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Menachem Khoen and Kevin Rudd – a Tale of Unfair Dismissal

June 21, 2011 – 8:16 pm138 Comments

Kevin Rudd, making his final speech as PM

On the anniversary of Kevin Rudd being dumped by his party, and following several articles published on this website and elsewhere critical of  Lion FM boss Menachem Khoen, Ralph Zwier sees things from Khoen’s perspective.

Here is a precis of a familiar story that took place a year ago:

You’re not happy with an incumbent. There’s no scheduled election coming up soon, and you can’t use the normal party processes to unseat the incumbent. You mount a destabilising campaign against the incumbent. The incumbent is now on the defensive at every decision. The incumbent becomes embroiled in a mess partly of his own making, but largely created by the destabilising campaign. You go to the media, saying that the situation now warrants extraordinary measures to deal with the instability. The media adds its own measure of ‘destabilising potion’ by relentlessly reporting on the instability. Finally you – the original instigator of the process – enter the arena portraying yourself as the “knight in shining armour”, the hero who has reluctantly been approached to rescue the public from an extremely unpopular and dysfunctional incumbent.

Sound familiar? This is the Kevin Rudd story of a year ago. This is also the Menachem Khoen story of Lion FM today.

Last Thursday (16/6) night a “public” meeting was called to deal with the ongoing future of Jewish radio. The meeting was chaired by JCCV president John Searle and attended by a selection of people almost all of whom were involved either in supporting Khoen’s MJR, or supplanting MJR’s right to hold the licence.

The pro-Khoen group has been plagued by accusations of mismanagement that culminated in a complaint to ACMA last April about MJR’s record keeping, and MJR’s stated pro-Zionist policy. The ACMA complaint has effectively destabilised and even paralysed the radio station. Ironically those who spoke most passionately about the need for unity were the very people who initiated the complaint to the ACMA. This was not really a “unity” meeting. No olive branches were offered. This was a confrontational meeting between warring factions.

When Menachem Khoen reminded Thursday night’s assembly of their role in the destabilisation — and yes, he did defy the chair numerous times — the destabilisers closed their ears, some of them even saying to me that Menachem was delusional. Well, whatever differences I have with Menachem Khoen, on one matter I agree with him: The people who were calling loudest for unity on Thursday night were the original destabilisers.

John Searle’s explanation to the attendees that the JCCV would support only one organisation’s bid for a broadcasting licence turned the meeting into a kind of tasteless competition: who would win the JCCV’s imprimatur for legitimacy?

The political gambit is very familiar.

But there’s a big difference between Labor Party party politics and internal Jewish community politics. In the former, the protagonists are fully aware of the game they’re playing. Even the public is vaguely aware of the game. But in our parochial JCCV politics the destabilisers and the Jewish media have gone into complete denial over the role they played.

Until the parties start trading olive branches instead of insults the future of Jewish Radio remains bleak.

Ralph Zwier was a broadcaster on Lion FM and worked on a subcommittee within Lion FM dealing with the complaint made to the ACMA.

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