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Manny Waks Responds to Critics of Capital Jewish Forum

July 12, 2011 – 9:13 am10 Comments

Manny Waks (right) at a previous CJF event, with Omar Metwally, Egyptian Ambassador to Australia

By Manny Waks

After much consideration, I have decided to respond to some of the reaction to the Capital Jewish Forum’s (CJF) inaugural Melbourne event this Sunday (17 July)  featuring the Palestinian Authority Head of Delegation, Mr Izzat Abdulhadi.

Although criticism that has been raised is largely associated with the Executive Council of Australian Jewry (ECAJ), it is clearly not universally supported within its membership.

The issues are apparently directed at “turf”, an alleged “conflict of interest”, and the efficacy of a “platform” that is provided to the de facto Palestinian Ambassador.

Turf: I have been told, unequivocally, that Victoria is the “turf” of the Victorian roof bodies. Indeed, a leader of a prominent Victorian organisation informed me that Victoria is “my turf”. Reluctantly, I must say that this is at best a parochial, and at worst an immature issue to be raised by representative bodies.

There should be no territorial claims within the Jewish community, nor justification for claim to territorial sovereignty. Of course local issues are best dealt with by local representatives, but that is not relevant in this case.  In fact the CJF is effectively a national group; currently with over 550 national email subscribers. The CJF is not in “competition” with other groups. Holding an event in Melbourne is a natural progression for the CJF from its Canberra-based activities and this vision has been articulated publicly in various forums, including directly to some within the Jewish community leadership group. It should be noted that the CJF has a national (and international) Board of Advisors. The provision of events beyond Canberra has been largely driven by the subscribers in other States.

Conflict of interest: Subsequent to the announcement of the inaugural CJF Melbourne event with the Palestinian representative, the ECAJ has stated that my roles as Vice President of ECAJ and Executive Director of CJF are in conflict. This is disingenuous. I have held these dual roles since September 2010, and during that time coordinated numerous CJF events in Canberra. During this period the ECAJ has never suggested any conflict of interest. On the contrary, there have been supportive affirmations for the CJF. Further, many in the Jewish leadership group have dual roles in a plethora of organisations.

Palestinian representative: The CJF has previously hosted Mr Abdulhadi in Canberra, in November 2009, which elicited no criticism whatsoever. As an important part of its mission, the CJF offers a platform for a vigorous exchange of differing views; it is certainly not intended to endorse the views of speakers, nor is it perceived as such by any participant. For example, the CJF has hosted in Canberra ambassadors from Israel, the US, France, Jordan, Pakistan, Turkey, Hungary and the EU, among others. It has also hosted senior Federal politicians on both sides, as well as senior public servants. In July the CJF will again be hosting the US Ambassador, this time in Melbourne.

Other groups operate according to a similar model. For instance, the American Jewish Committee (AJC), a staunchly pro-Israel US group, regularly engages representatives of countries whose State policy is anti-Israel. For instance, the AJC recently met with the Foreign minister of Bahrain and had planned a meeting with a senior Lebanese delegation.

In undertaking this event, the CJF adheres to its mission to promote “discussion and engagement with intellectuals, dignitaries and leaders on topics which are relevant to Jewish academic, policy, business and other professionals.” The CJF is non-partisan and offers a unique, alternative communal model based on personal empowerment, aiming to enrich the existing communal structures. Through regular events, the CJF not only exposes Jewish academic, policy, business and other professionals to a diversity of views within the Jewish community, but also provides direct engagement and interaction with intellectuals, dignitaries and leaders on topics of importance to the Jewish community. The culture of inclusiveness that defines the CJF model is also particularly attractive to Jewish professionals who may be otherwise disengaged from and/or unaffiliated with existing communal institutions.

The CJF provides an opportunity for our community to ask the “tough questions” of the Distinguished Guests who represent their respective countries or organisations. Moreover, this form of direct engagement is consistent with the developing model within the global Jewish community, particularly desired by and attractive to the younger age demographic.

It is important to emphasise that the CJF does not claim to represent anyone within the Jewish community – it merely acts as a facilitator. This matter is brought to the attention of all Distinguished Guests, whom I also make aware of my own pro-Israel views where appropriate.

I have been pleased to receive explicit support from the ACT Jewish Community Board of Management, and appreciate their unanimous motion conveying their support in response to the recent criticism.

I look forward to seeing many in the Melbourne Jewish community at the CJF event with Mr Abdulhadi, as well as at the event with the US Ambassador, His Excellency Jeffrey Bleich. Hopefully the CJF will facilitate many additional future events throughout Australia.

For more information on the CJF or to RSVP to the event, please see capitaljewishforum.org or email capitaljewishforum AT gmail.com

Manny Waks is President of the ACT Jewish Community, Vice President of the Executive Council of Australian Jewry and Executive Director of the Capital Jewish Forum.

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  • Larry Stillman says:

    If the EJAJ won’t sit in the same room as a representative of the PLO, then who do they propose to sit in the same room with? No one?

    And that is the problem. They pretend that there is no ‘problem’, that the occupation doesn’t exist, that it will all go away, and that the US will back Israel all the time.


  • Under what authority do any Australian Jewish ‘roof bodies’, either national or state, exist, while they are not totally representative of the community they claim to represent?

    If they are not elected in an open, democratic, fair, inclusive and mutually agreed upon fashion, by the community, of the community, for the community, then they have no valid and exclusive claims to any ‘turf’, even at the outset.

    Lastly, while there exists no roof body that represents my interests, I will not acknowledge any authority they may claim over my state or country of residence.

  • Alex Fein says:

    Manny, thank you for arranging this event. I am among other Zionists who look forward to hearing the ambassador speak.

  • Harold Zwier says:


    It seems odd that the CJF should be perceived by anyone in the Victorian Jewish community as treading on someone elses turf. The clear implication is that providing a forum in which Victorian Jews have an opportunity to listen to and question a representative of Palestinians, is the prerogative of organisations who represent the local community and no other groups.

    The Jewish Community Council of Victoria (JCCV) has a Policy Platform in which it seeks to embody the majority beliefs and values of the community it represents. These policies are articulated in some 30 sections. Section 3.7 is entitled “Respect” and includes the following: “This council 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”.

    While you have not implied that the “leader of a prominent Victorian organisation” is connected to the JCCV, this “leader” should be aware that the community roof body has a policy of respect for our diverse and pluralistic community and this doesn’t include attempting to restrict interesting activities in our community.

    I hope your 17th July function is both well attended and beneficial to the speaker and audience.

  • Reuvain says:

    If this meeting is to have value maybe a few questions should be asked of the Palestinian representative. If this is a chance to hear from the PA representative then it should be an honest conversation. Mr. Waks do you have the courage to ask the following questions ?

    1. Why does the Palestinian Authority have the death penalty for selling land to Jews ?

    2. Why does the Palestinian Authority name city squares after suicide bombers ?

    3. Why does he Palestinian Authority educate their kids that they want to take over all of Israel ?

    4. If the Palestinian Authority really wants peace why does it pursue a policy that the West Bank must be Judenrein ? Why can’t Jews live in areas under their control as Arabs are protected citizens of Israel ?

    Its time to ask the real questions at this Forum.

  • JBD – Jews of the Melbourne CBD – are very pleased to be working with CJF for the visit of the US Ambassador, His Excellency Jeffrey Bleich on 27 July. Part of our mission is to collaborate with other Jewish organizations wherever possible.

  • Bruce J Cooke says:

    Reuvain your questions are EXACTLY the sort of questions that should be asked & I expect to be asked.I think the evening will be most “interesting”

  • Manny Waks says:

    Why don’t you attend the forum and ask any of the questions you mention. They’re completely legitimate and I can assure you that many of them will indeed be asked – whether by me or by the many others in attendance (currently there are around 60 confirmed guests – an indication that we’re filling a need).
    All those who have been present at CJF events in Canberra could attest to the fact that the hard-hitting questions are asked at these events.
    Feel free to come along!

  • Reuvain says:

    Loved to come but I am not in the neighborhood.

  • Eigthman says:

    If only we could have talked to Adolph Hitler and asked him:

    Dear Mr. Chancellor

    1. Why do you blame Jews for the loss of WWI? Do you know that the Jews of Germany and her allies suffered 10,000 war dead?

    2. Can you advise on the countries whose central banks are controlled by Jews and if there are any what actions of theirs give you reason to believe that ‘international Jewish finance’ is preparing another world war?

    3. If war is the means of by which natural racial selection is exercised, which will vindicate the Aryan Germans as the master race, why is the pretext of war under the conditions you suppose exist in question 2 used to persecute the Jews of Germany if war is a desirable end in demonstrating German superiority and fulfilling German destiny and current policy?

    Just think if only we had the CJF then WWII could have been avoided!

    Talking to people who just want to murder you. How quaint. What tripe. What fools. What liars. What new Jew-boy depths are plumbed?

    What the hell is going to be revealed that we don’t know already? A new doublespeak, flowery and socially acceptanble version of how ‘you Jews should roll over, let us kill you and die’.

    Why doesn’t Zwier use his pathetic group of dimwits to organise meetings about how Australians should surrender their sovereignty and property to indigenous inhabitants, depopulate the continent in favour of indigenous possession, encourage, finance, training, arming and execution of Aboriginal terrorism until this all happens and then foster ‘dialogue’ between what’s left of Australia and these Aboriginal squads?

    Lets see how long it takes for these liars, cowards and hypocrites to have their houses burned and them strung up from the nearest lamp post?

    Not that this would be anyone’s loss but at least the costless moral grandstanding and cannibalism employed to effect their ‘moral superiority’ and ‘social consciences’ would at least come to its rightful end.

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