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Just Voices #5 - March 2015

Dear AJDS members and supporters,
elcome to the first newsletter of 2015. We are gearing up for some exciting events this quarter, including a talk with inspirational journalist, Amira Hass. Since 1993 she has been living in Gaza and the Occupied Territories, feeling welcome and embraced by the Palestinian people about whose plight she reports. Her talk comes as some of us might question why pre-election discourse in Israel has largely ignored the Occupation. Hass will doubtlessly address it, along with the recent war on Gaza, from which countless civilians struggle to recover.

Refugees more locally have also met with unjustifiable governmental cruelty. Along with over 200 other community organisations the AJDS signed a joint statement about the detention of children in Australia’s offshore ‘facilities’. “For more than a decade under successive governments, we have watched Australia’s detention policies go through the same cycle”, it said. “It is high time that we put an end to this cycle.” Especially as Jews, we must take action against this gross mistreatment of humanity in crisis.  

We look forward to a productive year of joint struggle against systemic abuses of people and land. We’re anticipating Project Lubya (1948): Exposing the South African Forest, initiated by Stop the JNF’s South Africa chapter. Executive member Sivan Barak will travel to Israel/Palestine and meet Palestinian refugees as they revisit their appropriated land.

Keep in touch on our website and on facebook to find out about upcoming events and the quarterly general meeting.

You are invited email with your questions, comments or contributions.

Looking forward to hearing from you,
The editor

Amira Hass:

The bantustanisation of Palestine and Jewish Israeli dissidence

April 7
Arive at 6:45 for a 7pm start

St Kilda Town Hall, Council Chambers

Join the event on facebook

Drinking the Sea at Gaza. (1996)

Amira Hass' first book was an in depth study of life and politics in Gaza following the first Intifada. It was translated into English with the subtitle, 'Days and Nights in a Land Under Siege' (1999).

Limmud Oz 2014: Panel about Asylum Seekers and Refugees

By Harold Zwier, Robert Richter, Paris Aristotle, Robert Manne and Ralph Genende

This is the transcript of a Limmud Oz session held at Monash University, Caulfield Campus, on Sunday 8th June 2014, on Asylum Seekers and Refugees. Organized by Harold Zwier, the session provided a forum for a broad discussion of a vexed issue that reflects badly on Australia's claim to be a society that values and upholds the rights and dignity of all people.

In February the Australian Human Rights Commission report, "The Forgotten Children", the National Inquiry into Children in Immigration Detention, was tabled in the Federal Parliament. In the Foreword of that report, Professor Gillian Triggs, President of the AHRC wrote:

Australia is unique in its treatment of asylum seeker children. No other country mandates the closed and indefinite detention of children when they arrive on our shores. Unlike all other common law countries, Australia has no constitutional or legislative Bill of Rights to enable our courts to protect children. The Convention on the Rights of the Child is not part of Australian law, although Australia is a party. The Convention is, however, part of the mandate of the Australian Human Rights Commission to hold the Government to account for compliance with human rights. This Convention accordingly informs the findings and recommendations made by the Inquiry.

Read more here.   


Ignorance and fear see a return to the days of the child convict

By June Factor
The Age, 17/2/2015

Once upon a time, in 1834 to be exact, British civilisation introduced, on the shores of Van Diemen's Land, the first children's prison in the British empire. Not far from Port Arthur, Point Puer's Boys' Prison housed youthful criminals with the goal of reformation. According to the Governor of Van Diemen's Land, "it is utterly impossible to imagine a more corrupt fraternity of little depraved felons". As young as nine years old, some 3000 robbers of knives, eggs, brooches and the contents of gentlemen's pockets were incarcerated at Point Puer in the 15 years of the prison's existence. Reports of the time suggest its isolation and harsh regime proved a largely unsuccessful foundation for reformation.

Since then, we have continued to imprison children for crimes, although none so young or so relatively harmless as many of those confined at Point Puer. But it is only since 1992 that Australian governments, both Labor and Liberal, have detained children against whom there is no suggestion of criminality of any kind. Nor does the policy of detaining children who, alone or with a family, seek asylum in this country, harbour any pretence of improvement of their character. Detention (including on yet another barren shore, Nauru), is instituted in order to deter others – adults or children – from trying to seek refuge here. This latest version of child incarceration lacks even the muddled good intentions of the early British colonists.

Continue reading here

The Occupation

By Alon Idan
Haaretz supplement 20/2/2015, translated by Keren Rubinstein
‘Occupation’ is not a good word. It takes the Israeli away from reality instead of bringing him closer to it. ‘The Occupation’ has a permanent place in the Israeli hall of collective consciousness, therefore there’s no need to consider it afresh when it is heard or called out. When there’s no longer a need to rethink an uttered word, then its link with considered thought about it and its real meaning is lost; the word becomes a museum artefact, archival material.

The reason ‘occupation’ isn’t a good word is also tied up to the fact that the Occupation doesn’t describe the problems themselves, the reality, the actuality; ‘the occupation’ is the reason such problems came into being as part of that reality. The Palestinians don’t suffer from an ‘occupation’ (as someone might ‘suffer from fever’ or ‘suffers from pain’), but they do suffer from a harsh reality borne of occupation. In that sense ‘occupation’ is a word that sounds better to Israeli ears, because it plasters militaristic and strategic content onto the reality of suffering.
Continue reading here.

A Rabbinic Autumn?

By Les Rosenblatt

There's no 'Rabbinic Spring' yet, (Australian Jewish News Editorial Feb 20, 2015) regardless of the AJN having sighted the odd dove or swallow skimming the murky oceans of Chabad rabbinical denial exposed at the Royal Commission.

At best, to my mind, it may be an autumn. Not until the comprehensive transformation of the institutional structures, policies and practices of Chabad-dominated Orthodox schools and communal organisations has been effected in both root and branch, can we begin to speak realistically of 'a time for healing'. There are some early signs of movement in this direction beginning to take place, but there is a long way to go.

The notice that the AJN had suspended its own staff member who correctly exposed Rabbi Klugwant's recriminative hostility to the family support being provided to Manny Waks and then quickly re-instated him/her as soon as Fairfax started to question the suspension was not a good start to any sort of springtime.

Continue reading here

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