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People of the Boat – A Jewish Perspective on the Asylum Seeker Issue

July 8, 2010 – 7:03 pm41 Comments

Image source: abc.net.au

By Mandi Katz

The Prime Minister has called for an open debate on policy for addressing the asylum seeker issue. I hope that Jewish experience as refugees and forced migrants finds a strong voice in this debate, wherever it takes place. Empathy shouldn’t be the only basis for policy but it’s a pretty good starting point.

You would think that Jewish empathy for forced migrants can be assumed. Expulsion, forced migration, homelessness, persecution and discrimination are so much part of our story. It’s difficult to imagine any serious opposition among Jewish Australians to policies based on compassion for asylum seekers who, like so many Jews last century did, seek refuge here from persecution and poverty by any means they can, often without proper papers in circumstances that would today be called “queue jumping”.

There aren’t many issues on which Jews speak in one voice – the old joke about two Jews and three opinions still rings true. It’s also safe to assume that Jews span the spectrum on all political issues. But I would hope that Australian Jews can be united in our willingness to think the best of people who seek refuge from undemocratic and intolerant governments and who seek to build better lives for themselves and their families.

Add to this our collective memory of detention camps and it becomes important to call out the inhumanity of detaining asylum seekers and removing them from real living, sometimes for years, while their circumstances are examined to determine if they are truly in need of refuge.

In a speech to Lowy Institute yesterday that at least addresses the facts head on, Julia Gillard agreed with Julian Burnside’s contention in The Age on Tuesday that at the current rate of people seeking asylum in Australia by boat, it would take twenty years for that population to fill the MCG. She has also acknowledged that Australia takes in only .06% of the world’s asylum speakers.

In a piece in Wednesday’s Sydney Morning Herald,  Associate Professor Jane McAdam of the University of NSW calculated the figure as a proportion of the world’s refugee population which parlays into a far smaller percentage – 0.0013%. McAdam also supplied the raw number of total refugees we are committed to absorbing each year – 13,750 – paltry by any measure.

Gillard acknowledged in her speech that the percentage of asylum seekers is 1.6% of our total migrant (not refugee) population and said that the factors in the region that push people to seek asylum are far more relevant in causing an increase in numbers than the way in which this country deals with asylum seekers.

So to me it seems pretty clear. Taking into account the scale of the problem (insignificant) and the inhumanity of current and proposed policy, we should be urging this and any government to formulate clear policy, which acknowledges that people who seek entry in this way are more likely than not seeking asylum legitimately from persecution and poverty. Or at least recognises that people who are desperate enough to risk their lives on leaky boats with no guaranteed outcome, should be given the benefit of the doubt and not detained in conditions similar to prisons. Many commentators have pointed out (we seem to need reminding) that the act of seeking asylum is not criminal, which in turn is a compelling basis to say that ongoing detention of asylum seekers is just wrong.

This leads me to the Prime Minister’s proposed solution for a new “regional” processing centre in East Timor (leaving aside the implications of her reported failure to consult the East Timorese government before making the announcement). I don’t like it. I believe asylum seekers should be ‘processed’ on-shore and given qualified resident status, which leaves it open to the government to deport individuals after due enquiry if it is clear that there is no legitimate ground for residency. The law should treat asylum  seekers in the same way as it treats other people trying to bypass official channels (and as an immigrant I can barely bring myself to use the term ‘queue jumper’ about  people who had less opportunity than me to stand in the right queues), including those who overstay their visas. That the issues are more complex and take longer to clarify for asylum seekers who come here on boats than for people overstaying visas, is irrelevant and adds nothing to the case for detention centres.

And yet the issue continues to divide the broader community. I agree with Gillard that all voices should be heard with respect on this. But when I hear Jews speak about the unfairness of bypassing due process, I struggle to understand their concerns and to forgive their short memories. Due process is irrelevant for people who are making decisions in frightening and chaotic circumstances, and in countries where Australia doesn’t have official representation. There is also tacit concession in certain (and hopefully few) Jewish circles that comments which would generally be unacceptably racist, are OK if made about Muslim migrants.

It would also be pretty unfortunate if Australian Jews added to the voices casting aspersions about people who seek to escape “only” from poverty – considering Jews generally sit at the high end of the socio-economic range within a country which is emerging from the global financial crisis in rude health and in which people have an extraordinary high standard of living in global terms. I’m also deeply sceptical about concern for the environment in this context.  Given the scale of this issue, this is hardly the burning platform from which to take a stand on environmental issues. In the Jewish world we could start instead with a campaign to use less disposable paper products during Pesach.

I would take Gillard’s proposal for a “regional solution” as more than political expediency if she also committed to doubling or tripling the number of refugees to this country each year, with commensurate funding for refugee absorption.

A few months ago I spent some time talking to a young Sudanese migrant in a session facilitated by the  Sudanese Lost Boys Association of Australia Inc.  This young man came to Australia as a refugee through official channels after applying for refugee status in a UN camp in Ethiopia. He described the process and it wasn’t pretty. In addition to the inevitable paperwork and waiting, there were extensive medical tests with waiting periods to be sure he didn’t have any undesirable medical or psychological ailments. The upshot (which I didn’t realise) is that our refugee policy on top of being mean on the numbers side, favours the most resilient of a vulnerable population. Which may be a good thing because when refugees do get here they face a whole new swathe of difficulties including language barriers, social isolation and dislocation, and racism.

The asylum seeker issue in Australia is inextricably linked to the broader issue of refugee intake and absorption. And at least until we do better on that front, I’m using my Jewish voice to ask the government  and opposition to formulate and support  asylum seeker policy by starting with rachmonis (compassion) and taking it from there.

Mandi Katz has worked as a lawyer, and now works in management in the financial services sector. She immigrated to Melbourne in 1985 from South Africa and is enjoying writing again, after a long hiatus involving children, professional life and domesticity.

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41 Comments »

  • Marilyn Shepherd says:

    Why does it have to be your jewish voice, why not just your humanitarian voice?

  • ariel says:

    I am all for dramatically increasing our intake of refugees.

    However, this must be done in an orderly manner. Australia has always had a policy of preferring those who pose the least health risk and who are deemed capable of contributing to our society (read: not having to rely on the dole or pension the moment they arrive).

    There are plenty of Australian embassies, consulates and other (including UN) facilities across the globe. I am yet to see a convincing arguement for a refugee to smuggle across several (often dozens) of borders and then hopping on a leaky boat to get to Australia unannounced. Surely, one could smuggle to one of our allies in Asia or the subcontinent and then apply for asylum at an official office there? This was the method used by many Afghan refugees in the 1980’s fleeing the Soviet invasion; they would smuggle across to India or Pakistan and apply there.

    Mathematics also comes into play here. It seems logical that for every person who arrives here unannounced and gets a visa, another person waiting in a Sudanese refugee camp misses out and is delayed further, thereby being punished for their patience. Hence the need to encouraging refugees to seek asylum with the UN or Australian consulate as near as possible to their point of departure so that when they do arrive here, they have relevant ID and papers.

    Finally, there is a huge difference between someone arriving with a valid holiday/work visa and overstaying their welcome and someone who arrives with no visa at all. Yes there are plenty of British and European backpackers who end up staying illegally, but the point is that they arrived LEGALLY; they just forget to leave. In most cases, they’re eventually tracked down.

  • Mandi Katz says:

    @Marilyn – because while I’m not more Jewish than I am human, my Jewishness is an integral part of who I am and is present in much of what I think and do. I speak in a Jewish voice because for me that’s my most authentic voice.
    @Ariel – I know that if it was me and my family (and I was brave enough) I would probably do exactly what the asylum seekers have done, and I think Australia can afford to risk erring on the side of generosity for people who do make it here. The precedent argument has been described by the PM as an insignificant factor on the rate of asylum seeking.

  • ariel says:

    @Mandi – My grandparents and one parent came as refugees employing the system I outlined.
    Far from being brave to get on a leaky boat it’s quite frankly, irresponsible. I still have not seen an argument in favour of boating instead of walking into the safest UN or Australian compound nearest your home country and requesting asylum. If someone in Darfur can do it, then pretty much anyone can.

  • Carolyn White says:

    May I say to Ariel, that there are thousands of people in UNHCR
    camps in Indonesia who have been processed, granted refugee status,
    but who have not been given visas to enter Australia. Some are
    young adults who’ve been there since they were small children.
    That’s where the problem lies – those who can raise the money to
    get on a boat do so; those who can’t are condemned to stay in the
    camps. One can only ask “why?”

  • ariel says:

    Carolyn,
    Being granted refugee status does not equate with an automatic right to enter Australia.

    Appropriate screening checks into health, security and ability to contribute positively to society must occur. If someone is denied an Australian visa, the UNHCR should ask “why?” and also endeavour to find them somewhere else appropriate, failing Australia’s co-operation.

  • Jason says:

    Mandy,

    Jewish voice?

    What’s Jewish about allowing anyone in, particularly when historically those who have been let in from Islamic countries (which by some quirk of fate, most have been) generally do not have our (Jewish) best interests at heart?

    Not only we need them like a hole in the head, considering many have a propensity to bring their baggage with them, why should I, both as Jew and as an Australian believe they will accept Australian hospitality, by contributing to Australia’s future welfare, when historically many have proven to be a thorn as is born out by way of example, in other European countries?

    Now, are my thoughts any less Jewish than yours, or do my views label me as a racist?

    What, I have to endorse the mistakes of the past, so they can be repeated again just to appease Jewish “do-good” views?

  • Carolyn White says:

    According to Fr. Frank Brennan, who does a lot of work with
    refugees, in January last there were over 2,500 refugees registered
    with the UNHCR in Indonesia, but Australia takes only about 50 a
    year. Granted that it would be no surprise if very many of those
    people were in robust physical and mental health, it does seem to
    be a shamingly paltry number. We should all be asking “why?”

  • Thye Kid From Bondi says:

    I wonder how many people of the Jewish faith share the author’s simplistic and fabian utopian view as stated? Apart from the fact that Jews did not kill fellow Jews last century, apart from the fact and that thank God 6 million Afghanis have not been exterminated by their regional neighbors and apart from the fact that Jewish liberalism is easily explained, that author fails to understand the difference between concept and reality. As a concept most of mankind, regardless of their faith does not want to see others suffer. The reality is that we cannot “save” everyone. The question is how many refugees should we take? There are 2 million Afghani refugees in Pakistan. 400,000 in India and I bet that if you asked any Afghani whether they would rather live in their land or Australia, the unanimous answer would be Australia ….. that’s another 28,500,000 refugees …. Do we take them all Ms Katz? Now comes the hard part. Society is not a school playground … by “touching home” or landing in Australian waters you are not automatically safe, nor should you be. The government must set up proper refugee evaluation programs in Afghanistan and if not then admit failure and close the gates. Ah yes … we can’t determine in Kabul who is or is not a refugee, that evaluation can only be done after an expensive and dangerous sea voyage. What childishness MS Katz!

    By the way Ms Katz have you tried to settle or flee to Afghanistan? Try it, you won’t even get a visitors visa! Just like Mexico it’s all one way traffic. Wake up to reality Ms Katz and PLEASE leave the Jews alone, speak for yourself and not the Diaspora.

    I welcome and await your response but will not hold my breath whilst waiting.

  • dontforget says:

    Mandy,

    dont forget which group of people hate jews, besides the nazis, and why.

  • philip mendes says:

    Good article Mandi. My friend Nick Dyrenfurth had a similar piece reflecting on the experiences of his own German Jewish family published in The Punch online a few months ago. Many Jews have parents and grandparents who came to Australia as refugees from racist persecution, and found a welcome refuge. We have a particular obligation to support others who are also fleeing racism and ethnic cleansing in Iran, Afghanistan, Sri Lanka and elsewhere.

    By the way, Marilyn has a long history of spouting Hansonist comments on various blogs. She has often written that the Jews who fled Nazi Germany for Palestine should have been forcefully returned to their deaths in the Holocaust. I don’t believe her far Right views should be published on an anti-racist blog.

    Philip

  • Eli says:

    I find myself torn both ways on this issue. For the most part Jews became refugees throughout their history simply based on the fact that they were Jews. Rich or poor, healthy or not, educated or illiterate. Their host countries for the most part threw them out.

    The refugees we see today, are either economic or political refugees.Rarely are they for intolerance of their ethnicity. Given the price that these refugees have paid for getting a place on a leaky boat, one has to wonder how poor they were to be able to afford what would in many countries they come from , would be a small fortune.

    In many cases, not all, these people choose to leave, they have not been thrown out. Does that make them refugees needing asylum?

    Countries grant asylum on the basis that those seeking it are in need from protection. Refugees generally have either been forcibly removed from their homes or fleeing conflict where their lives are in danger while the ongoing conflict continues. They tend to cross borders to neighboring countries. Remain there and return.

    Those coming here on boats don’t, I believe, fit those criteria.

    During world war 2, all of Europe was awash with peoples looking to return home. Most weren’t seeking asylum, esp Jews, for the most part would have preferred to return to their homes. Unfortunately for them, those places no longer existed, or the local populace still found the fact of their survival, infuriating enough to continue the persecution. Jews left, moved and seeked a better life because they weren’t wanted. To compare that to those arriving on boats is perhaps a stretch.

    I think Australia should increase the amount of refugees that it takes in. We have a responsibility as a wealthy nation to give opportunity whenever we can. How many? who cares..as many that need it. But let’s do it in a fair and compassionate way. Where each person has the same chance.

    Seeking compassion by default of your imminent arrival and possible drowning, is entry by deceit.

  • Larry Stillman says:

    It’s good to see you finding your voice Mandi, but as you know, racism and intolerance of the non-white stranger is historically endemic in this country, and unfortunately, polling seems to show it is a factor in a number of marginal seats and I wouldn’t be surprise if people are saying nasty things in the ‘community’. Regretfully, from one or two of the posters here, we see stereotyping and presumption of all sorts of intentions/guilt/out of control invasions.

    Perhaps in one way we are lucky, because what we face in Australia is a comparatively tiny number of genuine refugees bypassing the formal system, NOT the situation that has faced Western Europe for example, with millions of economic migrants.

    To the hard nosed commentators. Desperation is not rule based. A point in case is Afghanistan. There is going to be a continuing, and probably increasing flow of refugees as the Taliban slowly takes control. A family will put all its money into getting at least one person out–and I ask, wouldn’t you in similar circumstances? Wouldn’t you have got onto a ship to go to Palestine after the war? If someone offered you a place in a boat, would you have sat still in a camp and waited 5 or 10 years? If you hear the stories of people who come on boats the 95% or so who are classified as refugees have undergone horrendous suffering and rejection–just like Jews in Europe.

    This is in complete contrast to Eli’s rather strange claim that Jewish suffering after the war was different to that of contemporary refugees. Hasn’t he heard of what has been going on in Sudan or Central Africa, or to a minority group in Iraq such as the persecuted Mandeans who came here on boats and were then criminalized by the Howard government and put in detention? All these people met UNHCR criteria as refugees.

    And as Phillip Mendes says–stay clear of Marilyn.

  • Eli says:

    Larry, I am well aware of what has been happening in Sudan and Central Africa etc and I accept that in some cases there is a genuine need to flee for not dissimilar reasons that Jews boarded boats for Israel. But it seems that most of those who arrive by sea, and I am sure I will be corrected if I am wrong, are not fleeing that kind of tragedy.
    I agree that waiting in a camp for years is also not acceptable. It is perhaps that area which we should be endeavoring to improve substantially.

    The conditions into which those who do arrive here, are placed is also abhorrent, and needs to be changed.

    As i said earlier, we have a responsibility to give opportunity to all who seek it. Perhaps if we make the “official” process shorter and more humane, the desperation of coming by sea and its inherent dangers will be less inviting.

  • Larry Stillman says:

    Eli, you need to go by what UNHCR uses as its standard –they are fleeing well-founded fear of persecution. You need to get facts to correct your perceptions.

    I suggest you see http://www.unhcr.org.au/basicdef.shtmlhttp://www.unhcr.org.au/basicdef.shtml and the other relevant pages that are linked. Nearly every issue or doubt you have is dealt with there.

    Refugee assessment procedures show that the vast majority of people who come by boat as asylum seekers are genuine refugees.

    A refugee is a person who “owing to a well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group, or political opinion, is outside the country of his nationality, and is unable to or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail himself of the protection of that country…”

    And I also quote==
    The Refugee Convention says that states should not impose penalties on individuals coming directly from a territory where their life or freedom is threatened on account of their illegal entry. (Article 31) Furthermore, under Article 14 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, everyone has the right to seek and enjoy asylum.

    I think detention centres in the harshest of condiction are in breach of the above, particularly with respect to spouses and children.

    The procedures also deal with people who don’t have documentation.

  • TheSadducee says:

    I note Dr Stillman refers to the UNHCR and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights etc

    Wouldn’t the ideal solution be that the UN actually enforces its own Charter on its members so that all these instances of persecution etc are dealt with before refugee situations are created?

    Why don’t we look at addressing the root cause/s of the problems rather than band-aid solutions which are clearly not working?

    If you are serious about this situation you need to lobby your own government to comply with the charter requirements and seek that they get enforcement of them on other members through the UNSC. Anything short of this is not taking the situation seriously.

  • Larry Stillman says:

    Thanks for the sarcasm about my qualification.

    Of course, there are great international issues at hand which the UN as you well know, isn’t able to solve. International politics is messy and war is a fact of life. There is going to be continuing flow of refugees from Afghanistan as there will be with other parts of the world. We may be an island, but we are part of the rest of the world as well.

  • ariel says:

    Being classified as a refugee does not equate with an automatic right to an Australian visa. Whilst we can certainly improve the intake, we still need a robust screening process to accept those most able and likely to contribute to society.

  • I also feel a bit each way on this issue. One thing worth pointing out: Post-WW2 and particularly Holocaust survivors came to Australia in droves because (a) our country generously welcomed them, and (b) they had a strong desire to get as far away from Europe as possible. As a Jew whose parents where the beneficiaries of Australia’s policy, I feel strongly that we should continue to welcome genuine refugees.

    However, refugees from countries like Sudan or Afghanistan have several options as to where they can find refuge. Many, once already in a country that will offer them refuge, make the choice to take a risky and expensive boat ride to Australia (as opposed to other countries in Asia) because it’s a fantastic place to live, and far more desirable for them than, say, Indonesia. The availability of this option maintains the market for people smugglers who take advantage of refugees. The challenge for us is to maintain a humanitarian policy, and at the same time prevent people from subverting the systems in place in our country and others who accept refugees.

  • Mandi Katz says:

    very interesting to read other opinions.
    Jason – my voice is a Jewish voice – of course its not the Jewish voice. of course I respect yours as authentic even if I don’t agree with what you say.as to whether you are racist – I dont know you so I couldn’t say but I do I think a lot of fear and distrust of Muslims in Australia is a lot like the fear and distrust of Jews that was expressed in response to the proposed eruv in Sydney, as discussed on this site.
    Thye kid from Bondi – I have been called far worse things (today) than a Fabian! they didn’t offend me either.

  • Jason says:

    Mandy,

    You associate the fear and mistrust of Muslim intentions, plus the track record they already have both here and abroad with the “fear and mistrust of an Eruv”? What hope is there of having a rational discussion with you?

    Oops, the penny just dropped. I see now where you are coming from.

    Those against Eruvs are deeply worried the wires of the Eruv will be hijacked by extremist shomrei Shabbat Jews with the intent to use them to garrote under-dressed white mini-skirted Australian girls.

    Yes, how silly of me.

    Your analogy is simply perfect!

    I too am now extremely fearful and worried.

  • Mandi Katz says:

    Jason – what they have in common is ignorance and fear of the unknown – I was thinking that what Judaism and Islam have in common is that they regulate every part of their adherents’ lives (what we eat, what we wear) as opposed to Christianity which is largely about matters of personal faith.I was struck by the eruv discussion because I had only recently had a discussion with a rational Jewish friend who was highly critical of women’s choice to wear hijab and couldn’t see that it was the same prejudice as is expressed against the way Jews look.
    Probably not the best analogy for the discussion with you because Muslims’ record here and abroad . So lets have a proper discussion.say what you mean. all you have said is ‘they’ are a thorn (Are all Muslims the same?). what is your fear and what evidence do you have about about asylum seekers and refugees who have come to Australia and done the unnamed things that you are concerned about? perhaps you have less faith in democracy and the rule of law in this country than I do.

  • Mandi Katz says:

    that should be
    Probably not the best analogy for the discussion with you because your concerns is about Muslims’ record here and abroad and I’m guessing you’re not talking about religious expression.

  • Jason says:

    Mandi,

    Muslimscan religiously express themselves anyway they wish until they cross the red-line in the sand, which they do once they have critical mass.

    There is an innate hatred of the West, an even greater irrational hatred of Jews which carries on from generation to generation.

    Everywhere in the world where Muslims have gained critical mass, serious problems develop.

    Do we need to experience what France, England, Spain etc etc etc are going through before realization hits home? There is no turning back of the clock. I like to learn from other peoples/country’s mistakes.

    Every time we Jews take up the cudgel for some other poor deprived minority we invariably get bashed over the head by that very minority.

    Time and time again!

    When Muslims themselves say, they wish to change the nature of a western society, and have no qualms about using the very democratic processes of that country to achieve their ends, I believe them.

    So why make it easier for them, when I have yet to be convinced that their so called moderates are in fact genuine moderates?

    Have you been reading their blogs? Perhaps you should.

    I make no apologies for what I say, and I certainly will have no comfort saying…see I told you so.

    As long as I, the Jew am a consistent target by a religion obsessed with the obliteration of Jews, I want to make it as difficult as possible for Islam to heaven forbid come anywhere near achieving their aims, either politically or otherwise, more so here in Australia.

    Therefore if I have a choice in respect to what kind of asylum seekers I’d want here, Muslims would be the last on my list.I’d rather support asylum seekers who are not of the Muslim faith.

    What, are non-Muslim asylum seekers any less deserving of our (Jewish)sympathy?

  • Jason says:

    Hi Mandi,

    http://frontpagemag.com/2010/07/09/munslim-enclaves-u-s-a/

    This could never happen here, right?

    So to all the (Jewish) do-gooders….

    C’mon down from where ever you are!!

    Pssst: I’m not a racist, I’m a realist.

    Really!!

  • To paraphrase Croc Dundee … “that’s not an enclave; this is an enclave”

  • Larry Stillman says:

    I suggest Jason that you have a reality check and meet or work with a few Austalian Muslims. Your comments are in the same category, frankly as Muslim racists about Jewish essentialism and ‘our’ capacity for world domination etc.

    David Horowitz, is a fruit loop, looking for all the worst case scenarios, and in the American context, an American Muslim version of the KKK is not at all surprising.

  • Jason says:

    Larry,

    Autralian Muslims?

    Like Hilaly?

    Perhaps the silent ones ones who wish to be called moderates yet were silent when Israelis were being blown up?

    I’ll leave that to you, Larry.

    Work with all the Muslims you like, but don’t forget all the German Jews who were screaming, “Ich bin ein Deutcher”.

    When push came to shove, it made zero difference.

    Sorry pal, but I call “a spade a spade”.

    We have been, we are and we always will be expendable vermin to them.

    As long as the Koran says…..,i>“The Hour [the Day of Judgement] will not begin until the Muslims fight the Jews and kill them. A Jew will hide behind a rock or a tree, and the rock or tree will say, ‘O Muslim, O slave of Allaah! There is a Jew behind me, come and kill him!’ – except for the gharqad (box thorn), for it is one of the trees of the Jews.” and the faithful believe that, and are brainwashed from childhood on, every word you say means zilch to me.

    Period!

  • Mandi Katz says:

    Jason I never called you a racist or any other name although you called me a do gooder which I think you meant as an insult.
    So on balance, in the absence of evidence that individual people are likely to do anything unlawful, I’ll come down on the side of not wanting those people to languish in detention centres even if a small minority of people with whom they may or may not have some religious affiliation, say terrible things about Jews, and an even tinier minority of people with whom the individuals concerned may or may not have some religious affiliation, will do something violent or criminal.

  • Mandi Katz says:

    and Jason – if you want to talk to me about this further and ‘educate’ me, send me an e-mail on facebook and when I know as much about you as you do about me (which is your real name) we can carry on talking.

  • Jason says:

    Mandi,

    Whilst you certainly did not call me a racist, I have no doubt it crossed your mind, but then that is mere speculation, so no point going down that road.

    Yes, I do think you’re a do-gooder, but not in a denigrating way. I think we stick our noses where it really doesn’t belong, and in this case, whilst one wishes to be a humanitarian, I don’t believe it the long run it will benefit either Australians or Jews.

    It’s clear these asylum seekers have access to funds considering the background they come from, assuming they worked an honest day for their so called honest pay, it would take them 5,000 years to save the money they pay the smugglers which begs the question as to just how did they get the money?

    The general Australian community has had major problems with them and as always when something goes wrong Jews who have have had the finger in the pie, causes us much angst as that is always paraded in the press..

    I’d therefore keep a low profile on this issue, which is going to be a giant stuff up anyway, and focus my Jewish brains on more productive and meaningful issues.

    We have a tendency to be “do gooders” in the best sense of the word, yet just about always, it comes back and bites us on the backside.

    So, let’s just keep our Jewishness and our views to ourselves, and hope to blazes that if a number of queue jumping asylum seekers have to be let in, Muslims amongst them are kept to an absolute minimum as they seem to find it the hardest to assimilate favorably.

    There are statistical empirical facts to back this up, yet being politically correct is the keyword of the day.

    That’s about it.

    By the way, I’m not into Facebook….

    If I have inadvertently offended you, my apologies, but I do have an aversion to “do-gooders” so if you are not one, best of (Jewish) luck to you.

    I’m done on this topic.

  • Louise says:

    The reason that Jewish people try and increase the multi ethnicity of a country is so that if a group of people are persecuted it is less likely to be them. It is a survival technic that Americans know that the Jewish people do.

    If only Jewish people could be more humane when it comes to their neighbours in the Middle East. Instead of starving the Palestinians to death to make it easier to steal their land. Israel is causing a holocaust and there is no other name for it.

  • frosh says:

    And the award for the most crackpot anti-Semitic comment of the day goes to…

    It’s hard to know if the above comment from Louise should be removed due to it comprising of complete lies, vile racism, and trivialisation of the Shoah….

    … or left up as an example of the depravity of thought that still exists in some sectors of our community.

    I tend to favour the latter approach.

  • Mark says:

    Yes the Jewish people would like more refugees to come to Australia, especially their closest neighbours who they are killing through the ongoing holocaust and genecide of the Palestinians and Israel’s policy of apartheid. Israel wants 1.5 million Palestinians to leave their homes or stay and starve to death.

    Australians know about all of the goods that are not allowed into the Palestinians; apparently food spices are banned by the Israelis because they could be used as weapons.

    Jewish people think that if they can turn the Middle East into World War three then no one will notice how much land they steal from their neighbours.

  • Mandi Katz says:

    I think Louise has a cunning plan. She turned into Mark and will follow by transforming into Ned, slowly but surely working her way through the the rest of the alphabet….

  • Larry Stillman says:

    It’s a conspiracy. But conspiracy theorists have no sense of humour, because humour of course, is a Jewish conspiracy.

    What I have never understood is how the nutters rationalize that ‘we’ are all simultaneously in touch with each other to conspire together even if at the same time, many of us are in virulent disagreement over such issues as the merits (not that I can see any) of the occupation and siege of Gaza and a million other matters of daily life.

  • ariel says:

    We Jews must be so inefficient, let alone incompetent.
    Apparently, we’ve been trying for decades to wipe out the Palestinians, yet their population has increased exponentially. Except in Iraq, Kuwait and Jordan where they’ve been expelled from…

    Louise/Mark, what are we doing wrong? I’m stumped…

  • Akiva says:

    I think that given the centrality of the Shoah to our modern contemporary Jewish identity – in every aspect of it – we must, in all conscience respond to this issue with compassion above anything else. Not fear or paranoia.

    Well done, Mandi. You restore my faith – somewhat – in our community’s ability to care for life out of the intellectual ghetto. I doubt that it will win you much support.

  • ariel says:

    Akiva,

    I don’t think fear or paranoia has anything to do with it. It is, frankly, hyperbole. It goes together with the manipulation of language when using the ridiculous term Islamophobia. This word literally means “fear of Islam”, just as agrophobia means “fear of outside/open spaces”. Phobia is Greek for fear.

    I don’t know any people who fear Islam. I do know many people who are revulsed by political Islamism as employed by the Taliban, the Sa’uds, the Mullahs in Iran, etc. just as they were in the past with Communism, Fascism, etc.
    I do, however, know people who are scared of spiders (arachnophobia), closed spaces (clostrophobia), etc.

    Similarly, I don’t really know people who fear boat people. They just believe that Australia has to have an orderly system of processing applications together with a suitable screening process to determine who is suitable to live here.

  • Joe says:

    So Mandi, why did you come to Australia? What was wrong with your home country South Africa that you had to leave?

  • Aussiebattler says:

    According to the New Testament of the Christian Bible, Jesus walked on water. Perhaps we should all try thinking ‘outside of the boat,’ and walk a mile in the shoes of those who are now the ‘new Jews’ of the 21 Century – the persecuted, bombed, imprisoned, starved, Muslims that are being driven from one country to another by none other than our big brother, America, who is clearing the way for Capitalist neocon big business!

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