the Palestinian refugee problem and turned Gaza into a prison doomed for decline. On one hand, this compilation of previously censored recordings of combat soldiers that fought in that war divulges critical dissent from the state-sponsored line. This is a welcome and moving document. On the other hand, the movie seems to reinforce in some way the age-old cry of Israeli combatants, who are forever condemned to be 'shooting and crying', through no fault of their own. Send us your thoughts about the film and the ensuing discussion.

Keep in touch and stay safe,
Keren Tova Rubinstein
Content editor

Remains of a Muslim grave from Lubiya, the village that lays in ruins beneath the South Africa Forest that was planted by the JNF.

This refugee life

By Carly Copolov

When I met Khadim Dai in Jakarta, Indonesia, in November 2015, we instantly clicked.  It was like we were long lost friends, or family. Khadim was only 19 years old and one of the refugees who started the Cisarua Refugee Learning Centre (CRLC) in Cisarua, Indonesia.

CRLC is a school set up by refugees for refugees to continue education while in transit in Indonesia. Khadim and I made the one-hour journey by two buses and a small blue van. I was amazed by the beauty of Cisarua and I welcomed the cooler climate.

I turned up at my homestay with a woman and her two children who lived close by to the school. Tahira made me feel right at home. Her children enticed me to colour, draw and play with puzzles. I could not believe it.  I thought all children only wanted to play on iPhones and iPads as they do in Australia. Tahira got to work cooking up a feast while her children and I spoke English and coloured and played in Tahira’s room. Dinner time involved sitting on the floor cross legged, eating with our hands the delicious food Tahira had prepared (this is the traditional Afghan way, she told me).

Continue reading here

Sary Zananiri's "Unpicking Jerusalem"

By Keren Tova Rubinstein 

Sary Zananiri’s mounted and manipulated photographs in Unpicking Jerusalem: a re-examination of the archives reflect Jerusalem’s historical trajectory from 1850-2015 in overt and subtle ways. Though the subject is as infinite as time itself, and though the architectural and human landscape that comprises this place is equally vast and complex, entering the gallery one can’t avoid its smallness, and the concentration of images evokes discomfort and rage at history, unwieldy as it is.

The Little Woods Gallery tucked away in Collingwood, on a corner that epitomises Melbourne’s gentrification. It’s a single, small, semi-divided exhibiting space, that in January 2016 housed Zananiri’s four unframed photographic prints on glass. These were wall mounted on plain pine supports, except for the first one to greet you as you entered the gallery from the street.

This first, larger two-piece, is floor-mounted on a wooden easel that reminded me of building materials, hinged in order to support two glass prints, one seen through the other. The front panel shows the arched entrance to a modern day mall in Jerusalem. Happy shoppers and people going about their day, oblivious to their function in this re-examination of the space they occupy. Through the arched entry to the rather posh mall, one sees the second pane, this one revealing the same location in Palestine that is no longer. It is a soft sepia market scene, peacefully conducted, before it was destroyed: the eroded landscape reappearing. But it is, of course, difficult to see.

Read more

Occupation is Not Our Judaism - an invitation to apply, from the Center for Jewish Nonviolence

July 10 – 20, 2016
We are now accepting applications for “Occupation Is Not Our Judaism,” this summer, July 10-20, 2016.

To apply, please click hereApplication Deadline: March 15, 2016.
Applications are accepted on a rolling basis, and spaces are limited.  Apply early!
Please share this widely.
For more information, please visit our (brand new!) website:
“Occupation Is Not Our Judaism” July 10 – 20, 2016

What: Jewish activists from around the world will convene in the West Bank for 10 days of solidarity activism with Palestinians who are being evicted from their homes and pushed off their land in the name of ongoing settlement expansion and occupation. Likely projects include: infrastructure development, agricultural projects, sit-ins, and marches.

Why: We believe that international Jewish support for Palestinian & Israeli nonviolent activists working to end the unjust occupation of the Palestinian Territories is crucial. As Jews, we say to our own communities, to the Israeli government, and to the world that the occupation must not continue.

Where: Activists will stay together in Bethlehem and engage in a variety of campaigns and activities in Hebron and South Hebron Hills.

Cost: In order to make participation accessible to as many people as possible, participation fees are on a sliding scale.

Actual cost of the trip: $1100.  Limited scholarships available to cover 20% to 75% of cost depending on need.

Solidarity cost: $1500. We ask all those who are able to pay the solidarity rate to help subsidize the cost of participation for those with fewer resources.
To contribute to the scholarship fund, please make a donation here. $100 sponsors a full day of grassroots activism. Thank you.

For more information please contact

With much appreciation,
Ilana Sumka, Daniel Roth, Ashley Bohrer, Elisheva Goldberg, Moriel Rothman-Zecher, Erez Bleicher, Larry Rubin, Shlomo Roth & Alice Mishkin 
– Organizing Committee, Occupation Is Not Our Judaism
Center for Jewish Nonviolence

“In many of my previous experiences with anti-Occupation activism, I have found my Jewish identity to be an obstacle to engaging fully with the work— a part of myself that I must either deny or reject to be taken seriously as an activist.  As a participant in the Center for Jewish Nonviolence’s week of action, this paradigm was reversed: rather than a hindrance, being Jewish functioned as the inspiration and the guiding principle for our work,  making this one of the most empowering and positive Jewish experiences of my life.”
—Participant, Nonviolence in Action, October 2015

From the archives: 1999, The Australian Jewish News and censorship

In April 1999 the Australian Jewish News pressured editor David Bernstein to resign, following remarks about the Balkans and Israel/Palestine, which were considered intolerable by the newspaper and powerful agents in the Jewish community. The AJDS condemned the censorship. Visit our blog to read the statement issued by the AJDS and the discussion held by our members passed and present on the former AJDS Readers Forum. 

Following the disappointing shutting down of a real discussion of Israeli history, Norman Rothfield penned a letter titled "Time to blow the whistle": 

The ability to criticise yourself, your own side, your own people, is part of the best traditions of religious and secular teaching, yet too often we seem incapable of saying “we were wrong and we are sorry”.

On Wednesday, 14 April, according to David Bernstein, he was forced to resign from his position as acting editor of the Australian Jewish News because its owner, pressured by members of the Jewish establishment, could not tolerate his writing a restrained but alternative interpretation of Israeli’s early history concerning Palestinian refugees. His article might have put in context the six letters of protest which the same editor published in that issue of the paper. Instead of an alternative view the paper was published with a section of a page completely blank, and all readers knew was that a cartoon from a previous issue had been condemned. Following a public demand made by the president of the State Zionist Council, who incidentally is a member of the Likud, the right wing in Israeli politics.

Another example of what is unfortunately a widespread problem is provided by leading activists of the Serb community in Australia which daily sees horrific examples of hundreds of thousands of refugees being driven from their homes often with violence and cruelty, yet media reports suggest that they confine their comments to protests at the Nato bombing campaign.

Continue reading here

Join the new AJDS reading group 

Come along to our pot luck and reading group, meeting for the first time at 6:30 on Sunday, 6 March 2016, at Unit 1, 311 Alma Road, Caulfield North. 

In our first meeting we will be discussing A. B. Yehoshua's story "Facing the Forests". This short story first appeared in 1968 and epitomised the style of the State Generation of Hebrew writers, that is those young men and women that came of age after the Jewish state had already been established. Though more openly critical of the foundations of Israel than their fathers who'd fought in 1948 to establish the country, State Generation writers such as Yehoshua and Amos Oz are nowadays seen as Zionist icons. However in this particular short story, which unfolds in one of the Jewish National Fund’s state sponsored forests near Jerusalem, one can easily see the painful effects of the Occupation on both Jewish Israeli protagonist and Palestinian antagonist. 

To register your interest and get a copy of the story in English and/or Hebrew, email And don’t forget to bring something to share at this literary Sunday pot luck.

For more information, please visit our website.

Labor for Refugees Dinner with MP Melissa Parke

Labor for Refugees Victoria invites you to a Victorian ALP State Conference fringe event, on Friday 8th April 2016 at 6:30pm and a banquet dinner at the Zara Turkish Restaurant on 168 Sydney Road (cnr Rennie St), Coburg. 

With guest speaker Melissa Parke MP, speaking about "Labor's policies on people seeking asylum"

Melissa Parke is the member for Fremantle and along with the member for Chisholm Anna Burke, she has been an outspoken critic of Labor’s policies particularly offshore detention. Melissa is standing down at the election this year.

“This is a matter of national shame for which there will one day be a reckoning.” 24 June 2015
Bookings are essential. Book here:  Places are limited so book early.
Soft drinks provided. BYO alcohol.
Cost:  $45 per ticket waged / $40 discount for early payment by Thursday 24 March / $35 unwaged
Payment can be made by card at the time of booking or by cheque sent to:  Labor for Refugees, PO Box 406, Bentleigh 3204
Free parking is available in adjoining side streets.


Contact our editor if you have any questions or requests, or if you would like to receive this newsletter in hard copy:

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