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Compassion First – a Response to Robert Magid

August 4, 2012 – 10:05 pm246 Comments

Volunteers from Jewish Aid Australia with Sudanese children. Image courtesy of JAA.

By Rabbi Ralph Genende
Kon Karapanagiotidis may have an unpronounceable Greek surname, but he has an unforgettable presence and a vital message, which, in my mind, is very Jewish in its essence. Kon is the founder and CEO of the Victorian based Asylum Seeker Resource Centre (ASRC). He spoke this week at Caulfield Shule. His talk was inspiring, disturbing, and humbling. It was inspiring as a reminder of how you can make a difference if you have a vision and the energy and confidence to see it through. Outraged by the Tampa incident, this son of poor Greek migrants founded the ASRC in a small shop front with a few students. Today it provides services to over 7,500 asylum seekers, employs a staff of 30, and has over 700 volunteers.

It was disturbing because Kon unpeeled the layers of fear-mongering, political machinations, and distortions that cover up this human tragedy in our midst. It was humbling because of the depth of passion, compassion, and the utter selflessness of this man.

Migrants, asylum seekers, and refugees are a hot-button issue not only in Australia but across the world. And Israel today faces its own complex set of challenges with African asylum seekers and Filipino migrant workers.

The debate in Australia is clouded by myths, fear, xenophobia, and politics. It is hard to know what is fact and what is fiction. The reaction of the Jewish community is reflective of the confusion of the general public. We have many champions for refugees but we also have many claiming that illegal immigration is criminal and dangerous, that it will disrupt our society, undermine it economically, and threaten stability. As Jews, we are particularly fearful of Muslim immigrants and their potential for extremism.

These are not light fears but like many fears they are in large part unfounded. Asylum seekers are not “illegal queue jumpers who can afford to pay criminals to deceive Australian authorities.” They are neither illegal (there is no Australian law criminalising arrival without visa), nor are they migrants who leave by choice. The vast majority are desperate people forced to leave their countries (and unable to return) because they fear persecution and even death.

Even unscrupulous opportunists do not put their own lives and the lives of their children at risk to gain freedom and security. Desperate people do. And desperate people sell everything they have to pay the uncertain passage for the hope of safety.  And would you wait in a queue if your family’s life was threatened when you knew that the wait could be longer than 100 years? We are not exactly being flooded by refugees. Australia is absorbing less refugees today than most other countries across the world.

Australia, like Israel, is a society built on migration, and if you absorb your migrants with compassion and skill you build a stronger society both economically and ethically. The challenge for a democratic society is to create hope and opportunities for the disadvantaged. The challenge of a moral society is to provide a home for the persecuted.

We Jews have a long and abiding tradition of caring for strangers. One of the most repeated phrases in the Torah is to remember that we were slaves in Egypt and to therefore respond to the needs of the vulnerable; the widow, the orphan, and the stranger.

The Torah and the Talmud are replete with references to the ethics and laws of responsibility to wider society. Yes, we have a right to first take care of ourselves – but we also have obligations to society: “Mipnei darchei shalom” to create a better, more harmonious world for all. “Kvod Habriyot”, respect and love for humanity is axiomatic to Judaism. Charity may begin at home, but it doesn’t end there. Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks puts it this way: “Poverty, hunger, disease are evils in any culture and those who heal them are giants of the spirit.”

I am also afraid of Islamic extremism, and I do not believe we should just let anyone in; migrants need to be processed and checked. However, we also need to constantly build bridges to other communities, to reach out and support them, to ensure they do not become insulated and the prey of extremists. The work of Jewish Aid Australia (particularly in the Sudanese community) in this respect is superlative.

Unlike Robert Magid in this week’s Australian Jewish News, I do not believe there are limits to compassion. I take pride in being part of a people who put people and compassion first. Compassion or chesed (loving kindness) informs us, it is the imprimatur of our people, pride of our past, and guarantee of our future.

Ralph Genende is the Rabbi of the Caulfield Hebrew Congregation.

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246 Comments »

  • Jake says:

    Rabbi – a powerful article . I don’t know what Robert Magid actually wrote as I had the good sense to cancel my subscription to thr AJN several years ago .

  • Yoram Symons says:

    Kvod HaRav,

    First off – fantastic article.

    Second – When I heard about Robert Magid’s piece in the AJN my heart dropped and I thought, holy cow, is this how the mainstream Jewish community thinks??? It cant be. So thank God this is not the case. The voice of the Rav of Melbourne’s most important shule is as much a representative of the mainstream Jewish opinion as a media baron.

    So, I call on Galus Australis and all other interested parties to not only denounce this vile racism emanating from the AJN but to reject it as the voice of mainstream Jewish opinion and establish a genuine alternative that actually articulates true Jewish values and not the narrow sectional interests of one man with money.

    Galus Australis is obviously the beginning of this, but its finally time to take this to the next level.

    Australian Jews cannot allow themselves to be represented by lone fanatical individuals, no matter how deep their pockets or what organs of media they seek to control.

    If there was ever a wake-up call that the Australian Jewish community needed to reassess its own media, then this is it.

    The chutzpah to deny compassion to refugees!!!! The utter total chutzpah!

  • Ittay says:

    Hi Jake,
    You can read what Robert Magid wrote here:
    http://www.ajds.org.au/a-new-low-for-the-australian-jewish-news/

    Well done Rabbi Genende. Your articulation of Jewish values so beautifully here makes me feel proud to be a member of our tribe.

  • samo says:

    Thank you Rabbi Genende for these powerful words, and for standing up for Jewish values.
    I was shocked and saddened to read Robert Magid’s plea to ‘curb our compassion’ to desperate people escaping persecution.
    I look forward to opening the AJN this week to find dozens of letters to the editor from our community leaders and rabbis condemning Magid’s xenophobic, islamohpobic and heartless sentiments.

    I invite Magid to visit Jewish Aid’s programs and those of the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre, and to hear the stories of these ‘opportunistic economic migrants.’
    I suspect his thoughts on this issue would be challenged to the core.

  • Elliot says:

    It is heartening to see such a srong moral response from Rabbi Genende to the disgraceful article by Robert Magid. I have found there is a high level of support for the rights of refugees within our community from people across the political spectrum. The AJN will be flooded with letters!

  • Larry Stillman says:

    The AJDS has initiated an open letter at http://www.gopetition.com/petitions/open-letter-to-robert-magid-publisher-australian-jewi.html.

    We urge as many people and institutions to sign on as possible by Monday noon. I hope that the AJN Editor will publish letters.

  • Harold Zwier says:

    I am glad to read Rabbi Genende’s article. Robert Magid’s Viewpoint article in the AJN is quite offensive – and broadly so.

    His first paragraph targets Jews. “There is a tendency among Jews to wish to appear more compassionate than the rest of society…”

    This is classic anti-semitism. It’s not that Jews wish to “be” more compassionate – a tendency to admire – but that Jews wish to “appear” more compassionate – ie. to mask their true feelings behind a facade of compassion.

    The language is subtle and very undermining. How would we regard those sorts of comments if made outside the Jewish community?

    The 2nd paragraph targets asylum seekers. Magid uses the term “illegal immigration” to cover this entire group. But, as Rabbi Genende points out in his article, “They are neither illegal (there is no Australian law criminalising arrival without visa), nor are they migrants who leave by choice”. In any case, there is nothing illegal about people who have a well founded fear of persecution in their country of origin seeking safe haven in another country.

    The 3rd paragraph builds up a classic straw woman. “..supporting a policy of unrestricted illegal immigration is not a moral position; it is a political one..”

    There are very few people who argue that immigration should be unrestricted. Australia’s obligation under the refugee convention provides protection for asylum seekers who either:

    • meet the United Nations definition of a refugee, as defined in the 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees and its 1967 Protocol (Refugees Convention), or
    • are owed protection under other international human rights treaties and conventions which give rise to complementary protection obligations.

    (quoted from the Immigration Department website: http://www.immi.gov.au/media/fact-sheets/61protection.htm)

    While supporting unrestricted immigration may be a political position, that position is not being debated in the general discussion about asylum seekers arriving by boat. In the case of asylum seekers, the issue is about whether they qualify as refugees.

    Magid is doing exactly what he tries to accuse those with whom he disagrees of doing. He engages in a polemic from a political position that uses fear, misinformation and biased language to vilify his opposition.

    But Magid’s argument is also confused. He talks about an “un-photographed, unreported, unseen mother and starving child in a refugee camp”, as in some way more deserving of compassion than a mother who seeks to save her starving child from a refugee camp by finding an alternative to staying in that refugee camp.

    Magid then adds to his apparent lack of compassion by telling us that memory of the Holocaust has no place in a discussion about refugees fleeing a well founded fear of persecution.

    Magid’s final barb is to link asylum seekers (his illegal immigrants) to ghettos, terrorism and of course Muslims.

    There are some people in the Jewish community for whom Magid’s article will resonate, but it’s not reflective of the Jewish community that I know.

  • frosh says:

    If you want to discourage the AJN from running pieces like this, the best thing you can do is ignore them, rather than give them a huge response of letters (even it feels good to send off a letter). After all, letters are content and an indication that an article has generated a sizeable response (the fact that the response is negative is neither here nor there to a commercial publication).

    Unless of course your letter is to let them know you are cancelling your subscription or advertising – they’ll certainly take notice of that.

  • Mandi Katz says:

    Thank you Rabbi Genende and thank you Galus for publishing this, and providing the opportunity for people to respond so quickly. A number of people commenting here have said that simply doesn’t reflect the Jewish community as they know it.

    And Frosh – that’s why we do have to write to the AJN as well as use a forum like this – because many outside the community, including politicians, look to the AJN as a reflection of community values and opinions. I think the publisher playing such an active editorial role in a way that upsets and angers so many, could be a watershed moment in the role of the AJN.

    The paper will do the right thing and publish people saying that it doesn’t reflect them. But I think this episode will still damage the standing of the AJN in many ways. It is already on the nose with the frum community (and in many ways, understandably so) . A strong community response on his recent oped should cause the publisher to reflect – I don’t think he will, but it at least lets puts on the table the discussion that the AJN is a long way from reflecting the community.

  • Joel says:

    I agree with Frosh wholeheartedly. The AJN is like any other profit-making media outlet. The publishing of controversial content is used to illicit responses and readership and above all, maintain the viscous cycle of propagating more such views in the future.

    The best move is to ignore it, continue chatting to people we know about our true feelings and position and disassociate ourselves as far as possible – as a community – from views like Magid’s.

  • Harold Zwier says:

    The trouble is, that to let Magid’s comments stand without opposition will make it look as if we accept his argument. Stimulating letters to the AJN by publishing a controversial article does not, of itself, generate revenue. And if the views of the AJN owner are generally regarded as offensive then he is damaging his own brand.

    I agree that responding to the article gives it a life it doesn’t deserve, but not responding gives it a life too. On balance I think it is better to respond – as Rabbi Genende has demonstrated.

  • Yoram Symons says:

    There is only one true way to send a message and it is not letters to the editor, it is to take the AJN’s audience and thereby take its role as official community mouthpiece.

    And the only way to do that is to start a rival news service.

    And this can only be a user generated content online news service, publishing news, culture and other media from actual people within the Jewish community.

    The problem is not software, the software exists and can be modified to suit different requirments. It is only an issue of money. But a serious online user generated content Jewish newspaper would end up being a huge money maker, becoming the leading property classifieds, recruitment centre, simcha and bereavement noticeboard and community calendar.

    Essentially, someone needs to step up with about $500K and this can happen. And I recommend Frosh and Rachel as its inaugural editors and site managers.

  • Daniel Levy says:

    What an overprivileged shmuck. This community was largely built on Australia taking a chance on us, accepting a mass immigration wave.

    We’ve taken chances on other communities. Look at the Chinese and Indian migrant communities.

    Almost every single student doctor these days is of Asian descent, just as they almost singularly Jewish just a generation ago.

    When you take in immigrants and asylum seekers, by and large, they genuinely feel the need to repay the debt of the chance taken on them. They toil far harder to make a difference than the 7th generation bogan leeching off the dole, or the 3rd generation immigrant whose parents worked hard to create their wealth and then coddled their young to a life of extreme comfort and laziness.

    Do you want to boot those people out too? Because it’d be just as callous as not opening our doors to immigrants. They want to build a better life for themselves here, and I say let them. I have only known 1st and 2nd generation immigrants to be extremely hard working, decent people.

    That’s not to say that gangs don’t form among the insular and more savagely-inclined individuals among their community. But if you think violence and crime is isolated to immigrant communities – or is even significantly higher (in terms of the majority of these communities) than in the general populace – you’re either ignorant or racist. I don’t know if you’d really want to admit to either.

    There are obvious exceptions, where the war-torn nature of some of the countries asylum seekers conspires to produce a damaged community, but that is no reason to turn them away. If anything, it’s a reason to help them grow as a community and break destructive cycles of violence and crime.

    Robert Magid, I really hope you’re just an ignorant fool and not racist. To deny immigrants and asylum seekers the same opportunities which allowed the WWII Jewish migrants to burgeon into a powerful addition to the Australian community, you’d have to be one or the other.

  • Alex Kats says:

    Firstly, Rabbi Genende, thank you for your beautiful article.

    Secondly, Yoram, Robert Magid’s view is certainly not the mainstream, but he gets a voice because he is the publisher of the AJN which claims it represents the mainstream. That is what is so disturbing in this sense, and with views like his, it is comparable to Gina Reinhart taking over Fairfax, as she wants to do…

    Thirdly, Kon will be on a Jewish Aid panel this Thursday.

    And finally, I’ve been reading a fantastic book just recently published called The People Smuggler by Robin De Crespigny. Allow me to quote an inspiring paragraph that I just read this afternoon: “It is unclear why Australians are so strangely unconcerned about asylum seekers arriving by airplane; maybe because there are no pictures in the paper or on TV. But they are so afraid of the two percent who come by boat that they lock them up like criminals. As with the Jews in World War II, the refugees’ pitiful plight inspires irrational fear. If Australian people only knew the strength it takes to get on one of these boats, to keep holding onto life after the horrors these people have been through, they would be filled with awe and admiration.”

  • Jonny says:

    Thanks Rabbi Ralph. A great demonstration of community leadership!

    I’m a great believer in self protection, but compassion (othercentredness, charity) is the singular most important Jewish value.

    As Hillel said, “if I am not for myself who will be for me? if I am only for myself WHAT am I? If not now, when?”

    I hope all of our Rabbis and other community leaders respond publically.

    Thank goodness for Galus!

    Will the AJN print Rabbi Ralph’s response?

  • Ilana Leeds says:

    B’H
    An excellent article. Kol hakavod to Rabbi Genende for his balanced and compassionate viewpoints. I have no sub to the AJN as I decline to pay good money for a magazine that I have to cringe at the content and cannot leave it lying around the house because of its ‘soft core porn’ in ads and the inside cover, plus the fact it does not (in my personal opinion) represent the mainstream Jewish community let alone the Orthodox community in its content and views.
    We do need compassion and dignity in our lives both personal and public.
    Thank you to Rabbi Genende for restoring the balance.

  • In amongst the vicious attacks against Robert Magid and the glowing accolades for Rabbi Genende, I’m missing something. Harold Zwier is the only one who attempts to take Magid to task on the specific issues raised in his opinion piece. This “response” is more about sentiment than substance, and it leaves me with more questions than answers.

    While our hearts may have infinite compassion, at the end of the day, our resources are limited in dealing with asylum seekers. It’s a classic problem of scarce resource allocation. For a limited budget, and government policy that will always place some limit on immigration, how can we maximize the benefit we can apply?

    The cost to patrol our borders and deal with those who choose the more dangerous route of boats to get here is huge, compared with other, more legitimate and conventional, immigration channels. Surely if we could make that option less attractive, we could help more people overall?

    Then there is the implied assumption that the level of an asylum seeker’s desperation is an indicator of the worthiness of their claim. Until we assess them on a case-by-case basis, we actually have no idea. Nevertheless, the media does indeed focus more on those who take risks to come here by boat. This takes away attention from the large number of immigrants who do come here; immigration to Australia over the last few years is probably at its most open levels since the 1950s when my father and so many other refugees were able to come here and rebuild their lives after WW2.

  • Mandi Katz says:

    David – the issues have been canvassed many times . I think people have responded so emotionally to Magid’s piece precisely because it is short on facts. Starting with the fact that most people who enter Australian waters are ultimately found to be refugees which he disregards.

    I don’t think people object to a considered and evidence based discussion – what they object so strongly to is Magid using his voice as publisher of a paper supported by the community to make unsubstantiated assertions and in the second part of the article, appealing to people’s prejudices and fears.

    Of course there are more questions than answers – there are no silver bullets for this issue – it is one of the most complex global problems – but the debate needs to be considered, fact based and for a community with so many children and grandchildren of refugees (many of whom would not have met Magid’s test of imminent fear of death when they came in the 20s and 30s or after the war), compassion should never be left out of it.

  • letters in the age says:

    Agree with Daniel

    Its a complex problem and as Daniel says there should be empathy and understanding

    sigh

  • frosh says:

    Hi Mandi and Harold,

    I probably didn’t consider the full complexity of the issue (with regard to the utility or futility) of letter writing. You both made a good point about the wider community, particularly influential types such as politicians etc, gauging community sentiment from the AJN.

    So, with regard to short-medium term considerations, I would have to agree with you.

    However, I still wonder whether in the long term it is the wisest strategy.

    As Yoram has rightly stated, the best way to hurt a publication is to ignore it. Commercial publications require circulation and advertising revenue. As a community, all we have to do is deny a publication this, and fairly soon it will be forced to change or cease to exist. This is actually a lot easier than it sounds, but for some reason people act as if it isn’t at all feasible.

    I can’t express how frustrating it is to have friends tell me how angry they are at a particular publications (be it from Fairfax or Magid) and then they continue to patronise the object of their anger by renewing their subscription and even worse, continue to purchase advertising by their organization/business.

  • Mandi Katz says:

    Hi Frosh – the difficulty is that when acting in the best interests of an organisation you serve, you are duty bound to get the best outcome for that organisation.

    And as it is, the AJN still has by far the best and most diverse reach of any channel in the Jewish community.

    I am active in three Jewish organisations – each one has in its leadership at least some people who have concerns about the quality of journalism in the AJN and about its political direction – but each organisation advertises in the AJN because it produces results.

    The problems with the AJN aren’t about how it is edited. It is about the publisher’s strategy – I believe there is a serious lack of investment in local talent. The publisher doesn’t seem to be interested in reporting on the local community – and if his own writing sets the standard of journalism for the paper, we should all be very afraid.

  • Alex Fein says:

    Add me to those who commend –

    . Rabbi Genende
    . Jewish Aid
    . Galus Australis

    Our community’s very lucky to have them.

    On a number of occasions, I’ve mentioned the phenomenon of negative responses to blog pieces’ being articulated in far greater numbers than positive sentiments.

    That so many positive comments from widely divergent sectors of the community have appeared in response to the Rabbi’s post, is a very clear indication that Magid’s view is abhorrent to a large chunk of Australian Jewry.

  • letters in the age says:

    Daniel,

    What generation Jew are you if you dont mind me asking??

    #just saying

  • Maurie Johns says:

    A magnificent riposte from Rabbi Genende; thank-you. I don’t belong to any congregation, but my “Jewishness” was instilled in me by my long gone parents. Fortunately the values they passed on, totally mirror the values as promulgated in your article. Magid’s article in the AJN plays to fear, bigotry and ignorance. I can excuse the fear and bigotry,the ignorance is unforgivable. With the plethora of research papers and detailed studies from Australian and international research authorities readily available, I would have expected Mr Magid to pay due diligence to the facts as published and validated, before using his smart literary skills to write an opinion piece so far removed the reality.

  • Larry Stillman says:

    One of the signatories to the Open Letter has this deeply moving comment. Please share.

    I too was a refo (from Vienna Feb 1939)…I too (aged 3.5) was shoved into an internment camp (Tatura) as an “enemy alien” for 18 months…and according to my ASIO file am still out only on “parole”. I too remember the Nissen huts, barbed wire and armed guards of Tatura. Once released, I too was called a “refo” at least 4 times daily. I too remember with pain the sneers of the Aussie Jewish establishment at St Kilda Synagogue (Dangelow’s own)who told us how to dress, how to eat, how to walk and how to speak only English. Many of us Jews who escaped the death camps of Europe by a whisker are fully with the Afghans are fully with the Tamils are fully with all the refugees…we are all still refos. We greatly miss the late and great Richard Pratt, also a refo, who was proud of his immigrant origin and in his Australia Day Speech argued cogently for the fact that to be sustainable Australia needs a population of at least 50 million people. So let us welcome the refos. I am desperately sad that Bob Magid, a former staunch socialist, humanist, friend and immigrant himself has launched this unnecessary, uncharacteristic and flawed attack on “compassion” for refugees.

  • letters in the age says:

    http://www.abc.net.au/news/2011-03-11/paspaley-pearling-family-behind-detention-centre/2661770

    The Paspaley family have “invested” in detention centres

    (Greek heritage)

  • Hi Mandi,
    How do you that’s the case for all of those organisations? Is that based on research? I wouldn’t be surprised if it were true for the organisations that are patronised mainly by baby-boomers, but I’ve heard from at least one organisation that caters to Gen-X and Gen-Y and did do some market research that they found that AJN advertising wasn’t effective for them. A lot of organisations that I’ve had contact with have done no market research, and I expect that’s the case with a lot community organisations.

  • Levi (a refugee from the USSR) says:

    “I do not believe we should just let anyone in”

    Then what are you proposing, exactly?

    “migrants need to be processed and checked”

    how are you going to do that? What is your solution? How do you ‘check’/screen people who come here without papers?

    On the one hand you say that the fear of Islamic extremism is largely unfounded and then state you fear this yourself….makes sense.

    For almost two decades the 500,000 strong Muslim community of Australia was led by a racist holocaust denier who claimed that Jews controlled the world through perversion and sex etc. He also praised suicide bombers and the 9/11 attackers. This bigot came here illegally and was allowed to stay as a result of intense lobbying of the muslim community and many of
    their left wing sympathizers. He nor the muslim community have ever tired to retract nor apologize for these statements. If this bigot was just part of fringe group, then yes, I would agree and say that the fear of islamic extremism is unfounded…but his views – i.e. the views of the chosen representative of Australia’s muslims- are not on the fringe….and that’s a serious problem. Hardly surpassing, considering that Mein Kampf is the a best seller in countries where the majority of Australia’s Muslims come from.

    There are a lot of emotive statements being thrown around on this forum by readers with knee-jerk cries of racism and xenophobia, but do they offer any real or tangible solutions? Of course in order to be “balanced” the Rabbi and some readers throw the “but yes they we can’t have an open border…people have to be screened…etc”. So what’s your solution? Are you proposing open borders and/or a liberal asylum seeker policy based on the European model or not? And if not, then what are you proposing? We all know how successful the European model has been… just the other day I shared a shabbos table with a young Jewish girl from Sweden who stated that the majority of Jews in sweden have either left or are currently in the process of getting out of there. Could that be because of a largely unfounded fear?

    “We Jews have a long and abiding tradition of caring for strangers. One of the most repeated phrases in the Torah is to remember that we were slaves in Egypt and to therefore respond to the needs of the vulnerable; the widow, the orphan, and the stranger…the Torah and Talmud..”

    Ironically, the same Torah/talmud allowed strangers to live in the land of Israel conditional – they had to accept the seven noahide laws. If they did, then they were not allowed to stay as permanent residents. The Rambam clearly elaborates on the these conditions (I.e.on the laws concerning the ger toshav)-

  • Levi (a refugee from the USSR) says:

    If they did not accept…

    Sorry

  • Ann Fink says:

    Like George Fink, “I too was a refo”…quoted by Larry Stillman above, Bob Magid was also a refo, and more than once. Amongst the more curious and disturbing phrases in his rant in the AJN, is his derogatory reference to “economic migrants” and to “destination shoppers”. It seems to me that EVERY Jewish family who has migrated to Australia from anywhere in the world at any time, can be described in just these terms. Why did the Magid family choose come to Australia from China? And why did Robert himself having made Aliyah to Israel,in the 1960’s then choose to leave and return to Australia, albeit via London? Incidentally the Jews who wished to immigrate to Australia from China were once described by an immigration officer sent to Shanghai in 1946 to check them out as “spivs, pimps and collaborators'”.

    All migrants “choose” a destination which appears to afford them the promise of most security, both economic, social and personal. All Jews have had the luxury of the choice of Israel as a destination, especially after 1948. Even before 1948 many tens of thousands of Jews did risk the “illegal boats solution”.

    And to disperse Levi’s fears, Australia was never so prosperous as when its doors were open. Immigration to Australia like immigration to Israel has made it strong. There has always been a “fear of the other” driving immigration policies of both parties in government. Mostly it was directed at ‘the yellow peril”. The “yellow peril” has now proved to be Australia’s economic savior, so right wing racists now turn their attentions to Muslims.

  • Levi (a refugee from the USSR) says:

    Ann, you forgot to mention another refo – me.

    Did the magid family come here from China illegally?

    Of course you’re going to cry ‘racist’ because it’s convienant and a good way to shout down and stifle debate. With the exception of shouting people down with shrill cries of “racism” what is your solution? I challenge anyone here to come up with a credible solution.

    Ironically, a lax immigration policy with a lax border control – instituted by Labour- has encouraged more people to risk it at sea and in the process created a massive humantetrian disaster.

    We can also gloss over and ignore the fact that the mainstream leaders and representatives of the Muslim community here are racist, holocaust denying bigots and that their views ( seeing that they represent the mainstream. Muslim) are not exactly on the fringe.

  • Larry Stillman says:

    Comments made by people who have signed the Open Letter to Magid are posted at http://www.ajds.org.au/public-comments-on-ajn-ownereditors-remarks-about-refugees/

  • Ann Fink says:

    Levi, I have no idea how the Magids obtained their entry to Australia but I can tell you from my own family’s experience that many Jews entered Australia in the 1940’s on papers that were absolutely false. My parents and uncles and aunts all signed affidavits claiming that various individuals seeking entry were either siblings or close relatives when in fact they didn’t even know them other than they came from the same town, village etc. This was common practice throughout the Jewish community in the aftermath of the 2nd world war. Arthur Calwell was minister for immigration at the time and he turned a blind eye to this practice. in exchange the Jews became very loyal supporters of the Labour Party.

    I have offered my solution. You have ignored it. Expand the numbers of immigrants and asylum seekers being given refuge. Australia needs them. In fact most “illegal” migrants in Australia are Brits and Europeans coming in on tourist and short term work visas who don’t actually leave. And I have one of those in our extended family as well. A brit who ended up marrying an Aussie but only after she had overstayed her visa by about 3 years!

    And yes there are some Muslims who are bigoted and extremist, just as there are Jews and Christians who are similarly afflicted. Most just want a quiet life in which they can achieve security and prosperity for their family. Just like the Jews!

  • Ittay says:

    To Levi and David Werdiger who have both requested an example of real and tangible solutions to the question of how Australia should treat asylum seekers, please read this:

    http://www.asrc.org.au/media/documents/asrc-submission-expert-panel.pdf

    It is a submission by the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre which suggests five key measures that will save lives, without completely opening Australia’s borders to unrestricted immigration.

  • Levi (a refugee from the USSR) says:

    Here we go with the old ” there are some Muslims who are bigoted and extremist…just as there are Jews and Christians etc…” politically correct line. Yes every group has extremists and bigots, it’s just so happens that sheik Hilaly happens to be a mainstream leader of the Muslim community, and that radical ideas based on bigotry and prejudice are accepted by the mainstream Muslim community. That’s the difference…shame you can’t spot it. For more evidence, on just how mainstream nazi style antisemitism is within the Muslim world, watch the recent Egyptian version of candid camera…

    You offered no solution at all. Expand the numbers? By how much? Again, are you proposing an EU type asylum seeker policy? Neither you or Rabbi Genede nor anyone else for that matter have offered any real solutions. the Rabbi did speak about his belief that they shouldn’t just let anyone in etc, etc. How do you do that?

  • Mandi Katz says:

    Levi – do you have any evidence whatsoever about how many (if any) of the four or five thousand people a year (at the most) who have come to Australia as asylum seekers rather than through the government’s programs are supporters of radical and anti democratic movements?

    And as to Ann’s comments about Jews coming here in less than kosher circumstances -my husband’s grandmother came here from Poland without parents as a 17 year old in 1927 because she was so desperate to get away from antisemitism in Poland. She used to tell the story that her papers weren’t in order and that she was so desperate not to be returned to Poland that she threatened to jump overboard, so the entry official took pity on her. Was she a queue jumper? If so, I’m glad she was.

  • Levi (a refugee from the USSR) says:

    Thank you Ittay – finally after all this time, someone decided to propose what the actual tangible ‘solution.’

    Ever since the labour government came into power, the the number of boats coming in has increased dramatically along with the number of deaths. Now an ingenious plan is being proposed where the Australian navy will respond to “distress” calls hundreds of miles away in Indonesia and will then ferry people over here. great plan.

  • Levi (a refugee from the USSR) says:

    Mandi, if you and others claim that extremism is only on the fringe, then the onus is on you to prove that.

    Do I have evidence? Why did a holocaust denying, Jew hating bigot, lead and represent Australian Muslims for nearly two decades? Why was there no apology or retraction of his statements? Would you like more evidence?

  • Zeddy Lawrence says:

    Typical Galus,

    Chattering among yourselves and not one of you has actually bothered to contact the AJN with your gripes and moans

    Ah well, that aside … perhaps you should remember that Bob Magid was responding to a viewpoint two weeks ago which said we should be open to all refugees … oh and then there was another one about four weeks ago also saying we should be more compassionate to refugees. And then there are all the columns by Gary Samowitz and others arguing exactly the same thing.

    So it’s foolish to judge the paper on just one opinion piece, simply because it’s the one you don’t agree with.

    Robert Magid’s viewpoint was just one viewpoint among many we publish – most of which actually tend to be a little more “compassionate” than his, but he’s entitled to have his published just as other people are entitled to have theirs published.

    I mean, we even publish in some of the heinous views of the AJDS – which I dare say repulse the majority of the community – but, yes, we still publish them.

    So get off your high horses, chill out and if you want to have a discussion rather than bitching behind the AJN’s back, fine, get in touch, we’ll have a discussion. Otherwise just carry on in typical Galus fashion, having your own private little whinges.

    Thank all.

    Have a good week,

    Z

  • Zeddy – never let the facts get in the way of a good story! ;)

  • Wondering says:

    Zeddy, I just enjoy reading Henry Herzog’s letter of the week!
    Great stuff…

    A dumb opinion piece, that dumps all over Jewish values, by a prominent person, and you think the Galus community is bitchin’ behind your back girlfriend… LOL

  • TheSadducee says:

    “A dumb opinion piece, that dumps all over Jewish values”

    – “Jewish values”? Oh dear.

    I assume your referring to the positive ones rather than the negative ones that anti-semites usually do? Very silly.

  • TheSadducee says:

    And btw, did anyone else notice Larry’s characterisation of neo-cons in America as tough Jews?

    And that is a view of the Jewish left? Bizarre.

  • Larry Stillman says:

    No Mr/Mrs Sadducee, this is not a left characterization, it has been around for some time —

    http://www.questia.com/library/100261250/tough-jews-political-fantasies-and-the-moral-dilemma

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jewish-American_organized_crime

    It is also applied to the circle around Norman Podhoretz, Elliot Abrams and others.

  • Mandi Katz says:

    Hi Zeddy – as one of the people commenting, I can confirm that I have submitted a letter to the AJN on behalf of myself and ten others expressing our concerns with the piece.

    A discussion about the role and quality of the AJN and about what it means when its publisher writes a very controverisal and divisive piece, is a legitimate subject for an on-line Jewish magazine.

    I can’t speak for others commenting here but I certainly seek to engage with the AJN as well as comment elsewhere – when I disagreed with the approach taken to responding to the coverage of the petition about administrative detention on 20 July, I sought the opportunity to provide an alternative perspective. When I was told there was no space for that, I subitted a letter which was published.

    People do both – they engage with the AJN, and seek publication where they have a view, but also legitimately discuss issues about it elsewhere.

    Some of the issues I think come from the fact that the AJN is privately owned and run as a business and not in any real sense accountable to the comunity, yet seen by many in the community as a quasi – community organisation. I think you should be pleased people still care enough to buy, read and discuss the AJN and its role in the Jewish community.

  • Wondering says:

    @ Sad

    {{{“Jewish values”? Oh dear.

    I assume your referring to the positive ones rather than the negative ones that anti-semites usually do? Very silly.}}}

    —> No idea what you mean buddy by this…

    Pretty Simple.

    1. Compassion… A Jewish Value…
    2. Magid… The publisher expressing an opinion in his own paper: At worst criticising compassionate Jews or at best just calling them dumb…
    3. The article… Bizarre rantings – irrespective of your view on the right answer for immigration.
    4. Zeddy… feels victimised by people reviewing it #sniff

  • TheSadducee says:

    Wondering

    There is no such thing as “Jewish values”.

    There may be ethics/morals espoused by Judaism (and these differ widely within different interpretations of the faith) and/or people who identify as Jewish for whatever reason but these do not apply to all Jews which is what you have suggested by using “Jewish values”.

    You would have been better placed to suggest that his opinion offended many people whose views differed with his own rather than relying on the dubious assertion of “Jewish values”.

  • TheSadducee says:

    Larry – I doubt your sincerity in that response.

    As someone on the forefront of these issues you are no doubt aware of this:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neoconservatism#Antisemitism

  • Dan says:

    Hey i really liked the idea of boycotting the AJN or ceasing to advertise with them etc. But really such an outrageous piece deserves more. Lets collect all the Jewish News’s this week and burn them at Caulfield park. Rabbis Genende and Baker can provide clergical oversight with a beutiful rendition of ‘al biur jewish news’ Shirah Chadashas women chazzanim can provide the harmony for Rabbi Ralphs baritone. The Jewish Democratic Society can prepare a nice colourful banner with Robert Magid in an SS uniform or even a 3d effigy with a haman hat that we can hang from the maccabbi soccer goals as well and then we can all hop into our lexus’s and range rovers and use the torque these great vehicles provide to get back to orrong rd in time for our shabbat meals where we can pontificate intellectually as to our superior ‘Jewish Values’ safe in the knowlege that our non jewish friends surely this time will agree that the jews are really big menthchen and deserve to come along to the footy with them.
    Cmon Midday this Friday.

  • Wondering says:

    Um… Sad… you are just overcomplicating the issue. And I am no academic but saying there’s no such things as Jewish Values seems wierd.

    Magid represnted the community very badly. The reaction by good people is predictable. Zeddy knows it.
    It was just a bad call.

    I would have written it as “his opinion offended many people whose views differed with his own” except that I’m not pompous and everybody got what I was saying.

  • LOL @ Dan. To paraphrase what was recently written by a commenter: “if the AJN get it from the left for Magid’s opinion piece, and from the right for advertising non-kosher food, then it can only mean one thing. They are doing their job properly.”

    @ Wondering. Since when does Robert Magid represent the community? He owns a newspaper, and as publisher wrote his own opinion. He’s not an office-bearer for any community org.

  • TheSadducee says:

    Wondering

    Magid represented himself, not the community.

    To suggest that someone can reasonably suggest that an individual’s opinion piece in a private newspaper (where he is calling on the community to embrace his views which suggests that they don’t) is representative of the community view is intellectually lazy and dishonest.

    The fact that he put forward his views, disagreeable as they are, for open discussion should be lauded as healthy discussion in our community. The fact that people responded to them in varying ways is healthy and positive.

    Our community (Jewish) is capable of discussing a difficult and complex subject and/or offensive opinions/suggestions and handling them appropriately. The community is diverse enough and educated enough to be able to resist adopting extremist positions.

    People suggesting boycotts etc are the true opponents of open and free politics and discussion.

    (And I object to terms such as “Jewish values” precisely because they are used interchangeably with those who use them pejoratively against our people).

  • Wondering says:

    Yeh no worries Sad.
    No need for over-reactions across the board…
    Be good
    Peace out.

  • frosh says:

    Eds: Comment withdrawn. Although we would prefer he did so publicly, Zeddy has contacted the editors via a private email to clarify his comments.

  • TheSadducee says:

    frosh

    Considering some of your comments from time to time as an editor of this site you obviously like to travel the perilous path of hypocrisy.

  • frosh says:

    Sadducee,

    It wasn’t that long ago where you effectively informed all of us you were never going to leave a comment again. Your vow lasted about 5 minutes.

    How ironic that you’re now labelling people hypocrites.

    Perhaps you should instead focus on keeping your own promises rather than your obsessive hatred of this publication.

  • Daniel Levy says:

    Frosh,

    “Is that anyway for the editor of the AJN to behave?

    I have never in my life read anything as childish from one of the AJN’s previous editor”

    If I have permanent damage to my nasal passages from the milk that spewed out of them after reading those -ridiculously- ironic two sentences, I may have to take action to recoup medical expenses. I’m holding you personally responsible! Thanks for the hearty laugh, though.

    That said, I completely agree. Zeddy’s comment was utterly ridiculous. You can be sure that you’ve quite clearly struck a nerve when he wants to dismiss you as just a pack of whingers. If you’re just a pack of pathetic whingers, why does an AJN editor have to take a sword to his dignity to personally insult and denigrate the publication over it?

    Good job, Zeddy, even with frosh’s ridiculous hypocrisy it’s still advantage Galus.

  • TheSadducee says:

    frosh

    Hardly an obsessive hatred – I actually rather enjoy a lot of the well-written articles and discussion on here. And most of it is good btw.

    My problems with the site have always been with hypocrisy (your own for instance which is ably demonstrated by your own comments and “selective” moderation processes) and the (unfortunate for the editors) occasionally shabby articles which are published here from time to time and then are praised.

    This is not one of them incidentally.

    But you are right – I did commit to not posting and I broke my own commitment. Off I go again!

    *ps. I do love an editor of an on-line mag actually encouraging their readers to keep away. Great sales technique, keep up the great work.

  • TheSadducee says:

    LOL – that I agree with Daniel Levy of all people says alot…

  • Daniel Levy says:

    ^ Something about the periodicity of working clocks and their comparison to broken ones.

  • letters in the age says:

    Sadducce

    Its like a drug isnt it??

    Its addictive food for thought!!

    Well done Galus
    ;)

  • Levi (a refugee from the USSR) says:

    Since there is a lot of talk and pontificating going here, where no one has offered any real solutions, I propose to offer my very own. I’m going to call this one the “magic” solution.

    From now on, the Australian navy will be authorized to respond to “distress” calls from as far away as the local port of Jakarta. They will sail there and pick up anyone who is in “distress” and then taxi them thousands of miles back to either Bondi Junction, Byron Bay, Toorak and/or cauiflied north -basically wherever the enlightened moralists of this forum live- and will be housed there. The enlightened pontificators will be required to pay an “asylum” seeker tax ( only applicable to some…kind of like the medicare levy) to foot the bill for centre link benefits, medical costs and educational costs etc, etc. A “buddy” system will be set up where each “asylum” seeker and their respective families will live and grow together with the our enlightened moralists and their families. Their respective children will also attend the same school- irrespective of whether it’s public or private. If it’s a school like Bialik, Wesley or Scotch – where the fees start at around 25k a year- then either the moralists have to pay for it out of their own pocket or convince the school to grant them a “scholarship.” In the spirit of true egalitarisim, this is a brilliant idea. Why should one child deserve be entitled to a better education, or better housing than another? This will also nip any form of religious fanatcism or extremism in the bud…after all, these children will not be under the influence of the Islamic council of Australia and if they go to Bialik, it will guarentee that they won’t be exposed to
    holocaust denial or any other form of hatred and prevent a nightmare situation that has occurred in Sweden or France. Bialik will even go a step further and teach them to respect and love the indegenious owners of this great brown land. To be 100 percent sure that there is no trace of prejudice against Jews, the “magic” solution will require our enlightened moral crusaders to wear yarmulkers and or any other garments that would identify them as Jews at all times when around the asylum seekers.

    Now that I’ve solved the problem, who would like to join me in delivering food packages and donations to needy Jewish families? Or to visit the elderly at Jewish care, keep them company and talk to them (as well as the needy families) about the up and coming Tishrei holiday etc. It’s not as sexy as going to an asylum centre to discuss the Ramadan holiday with residents there (like one person on this forum does). Or better still, does anyone want to volunteer help refugees…you know Jewish refugees? From Gush Katif? There are thousands of them…all displaced with no where to go. And what about the people of Sderot…probably not as ‘sexy’ or fashionable like fighting off a japanese whaler, saving the polar bears, tying yourself to a tree or shouting “free Tibet.”

  • letters in the age says:

    Levi

    That is Gold!!

    lol

    ;)

  • Mandi Katz says:

    An interesting article about anonymous commentary – I dont think anonymous comments should be excluded but I do pay less attention to them – one writer compared anonymous commenters to “monkeys throwing poop”

    Leaving aside the Americanism, does it resonate for a couple of the anonymous comments here?

    .http://www.npr.org/2012/07/31/157665460/shield-anonymous-commenters-more-papers-say-no?sc=emaf

  • frosh says:

    Nice article, Mandi.

    I think the key lines are

    “And I think that’s good for me, to have to answer for what I might say.”
    as well as
    “… you think twice about how you say something when your name is on it.”

  • Harold Zwier says:

    Since this discussion started with a response by Rabbi Genende to the most recent Viewpoint article in the AJN, I thought it relevant to look at the official position of the Executive Council of Australian Jewry (ECAJ) with regards to asylum seekers. The ECAJ has a Policy Platform that covers a large range of issues. It can be found at: http://www.ecaj.org.au/platform.htm

    Section 7 covers the issue of refugees and asylum seekers. Nina Bassat, president of the Jewish Community Council of Victoria (JCCV) read this entire section of the Policy Platform to the JCCV plenum meeting held this evening, after I had raised in general business, the issue of the article in the AJN:

    ECAJ Policy Platform

    7. Refugees and Asylum Seekers

    This Council:

    7.1 NOTES with grave concern the increase in the number of people around the world who have been made refugees as a result of war and civil conflict;

    7.2 NOTES that a small number of these refugees seek asylum in Australia;

    7.3 RECOGNISES the difficulties faced by successive Australian Governments in balancing the Government’s obligations to its citizens to carry out proper screening (including health and security checks) on all potential new entrants to Australia, in particular unauthorised arrivals, and the Government’s humanitarian obligations under the International Convention on the Status of Refugees (1951) (the Refugee Convention) and the 1967 Protocol to the Refugee Convention, as well as under customary international law;

    7.4 RECALLS WITH SHAME that especially prior to, but also during and immediately after, World War II many thousands of Jewish refugees attempting to flee persecution in Europe were denied entry into other countries or forced to engage “smugglers” to try to escape to freedom;

    7.5 RECALLS that the Refugee Convention came into existence in belated recognition by the international community of the great wrong that had been done by ostensibly civilised nations in refusing to grant asylum to Jewish refugees fleeing from Europe prior to and during World War II, and as a principled and compassionate response to the moral imperative of assisting European Jews in seeking new homes after the Holocaust;

    7.6 NOTES the important and positive contribution that Jewish and other refugees, from many countries, have made to Australian society and the development of Australia;

    7.7 NOTES that in the past, after proper processing of their claims by Australian officials, the vast majority of those seeking asylum in Australia have been found to be genuine refugees who had fled their country of usual residence because of a well-founded fear of persecution;

    7.8 ACCORDINGLY CALLS UPON the Australian Government:

    to process applications by persons seeking asylum in Australia as expeditiously as possible and in a spirit of compassion, regardless of whether those applications are made through the offices of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees;

    to work constructively with other governments and appropriate non-government organisations, to ameliorate the plight of refugees around the world and in Australia;

    to implement in good faith and with humanity, Australia’s important legal and moral obligations with respect to refugees;

    not to hold women and children asylum seekers in mandatory detention while their applications for recognition of their refugee status are processed; and

    to desist from actions that are likely to result in persons who seek asylum in Australia being sent to countries which are not parties to the Refugee Convention;

    7.9 URGES all Australians to engage in discussion of the issues in a considered and respectful manner and without resorting to pejorative generalisations, which are unhelpful and can be misleading and unfair;

    7.10 WELCOMES the announcement in October 2010 by the Prime Minister and the Minister for Immigration and Citizenship that the Australian Government will expand its existing residence determination program (also known as community detention) and begin moving significant numbers of children and vulnerable family groups out of immigration detention facilities and into community-based accommodation and that the Australian government will commission two new detention facilities, at Northam in WA and Inverbrackie in SA, to help ease the pressures on existing facilities.

  • Alex Fein says:

    Harold,

    Thanks very much for providing that information. It’s heartening on a number levels. And kol ha’kavod for bringing the issue up in the first place.

  • Wolf says:

    @ “Levi (a refugee from the USSR)”,

    Thanks for being the voice of reason. I think it’s interesting that people (i.e. Mandi Katz earlier) equate a bona fide peaceful refugee from Poland in 1927, with a militant queue jumper in 2012.

    Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that every asylum seeker is not legit. What I am saying is that there has to be (and is) a vetting process. I’m not saying that every foreign national is a hate filled religious fanatic, but they do exist (Just look at the EU).

    The vetting process exists precisely for that purpose, so that actual refugees get in, not hate filled fanatics. This also ensures space for those foreign nationals that work hard and come in through other legitimate means.

  • Get Real says:

    Yoram Symons wrote:

    “The voice of the Rav of Melbourne’s most important shule is as much a representative of the mainstream Jewish opinion as a media baron”

    With respect Yoram, what makes Caulfield Shule Melbourne’s most important Shule? Last I checked there are 60+ Orthodox shules in Melbourne.

    If it’s the size of their membership, there are other Shules with very large memberships which like CHC, come to Shule only two days a year.

    Their chazan? Plenty of Shules have fantastic Chazzanim.

    Their Rabbi? Plenty of Shules have excellent rabbis.

    Yoram, please don’t tell me you’re a member there…

  • Mandi – Interesting that you chose to play the “discredit the anonymous commenter” card here rather than respond to the substantive issues raised.

    As an aside, GA ought to deal with the issue of anonymous commenters, but here is not the place for that discussion.

  • Mandi Katz says:

    Wolf – Are you aware that most people entering Australian waters by boat to seek asylum are ultimately found to be refugees? Perhaps you should read accounts from members of the Hazara communities in Sydney and Melbourne who came to Australia as asylum seekers by boat, about their experiences of discrimination, persecution, rape and genocidal massacres they faced from the majority Pashtun in Afghanistan and Pakistan. So my equation is spot on. Other than your assessment without specific evidence of the circumstances of either case, what made our beloved Bubba a worthy refugee while someone from Afghanistan a “militant” queue jumper?

    Do you understand that for many refugees, there’s just nowhere to go and wait? There’s no refugee camp accessible to Afghans, for example, in the way there is for Somalis and Burmese. Also, the notion that each boat person displaces someone being resettled from a camp is a recent Australian government construct. There’s no reason why that needs to happen – unless you think that 13,000 quota on refugees is the absolute limit we can have in this country. And do you understand that there’s no orderly queue even where there are camps? Australia carefully picks and chooses its resettlement applicants based on criteria including health. Where is the compassion in prioritising the strong among refugees? The people who enter via official refugee programs are not necessarily the most needy or the ones who have been waiting longest.

    As Jews in Australia we are among the luckiest Jews ever to have lived – we have government support for our community, freedom of religion, opportunity to thrive financially, access to health care and education – in most cases because we, our parents, our grandparents were given a chance. No-one is saying Australia has to take in millions of refugees. But as people with such a strong refugee history, we are obliged to show some rachmonis and humility. We aren’t better or less militant than anyone. Just luckier.

  • Larry Stillman says:

    FY information. Today’s SBS World News Australia Radio (SBS Radio 1 at 5.00pm wherever you are in Australia or on podcast on demand) will be dealing with the the Jewish community and refugees. Various journalists have been in touch with various people on this matter of public interest
    .

  • Larry,
    Were you involved in organising that? In what way is it a matter of public interest? Specifically, why would a news organisation want to deal with ‘Jews and refugees’ seperately to dealing with ‘Multicultural Australia in general and refugees’?

  • TheSadducee says:

    Mandi

    We live in a country where the Govt. has paid just under $5 million dollars last month to upgrade security at Jewish SCHOOLS because we are so lucky.

    http://www.jewishnews.net.au/4-7-million-boost-to-school-security/26646

  • Larry Stillman says:

    No, I was not involved with SBS. I was not contacted by SBS.SBS journos read the press and look at the internet as much as you and I.

    I am not sure of the range of people they have interviewed.I don’t even know if it is the entire program or 2 mins. of the show.

    There is no way to prejudge the program before we hear it.

    I think it is obvious why it is an interesting story– Magid’s oped has elicited a strong response from a community that is perceived as being supportive of refugees (look at the ECCV resolution for example, Genende’s message in this synagogal newsletter, the 359 signatures on the online letter, others I know being sent in to the AJN.

    Given the influence of the Jewish community in the country as a strong minority group, its unity or divisions on a key public policy issue are certainly of public interest. I am sure the Libs and Labs are watching as well.

  • TheSadducee says:

    Rachel

    Because the culture war between the left and the right in the Jewish community is a zero-sum game. Either side gets an opportunity to trash the other they take it, take no prisoners and no-holds are barred and don’t care about the perception of the community which is damaged in the process.

  • TheSadducee says:

    “Given the influence of the Jewish community in the country as a strong minority group”

    – we aren’t talking “Jewish Lobby” stuff are we Larry?

  • TheSadducee says:

    “Perhaps you should read accounts from members of the Hazara communities in Sydney and Melbourne who came to Australia as asylum seekers by boat, about their experiences of discrimination, persecution, rape and genocidal massacres they faced from the majority Pashtun in Afghanistan and Pakistan.”

    -perhaps you can explain why as a predominantly Shi’ite group why the Hazaras don’t take up refugee status in Iran?

    I mean it is certainly less than ideal, but if I was desperate I’d travel to the neighbouring country which is certainly safer than the boat trip to Australia…

  • Mandi Katz says:

    David I wasn’t playing any card. I engage with the substance of anonymous comments (like Wolf’s) which address issue or attempt to do so. But when people like ‘Dan’ or ‘Levi’ make silly and personal comments, why would I bother? And the article does a good job of explaining why it is that (usually) the most offensive and comments come from anonymous posters. And I just happened to read that article late last night and the “monkey throwing poop” line was to good to pass.

    Sometimes there is a very good reason that people comment anonymously and generally anonymity isn’t that much of an issue – until people make nasty, personal comments.

    On the issue of Magid as representative of the community which you raised a few comments back, even though the AJN is privately owned and has never been a community paper in terms of ownership and governance structure, there is sense of ownership in the community of the paper. And in some ways the AJN feeds that and relies on it.

    So for example when it runs campaigns (like if did about Gilad Shalit) it does so as the voice of the community, whether it used that language or not. And when a publisher writes an opinion piece on an important and controversial issue, it isn’t just one more opinion in the range of opinions published by the paper. It is in sense the voice of the voice.

    Not saying that it does represent the community – branding and media are all about perception. And given the perception, it’s appropriate to remind people in and out of the community that Bob Magid is not an elected leader of the community and that neither he nor his paper speak for the community on this issue.

    Last comment on the AJN, I think Zeddy is as likely as any editor in say the last ten years to publish things the push the boundaries of what its constituency can tolerate on the left and the right. My criticisms of the AJN are more structural – about things that were essentially he same under previous editors and even publishers (the biggies – political direction set by publisher and relies too much on paid and partisan advocacy – AIJAC, , not enough investment in local journalism, no clear on- line strategy and insufficient investment in on-line which makes it less relevant to younger people).

    I don’t share the attitude that we should cease buying or advertise in it. It’s great that there are people driving competition to the AJN but it would be very sad to see the demise of the closest thing to a community paper. We should engage with it and contribute to it and raise our disagreement with it, not try to destroy it.

    Saducee – what is your point about the expenditure in security?

  • Larry Stillman says:

    “Given the influence of the Jewish community in the country as a strong minority group”

    – we aren’t talking “Jewish Lobby” stuff are we Larry?

    Correct.

  • TheSadducee says:

    Mandi

    I’m suggesting that we don’t live in rosy world you are portraying that we live in i.e. by suggesting we are exceptionally lucky.

    If Jewish pre-schools need to have additional security measures because Jewish children are classified as “at risk” from the broader community, then I question our lucky status.

    Incidentally, who do you think they are at risk from?

  • Sadducee – on balance, I would have to say Australia is one of the best places in the world for Jews to live.

  • The Sadducee,
    Who were the Sikh-American children at risk from? Jews aren’t the only group at risk of racist attacks, and there isn’t necessarily a direct correlation between the quantity of security and quantity of risk. It’s unfornuate that Jews in Australia still need security measures, but it’s absurd to argue that being Jewish today in Australia isn’t ‘luckier’ from a security perspective than being Jewish in so many other places and periods of history. Regarding your question about ‘who do they need security from’, it seems loaded with generalisations.

  • TheSadducee says:

    David

    I wouldn’t deny that on balance you are perfectly correct in terms of living.

    However I merely remark that we are far from lucky if we have to have additional security measures at our schools – measures which far exceed those of non-Jewish students.
    (Incidentally I think over 50% of that Govt. program has been allocated to Jewish schools which says even more considering Australia’s religious/ethnic diversity).

  • We are very lucky indeed. Australia allowed a flood of immigrants here after WW2 who enjoyed great opportunity and made fantastic contributions to society. Today, our multicultural melting pot ranks better than most others in the world. We live in a robust democracy where Jews play a prominent role and suffer relatively little in the way of antisemitism.

    Does that mean there aren’t people out there who want to blow up our children? Of course not! That’s the case EVERYWHERE. There is very little we can do to change that.

  • TheSadducee says:

    Rachel

    I can assure you that our intelligence community does not consider neo-Nazis/white supremacists as our (either Jews or Australia generally) primary security risk in Australia.

    And as I noted above – the Govt. considered it necessary to allocate more than 50% of its extra security measures for schools budget to Jewish schools in Australia. Considering we are a tiny minority what does this suggest to you? Obviously the correlation of risk to measures was measured by the Govt. and suggested something to it.

    Anyways – go pick on someone else – you’ve had some comments on here including loaded and offensive generalisations about multi-generational immigrants and their descendants and I didn’t see your ire directed towards those…

  • Larry Stillman says:

    The SBS news items. Jordy Silverstein of AJDS was interviewed. As I said, I was not involved with this.

    http://www.sbs.com.au/podcasts/Podcasts/radionews/episode/227130/Jewish-op-ed-piece-offensive

  • TheSadducee says:

    I trust your membership of the Melbourne Club is in order then David?

  • In the interview, Jordy makes a big fuss over Magid’s suggestion of “destination shopping”. In amongst all of the emotion over this issue, there has been no genuine discussion over that issue.

    Refugees do have a choice of countries, and many of them choose to attempt entry or seek asylum in Australia because it’s a great place to live (with attractions like the Melbourne Club, who wouldn’t want to live here). Jews did it after WW2, and people are still doing it today.

  • Yaron says:

    Sadducee,
    1. The extra money proves that the Jewish community are very good at lobbying government.

    It would also prove that we have at least one member of parliament (and probably more) actively involved in getting this extra money for Jewish schools.

    2. I am wondering why SBS went to the AJDS for a quote and not JCCV or ECAJ?

    Larry would you have any further information about this?

  • Larry Stillman says:

    Why did SBS go to the AJDS?

    Because we recognised how significant the issue was very quickly, and went public. What we said, for example, in the Open Letter, made sense to many people. I think we used the social media well, using techniques that are familiar to many by now. I know that SBS are big consumers of online media, particularly for their non-English radio programs.

    I haven’t seen any comments from the other organisations. It may have caught them unawares, they were befuddled, or they were not sure what do to in a one-paper town. It perhaps also reflects the fact that there are different, younger, committed voices to be heard.

    To its credit however, at the JCCV Plenum last night, as Harold Zwier has reported, Nina Bassat read out the ECAJ policy on refugees.

  • Levi (a refugee from the USSR) says:

    Mandi, are you able to point out which of my comments were personal and nasty? Could it be that any comments or ideas that don’t fit in within your ideological frame work are “personal” and “nasty”? Sounds like another method of stifling debate and a display of a nasty totalitarian streak.

    It’s certainly within my right to not disclose my last name. If GA requires that readers disclose their full name – along with the relevant passport/drivers licencse etc to verify the details, than I would respect that.

    There were plenty of anonymous posters engaging in nasty character assinations of individuals and leaders within our community previously on other threads here – one of these leaders was Rabbi Groner. A pretty cowardly and low thing to do, seeing that he passed away and has no right of reply. you seemed to have no problem with that. But if someone ever has the audacity to have an opinion that’s different to your own…than that’s getting personal.

  • Joe in Australia says:

    I didn’t read the AJN last week and I don’t know what Robert Magid said, but given the outrage it caused it must be something bad and I would like to join the voices condemning it.

  • Ann Fink says:

    Bob Magid, as I have noted elsewhere is an expert on “destination shopping”. Having arrived as a child in Australia from China, (born in Harbin), he later emigrated (made Aliyah) with his wife and 2 daughters to Israel. A son was born in Israel.The family eventually left Israel and spent some years in London, before returning to Australia. They now maintain a second home in Israel.

    On an ironic note, there was a short period in the 1982-3 when the Australian government became very strict with regard to the holding of dual nationality. Many Australian Israelis were deprived of their their Australian passports (which it was deemed were being held “illegally”!)

    My daughter who had made Aliyah at this time was summoned to the Australian Consulate in Jerusalem and forced to surrender her Australian passport, leaving her at that moment completely paperless as she had not as yet received her Israeli Passport. Fortunately for her and others in this position, the Magids were similarly deprived of their passports. (We were close friends at the time and Ruth and Bob Magid provided our daughter with wonderful hospitality for which we are forever grateful. Later they extended the same hospitality to our son, who also made aliyah.)

    It was fortunate because after a frantic telephone call from my daughter and one from me to Ruth, I was reassured that Isadore Magid {Bob’s father) was at that moment in Canberra , negotiating a solution with his friend Bob Hawke, the then Prime Minister. Indeed a solution was arrived at, that Israeli citizenship was not “applied for” but “granted automatically” and so did not offend against the Australian strictures. I understand that Mark Leibler was also involved in these negotiations.

    I only tell this story because it expresses the sadness and bewilderment that we and so many of our mutual friends feel about Bob’s article. He is very familiar with both “destination shopping” to which his privileged background has entitled him. He has also experienced the problems of “passport legality”. Again his superior connections were able to mitigate these problems. He was not an ignorant man but he has with his inherited wealth, become a very arrogant and insensitive one. His parents were made of very different stuff.

  • Andrew Casey says:

    Beware of Lashon Hora

    Ok I have no time at all for Robert Magid’s opinion piece but I am sorry the above very personal comment from Ms Fink is unfortunate. Do we remember Lashon Hora?

    Truth and the refugee experience

    Seperately, I know that many members of the Jewish community stretched the truth in a desire to escape Europe. In the desire to find a safe haven for their children. Including mine!

    My parents are still embarrassed to talk about what they did openly, even sometimes to their children who they were trying to save. I tell them they need not worry now more than half a century later – but somehow they are worried.

    Because of that knowledge I tend to understand some of the stuff I hear about the current bunch of refugees.

    Zeddy I am not talking behind your back

    And in response to Zeddy.

    Hey chaser no one here who comments openly, in their own name, on the WWW is in anyway talking behind your back. We are open about our criticism of the Magid piece…

    ….and yes however there is an interesting and definitely important journalistic/media ethics issue about the effect on the paper, the Jewish community and the wider community if the proprietor writes an opinion piece.

    I am not saying he should not/cannot but maybe each time this happens the AJN should run a special dinkus identifying that this is a highly personal ( dare I say eccentric) view and does not ( necessarily) indicate a corporate position.

  • Mandi Katz says:

    Levi you are confused. I said quite clearly that anonymous commenters shouldn’t be excluded.

    How is that trying to silence you? And how does one intimidate a person online if tht person doesn’t even use a real identity?

    I am all for your right to say anything you like and my right not to say anything about what you say.

  • Mandi Katz says:

    Whoops posted on my husband’s computer – and didn’t change his address. Previous comment to Levi was me.

    Eds: No worries Mandi, we’ve changed it for you.

  • Andrew Casey says:

    Zeddy I am not talking behind your back

    ( Zeddy I see I need a good professional sub to check my copy)

    That should not have been chaser but chaser

    Silly grin :)

  • Andrew Casey says:

    Bugger this self-correcting computer.

    chaver, chaver, chaver OK

  • letters in the age says:

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/mobileweb/2012/05/24/anonymous-comment-ban-legislation-new-york_n_1543033.html

    Mandi,

    Here is an article for your perusal

    Its a grey area and not as black and white

    Cheers

  • letters in the age says:

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/mobileweb/2011/12/07/rupert-murdoch-stop-online-piracy-act_n_1135452.html

    Furthermore the insiduous nature of Mr Murdoch should be of concern to all including Galus readers

  • Levi (a refugee from the USSR) says:

    I know you weren’t trying to intimidate me. There are many ways to stifle a debate aside from intimidation. To ignore another’s points and dismiss their opinion as “personal” and “nasty” is a cheap tactic to discredit them and a form of stifling a legitmate debate over the issue at hand.

    How were you personally attacked by my oppinion?

  • letters in the age says:

    A show on SBS in a dinner party setting with various members of the community engaging with the topics discussed on this blog???

    Thats an idea i would like to see come into fruition in the foreseeable future!!

    ;)

  • Andrew Casey says:

    Ok so this morning The Age is running a story headlined:

    Jewish ‘hate speech’ article sparks outrage.

    And Bob Magid defends himself with the following words as reported by that venerable paper:

    Last night, Mr Magid said he stood by every word. ”I think the majority of people agree with me but they are not willing to come out and say what I am prepared to say. It is a very cogent statement.”
    He said he was neither xenophobic nor racist.

    Read more: http://www.theage.com.au/victoria/jewish-hate-speech-article-sparks-outrage-20120807-23sfy.html#ixzz22sBHHFgZ

  • Mandi Katz says:

    If Bob Magid is right and people (especially Jewish community leaders – who are more or less publicly silent on this) agree with him, what does it say about them that they won’t say so? What are they scared of? Being seen to be out of line with liberal sentiment? And what does that then say about their leadership?

    It seems far more likely that community leaders largely disagree with him but have no appetite to take him on publicly – I suspect the thinking is that this will pass, they know that there are enough people who will make it clear to the broader community that this is not a Jewish community position (and it clearly isn’t – the ECAJ policy is the closest thing to an official position and it’s a long way from Magid’s views) , and I suspect there would be some private remarks to Magid that he needs to be more clear that he doesn’t speak for the community.

  • Ittay – Dan Goldberg wrote the JTA and the Haaretz piece – he’s their Aussie correspondent.

    Mandi – that is either pure conjecture or wishful thinking or both.

  • Mandi Katz says:

    David – that’s why I use words like “suspect”, “if”, “likely” and “seems to me” – :)

    It is an interesting question though – he explains the silence as support. But then would say that about all those silent supporters?

  • Even “likely” is too strong (and “far more likely” is far too strong). The vocal opposition is coming almost exclusively from the left.

    That said, I’m not sure that the Talmudic adage “silence is consent” applies here. People in the muddled middle are more likely to sit back and watch rather than speak up strongly. I was contacted privately by someone who agreed with Magid but for various reasons didn’t want to comment publicly. All of which leads me to conclude that neither Magid nor his detractors can make assumptions like that.

  • Levi (a refugee from the USSR) says:

    “Jewish hate speech”

    More sensation based on hyperbole…this time from the age. What part of what he said constituted hate speech? Have I missed something. “Jewish hate speech?” Interesting. They should also mention other efforts to tackle growing Jewish fanaticism such as educating certain orthodox Jews to eat qinuoa and have a piano in shul on shabbos.

    Here is what the age quoted as hate speech-
    “”unscrupulous” illegal immigrants pushed genuine asylum seekers down the queue and that immigration in other countries had led to ghettos and calls for Islamic law. He suggested that hiding among Muslim boat people who had destroyed their documents would be an ideal way for al-Qaeda to smuggle a terrorist network into Australia.”

    Can someone please prove him otherwise? Again, no one has really addressed the legitimate points or concerns raised and instead resorted to knee- jerk reactions with shrill cries and emotive statements. No one has offered a real solution – e.g. how to address concerns of
    growing Islamic fundamentalism etc. The fact that the Fairfax press and the people here are not as concerned or riled up when the leader of the Muslim community of this country gets up and states that jews are behind sexual perversion, denies the holocaust and praises terrorists, saids a lot more about them and their values than those of Robert Magid.

  • TheSadducee says:

    Yaron

    Yes – it’s all about the lobbying efforts of Jewish people that secure them 50%+ of the funding – it has absolutely nothing to do with the fact that the Govt. itself conducted risk assessments of the sites and concluded that they are at greater risk than other communities’ sites…

  • TheSadducee says:

    @Joe in Australia

    Good one :)

  • TheSadducee says:

    David

    As I noted above – people aren’t going to say anything much (if they don’t have an immediate reason to) because they are scared of the impacts of the brutal tactics employed by all sides in our internal community fighting – no depths are too low when you can trash your ideological opponents.

    Nor do you need to assess community reactions before jumping right in and framing the debate with the non-Jewish community and tarnishing the broader community in the process.

  • frosh says:

    While I strongly disagree with Magid’s views on this issue, I think the term ‘hate speech’ in this instance is misused and pure sensationalism.

    I also suspect that much of the media coverage of this in the wider community (The Age, SBS, Crikey etc) has been driven in a large part by some shameless self-promoters looking to have themselves and their organisation in the spotlight (and no, I’m not referring to every member of their organisation).

    They like to define the rest of the Jewish community as stuffy conservatives, and position themselves as part of the radical left that is fighting the good the fight against an overwhelmingly conservative establishment and populace.

    Happenings such as this allow them to reinforce their positioning to the wider (non-Jewish) leftist community.

    They do not actually care that they are giving Magid and his views far more oxygen than he would have had otherwise. In fact, they want his views to get more oxygen as it further reinforces their positioning.

  • TheSadducee says:

    Furthermore the insiduous nature of Mr Murdoch should be of concern to all including Galus readers

    -Galus readers should be concerned about the site being sued for defamation and shut down for this (presumably incomplete???) comment.

  • Absolutely spot-on, Frosh. And their useful idiots have all come along for the ride. Whatever division Magid’s article may have caused within the Jewish community, their campaign have inflated tenfold.

  • TheSadducee says:

    frosh

    I agree but I would suspect that the characterisation of the opinion piece as “hate speech” would suggest that they think of community leaders as probably more reactionary and extremist rather than stuffy conservatives.

  • TheSadducee says:

    David

    And like you – I still haven’t seen a serious argument explaining why these desperate people don’t seek asylum in the numerous available options along the way to Australia (which is costly and dangerous).

  • Jordy says:

    to Frosh and the others who seem concerned about this:

    As the person quoted in the crikey article, and interviewed by SBS, I’d just point out that no-one from AJDS contacted either organisation, but rather we were contacted by them. Crikey called our community organiser on Monday night, and SBS called him on Tuesday morning, and he passed on my contact details.

    I would assume that they saw the open letter – because it has been circulated widely online – and believed that there was a story worth reporting. Hence the reports.

  • TheSadducee says:

    The AJDS is hardly representative of mainstream Jewry in the Australian community – wonder why they were contacted first?

    What is being unsaid speaks volumes really…

  • Ittay says:

    Hi David, Sadducee and Levi,
    The concerns raised by you (and also by Robert Magid) in various comments in this thread about asylum seekers do have answers. They are in various ways, a rehashing of the most common arguments such as:

    Boat People are Queue Jumpers
    Asylum Seekers are Illegal
    Australia Already Takes Too Many Refugees
    We’re Being Swamped by Hordes of Boat People
    They’re Not Real Refugees Anyway
    They Must Be ‘Cashed up’ to Pay People Smugglers
    There is no Alternative to Mandatory Detention
    If We Let Them In, They’ll Take Our Benefits
    Australia is second only to Canada in the number of refugees it takes
    The people in the boats are terrorists

    You can read a rebuttal to all of these arguments here in brief:
    http://www.thepunch.com.au/articles/a-systematic-rebuttal-of-the-myths-about-asylum-seekers/

    or here in detail:
    http://www.erc.org.au/index.php?module=documents&JAS_DocumentManager_op=viewDocument&JAS_Document_id=64

  • TheSadducee says:

    Thanks Ittay

    It still doesn’t answer my question about why they don’t seek asylum in neighbouring countries eg. the Hazaras in Iran for instance?

  • Harold Zwier says:

    Dan Goldberg’s report on JTA and Ha’aretz (http://www.jta.org/news/article/2012/08/07/3103096/furor-down-under-over-jewish-publishers-attack-on-boat-people-muslims) is comprehensive but I think that he downplayed the significance of the Refugee and Asylum Seeker policy of the ECAJ. He quoted its president, Danny Lamm, and the flavour of the policy, but didn’t really give it sufficient weight for the size of the article. Dan Goldberg wrote:

    ‘Jewish officials avoided entering the fray over the article. Danny Lamm, president of the Executive Council of Australian Jewry, said that “The ECAJ stands by all aspects of its longstanding policy on refugees and asylum seekers.” ‘

    I think the ECAJ chose the better political path to not get into a public fray over the article. Firstly, because it is the opinion piece of an individual not noted for his expertise in the area of refugees and asylum seekers – prominent though he may be. Secondly because it is so much at odds with the general attitude in the Jewish community. Thirdly because the ECAJ policy on this issue is so strong that it really pushes the argument back into Magid’s court, and fourthly for the ECAJ to get into a slanging match with the owner of the AJN is of no benefit to the community.

    As the article said: “Magid, meanwhile, is standing by his article, saying he believes that most Jews agree with him but “don’t have the guts” to say it.”

    No doubt there are people who will agree with Magid, but in terms of general attitudes in the Jewish community, Magid’s words are just bluster.

    I know it’s already had a fair bit of publicity, but here are the relevant parts of the ECAJ policy:

    7.7 NOTES that in the past, after proper processing of their claims by Australian officials, the vast majority of those seeking asylum in Australia have been found to be genuine refugees who had fled their country of usual residence because of a well-founded fear of persecution;

    7.8 ACCORDINGLY CALLS UPON the Australian Government:

    a. to process applications by persons seeking asylum in Australia as expeditiously as possible and in a spirit of compassion, regardless of whether those applications are made through the offices of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees;

    b. to work constructively with other governments and appropriate non-government organisations, to ameliorate the plight of refugees around the world and in Australia;

    c. to implement in good faith and with humanity, Australia’s important legal and moral obligations with respect to refugees;

    d. not to hold women and children asylum seekers in mandatory detention while their applications for recognition of their refugee status are processed; and

    e. to desist from actions that are likely to result in persons who seek asylum in Australia being sent to countries which are not parties to the Refugee Convention;

  • Ittay says:

    Hi Saduccee,
    At the end of 2009, Pakistan was hosting over 1.7 million refugees and asylum seekers. Syria and Iran each hosted more than a million refugees and asylum seekers. Germany was the only developed nation to host in excess of half a million refugees. At over 590,000, Germany’s refugee population dwarfed Australia’s total of around 22,500.

    In regards to why the persecuted Hazara minority are coming to Australia and not Iran, some feel that they are not safe their or that Iran will not grant them asylum.
    See: http://www.amnesty.org.au/refugees/comments/29268/

  • TheSadducee says:

    Ittay

    I’m not questioning the totals,nor their rights I’m questioning why Australia?

    Why not Iran, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan and/or China?

    All of these countries are signatories of the Refugee Convention and Protocols and have suitable facilities for refugee settlement and are closely located to Afghanistan – certainly much closer than Australia.

    Are you seriously suggesting that every one of these locations is so unsafe for ethnic Hazaras – to such an extent that they have to risk life and limb by boat to get to Australia (and criminal financial exploitation by smugglers, violence by other refugees, piracy etc as well)?

    That is a big suggestion and I’d love to see your real evidence for it (rather than an unverifiable comment in an Amnesty piece).

    I’ll let readers draw what conclusions they want.

  • Eliezer says:

    A problem: the 2011 Pew Global Attitudes Project Survey found, in a poll of thousands in Muslim countries around the world, that only 2% of Muslims in the Middle East (and Pakistan), and 5% even as far off as Indonesia, have favorable views of Jews. The rest overwhelmingly have negative antisemitic views, and some have very extreme views. Given that jihadi violence is actually endorsed by Islam itself in its founding writings as an obligation on all Muslims, and that many Islamist groups presently act on that basis, and that the issue remains a serious one even if only 10 or 20% hold such extremist views, the problem obviously cannot be wished away, as Levi among others above has said.

    The problem would be much less if the majority of Muslim religious leaders here in Australia sought firmly and publicly to promote inter-faith dialogue, positive views of Jews and to firmly condemn anti-Jewish attitudes and acts, even including terrorism by Palestinians. But this is not the case in Australia, nor anywhere else in Western countries, despite the admirable efforts and courage of a small minority within the Muslim community to reach out to Jews and present a more moderate understanding of Israel and Zionism. The notable silence of the Muslim community leadership about the many forms of Muslim antisemitism today suggests that it is their shared understanding of their tradition that is a fundamental part of the problem.

    Massive influx of people holding such views into Western countries has already promoted and enhanced the tacitly and sometimes explicitly already present demonization of Jews there under the permissible (to the left) name of “anti-Zionism,” as Jews have found in France, Holland, the Scandinavian countries and Britain. As quite a few notorious instances especially in France show, this even puts Jewish lives at risk. Especially Jewish-looking Jews, i.e., with kippot, dare not show themselves in heavily Muslim districts of Paris, Nice, Amsterdam, Malmo, Manchester, etc., lest they be assaulted. And the anti-Jewish discourse is only worsened by its sympathetic echo in the “elite” circles in those countries.

    Do we really want that here? Hilaly was no fluke, nor is the problem solely an Australian one by any means. By endorsing a massive influx of Muslims (of any race, as the Pew survey shows) to Australia, the Jewish community is inevitably endangered here too. Jewish community leaders have a primary responsibility to ensure the security and well-being of the Jewish community. That is a legitimately central and necessary part of Jewish values. This is not the first time false universalisms and feel-good public relations have guided Jewish leaders into putting Jewish lives and the long-term future of their entire community at risk. It has already come to pass in Europe. Robert Magid has pointed to a real issue that has been swept under the rug too long. It deserves more serious debate than it gets on the galusaustralis website, and the Australian Jewish News has done Australian Jewry a real service by bringing the topic before the public eye.

  • Eliezer says:

    For the 2011 Pew Global Attitudes Project Survey itself, see: http://pewglobal.org/2011/07/21/muslim-western-tensions-persist

  • Ann Fink says:

    @ TheSadducee. Afghan and Iraqi refugees presumably “choose” Australia for the same reasons that more than the 50, 000 Jews “chose” to come Australia after 1948 instead of going to Israel which is also far closer to Europe as well as Iraq, Iran, and North Africa.

    @ Eliezer. If Australian Jews are really so threatened by a “massive influx” of Muslims (shades of the 1940′ -60’s yellow peril), they have the option of relocating to Israel where they can be defended by the IDF. This is the supposed reason for Israel’s existence. This racist, fear mongering propaganda has no place in a democratic discourse.

  • Eliezer says:

    @Ann Fink, your response is basically to call names, tell me to get out of Australia, and demand that I shut up. This is not a thoughtful response to the real and important issues I have raised, but rather is a way of avoiding any thought at all.

  • Levi (a refugee from the USSR) says:

    Anne Fink has come the closest to bringing a practical solution with her proposal- move to Israel. Lol. Just follow in the footsteps of the thousands of French and Swedish Jews who have made aliyah there.

    Of course, the controversy surrounding Sheik Hilaly, his views and the views and statements of other leaders and reprenstatives of the Muslim community of Australia is just made up paranoia at best and racist fear mongering at worst…just like the yellow peril. Such issues (bordering on blasphemy and heresy) should never be brought up in “democratic” discourse.

    Humor aside, the solution that I proposed earlier – i.e. the “magic” solution- is the most practical solution. I would be all for an open border policy on the sole condition that those who are advocating for such a policy are held directly responsible and accountable for it (and pay for it of course). I would even take it a step further – when the leader of Australia’s Muslims spread racist Incitment against the Jewish community the relevant Labor government ministers who helped him come and stay here illegally should have been jailed or held criminally
    responsible in some way. The same should apply to the people here – if antisemitic hatred is incited or worse if anyone gets hurt or is killed, you should be held legally responsible.

  • Harold Zwier says:

    Eliezer writes:

    “Massive influx of people holding such views into Western countries has already promoted and enhanced the tacitly and sometimes explicitly already present demonization of Jews..”

    and

    “Do we really want that here? Hilaly was no fluke, nor is the problem solely an Australian one by any means. By endorsing a massive influx of Muslims (of any race, as the Pew survey shows) to Australia, the Jewish community is inevitably endangered here too.”

    One might think that the discussion to which Eliezer has contributed is between those who believe Australia would benefit from a massive influx of Muslim migrants and those who believe that would be bad policy.

    As Eliezer goes on to say:

    “Jewish community leaders have a primary responsibility to ensure the security and well-being of the Jewish community. That is a legitimately central and necessary part of Jewish values. This is not the first time false universalisms and feel-good public relations have guided Jewish leaders into putting Jewish lives and the long-term future of their entire community at risk.”

    The problem for Eliezer is that this discussion is not about the endorsement of a massive influx of migrants (of any particular background) to Australia. And the policy of the ECAJ does not discuss the issue of the level of migration that is appropriate for Australia. It is therefore logically nonsensical to conclude that Jewish leaders are putting Jewish lives at risk.

    Australia, it should be remembered, has quite fantastic borders. It is surrounded by oceans, and at best a few thousand asylum seekers, mostly genuine refugees, are prepared to risk the journey by sea to get here. By any objective measure that does not represent a massive influx of migrants.

    For the ECAJ to ask the Australian government “to process applications by persons seeking asylum in Australia as expeditiously as possible and in a spirit of compassion..” hardly represents what Eliezer calls “false universalisms and feel-good public relations” – unless he believes that the policy is a sham.

    I don’t.

  • Harry says:

    There can sometimes be a conflict between Jewish (or liberal for that matter) values and Jewish interest, as explored by Daniel Greenfield in his Sultan Knish website article here http://sultanknish.blogspot.com.au/2012/08/suicide-as-jewish-value.html

    If one of my values is that all refugees should be admitted to Australia, can it conflict with my self-interest that my children be safe when they go to Jewish school, and that there should be no need for guards both outside school and Shule? Can I also express a self-interest that Australia take in refugees who are likely to be tolerant of Jews, and whose children are not going to be taught to hate Jews?

    I agree with the Rabbi that it can be hard to distinguish fact from fiction. Currently there is a lack of transparency as to who the refugees are, and whether their motives are to escape persecution or for economic improvement. While I am not certain, it would seem that once Afganistanis, for example, have got out of Afganistan to a second country, the immediate physical threat to their lives would seem to have gone. If that is the case, one of my values is that Australia should accept refugees who are waiting for placement in Malaysian camps, in preference to those who pay money to get on a boat and destroy their documents.

  • TheSadducee says:

    Ann Fink

    Your comment displays your own lack of compassion and a serious failure in your own logic –

    You are saying that Jews, mostly survivors of the death and/or labour camps, should have chosen to relocate to a country (Israel) which was involved in a civil war and external war with every one of its neighbours?

    In contrast you are suggesting that Afghans shouldn’t go to their neighbouring countries which aren’t in a similar state of war.

    You do see the problem with your absurd comparison don’t you?

  • TheSadducee says:

    @Harold

    I don’t think anyone is questioning their refugee/asylum seeking status.

    People are merely asking why Australia? when there are numerous countries in the immediate vicinity which are safer for them to relocate to?

    I’ve seen 2 responses to it here – 1 referred to an unmoderated comment in an Amnesty piece and a list of non-associated Q&A’s, the other drew a ridiculous comparison which was illogical and displayed an ignorance of DP processes after WW2.

    I’m keeping an open mind but I find it hard to believe that those who most vociferously objected to Magid can’t actually answer that question in detail.

  • TheSadducee says:

    And incidentally – when did it become so controversial to question the social impact of migration etc on existing communities?

    There are occasions when it is motivated by xenophobia/racism/prejudice etc and these should be called out for what they are and rejected, but to label all such questions/enquiries as such is the real danger for democratic discourse.

    Do people in our community really believe that we are incapable of having a mature discussion about these sort of issues without resorting to the characterisation of differing viewpoints as “hate speech”, “xenophobic, islamohpobic and heartless”, “disgraceful”, “racist” etc?

  • Harold Zwier says:

    Sadducee wrote:

    “People are merely asking why Australia?”

    “I’m keeping an open mind but I find it hard to believe that those who most vociferously objected to Magid can’t actually answer that question in detail.”

    It seems to me that you’re asking one question in order to get an answer to a different question. You know the story about the father driving his car with his small son sitting next to him. He comes to an intersection and asks his son to look to the left and tell him if any cars are coming. The son, who takes the question literally says “no” even though there is a large truck bearing down. The father actually wanted an answer to a different question. He wanted to know if it was safe to go through the intersection.

    Your question, “why do asylum seekers choose Australia?” can be speculated about but can’t be definitively resolved without surveying asylum seekers themselves. The likelihood is that there are a variety of reasons. The question is, why should those who most vociferously objected to Magid, be able to answer that question in any more detail than you could? It’s all speculation.

    Magid says that some of the asylum seekers “may have fled a war zone or limited economic opportunities, while others are seeking an easy life. None were facing certain death.”

    That’s opinion being expressed as fact.

    Magid speculates further that “they are out of danger as soon as they are out of their own country.”

    “However, that is not what they want and they are willing and able to pay criminals to take them to the destination of their desire.”

    So, Magid thinks that Australia is special. Not only special, but desirable. I agree. But just because I think about Australia in a particular way doesn’t mean that asylum seekers think about Australia in the same way.

    Sadducee, what’s the question you actually want an answer to?

  • Ittay says:

    Hi Sadducee,
    I think the best way for you to have your questions answered about why some Hazara people from Afghanistan go to Australia and not Iran is to speak to one of them. Many of them are supported in Australia by the Asylum Seeker Resources Centre.
    Their contact details are here:
    http://www.asrc.org.au/contacts/contacts/
    ASRC will be able to put you in touch with their communal leaders.

    Alternatively, go down to Thomas street in Dandenong, where many of them have set up businesses and new lives in the same way the Jews did in Carlton in the 1950s.
    See: http://www.theage.com.au/news/entertainment/epicure/the-babel-of-new-beginnings/2008/10/23/1224351443845.html?page=fullpage#contentSwap2

  • Eliezer says:

    Unlike all the rest of us, Harold Zwier apparently does not know that the vast majority of illegal immigrants to Australia, for whatever reasons, are Muslims, and come from highly violent and antisemitic countries. So he considers my concerns unwarranted. However, merely to state the reality is to expose again the existence of the problem I mentioned.

    He also does not know why these would-be immigrants make great efforts to come here, rather than to any of the immediately neighbouring countries around their source countries, or to any of the many Muslim nations between the Middle East and Australia. He does not consider that obvious evidence of “destination shopping,” something quite different from seeking any desperately needed refuge available (the international convention on refugee status defines refugees as those seeking the nearest possible sanctuary, not those travelling half-way around the world past many possible sanctuaries), especially when those who come are largely young males, or even, most cruelly, underage children travelling alone, not their apparently not really all that threatened whole families (since they are left behind, sometimes for a year or more). Then, those young people, when accepted here, apply to bring over, in a process that can also take a year or more, their apparently not really all that threatened other family members in “family reunions.” Nothing in all this, not even the dumping of personal documents and passports into the sea just before being picked up by Australian ships, smells a little bit fishy to him. One can only admire the ability of the ideologically pre-committed to blot out inconvenient truths even when they stare one in the face.

    One possible response to the real problems has not been mentioned thus far, so I might contribute it here: Australia should officially press the many Muslim nations on the refugee route to Australia to take in and welcome warmly their fellow-Muslim refugees, in all decency and in faithfulness to Muslim mutual responsibility and care, rather than passing them on to Australia. That would solve the problem at its root. This is a diplomatic issue, and should be pressed on all suitable occasions and fora. The Muslim nations should be shamed into fulfilling their moral obligations, rather than blaming others. One could compare the Muslim states’ attitudes to that of Israel in regard to Jewish refugees. The contrast is stark. Bob Carr, where are you?

  • Wolf says:

    @ Mandy katz,

    I don’t think you read/understood what I wrote. I have no problem whatsoever with accepting legitimate refugees. In fact I think it is very noble. I also, however, do not believe every ‘asylum seeker’ is in fact bona-fide, peaceful, or open to Australian values, hence the reason I am happy there is a vetting process.

    @ Eliezer,

    You commented that many of these ‘asylum seekers’ are “dumping of personal documents and passports into the sea just before being picked up by Australian ships”. I too have heard this, from legitimate government departments. This is one of the many reasons I am realistic enough to say not every asylum seeker is genuine. I think your opinion is well informed, and spot on.

  • Larry Stillman says:

    Eliezer and others, why don’t Afghanis (in our case, Hazara) resettled in countries such as Pakistan? Here’s a reason why: http://tribune.com.pk/story/386160/pakistan-afghanistan-meet-to-decide-future-of-3-million-refugees/.

    The sheer numbers and plight of people in a country dealing with its own problems are enough for Pakistan to deal with. Pakistan has THREE MILLION refugees. As for other Muslim countries–you make a good point, but many of them do have significant foreign or refugee populations, but not in the best of circumstances (look at the exploitation of people in Dubai for example). Not all Muslim countries are rich like the Gulf states, their poverty and corruption make it impossible to deal with outsiders and refugees cannot be expected to settle in such volatile situations. People seek haven where they believe they will be safe –exactly as our parents or grandparents did. Why go from one war zone to another?

    Second, your claims about Muslim refugee males and so on are largely unfounded, as are your claims about minors leaving “not really threatened” families. You are confusing unaccompanied minors who come as part of regular or ‘boats’ claims because their parents are dead.

    Recent arrivals are benign, and often traumatized. The problems have been with refugees from Lebanon who arrived 20 or more years ago, and then it is with groups from particular clans and even more specifically, certain families (some of them Christian, not Muslim). This is again, not the situation with recent arrivals.

    Third you are forgetting that many refugees are not Muslim –for example, Buddhist Sri Lankans, Mandeans and so on.

    Finally, the International Conventions and procedures only give refuge to people who are genuine refugees, not economic migrants.

    Read the facts on the refugee programs, not the shock jock mythologies

    http://www.immi.gov.au/media/publications/pdf/shp-client-info-sheet.pdf

    http://www.immi.gov.au/media/publications/pdf/hp-client-info-paper.pdf

    Don’t tell me that any of the priority groups below are living in comfort in particularly stable countries, and if they seek a boat, that they are ‘country shopping’

    •Somalis in Dadaab Camp, Kenya
    •Iraqis in Jordan, Syria and Lebanon
    •Iraqis and Iranians in Turkey
    •Afghans in Uzbekistan
    •Afghans in Iran
    •Various nationalities in the Pacific states and
    •Eritreans in Libya

  • TheSadducee says:

    Larry

    I haven’t suggested that the Hazaras resettle in Pakistan, in fact I’ve been very careful to avoid that suggestion as well as Uzbekistan (both of which are not UN Refugee Convention & Protocol Signatories).

    I have however asked the question why not Iran, Tajikistan, Kazakstan, China, Russia, Kyrgyzstan? These countries all have signed the Convention and Protocol and all have UNHCR infrastructure. They are all close to Afghanistan, accessible and safer than the boat trip and association with organised crime required to get to Australia.

    I suspect you give a large part of it away when you talk about what is preferred – naturally people would prefer to live in Australia than any of those other alternatives.

    But then one needs to question is their motives – is it for immediate safety or long-term prospects eg. economic migration?

    Incidentally – I don’t believe a criteria for refugee status is whether the country you chose not to go to exhibited corruption or had levels of poverty.

    And I’m curious to read about the massive instability in Turkey which makes it unsafe to live there btw – must be news to NATO.

  • letters in the age says:

    http://thehoopla.com.au/speak/

    This issue has been picked up by Wendy Harmers blog…

    Word gets around.

  • Sam says:

    I just wanted to comment on the article from the Age by Arnold Zable in the link from Ittay’s comment above.
    Great article comparing the iconic Scheherazade in St Kilda with the new eateries run by Afghanis in and around Thomas St. Dandenong.
    Those of us old enough to remember the first generation holocaust survivors trying to rebuild lives and reconnect with a Yiddish community in the fifties and sixties will see the obvious parallels. That statement is definitely not trying to make a direct comparison between the suffering of the jews during WW2 and the oppression of Hazaras by the Taliban, but being sympathetic in one situation it is hard not to feel compassion in the other. The talk of the current refugees coming from extremely antisemitic countries may be true in one respect but should not cause us to judge the Afghan refugees harshly. The population of any country is very far from being homogeneous, even if it is almost entirely muslim.

  • Eliezer says:

    Larry Stillman offers real arguments, so let me deal with them seriatim.

    First of all, the claim that Muslim countries cannot help their own refugee brothers and sisters is incorrect. Pakistan is no dream country, that is for sure, but it can certainly handle the 1.7 million Afghani refugees it has; many of them are located in the northwestern tribal-dominated and Islamist provinces that already have intimate ties to Afghanistan and they can go back and forth across the border anyway, so their refugee status is only a partial one, so to speak. There may be a similar number of Bengali refugees. But if 3 million seems an impressive figure to Larry, it is less so to me: the total population of Pakistan, including these refugees, is around 180 million, and one needs to keep in mind that Pakistan is the second largest economy in South Asia, with a large GDP and lots of business and services enterprises.

    I am afraid that if refugee sanctuary countries without a high per capita income are ruled out as suitable sanctuaries, Israel would never have existed and could never have developed to its present outstanding success. It all depends when you get right down to it on the will of the host country to help refugees, not on the country’s per capita income. Refugees need sanctuary, and the wealth of the host country is irrelevant to this. It is a red herring. And I remind Larry that these are fellow Muslims who in all decency should extend help to refugees closely related to themselves even in social history.

    As for wealthy Muslim countries, such as the Gulf States, they are certainly very well able to host a lot more refugees than they do. If they did, besides, much better societies might develop there, so the host country would benefit. What for example has Saudi Arabia done to accept refugees? Next to nothing so far as I am aware. They could employ millions of them and give them citizenship, replacing the huge number of non-Muslim “guest workers” who are given no rights at all, much less citizenship, and who are treated in apartheid fashion like slave-workers.

    Secondly, Larry says that my statements about the large percentage of illegal immigrants being young males, and that there are unaccompanied children amongst them, put unprotected into very dangerous environments, are unfounded. This too is incorrect. We have all read newspaper accounts of this, and even seen the photographs of boat-people which speak for themselves. If Larry has any solid evidence to the contrary, he has failed to present it. The links he provides (or rather, link, since both are to the same webpage) give no statistical information on refuges but instead consists of the Department of Immigration procedures information for legal immigration applicants. They are irrelevant to this discussion.

    Thirdly, Larry has named groups of refugees that are not Muslim, but what he has failed to do is to provide evidence that they are more than a minor percentage of the total illegal immigrant population. Sri Lankans illegals for example are much smaller in number than Muslims, but at least they are a significant group amongst the illegals. The Mandaeans, on the other hand, are miniscule in number, so far as I am aware. There are very few of them in the world. However, I have not found statistics giving exact figures on the source countries and groups in the boat-people population; perhaps Larry can provide them?

    Larry’s concluding comments about refugees not living in comfort in various states have already been addressed above, and are essentially irrelevant anyway, bypassing the points I made concerning the self-harming policies of Jewish community leaders in endorsing the massive influx of Muslims into Australia who endanger the long-term security and well-being of the Australian Jewish community itself.

  • Larry Stillman says:

    Eliezer, you are wishing for things in the Islamic world that might take decades to occur, and many countries in Africa are host to millions of refugees (S. Africa is a case in point, something of which I have personal experience–the life of many is dreadful and they suffer xenophobic violence).

    In the interim, we have a big international problem in many parts of the world. Pakistan itself says it can’t deal with the problem of Afghanistan it is a highly unequal and stratified society as you well know, despite what its gross GDP is. I saw online that there is an increased awareness in the Muslim world for obligations to refugees, but of course, I assume, none of us read Urdu, Arabic etc, to know what the details of the conversation are. And of course a lot of people are fleeing oppression in that part of the world.
    See http://www.unhcr.org/4e9beaa19.html for refugee flows. But you can also start picking apart UNHCR statistics if you want. The view that the rich shouldn’t share their plenitude that you appear to have (often derived from exploitation of the poor) is an interesting one.

    As for the % of ethnicity of boat arrivals, I don’t have that. I am sure you can obtain that from one of the refugee organisations or the Red Cross but I believe current trends are Hazara and Tamils. The Hazara in particular, are a persecuted minority as all the others. They are a hardworking group.

    But as significant, you are assuming that all Muslims represent a threat. That is rubbish. We know some Hazara reasonable well and they would do anything for you such is their gratitude for a safe haven.

    I work with an Albanian Muslim. Aside from the fact that he is a Collingwood supporter, there is nothing to distinguish him from you or I. He is frum, he fasts, he goes to Juma’ on Fridays, but he is Australian as you or I but he does not drink. His colleague is an Indonesian Muslim. They are classic young ‘family men’. The fact that his skin is different makes him different, but that is about it. There were Kosovo Muslims here during the civil war. Were there problems? No.

    Now, Helena Grunfeld had this letter published in today’s Jewish News–

    Mr Magid, was my father unscrupulous?

    My father did not “flee certain death” when leaving Hungary in 1938. He did not want to be conscripted into the army of what he considered an anti-Semitic regime and left just before the expiry of his passport, which could not be renewed without approval of the military authorities.

    In Italy, from where he intended to continue to Palestine or the US, he met many German Jewish refugees, who understandably were given priority by Jewish organisations arranging visas and transport to those countries.

    After several months and many unsuccessful attempts at receiving a visa to anywhere, he was granted a temporary visa as an unpaid agricultural labourer in Denmark.

    Mr Magid, do you consider my father ”unscrupulous”, as he might have taken the place of somebody else in the “queue”? In early 1943, before the German occupation forces announced the deportation of Jews from Denmark, my father, again without facing “certain death”, paid a people smuggler in the form of a shunter at the Danish Railways, to show him which train to board to flee to Sweden.

    So, to paraphrase Mr Magid’s words, (replacing Australia with Sweden): my father was “wealthy enough to pay criminals and head for Sweden against the wishes of the Swedish public”. Mr Magid, without the benefit of hindsight that my father was able to rescue his family and many others with Swedish papers, so they were not among the 70% of Hungarian Jews murdered in 1944, do you consider that act “unscrupulous”?

    If so, what would you have advised my father to do?

    [Helena is also a member of the AJDS Executive]

  • Ann Fink says:

    @Eliezer. You have made my point exactly. In the aftermath of WW2, Israel was not perceived as the “safest” or most secure place, “economically” by many Jews and Australia appeared to offer better opportunities. I worked at Jewish Welfare in the 50’s and 60’s as a professional social worker and helped resettle many families who made their way from Europe via Israel to Australia. There was much debate about these “double” immigrants who received assistance both from both HIAS (to get them to Israel) and then JOINT in Australia.

    In view go their immense suffering, the view was eventually taken that too strict adherence to rules and regulations would be inhumane. In the late 60’s there was another wave of immigration from Poland and then the 90’s wave from the USSR. Rome and Vienna became “holding camps” pending the application for entry visas. In my husband’s case, in 1941, Tatura was the detention facility where Jews were held for 18 months while their credentials were checked. And yes, there were a couple of cases of Germans (enemy aliens) masquerading as asylum seeking jews.

    There are many many reasons why immigrants go where they do. Family connections, whatever. Incidentally the Afghans originally came to Australia in the 19th century when their skills with camels was so badly needed for transport. This population has now been completely integrated.

    The use of terms such “destination shopping” and “massive influx of Muslims” are pejorative. Figures please. I didn’t say that you should go to Israel. Not every Jew is a Zionist. However the fact that Israel does exist, gives every Jew the choice. All most of the petitioners are arguing is that the present wave of asylum seekers be given the same respect as we enjoyed. I know I will not convince you that your prejudices re Muslims coming to Australia are unfounded. Please remember that most recently, 6 million Jews were killed by Christians and we can still live in the same world today

  • Larry Stillman says:

    Of course, , is that countries like Lebanon, Jordan, Syria,Iraq, throughout the Gulf and even Saudi, have been host to substantial number of Palestinian refugees and their descendents for decades and they have never been granted citizenship in many cases. But admitting their are Palestinians who are refugees is of course discomforting for many people.

    Furthermore, the presence of Palestinians may explain these country’s reluctance to take in more people due to the political dimensions of a refugee population that like it or not, is not happy with their non- state. They don’t want permanent asylum. But this is an entirely different discussion that should not divert attention from the fate of people in countries like Afghanistan and that it can’t be solved by insisting that it be solved by shipping people off to various authoritarian states, whether in the old Soviet Empire (Uzbekistan, Turkemenistan etc) or the Muslim world. And these states already have refugees from the localized disputes. See http://www.eurasianet.org/node/61302. But again, the numbers — in the 100,000’s make our worries seem extraordinarily petty and selfish.

  • Larry Stillman says:

    I have been reminded–Sadducee said people should also seek asylum in Iran. Hello…people are fleeing Iran–and are a major group of people granted asylum in Australia. The ignorance in this discussion is astounding. look at the UNHCR stats where people are fleeing.

  • Levi (a refugee from the USSR) says:

    Arnold Zable is a very gifted author and story teller. He was my father’s ESL teacher and my father once shlepped me to one of his ESL classes. I was excited that I had a chance to skip school ;)

    His class was full of immigrants from every part of the world. My father really liked him but was taken aback at just how naive and ignorant he was of the world at large. One incident prompted my father to have this impression – a group of Polish guys in the class. Zable – whose parents were polish Jews- used his “Polish” background to be very chummy with these guys. The Poles- who are notorious for their antisemitism – didn’t really respond in kind. They spoke a lot behind his back and in their language. In addition to Russian my father speaks Polish and understood every word that was said. In other words they weren’t really happy about a Jew trying to brown nose to the them by claimig he was their best friend or worse was one of them.

    Food for thought?

  • Levi (a refugee from the USSR) says:

    And we certainly see a pattern of this naivety displayed in debates on this forum and elsewhere in the Jewish community…

  • Eliezer says:

    I regret that Larry has still not addressed the central problem I stressed, nor has Ann Fink, which is that a large Muslim presence in Australia poses a real and physical threat to the Jewish community. Accepting large numbers of illegal Muslim immigrants who have already shown their indifference to Australian legal structures for refugee application and acceptance, wilfully displacing lawful applicants already languishing in refugee camps, and whose members have frequently underlined their indifference for Australian law by rioting and trashing refugee detention centres, intensifies the threat and does not serve long-term Jewish community interests. Whenever Muslim populations in European countries rise beyond a certain point, not only do their views inevitably sway political decisions and leftist “elite” opinions towards antisemitism, but the very survival of Jewish communities in those countries becomes a question. The figures of the Pew survey, as I have pointed out, demonstrate the reality of strong Muslim antisemitism throughout the Middle East and beyond. This is a fact, which exceptions do not disprove nor erase. This hostility has been expressed throughout Europe by often horrific attacks against Jews and synagogues which escalate in ferocity and frequency whenever there is a clash between Israel and Arabs. In effect, European Jewry becomes a ready victim population whenever European Muslims are angry at Israel, for whatever reason including even Israel’s elementary self-defense against Hamas rockets. We have already seen evidence of this in Australia, with Palestinian solidarity protests attempting to boycott Jewish businesses, and ASIO-prevented terrorist plots against Jewish community institutions and community leaders. The European Union Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia prepares annual data the incidence of prejudice and racist attacks in the EU. They wrote, in their “Summary overview of the situation in the European Union 2001-2005″:

    “There has been some evidence to support the view that there is some link between the number of reported anti-Semitic incidents and the political situation in the Middle East…. Moreover, some of the data indicate that there have been changes in the profile of the perpetrators. It is no longer the extreme right which is seen as solely responsible for hostility towards Jewish individuals or property…. Instead, victims identified ‘young Muslims,’ ‘people of North African origin,’ or ‘immigrants’ as perpetrators.”

    The EUMC concludes that in Europe: “Anti-Semitic activity after 2000 is increasingly attributed to a ‘new anti-Semitism,’ characterized primarily by the vilification of Israel as the ‘Jewish collective’ and perpetrated primarily by members of Europe’s Muslim population.”

    In late 2009, Gregg Rickman, who served from 2006 to 2009 as the U.S. State Department Special Envoy for Monitoring and Combatting Antisemitism, cited those conclusions and confirmed the continuing truth of them in an article on the American Thinker website entitled “Fomenting Antisemitism in Europe.” See http://www.americanthinker.com/2009/11/fomenting_antisemitism_in_euro.html

    As Dr. Rickman showed, this is not a theoretical problem facing the Jewish community in Europe. It is an existential one. The touching anecdotes given by Larry about individuals do not change that in the slightest: only a minority of outright extremists acting on generally held beliefs and thereby justified in their own community are sufficient to murder people in a Lyons synagogue, slaughter a rabbi and his children along with others in a Toulouse Jewish primary school, torture a Jewish young man to death in Paris, and frequently attack Jews in the streets and in the media. Nor do Ann’s sentimental comparisons with Jewish refugees fleeing Nazi persecution have much traction in this connection. They are merely sentimental comparisons, since the situation with Muslim refugees is factually utterly different. It is not the case that they are facing genocide but are abandoned on all sides, have nowhere to flee and can find no country to accept them but Australia, with no state of their own co-religionists to provide certain refuge. Jews are not morally obligated to endorse the entry of antisemitic groups into our own society that strengthen antisemitism here, and endanger the future, present security and general welfare of the Australian Jewish community itself, simply because they themselves fled antisemitic persecution in the 30s and 40s. The logic that they should is self-refuting and even immoral.

    As I wrote above, the situation might be different if leaders in the Australian Muslim community, especially religious leaders, came out firmly against antisemitism in their own community and sought to promote more humane and truthful understandings of Jews, Israel and Zionism, and Judaism itself, especially at times of terrorist atrocities against Jews. But, aside from a few exceptions, mostly peripheral lay leaders, they do not.

  • Ann Fink says:

    Perhaps it’s just a question of age. Eliezer and Levi and others see Australian Jewry needing to be protected against the threat of Muslim anti semitism. However we who “survived” the anti semitism of the thousands of “Balts” who arrived in the post war era as well as the Latvians, Lithuanians, Estonians etc. not to mention the Germans, Croatians, Serbians, Hungarians and Poles. None of these groups came with jew loving credentials. Many had taken an active part in the extermination of European jewry. I remember so well the anguish of a patient in a mental facility who recognized the Latvian Kapo from her concentration camp and who was now her “nurse” in the facility in Melbourne. Her doctors thought she was deranged, but investigation showed she was quite correct. There were many such instances. And guess what? Australia being the wonderful country it is, all these anti semites settled down, adopted the mores of our democracy and whatever private attitudes they had toward Jews were subsumed in their general desire to become law abiding citizens. It won’t convince the Muslim haters but it is marvelous what living in a compassionate and democratic society can do to change attitudes.

  • Jonny says:

    All these wierd arguments from the likes of Levi- only help people who like you; saducee- the only refugees we should accept are Fijians or new zealanders- and Eliezer… Don’t let any Muslims close to me…just in case…These are all fine expressed here on this blog as opinions and biases of individuals that represent no one and have no weight in any context. Saducee is still anonymous LOL. People have a right to difffering opinions…but…

    Mandi nailed it earlier when she made it clear….

    “I don’t think people object to a considered and evidence based discussion – what they object so strongly to is Magid using his voice as publisher of a paper (uniquely) supported by (our) community to make unsubstantiated assertions and in the second part of the article, appealing to people’s prejudices and fears.”

    Rabbi Ralphs call remains… compassion first and always… then due process to self protect.

    Rabbi Ralphs response remains.

  • Mandi Katz says:

    thanks Jonny – :)

    Crazy couple of days at work so been reading but no time to comment until now.

    Saducee – I have re read all your comments and still don’t fully understand what you are saying – given the extensive discussion here and elsewhere about the fact that most people who come here seeking asylum by boat, are found to be refugees on the basis of definitions developed by experts and adopted by international conventions.

    S0 you are assuming people facing persecution in Iran could choose to go to Iran, Tajikistan, Kazakstan, China, Russia, Kyrgyzstan to get out of immediate danger. They would be illegal migrants in at least China and Iran – where they would face years of no citizenship, abject economic suffering and also potentially discrimination and human rights abuse.

    You are saying that their desire not to make dangerous (less dangerous than boat trips, true, but still dangerous) trips to other states where they will be illegal migrants and not really improve their lives, makes them economic migrants not refugees.

    International protocols don’t see it that way, and it makes sense to me that they don’t. You can’t formulate policy based on decisions that require inferences about where people in your words “chose not to go”. How do you determine their motives? How do you determine what options they really did have ? How do you know what they have or haven’t already tried and how do you set parameters about what are legitimate fears about migrating illegally and using unauthorised means of transport and entry?

    Are you suggesting that a policy be formulated along the lines that people who prima facie meet the agreed definition of refugees but may have been capable of physically migrating to other countries, illegally or otherwise, be disqualified from being considered as refugeees if they instead seek asylum in Australia?

    Besides the impossibility of applying such a policy, it is wrong. You can’t base policy around requiring people to do something illegal and dangerous.

    It isn’t wrong for people to want better lives. we all have one life to live – I don’t believe people are opportunistic or have questionable motives because they are desperate for some kind of secure future.

    A separate question is what Australia can do – and we all agree that whatever Australia does it will be a drop in the ocean on refugeesim. No-one on this thread is advocating open borders, dropping the vetting process for people seeking asylum, or radically increasing refugee intake – even the Greens position is limited to increase the annual refugee intake (which includes people granted asylum) from 13000 to 20 000.

    But the debate shouldn’t be about whether one set of refugees are somehow more morally worthy than another but about things canvassed in press every day – the tradeoffs – what are the limits of what of what we can do (is 13,000 a fair number of refugees annually for Australia seems to be good starting point) , Is Australia more obliged to people who are inevitably going to make their way here because this is the closest refugee friendly country  to many in the region, than say to people say in Africa? Why does the intake of asylum seekers have to impact on the refugee quota, given the limited scale of the asylum seeker issue? Is damaging the people smuggling business the thing we care about more than other refugee issues – because if so, should we consider intermittent significant increased in refugee in-take specifically from Indonesia which would at least damage the people smuggling trade?

    And yes, people do need to be able to talk honestly about how immigration policy should shape the make up of Australian society. And people look with concern at the growth of Islamic extremism in Europe as a result of migration. But there is rightly a lot of sensitivity around how to have that discussion, given how much vilification Muslims have suffered.  In the Jewish community there are many rational, generally enlightened and compassionate people who see Islamic extremism as the “Nazism” of our time. I am not belittling those fears.I don’t want to see mysoginistic , anti semitic and anti democratic behaviour increase in Australia.

    But we need evidence about whether that is happening and what the sources are. We have to rise above villifying entire communities and prospective communities because of the conduct of a few people, and stick to the facts. Again Magid’s’ contributions is neither evidence based or even rational. Muslims in Australia are very ethnically diverse and this is not Europe. A tiny proportion of Muslims in Australia commit violent crimes in the name of political and religious principles – I don’t knew how you deal with that, but it can’t be by tarring entire communities and allowing them to be villified.

    Much is made of Muslim leaders who do shocking things and the apparent silence of Muslim communities in response. Just bear in mind that media is about selling – it doesn’t make news when ordinary people say, “he doesn’t speak for me”.

    Look at the The Age headline covering the Magid story and the amount of press that has had. One person calls for Jews to curb their compassion. Hundreds respond saying almost exactly the opposite; Jewish community platforms confirm a consistently compassionate position on the issue – and yet the story is about a “Jewish call to curb compassion”…

  • Mandi Katz says:

    Levi – do you not think that the story you told about Zable is personal?

    You seem genuinely unable to distinguish between discussing the issues, and making comments which cast aspersion on the integrity, sincerity or standing of the person to comment.

  • Jonny says:

    Thanks Mandi. You’ve been spot on all the way. Ann’s posts have been fascinating and Ittays educational. And Harolds have also provided really important insights. Thanks guys. Very interesting reading! I even appreciated some of Daniel Levy’s points…

  • Larry Stillman says:

    That’s right Eliezer they inherently hate us. If it was not for Islam of 5 centuries ago, there might be far fewer of us (Spain, Turkey). Of course. the world was very different back then, with dhimmitude of sorts the norm (generally, a light touch compared to what went on in the Christian world), but it is a pointer to the current political crises in the world, more than the essential nature of Islam as inherently antisemitic. David Wasserstein a British academic in the US gives a very good (and non-apologist) 4 part series on Jewish-Islamic relations in an online series –look it up on Google.

    In terms of local protests such as Max Brenner, you are dealing with a combination of ultra-left opportunists and a handful few Islamists–it is a myth to think they are anything more than very annoying pests, who waste tax-payer resources.

    Further, ask almost any Muslim what the problem with Israel is, and they will say, politics, not Judaism. Regrettably, of course, there are the nutcase anti-semites-mirrored on the Jewish side in their violence as well on the west bank.

    Your obsession with Islam and criminality is based upon what goes on very different countries (eg France) that have never embraced multiculturalism and ghettoized cheap labour and so on. This is not the case here. You are falling into the same trap as Blainey with his comments about Vietnamese and grand theories based on little fact 30 or more years ago.

  • Mandi Katz says:

    not to mention that your story about Zable is pathetic.

    Maybe he knew the Polish students didn’t really like him, maybe he was interested in trying to reach out to the students, to influence them, to build bridges.

    Why describe a teacher trying to build rapport with students was “brown nosing” them? – perhaps there’s a bit of transference going on here.

    Maybe he was trying to find out about their lives because he is interested in people and their stories and experiences.

    Maybe that’s how he got to be a writer of great worth – by being open to people even if they are not open to him.

    Zable is very insightful about people in his writing – chances are he knew as well as (better than) anyone what those students were or weren’t like.

    Best let’s leave overly personal stories out of these discussions.

  • Larry Stillman says:

    I should have said educated Muslim in Australia.

    And btw, Wasserstein’s series also explains why Muslims tend to know little detail about Judaism or Christianity (lack of knowledge of scripture because the Quran is the source, unlike a common source for Jews and Christians)–I have not time to explain this now–but it does help understand why mythologies about the west can easily take hold in the Islamic world amongst the undereducated. And remember, there is an equal amount of ignorant virulence about Christianity in some quarters. But then, how many Jews hold virulent views about Christianity or Islam? Many I suspect.

  • Stephen Fass says:

    Mr Magid, could you please share your views on apartheid in South Africa.

  • TheSadducee says:

    Larry

    Can you actually read what I wrote before you take a shot at me.

    I was referring to ethnic Hazaras who are predominantly Shi’ite seeking refuge in Iran.

    Refugees from Iran that are coming to Australia are either not Shi’ite but members of non-Shi’ite minorities and/or are Shi’ite and have adopted lifestyle choices antithetical to those of the regime and the majority of Shi’ites in Iran.

    Did you pay any attention to the Parliamentary Enquiry (back in 20111) which had the Secretary for the Immigration Dept. actually articulated this point?

    Or do you only get your info from UNHCR and ignore your own Govt’s information?

  • TheSadducee says:

    Jonny

    That is not what I said, nor advocated – thanks for that deliberate misstating of my position.

  • TheSadducee says:

    Mandi

    I’m mostly in agreement with you – I merely wanted to see someone actually acknowledge that it wasn’t merely concerns about immediate safety that motivated the choice to come to Australia. There is an economic/social motivation involved and this should be acknowledged and discussed freely – not concealed by emotive and disingenuous arguments.

    However, as I have stated before, the only solution is to address the dreadful conditions in the home countries i.e. fix the cause of the condition rather than address the symptoms. Until that is done, expect it to go on forever.

  • TheSadducee says:

    Best let’s leave overly personal stories out of these discussions.

    – Mandi, waiting for you to ask Ann Fink to do the same…

  • Levi (a refugee from the USSR) says:

    Mandi,
    Once again, everything that is not in agreement with your view is “personal.” Again, you have no problem when people post slanderous garbage against R Groner and other people in this community- it’s never “personal,” just as long as it fits into your world view.

    I on the other had wasn’t even trying to slander him. I wasn’t even questioning his integrity. on the contrary he is a very nice person with great intentions- who also happens to be very naive. It’s within my right to point that out and be critical of this and his views – considering that Zable gets a lot of publicity around his views on the issue at hand.

    I trust my fathers account and judgement. When Zable addressed these polish students he always spoke about his own “polish” “pride” and “identity”. The Poles weren’t very impressed. It’s a consistant pattern of naivety that my father – someone who experienced antisemitism his whole life – has seen throughout the very shelterd community here.

  • Larry Stillman says:

    Sadducee

    I appears that Shi’ite Hazara are not necessarily comfortable being in Iran either.

    [ Hazara point of view http://www.hazarapeople.com/2011/10/05/discrimination-against-hazara-people-in-iran/

    Report from Dept of Immigration [http://www.immi.gov.au/media/publications/pdf/cgn-afghanistan.pdf] while this is not current information, I suspect that the trend continues–Hazara are not safe in Iran, even though they too are Shi’ite.

    A 2008 report co-authored by Professor William Maley noted that the bulk of Afghan refugees in Iran were Hazaras (over 40 per cent). According to a source cited in this report, up to August 2005 Hazaras returning from Iran were underrepresented due both to
    greater economic opportunities in Iran for Hazaras, and perceptions of continued prejudice against Shi’as in Afghanistan. In 2007,Iran began to pursue a policy of enforced returns.

    An Agence France Presse report from February 2008 confirmed that Iran had previously sparked international concern by embarking on a drive toexpel around one million Afghan refugees residing without registration papers.

    A Radio Free Europe report from May 2007 included claims by Afghans that Iranian authorities had confiscated and destroyed their registration cards before expelling them from the country as well as claims of other difficulties for those who were legally registered.”

  • Larry Stillman says:

    I suppose that Michael Danby will also be considered a weak-livered woos caving into radical Islam? Read this–

    http://www.jwire.com.au/news/danby-responds-to-magid-article/27188

    Robert Magid

    Mr Magid’s claims are not factually based.

    First of all he should be familiar with the wide standing controversy that more than 50 people remain in immigration detention due to incomplete security clearance. For this ASIO has been vociferous criticised by the “compassionate” ones Mr Magid chides.

    Mr Magid claims that some of these asylum seekers, that happen to be Muslim could provide a security risk is frankly overstated.

    The Security Services, (I know as I am a member of the Parliaments Intelligence Committee) do a fine job of checking the background of all irregular maritime arrivals (boat people) who come to Australia.

    Magid is entitled to support Mr Abbott and the conservatives in this policy area as much as he likes, but his claims about the increase in the number of arrivals and their potential as a terrorist risk would seem to be hysterical and seeking to frighten the Australian Jewish Community who are justifiably worried about the threat of terrorism. Many of those refugees who happen to be. Muslim are often victims of hardline Islamism.

    He should acknowledge that our security services have disrupted, arrested, charged and convicted 7 sets of home-grown terrorists who had the potential to attack Australia’s mailand. None of these were successful because of ASIO’s activity. None of the people where asylum seekers. None arrived by boat. Mr Magid may not be aware that, as the Director-General of the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation, David Irvine pointed out in a speech this year in February, of the 38 people who have been convicted of terrorist offences in Australia under or strong anti-terror laws, 34 were either born here or have lived here since childhood.

    Mr Magid’s claim that “I doubt whether there is a single boat person in that position (fleeing certain death)” is misguided.

    As a refugee himself, Mr Magid should know that the majority of visa’s given to refugee’s under Australia’s humanitarian program is granted to people offshore. In the 2010–11 program years, 65 per cent of visas were granted to people offshore under the offshore humanitarian resettlement program. Although the proportion of asylum seekers arriving by boat has increased significantly in the last year, and boat arrivals continue to be the focus of much media and political attention, they are in fact more likely to be recognised as refugees than those who have arrived by air.

  • Wondering says:

    Sad… if not that… then what are you saying? … there’s a lot of countries between Australia and everywhere else. Your saying people should stop at the first “safe haven closest to home” and be happy… Otherwise they’re not refugees… If not that then what is your point… I don’t get it.

  • Jonny says:

    Sorry Sad
    “Wondering” is one of my kids who I am encouraging to think about these issues. So that is my comment above… not hers. Same computer, different email addresses.

  • Raoul Machal says:

    If a refugee – say from Afghanistan – arrives in Indonesia, he is no longer in a war zone, there is no civil war or persecution of Muslims in Indonesia, he is as far as international legalities are concerned no longer a refugee. If he then decides to move on, if he leave sIndonesia by whatever means and wish to come to Australia, he is either a tourist or a migrant. Neither in the UN refugee charter nor in any other relevant document is there a right to claim asylum in just any country of one’s choice. You arrive in a safe country – that’s your asylum. And what better place to have asylum where people share the same culture and values (Islam) with you?

    If European Jews fleeing the Nazi could have arrived in a Jewish-majority country which is not at war or ravaged in civil conflict, why would they have sought to travel on?

    Indonesia may not be a signatory to the UN charter, but they have signed agreements between OIC member states to similar extend.

    Our compassion and limited resources should focus on those who do not posess the means to travel across seas and continents, but who are persecuted and poor in their home countries, or forced to linger in refugee camps. Just think of non-Muslim minorties in Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Pakistan or Bangladesh where sharia still calls for capital punishment of non-believers and blasphemers; places where non-believers are by default discriminated against.
    Is this not also the Jewish experience from the past?

  • TheSadducee says:

    Larry

    I never said that conditions were ideal (or even particularly good) in Iran, or any of the other countries. I merely queried that, to save their lives, ethnic Hazaras had to flee to Australia when there are a range of alternative countries to go to.

    The point was to show that there are additional motivations behind their desire to come to Australia rather than immediate safety – something that some advocates seem reluctant to concede i.e. they are deliberately conducting a dishonest discourse.

    I would also suggest that you refer to more modern and up to date info on the problem – the situation has considerably changed since 2007-2008.

    For the record though, I have no problems with people seeking asylum and/or refuge in Australia and acknowledging that there are a range of motivations for this. This should be openly discussed and freely – without the emotional guff, unfair criticism of differing views, character assassination etc which characterises the debate.

    I do have a problem with the fact that we don’t seem prepared (we = developed world) to actually want to address the core problems in these societies which are causing people to seek refuge etc. We would rather just deal with the symptoms (or in some cases, regrettably even ignore those).

  • Larry Stillman says:

    The Afghan Hazara problem is recognised as a key international problem. I suspect that when the Taliban come back into power it will get worse and even more Afghans in general will flee.

    If you look at UN reports, the Hazara are going to many countries and pass the refugee assessments with flying colours Australia is only one of the countries they end up with.

    From what I understand, the local processing issue is a critical one and all international agencies understand this, but we are dealing with crisis zones. Look at the mess we got into with the bushfires of 2 years ago. Don’t pretend that 3rd world countries can some home deal with things better or that they should be obliged to take more refugees than they already do. Bangladesh is also dealing with ecological disaster– now, how we will respond to that when the people have nowhere physical to go?

    Magid just went too far in his characterization of illegal/legal and so on. It feeds on prejudice and ignorance. It is simple as that. It also feeds into the suspicion of foreign aid programs.

  • Raoul Machal says:

    Are the Hazaras not an Islamic sect related to the Shiites, while genetically they are of Chinese/Mongolian descent? What then makes Australia or Western Europe the ideal region for resettlement? Should that not ideally be China or another Islamic majority country — with the rest of the world tipping in to share the cost around? We outsource our banking, administration and manufacturing to China and other countries because of their lower cost ceiling. Why not the housing and provisioning of displaced persons, especially when these are their close relatives?

    Besides, Hazaras make up around 10% of the Afghan population, should they not rather be encouraged and financed to stay and help build up a new Afghanistan, perhaps in a semi-autonomous province?

    What is this obsession with encouraging people from halfway around the globe to resettle in societies with which they have no lingual, ethnic or religious ties? If Australia would ever become inhabitable, do you think we would seek refuge in Botswana, China or Iran, or perhaps rather the UK, USA or Canada?

  • Mandi Katz says:

    yes Sadducee – Ann’s story about Magid’s passport was inappropriate. Somebody (Andrew Casey) addressed that .

    I agree that the debate on these issues need to be open to diverse views, without people shouting each other down.

    People like Michael Danby and Robert Manne contribute to this debate in an evidence based way. Manne has conducted or is close to extensive research on the issue – and for example has a strong view that offshore processing should be preferred because of strong evidence that it deters boats.

    Unappealing as that is to some (including me) it’s the kind of thing that needs to be discussed.

    Levi – I have no problem with different views. I have strong differences on lots of issues with say David Werdiger and Sol Salbe (lehavdil) but I generally have civil discussions with them. I don’t agree with Eliezer and Sadducee (again, lehavdil) on everything they have said here but I am interested in their comments on the issues.

    Like you, Arnold Zable has a parent who suffered terrible anti-Semitism. He responds very differently to you. I can think of several children of survivors who respond in almost opposite ways in terms of how of how that shaped their Jewish identities and political views. It happens even in the same family.

    What makes one response correct, and one “naive”?

    and I didn’t follow the discussion about Rabbi Groner. Am I obliged to monitor and respond to every comment on every discussion on Galus?

    good shabbes one and all.

  • Larry Stillman says:

    Raol, why should Jews with their commitment to a different religion, different race, and different law, ever be allowed to come here. That was very much the sentiment here before, and even after the war. i can even show you stuff that was circulated here in the 1960s.

    If I am not too far off the mark, you appear to be a race-theorist. What do we do about dark-skinned Jews then?

    The rest of what you write seems to be pretty much off the wall, off the agenda of the international community. China isn’t exactly in love with its Muslim population as well.

    You appear to have an inordinate interest in the colour of people’s skin, as I note you posted on the site of the ‘Australian Protectionist Party’, with respect to an African community disturbance in Adelaide “What’s the big deal? Isn’t this what our culture enrichers have been doing for centuries? No surprise here. When they put an old tire around your friend’s neck and fill it with petrol and set it alight, then you can start squeeling. Welcome to were Rhodesia was 30 years ago. ”

    I suggest everyone on this site send this gentleman to Coventry.

  • Levi (a refugee from the USSR) says:

    survivors usually don’t talk about their experiences with their children because of incomprehensible horrors that they endured. thankfully my father wasn’t a holocaust survivor (he was the son of a survivor though) and was very open about his experience with antisemitism in the socialist utopia of the USSR. the yidden – children of survivors – who were born here and grew up here post war – grew up in a rosy climate of political correctness and egaliteranism based on cultural relativism. An outlook that always blindy gives the under dog the full benefit of the doubt….

  • Eliezer says:

    Ann Fink’s Aug. 10, 1:21 post raises the question of integration of antisemitic immigrants in time, especially second- and third-generation, based on the record of eastern European immigrants to Australia after WWII. It is an important question that Ann is right to raise. But her take on it, that things can only get better in time, is based on two unsupported assumptions (unsupported, that is, by any scholarly evidence): 1, that antisemitism has disappeared amongst eastern Europeans resident in Australia; and 2, that Muslims will respond with assimilatory pluralistic accommodations like all other immigrants in Western lands. It also ignores that jihad is not a fundamental religious commitment in eastern European Christianity. Even if item 2 were correct, moreover, the risk to Jews in Australia is immediate and in this generation. Pie in the sky bye and bye — maybe (sigh … ), is not a practical policy prescription. However, all serious studies of Muslim immigration show that they do not follow the pattern of other immigrants in their second and third generations of settlement. In fact, they show that Muslim immigrants actually get much more radicalised and Islamist.

    This is now universally recognised and discussed with great concern in Europe. All sorts of explanations have been advanced for why this is so, many of which seem desperate feel-good attempts to avoid admission that the problem is precisely with the religion and thus the problem, first of all, has nothing to do with racism, and secondly, is a fundamental one that will not go away. There are several examples of these sorts of answers in the recent posts on this blog. Larry, in his post of the 9th, at 9:10 pm, says that basic change and reform in Islam itself “might take decades to occur,” but we must still accept our responsibility to aid Muslim immigrants in the brief interim. So the problem will soon evaporate by itself, no worries, mate. Mandy Katz in his post of 7:00 am (which by the way is in error concerning “international protocols” allowing refugees to avoid the nearest sanctuary and “destination shop”) pleads for some answer that avoids inclusion of the entire Muslim immigrant population — an entirely justifiable concern that I would warmly endorse and prefer (for I welcome all other immigration to Australia, and believe it has enriched the country enormously culturally, socially, economically, you name it) … if in fact there are no significant common elements. But the plea already assumes that there are not, or even insists that we must seek some such conclusion regardless of the real world: messianic hope trumps the facts.

    Amazingly, Mandy even tries in the same post to justify the (implicitly admitted) loud silence of the Muslim leadership, including the religious leadership, as being due to the “media [being] about selling.” So the fault is with the media and its crass profit motive! It is not with the Muslim leadership and their shared understanding of their religion and unifying values, Heaven forbid (here again as so often implied about Middle Eastern problems, Muslims are ever the passive victims of Western society, merely reflexive involuntary actors and never responsible for their own lives). Our (apparently too capitalist?) media evidently (but Mandy offers no evidence) simply refuses to publish statements from Muslim leaders. These no doubt numerous unpublished statements would certainly condemn antisemitism and terrorist atrocities against Israelis by Palestinians and other Muslims, and would praise Judaism, Jews, and Zionism. Are we also to blame the insufficiently leftist media for the absence of out-reach by Muslim religious leaders to Jews in inter-faith dialogue and reconciliation? Sorry, Mandy, that one just does not fly. In fact, if there were any such efforts at outreach from the Muslim religious leaders, the media would rush to report it both because of its soothing implications for Australians as a whole and because it is the highly “sellable” and interest-arousing news category of “man bites dog,” i.e., a (sales-boosting) news scoop on something hitherto quite unexpected and exceptional.

    Larry presents several more explanations for Muslim immigrant radicalisation in later generations, in his post of 7:59 am. They seem no more well supported than his other assertions already dealt with by me have been, merely wishful and often merely anecdotal personal views. E.g., his dismissal of the Max Brenner demonstrations as involving a handful of Islamists and anti-Zionist leftist fellow-travellers ignores that this not only follows all sorts of other failed attempts at such political, business and academic (student and faculty activist) BDS agitation here in Australia from the same groups, but is only too likely to be followed by more BDS agitation in the future, vigorously supported by the Palestinian and Muslim community leaders, and with no visible attempt by Muslim religious authorities to dissociate themselves and Islam itself from them. The bottom line is that Jewish businesses are threatened already here in Australia by these groups and will be for the foreseeable future. We can be very glad that there is uniform and high-level bipartisan political support against such basically antisemitic activities. But will this remain the case as Muslim communities get bigger, and the leftist media like The Age/SMH//Guardian newspapers, and politicians resembling Ken Livingston and George Calloway in England, emerge here in Australia to pander to them?

    Another explanation offered by Larry in the same post for the radicalisation of second- and third-generation Muslim immigrants in Europe is that this occurs in “very different countries (eg France) that have never embraced multiculturalism and ghettoised cheap labour and so on. This is not the case here.” But Larry, it is also not the case in England, The Netherlands or the Scandinavian countries, whose emphatically multicultural policies however varying in specific details they may be, have also utterly failed to stop the notable radicalisation of native Muslims or the endangerment and even survival of the Jewish communities there. Multiculturalism has been a flop in Europe, most notably and certainly when it comes to the Muslims, and this has been widely recognised and discussed as a big social and political problem there.

    Another explanation is contained in the quote from Larry, just given: the radicalisation of Muslims in Europe, which increases rather than decreases in later generations entirely unlike the history of every other European and Asian immigrant group in Western countries, must be the fault of the environing Western society: they are in ghettos, they have high unemployment, there is discrimination against them and prejudice, etc. Oddly enough, though, discrimination, prejudice, ghettoisation and difficulties in finding work also characterised the treatment of us Jews in Western countries (in the last few generations, and for thousands of years!), and we have not responded with suicide bombers, terrorist atrocities, blowing up trains in Madrid and London in 2004 and 2005, attacking other immigrant groups like French-born Muslims have done to the Jews of France, and so on. Much the same can be said of the Chinese in Australia from the 19th century onwards, the Vietnamese in the past generation, and so on. So the alleged explanations do not explain anything.

    Besides, they are factually wrong in their premises. Many of the terrorists involved in the Madrid and London bombings were born in and well assimilated into their respective countries; I recall that one of the terrorists in the “7/7″ (07.07.05) London Underground bombing (52 killed, 700 injured) was a doctor, no less, at a leading London hospital, others were also well-educated, had jobs, lived where they liked and were not unprivileged nor discriminated against.

    In August of 2007, the Forschungsinstitut zur Zukunft der Arbeit (“Institute for the Study of Labor”), associated with the University of Bonn, published a research report on just this question of whether social or economic explanations really explain increasing Muslim radicalisation in later immigrant generations. It gave the various social and economic parameters statistical and comparative testing. It was entitled: “Are Muslim Immigrants Different in Terms of Cultural Integration?” The Abstract on p. 1 gives the basic conclusions:

    “We find that Muslims integrate less and more slowly than non-Muslims. A Muslim born in the UK and having spent there more than 50 years shows a comparable level of probability of having a strong religious identity than a non-Muslim just arrived in the country. Furthermore, Muslims seem to follow a different integration pattern than other ethnic and religious minorities. Specifically, high levels of income as well as high on-the-job qualifications increase the Muslims’ sense of [Islamic] identity. We also find no evidence that segregated neighborhoods breed intense religious and cultural identities for ethnic minorities, especially for Muslims. This result casts doubts on the foundations of the integration policies in Europe.”

    Those integration policies were mostly multiculturalist. But the same applies to monocultural environments such as in France, so the radicalisation has no clear correlation to the environing socio-cultural conditions. In fact, as we read in the “Introduction,” p. 3:

    “Also,education does not seem to have any effect on the attenuation of their identity, and job qualification as well as living in neighborhoods with low unemployment rate seem to accentuate rather than moderate the identity formation of Muslims.”

    For the whole report, see http://ftp.iza.org/dp3006.pdf

    Larry directs us to comments by Michael Danby defending Muslim immigration, in which he points out that in 7 terrorist plots broken up by Asio, none involved boat-people; and that of the 38 people who have been convicted of terrorist offences in Australia, 34 were either born here or have lived here since childhood. Larry probably does not realise that this only confirms the points I have made about the consequences of significant Muslim immigration: the next generations will be even worse. It is not a recommendation for open influx of Muslims, contrary to Danby. I like him a lot, but he is seriously misguided on this issue and betrays long-term Jewish community interests on it, like too many of our community leaders.

    By the way, Larry refers to a 4-part series on Jewish-Islamic relations on-line by David Wasserstein. I will look it up as Larry recommends. Meanwhile, I would recommend to him the 4-part series by Andrew G. Bostom entitled “Antisemitism in the Qur’an” (at: http://gatesofvienna.blogspot.com.au/2012/03/antisemitism-in-quran-part-1.html). This scholarly essay, with over 960 footnotes covering a vast range of scholarly studies, actually deals with the entire history of Jewish-Muslim relations and reproduces the “Introduction” to the book edited by Bostom, The Legacy of Islamic Antisemitism (2008). This book of nearly 800 pages (double columns, small print) is the most full and authoritative volume on the subject in any language; it provides hundreds of pages of mainstream Muslim texts, early, medieval and modern, on the Jews and Judaism, together with over 20 scholarly articles by leading academic specialists on particular aspects of this relationship and other historical accounts and documents. I would also strongly recommend the magisterial discussions by Robert S. Wistrich, generally acknowledged as the leading contemporary scholar on the history of antisemitism, in A Lethal Obsession: Anti-Semitism from Antiquity to the Global Jihad (2010), and his earlier Hitler’s Apocalypse: Jews and the Nazi Legacy (1985), which also has a lot in it about Islamic antisemitism. It is not a problem that will go away, no matter how we close our eyes to it.

    For now, however, I turn to Shabbat preparations, and, together with Mandy, wish all readers Shabbat shalom.

  • Raoul Machal says:

    @ Lary: I’m sure there will be some who appreciate you moving this conversation away from a mere exchange of general thoughts and facts. What can be more pleasing than building a big straw man, putting your own unsavoury thoughts into someone else’s mouth and then indulging in ad hominems? Especially when everybody else is still in the factual department. Nothing the progressive friend of Palestine couldn’t squeeze out of the old Alinsky, right?

    But then the only one talking about colour here is your good self
    Let’s keep it that way, shall we?

    On the other hand, it is interesting you should bring up the over-representation of certain groups in criminal statistics, which includes anti-Jewish violence. From Oslo and Amsterdam to the south of France wherever Islam flourishes . Even in distant Australia more and more Islamic co-religionists feel inspired by the anti-Jewish instructions in the Koran and how to deal with the ‘apes and pigs’. From a Jewish perspective, should acknowledgement of facts not be given at least the same space as the usual “head-in-sand and sing kumbajah” approach?

    As to your opening strawman: Jews accept the law of the land and Judaism is a non-prozelytising faith. Jews don’t scream “G-d is Greatest” before they blow themself up in a bus or pizza shop.
    When you think hard enough, you’ll come up with all the 600 and something other fundamental differences. Just a shame you don’t acknowledge it. While there is never a place for racism and sexism, religion is a personal and arbitrary choice. Not all religions and cultures are equal, some are simply not suitable to be part of civil society.

    Can I leave you with this, and a quote from Thomas Sowell?

    “If you have always believed that everyone should play by the same rules and be judged by the same standards, that would have gotten you labeled a radical 60 years ago, a liberal 30 years ago and a racist today.”

    And please give my regards to your friends in Ramallah.

  • letters in the age says:

    With all due respect to Mr Magìd he was probably that smart arse at Uni that ridiculed the first and second generation

    Its evident with The Curb your compassion play on words

    Wanker with wit!!

    ;)

  • Ann Fink says:

    Mandi, why were my remarks about the dual nationality issues in the 1980’s inappropriate? Again I think it is a question of being an old lady with a very long memory

    After WW2 there was a massive non British migration to Australia. This was welcomed, but raised issues. Many of these new Australians had been former enemy. (See my previous post). Loyalty was considered established by insisting on the renouncing of their former nationalities.

    In 1947-8, Australian Jews had left Australia secretly and illegally to fight against the British, Australia’s closest ally. Australian Jews also financed and dispatched arms shipments. The issue of dual and possibly conflicting loyalty was one which was hotly and publicly debated for many years following.

    By the 1980’s much had changed including Australia’s relations with Israel and the rest of the world. In resolving the passport problems faced by Jews making Aliyah from Australia, both Isadore Magid and Mark Leibler were warmly and publicly applauded. I do not have access to the archived issues of the Jewish News, but if you care to search you will find this subject was canvassed very thoroughly. I only used my own experience in order to demonstrate how the issues surrounding the legality of visas and passports can become imbedded and or resolved over time. Shabbat Shalom

  • Mandi Katz says:

    Hi Ann – like Jonny I have really enjoyed reading your posts and I think the passport issue (as an issue) is very relevant – I guess I just don’t think it’s a good idea to publicly tell personal stories that paint someone in a negative light. I mean a (well edited) newspaper wouldn’t publish that story in a letter. Blogs are less formal but still.

  • Larry Stillman says:

    ” The bottom line is that Jewish businesses are threatened already here in Australia by these groups and will be for the foreseeable future……But will this remain the case as Muslim communities get bigger, and the leftist media like The Age/SMH//Guardian newspapers, and politicians resembling Ken Livingston and George Calloway in England, emerge here in Australia to pander to them? ”

    Really are we on the same planet? Businesses ‘threatened’. I don’t think so. Rather, there is stupid political posturing by a fringe. I don’t see any evidence of the Age or SMH, or I suppose you would add the ABC or SBS pandering to them other than reporting what goes on. Even Lowenstein does not appear to have the traction he once did, except to an small audience. But perhaps you see a conspiracy here.

    I think Eliezer you are using simplistic clash of civilizations theorizing and data from Europe (that is often, as far as I can see, disputed) based on what you think to be the case in Europe with very little empirical evidence about what is going on the ground here in Australia. I can’t see George Galloway running around and Bill Hartley has departed for his particular form of heaven. Sheikh Hilaly seems to have dropped out of sight thank goodness, and there are a range of government activities around aimed at specifically curbing radicalization But remember, as long as Israel continues in particular to enter into a second half century of occupation, there will be vociferous and sometimes irrational posturing and propaganda. And the same applies to the disaster in Iraq–the cause of huge resentment, as well as other parts of the world. Regrettably, western (and Russian) politics have not led to faith in non-Muslims in the past few decades and the Iranians in particular have had a bone to pick since the 1950s at least.

    So I would not put too much faith in Bostom’s work or that of Wistrich.

    When I come across such works which have all the hallmarks of amateur scholarship and fundamentalist tracts (confusing weight with depth), I go to the scholarly databases and look for what scholars say . He is not an Arabist and apparently doesn’t know Arabic or other relevant languages and this puts him into a familiar category of obsessive autodidact without discipline. His work has the same problem as that of the local vicar Mark Durie (to be fair, he knows Arabic) who has been subject to some tough criticism for his extremist approach and of course, he is in league with our friends in the QSociety.

    Of course there has and continues to between Muslim anti-Semitism, but in the words of the one review I could find “Though exceedingly well organized and extensively documented, this work makes little distinction between anti-Judaism, sociopolitical antisemitism, and racial antisemitism, nor does it evidence a consistent historical analysis of antisemitism within Islam. The foreword, written by an apostate Muslim under a pseudonym, sets the tone for this text. Summing Up: Optional. * Researchers only. – M. F Nefsky, emerita, University of Lethbridge ” [Reference & Research Book News, Feb, 2006]. Yet Nefsky does not appear to be an Islamist either, but none of the good journals such as the Journal for Near Eastern Studies has a thing to say about this book. Ibn Warraq who wrote the forward is pretty controversial, in the same league with a number of other anti-Muslims of the crudest sort http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ibn_Warraq.

    The only other review I could find was the Marine corps gazette and I worry about Marines being advised to read such books. There was a gushing review in the political Journal of Antisemitism, but that also took a swipe at Bernard Lewis (dear me!).

    This view of Islam is in the same league as Christian anti-Judaism that picked apart the Talmud as far as I am concerned.

    It doesn’t have much to do with the reality of the lives of the very diverse community of Muslims in this country.

    I also looked for scholarly reviews of Wistrich’s book, but not in ‘house’ journals of Jewish organisations, but in real peer review publications where even reviews are looked at by the editors and kept to standard. Wistrich apparently engages in polemic more than scholarship The review in Holocaust and Genocide Studies by Beller (who has written the very good Antisemitism: A Very Short Introduction ) is not particularly complementary, noting that Wistrich engages in simplistic conceptual conflation and accusations. “This doom-laden augury might be more convincing if there were not certain deficiencies in reaching it. Perhaps it is inevitable, given the Manichean nature of his subject, but there are times when Wistrich seems to have adopted similar forms of thought. ” or “In my view, perhaps the largest problem in Wistrich’s approach, as I read it, is that the role of Israel is not a causal factor in the rise of Muslim and Arab “anti-Semitism.” He shows that hostility against Jews existed for centuries within Muslim society, as well as within Christian society. Yet this in itself, while a necessary cause, is not a sufficient one for explaining the huge fluctuations over time and space in hostility to Jews in both Muslim and Christian societies (where there were long periods with very little anti-Jewish hostility), or the greatly heightened hostility in the Muslim world to Zionism, Jews, and eventually the state of Israel ever since aliyah began in the late nineteenth century.”

  • Levi (a refugee from the USSR) says:

    Shavua tov everyone.

    I didn’t get a chance to properly to Mandi’s points earlier because of erev shabbos.

    “I didn’t follow the discussion about Rabbi Groner. Am I obliged to monitor and respond to every comment on every discussion on Galus?”

    There has been a lot of blatant slander that was posted on Galus against members of this community, which is pretty hard not to notice – especially from someone like yourself who is a frequent visitor of this blog. Some of the slanderers were anonymous. So it’s interesting if not a little ironic that you raised a storm over the issue of anonymous “personal” attacks without your ever explaining how or why you felt “personally” attacked. My only conclusion would be that you view opinions that differ from your own be an affront.

    If I can also go back another one of your other points-

    “Like you, Arnold Zable has a parent who suffered terrible anti-Semitism. He responds very differently to you.”

    I addition to what I said earlier, I think a comparison between my father and Zable would be far more appropriate. Both are of the same generation and both are the sons of Holocaust survivors. But that’s where the similarities end. Zable like many other western Jews, grew up in a very open, pluralistic and tolerant society. My father grew up in a totalitarian society where oppression of the masses and discrimination of minorities was the norm. Zable was a product of the cultural revolution of the sixties and seventies. From that cultural revolution many people of the West today – especially the intellectual chattering class- view the world through a perspective of moral and cultural relativism. The people who hold such views are usually very good people with very honorable intentions. But this is also the Achilles heal of our society and the all totalitarian regimes and ideologies of the world quickly identified it as such. The first of such regimes that identified this phenomenon was the Soviet regime – the same regime that oppressed my family and murdered many tens of millions of people. In reagards to the naivety and good intnentions of western intellectuals and liberals the murderous and oppressive Soviet regime coined a special term – “useful idiots…”

  • Doodie Ringelblum says:

    Levi – Since there has been much discussion about what Arnold Zable said, did, believes and is – I have contacted him regarding your posts and he is very happy to speak with you. If you are willing to do so, could you perhaps call me at work (03 9780 8900) and I will put you in touch.

  • Levi (a refugee from the USSR) says:

    Doodie, what would be the purpose of our discussion?

  • Levi (a refugee from the USSR) says:

    I just spoke to my old man and he clarified what occurred at the ESL class at Myer House 25 years ago. One time during class, Zable was reminiscing about his recent trip back to his “home land” of Poland and expressed pride in his “polish” heritage and nostalgia for the polish people. A polish student who was there rolled his eyes and later stated the following to my father – “who the *expletive* does this Jew think he is?”

    My father also revealed some interesting facts about his experience with antisemitism in the USSR. As a six year old kid, he wasn’t just bullied by antisemitic Ukrainians who were ten years old than him and taunted him with the word “jid” (kike) but also by some Jews who tried very hard to be accepted by their Ukrainian friends. My old man – who is a little dramatic at times – stated that zable reminds him of that type of Jew. I told my dad to relax and take a chill pill. But then again, I remembered that sensational, hyped up age article titled “Jewish hate speech…” with Arnold’s picture splashed all over it.

  • Eliezer says:

    Larry seems in his comments on my last post as in all his other posts to be guided by airy and wishful thinking even in his remarks on scholarly matters that are easily open to disproof. Literally none of his claims in this area have validity. Wistrich is certainly recognized throughout the world and in academia as probably the leading contemporary authority on the history of antisemitism; his many thoroughly researched and scrupulously documented books have garnered praise on all sides and notably by leading historians specializing in the many fields he draws on. I suppose that Larry has searched far and wide on the internet to find one hostile critic, but he would have had to wade through very many highly laudatory reviews before finding his preferred source. So it is very close to dishonesty not to report that. It is actually rare to find a so universally admired and respected scholar in such contentious subjects, but Wistrich achieves that status.

    As for Bostom, his essay on the history of Muslim antisemitism is a magisterial one which demonstrates close knowledge of the Muslim sources from the seventh century to the present, which he quotes at length, and wide familiarity with the historical record. Very few such historical survey accounts of this topic show such meticulous documentation of all statements made and such a wide reading; as already mentioned there are over 960 footnotes that include primary sources and the scholarly literature in many languages. But the several hundred page anthology of texts that follow his book-length introduction, drawn fully and fairly from mainstream Muslim authorities down through the ages to the present generation, stand for themselves, and make his case very very strong. No other book on this topic comes even close to such full anthologisation and documentation of the subject’s primary sources. On top of that, again unlike any other book on the subject, there are those over 20 essays by many of the acknowledged leading academic specialists of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries in the field of Jewish-Muslim relations, a “Who’s who” of scholarship on the history of Jews in Muslim lands. They include Shlomo Goitein, Norman Stillman, Jacob Mann, H. Z. Hirschberg, Jane Gerber, Georges Vajda, Bat Ye’or, Emmanuel Sivan, David Littman, and many other acknowledged authorities. It has been greeted by scholars as even “the definitive book” on the subject (Richard L. Rubenstein). The Library Journal, a review service for research and university libraries, gave Bostom’s book a “Highly recommended for all libraries” evaluation, saying: “By gathering these various resources, Bostom persuasively — almost overwhelmingly — demonstrates the antisemitic tendencies in Islam.” Everyone is entitled to their own opinions, but no one is entitled to make up their own facts. Bostom presents the facts, and that includes the documents that speak for themselves. Manifestly Larry does not want to hear the facts or read the documents. He is quite able to reject all realities he does not like. It is a clear case of ideology held as a religion: it trumps all actual contrary evidence.

    Consistent with this, we see his dismissals of (1) the Pell Global Attitudes Project survey data I cited on the overwhelming prevalence of antisemitic attitudes in the entire Muslim world, far deeper than in any other population, which anyone can read for themselves, and which is universally accepted as authoritative and reliable; (2) the findings of the annual surveys of antisemitic incidents and the growing prominence of Muslim-sourced antisemitic attacks in the European Union made by the European Union’s own official Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia (the acknowledgement of the Muslim source rather than right-wing source of much of the antisemitic criminal incidents in Europe went against the EU Council’s wishes, and it tried to suppress this report, failing this, it got the survey’s language watered down a bit because of its explosive political implications); the survey report in 2009 updating and confirming the EU Monitoring Centre’s findings by Dr. Gregg Rickman, the U.S. State Department’s own Special Envoy to Europe whose task it was to monitor and report on antisemitism there, quoted by me (Rickman repeated these conclusions in his testimony to a hearing in the U.S. Congress); the massive research that without any possibility of doubt unanimously shows that radicalization and extremism of Muslims actually increases in the second- and third-generation of settlement, so that Muslim immigrants in the West do not follow the pattern of other immigrants in assimilating to the host societies’ values; the study by researchers connected with Bonn University mentioned and quoted above that show that this “de-assimilation” in native-born children of immigrants occurs regardless of educational and economic integration into the host society, and regardless of multi-cultural policies used by the host society to deal with social difference, and so it is not due to unemployment, prejudice, or other such environing causes. All of this solidly grounded research coming from authoritative sources from different fields and locales is blithely dismissed by Larry with determined and wilful naivety, simply because he does not want to face it. Frankly, I am not surprised. None are so blind as those who will not see. Anyone for example who thinks that Islam and the whole Muslim world is going to reform its own basic religion and outlook and join the liberal democratic secular society Larry lives in, lickety-split, in just a decade or two, believes in lullabies. It is not a practical policy prescription. It took Christianity four centuries of tumultuous upheaval and truly devastating wars for it to modernize. Islam may be quicker because of modernity and global communications, or slower because its authoritarianism runs deeper in theology and social values, but it will still be a very long process, not one of a decade or two, and it is not going to be a bloodless or easy dynamic even for Muslims in Western countries. Religion reaches deeper and draws on more ultimate social structures than Larry apparently knows, and this is all the more true of majority societies and religions numbering a billion or more, with their own inertias. However, we do not need to be prophets here. The world before us is a sufficient challenge and danger. My concern is for the security and the future of the Jewish community in Australia: those in Europe are already facing the dire consequences of the wilful blindness of Jewish community leaders in those countries. Those who refuse to learn from history are bound to repeat it.

  • Eliezer says:

    I neglected to number the other solid data Larry just airily dismisses, so here I add (3) the 2009 reports by Dr. Rickman to the U.S. Congress and government on antisemitism in Europe; (4) the massive research documenting the radicalization and “deassimilation” of second- and third-generation Muslims in Europe; and (5) the research analysis of the (left-wing) Forschungsinstitut zur Zukunft der Arbeit (“Institute for the Study of Labor”) on the independence of radicalization tendencies (in later generations of Muslim settlement) from environing social conditions or policies. And of course it goes without saying that Larry dismisses the actual antisemitic incidents themselves, which are sometimes so atrocious they become international news (just as he does the significance of BDS activities and reports of ASIO-prevented terrorist attempts against Jewish leaders and community centres here in Australia). He goes on to blame Israel for occasioning these atrocities because of the “occupation.” There are two telling errors here: one, that terrorist atrocities can be blamed in any way on Israel, and two, that there is in legal fact an “occupied Palestine.” But those are other subjects it would be tiresome to engage in here.

    By the way, Wikipedia, cited as an authority by Larry, is never a reliable source when it comes to controversial subjects — of any sort, not just Jewishly related. Because anyone can change a controversial article, what slant an article has depends directly on the number of people who stand guard over that article as “editors” to cement its “POV,” or point of view, as being the authoritative, acceptable and correct “NPOV” (neutral point of view). These editors gang up on those who do not toe the line and block or water down all their contributions, driving them from the article webpage. Have a look at the “Talk” column associated with any controversial subject relating to Israel, for example, and you will see the process permanently operating in full. Wikipedia, because of the way it is set up, is inevitably the equivalent of the U.N. as an “encyclopaedia,” and it has no more claim to neutrality and reliable academic or moral authority than the U.N. itself, for many of the same reasons. There are 1.3 or more billion Muslims in the world, with 56 mostly Muslim states, and lots of leftists and rightists in the West that support antisemitic, authoritarian and anti-Western tendencies, but only 14 million Jews and one tiny Jewish state, so articles on Israel and Islam tend to support criticism of Israel, maintain and repeat the standard Palestinian myths and charges, and suppress criticism of Islam. Therefore we can expect that the article on Ibn Warraq, who contributed a foreword to Bostom’s book, will be scurrilous, because he is “an apostate” from Islam and has criticised it. Oh oh. Nothing HE says can be reliable about Islam, no matter how solid his citations and knowledge of Muslim sources. Right. Contrast this, for example, to the Wikipedia article on Norman Finkelstein (a frequently cited source for the academic respectability of the “occupied Palestine” thesis, among other anti-Zionist and antisemitic slurs), presented in the article as a martyred truth-teller to the world who has refuted and overthrown all his critics. The critics themselves are hardly heard from, and what is given is a travesty of their points. There are really too many examples to list here. A word to the wise is sufficient.

  • Eliezer says:

    I have read the only Wasserstein article I could find by internet search that looks like the reference Larry made – pity that he gave no link. In the Jewish Chronicle article, “So, what did the Muslims do for the Jews?” of May 24, 2012 (http://www.thejc.com/comment-and-debate/comment/68082/so-what-did-muslims-do-jews), Wasserstein argues that “Islam Saved the Jews” from extinction. This of course is nonsense, very easily disproven. It is true that the Muslim invasion of Visigothic Spain in the 8th century saved the Jews there from the just previous forced conversion of them to Christianity (but earlier attempts had not been very effective either: Visigothic control of local regions was very spotty and local lords often protected “their” Jews). It is also true that many of those expelled from Spain found refuge in the Ottoman Empire that was eager to make use of the new technologies, particularly in warfare (cannon-making, etc.) and the trading skills, brought by the refugees. But many other Spanish refugees found sanctuary in Christian lands lining the Mediterranean and persisted to the present. And besides, the Muslims never conquered past Spain. The history of Jews both in Christian and Muslim areas was not uniform since neither area was unified over the centuries. Each state or kingdom followed its own trajectory, and if things got impossible in one place, the Jews moved to another within both areas. Ashkenazi Jewry continued to survive and often to thrive in Christian Europe. Following persecutions in Western and Central Europe brought on by the Crusades, for example, Jews were eagerly welcomed into eastern Europe, gained security there for centuries and became a huge dynamic community. At the end of the Middle Ages, there were vastly more Jews in Christian lands than in Muslim ones, and they were far more culturally creative, while the Jews of the Muslim lands, oppressed not only by prejudice but also by the general cultural stagnation in those regions, were few and slowly fading away in numbers. And then there were the Jews outside both Christian and Muslim regions. All of these things are matters that are described in all histories of the Jews.

  • Mandi Katz says:

    Hi Eliezer – I have some substantive comments – will have to do that later as I am caught up with family and other stuff this morning.

    Out of interest, why don’t you comment with your full name? It’s your right to comment however you like but you are providing fairly academic (or so is seems to a non academic like me) commentary and in some cases, you point to the reputation of the academics you refer to (which seems relevant and reasonable in this discussion) so why not also back up your own positions here?

    Surely you aren’t afraid of people’s responses? Especially given your contempt for Muslims who don’t speak out against vile statements or behaviours by leaders. True, it isn’t much fun being a lone voice in a sea of shouting down – but this discussion has been largely very civil.

  • Mandi Katz says:

    and just quickly – you have misrepresented or misunderstood what I said.

    I never said that religious Muslim leaders make statements which are not reported. I don’t believe that is so and agree that leaders’ pronouncement make news; what I said was about how little understanding there is of how ordinary people feel about the statements of religious leaders. Sure, many support them but of course most people are law abiding and don’t support comments of leaders who attempt to incite illegal behaviour. I suspect most Australian Muslims don’t care one way or the other when some awful Imam makes a terrible pronouncement. Much like most Jews wouldn’t know or care about the issues that get those of us commenting here on Galus into a lather. Mostly people just want to get on with their lives.

  • Raoul Machal says:

    Well said, Eliezer. And in contrast to those who are still stuck in the Meccanian phase of Mohammedanism, the authors and activists you mention actually understand abrogation and can connect the dots between scripture, history and today’s reality.

    But none is blinder than the man who refuses to see, and once the veneration for one’s own voice and views clouds the cognitive capacity, what hope do you have? You’re stuck in your ivory tower and don’t even notice when you hold the candle for the wrong side.

    After all the Nazis had their Judenraete, who thought if only they are nice and efficient enough and praise Herrn Sturmbannfuehrer, their henchmen must surely recognize how good and friendly and useful Jews are – and then see the error of their ways.

    So does it surprise when Hizbolah and the Ikwhan offshoots have no difficulties finding some friendly spirits amongst today’s anointed pink academicos?

    Over in the real world many have learned by now that not all religions and socio-political systems are the same. No absolutistic ideology set on world domination has ever brought out the best in mankind. Whether Fascism, Communism or Mohammedanism. Why does Israel trive in so many aspects in the ME, while the vast majority of population of the oil-rich Arab/Muslim states in the same region, with very few exceptions, is still stuck in medieval times; killing each other over one Imam more or less? Ditto in Afghanistan and Pakistan. We see it’s still better in Malaysia and Indonesia, where more of the locals have managed to hold on to their pre-Islamization religions. But the sons of Allah are catching up fast now, even in southern Thailand and Philipines.
    Mr Stillman notes the Chinese don’t view Islam with much sympathy. Does he have a theory why that might be?

    Once you stop romanticising Islam, take off your pinko blinkers and see Mohammedanism in all it’s gory for what it is, you’ll say “thank you” to Mr Magid for publishing the truth. You may even want to learn how targeted migration is part of the ‘struggle’.

  • Larry Stillman says:

    Eliezer Reference for Wasserstein’s lectures– which I had said could be easily found on Google. http://www.soas.ac.uk/religions/events/jordan-lectures-in-comparative-religion/ (for 2012)

    As for the ref to Ibn Warraq on Wikipedia. Actually, the debate in ‘talk’ tab about him demonstrates just how controversial he is. This can be at times one of the advantages of Wikipedia.

    I really don’t know what the connection is with Norman Finkelstein except as I suppose of the controversial articles and viewpoints in Wikipedia. Nor do I know with quoting the numbers of Muslims in the world vs Jews and the status of articles on wikipedia. I suspect most of the controversial middle eastern related articles are warred about by non-Muslim protagonists and certainly, don’t appear to have any Islamist slant. I also think you, and many others, overstate the engagement of academics in the issue, with conspiracy theories about ‘pink’ academics (that Raul seems obsessed about).

    It’s a sledgehammer effect. You can overdo your cause. My key point is that people like Ibn Warraq, Bostom, Mark Durie, Bat Yeor and so on have very little standing amongst professional academics- where we should be looking for careful studies in comparative religion. You can have all the footnotes in the world and still write b/s. These people are polemicists, out to make point because of their politics.

    Very few people, except the George Galloways of the world and various ultra-left factions, seem to have much romantic love for various Islamicist ideologies, but what they do see is injustice in Israel Palestine. This is what probably sets people to turn a blind eye to unsavory aspects of contemporary Muslim practice in particular places(patriarchy, treatment of women, shariah law, and so on). The problem then, is to extend this to ALL contemporary Muslims.

    We cannot forget that until very recent times, religious intolerance and violence was par for the course in the west (when did Jews get the vote in the UK- only in the mid-19th and of course, their second class status was assured in many countries –beyond the pale). It’s been a mixed bag for Christians and Muslims with Jews, but it appears that respectable scholars, on balance, believe that Jews had it slightly better under Islam. But it is an irrelevant question as to which was worse–it is now history and some things really can’t be absolutely judged or certainly, not loaded up with causal and determinist theories of the sort that you seem to go for. Just because something has happened in the past, and was written in text doesn’t mean it will happen in the future. This is the danger of scriptural literalism.

  • Larry Stillman says:

    And I want to make it very clear, before I am accused of being an Islamic apologist or so on. I am not an Islamic scholar, but I did have the advantage of several years of classical Arabic, but no training in Islamic studies. But I’ve been near enough through my other studies in Semitic languages and civilizations to be able to recognize good scholarship and non-scholarship. One of the hallmarks, I suppose the only hallmark in such fields is recognition by publication in peer-reviewed journals or peer-reviewed books in respectable presses. There are plenty of presses that will take any book because they can sell copies, particular in popular press books about Islam. But these are polemics and tracts, that serve to misinform the (Western) public. And of course, the same thing happens on the other side of the religious fence where there is an even more pronounced lack of critical scholarship.

  • abacus says:

    Mandi
    Several times you have raised the issue of commentators providing their full names in the interests of transparency. Given your criticism of Robert Magid, does transparency also require you to disclose family ties to a former editor of the AJN whose employment was terminated by Robert Magid.

  • Mandi Katz says:

    hi abacus – sure. I am married to Ashley Browne, who was editor of the AJN between 2007 and 2009 and was sacked by Robert Magid. I have disclosed that on this site previously and on facebook when commenting, so my omission was inadvertent – or more like, “I think people know that and do I have to say that every time I comment, after all I am also a person in my own right” … but I am more than happy to do so.

    I will also say that I won’t comment on Ashley’s piece for that reason.It does kind of feel like old news given it was three years plus ago but yes, it is relevant so I should have said so earlier.

  • Raoul Machal says:

    Raoul’s ‘obsession’ with pink academicos (serving as islamophile apologists) comes from experience in discussions and observation of publications and statements these shadowy travellers tend to make.

    Take for example your statement: “Just because something has happened in the past, and was written in text doesn’t mean it will happen in the future. This is the danger of scriptural literalism.” Of course you are right – in a strictly theoretical sense. Back in the real world, if a large number of publications and past real-life observations agree that i.e. cigarette smoking is a rather unhealthy habit, will you continue to argue this has no implication for anyone taking up this habit in the future?

    Islamic scripture clearly stipulates believers to subjugate or kill the kuffr, take booty and for the theocratic upper crust to live off the fruits the dhimmified people and obedient Muslims serve their Islamic masters. Under the banner of Islam exactly this has been happening for the past centuries, it keeps on happening by both open and covert methods (including mass migration) today – and some of our (in theory) brightest minds still argue whether Islam is just another religion?

    Your off-hand discrediting of well-regarded scholars and authors who happen to not share your worldview is also a rather nasty streak. Would you argue it requires hon masters in Germanic languages and modern European history to understand members of National Socialist movement in Germany and Austria were a seriously nasty lot; and move on to call anyone without such qualification a bigoted and germanophobic scoundrel?

    An appropriate academic qualification is surely nice, but it does not replace common sense and hands-on experience. The combination of both makes the real mensch, and he usually doesn’t carry it around on his lapel.

    Finally, the tired old Alinsky method to single out, slander and seek to discredit in public discurse anyone perceived not to be a fellow member of the progressive 5th column is another signature dish of the progressive left which upsets my stomach.

    Let’s keep it civilised and play the ball; shall we?

  • Larry Stillman says:

    Raoul, I don’t know what you mean by the Alinksy method, though I assume you are referring to Saul Alinksy who despite spending a lifetime fighting for the underdog, is hated by the right in the US (not surprisingly), since he was the consummate community organiser (and Obama was one).

    It may be ok to slag off on lists and so on, but it is a different thing with what I call serious scholarship. As for me ” slander and seek to discredit”, uh, another exaggeration of my perspective.

    But more seriously, the fact is, YES, I do expect a high level of competence in Arabic or relevant languages if one is going to deal with primary source materials, particularly difficult classical Arabic whether in the Koran or the commentaries and later writing. I don’t know any other way to ‘read’ what a religion is supposed to say. And in the same way, if you are going to engage in what you claim to be high level political commentary, training in political science. Unless you are a total genius, I cannot see any way around it in areas like Islam-West relations, the history of religion and so on.

    Thus, if you are going to be fair dinkum about drawing original conclusions about Islamic theology and culture or politics (with regional variations) — Classical Arabic, Old South Arabic, Comparative Semitics, Greek, Syriac, Turkish, Persian, Swahili, other regional languages, hopefully some Hebrew, Aramaic, and if you head south, perhaps some of the Indian languages, Bahasa and so on. Several years of deep studies in Islamic culture and theology, and a year or two in one of the universities in North Africa or Egypt. Some studies in development and the contemporary middle east and Islamic world might help as well. A good knowledge of 3-4 European languages is absolutely necessary as well. In all, probably 8-10 years towards a PhD.

    So you think I am being a snob? Here’s what the Dept of Islamic Studies at Hebrew Univ [ I assume HU is neutral enough] requires for a masters–

    The M.A. program consists of 36 credits over four consecutive semesters, including two required seminars in pre-modern and early-modern Middle East history, electives and tutorials. Courses are available in the modern period as well as in a range of disciplines in Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies, including medieval and early modern history, religion, anthropology, literature, the arts and Arabic language. Students who demonstrate an adequate knowledge of Arabic are required to deepen and expand their language skills by studying modern and classical texts of an ideological, historical, social, religious, or literary nature, in tutorials or through courses offered in the Faculty of Humanities. Students who demonstrate satisfactory knowledge of Arabic and Hebrew may take courses in other Middle Eastern and Islamic languages, such as Modern Turkish, Ottoman Turkish, Persian, Urdu, and Swahili, or in relevant European languages, such as French or German. ”

    Either all the reputable scholars –the kind of people who have contributed to the Encylopedia of Islam, or the (often Jewish) founders of Islamic studies like Goldziher were completely wrong, or your heroes have revealed some secret messages that all this people have missed out on completely. I think I know where we should put our confidences.

    Otherwise, we are dealing with sensationalists and amateurs of the breed who find that Jews are engaged in an eternal conspiracy to rule the world.

  • letters in the age says:

    Raoul

    nicely said on the virtues of being a mensch

    they alsö dönt need their ego stroked and are respected by their peers through word of mouth

    sigh

  • Levi (a refugee from the USSR) says:

    “I never said that religious Muslim leaders make statements which are not reported. I don’t believe that is so and agree that leaders’ pronouncement make news; what I said was about how little understanding there is of how ordinary people feel about the statements of religious leaders. Sure, many support them but of course most people are law abiding and don’t support comments of leaders who attempt to incite illegal behaviour”

    Many support them…but most people are law abiding. That’s reassuring. Thanks for the clarification. Yes most of them hate our guts (as per the survey that Eliezer cited) but the majority are law abiding….yup. But then again it only takes one nut case with a gun to stage what had occurred in France 3 months ago.

  • Eliezer says:

    After a full and interesting day I return to this website for one last time. Thank you Mandy for your civil comments. I appreciate them, but see little future for myself on this website. However, I know that, as Robert Magid has also said, I do speak for a large percentage, perhaps even a heavy majority, of the people in the Jewish community. It is good to give them voice here. And it is also good for the AJDS to actualize their democratic principles in allowing dissent from their views being frankly and firmly expressed on their own discussion blogs. Those who differ from the AJDS are neither stupid, ignorant, nor racist, and they do have serious points to make that are worth taking into account.

    Turning to Larry, I regret to say it, but I think there is little point in proceeding further with our discussion. I think I have already dealt satisfactorily with the adamantly dismissive comments on Bostom (and through him all the massive translated primary sources together with all the leading academic authorities whose articles are included in his book), Robert Wistrich, EU and US governmental statistics and official reports and any other research or horrific news events, including terrorist atrocities, giving solid evidence of the dangers a massive increase in Muslim immigration poses to the Jewish communities of any Western country. I need not add anything further to what I wrote in earlier posts. By the way, for those who are really interested in learning about these matters, another excellent and authoritative resource is Mohammed, Allah, and the jews: The Foundational Doctrine; The Islamic Trilogy, Vol. 5 (2006: Center for the Study of Political Islam). This book also gives many of the relevant Scriptural and other foundational Islamic sources in translation, but in briefer compass and with succinct commentary.

    Another “by the way,” this time in regard to the Jewish scholars who created the myth of the Islamic Golden Age of convivienca and Muslim-Jewish harmony back in the nineteenth century. It reminds me of the remarks of Bernard Lewis about those scholars and the myth, which I will refer to below in due course. But first of all, thank you Larry for mentioning Bernard Lewis: the reference is very a propos. His book Semites and Anti-Semites (1986) would be salutary reading for commentators on this page; the book deals chiefly with the massive evidence, which he reviews at length, for Muslim anti-Semitism in the modern period. With regard to earlier history, on p. 121, he summarizes his views as follows: “(H)ow did Muslims perceive Jews, and how did they treat them? Jews have lived under Islamic rule for fourteen centuries, and in many lands, and it is therefore difficult to generalize about their experience. This much, however, may be said with reasonable certainty–that they were never free from discrimination, but only rarely subject to persecution; that their situation was never as bad as in Christendom at its worst, nor ever as good as in Christendom at its best.” However, I must add, the evidence of the actual history of severe discrimination, pogroms and their frequency, and the like, rather convincingly put a caveat to the “rarely subject to persecution” phrase. It depends on what one means by “rarely.”

    Still staying with Lewis for the moment, in The Jews and Islam (1984), Lewis also tends to give an “on the one hand . . . on the other hand” discussion of the Quranic treatment of Jews, but entirely omits mentioning that the negative hand, so to speak, i.e., a strongly hostile view of Jews and their religion, is emphasized repeatedly in the later Surahs of the Qur’an (because of Muhammad’s increasingly evident failure to convert the Jews of Medina, which undermined his claims to be the prophecized final prophet); and it is a standard rule in Islamic Qur’anic exegesis that the statements of the later Surahs permanently overrule seemingly contrary statements in the earlier Surahs. This applies directly to the issue of Jews and, indeed, the later view of Jews by Muslim authorities. So it is not a minor point. In his chapter 2, however, Lewis grants that there was “a dark as well as a bright side to life as a dhimmi under the rule of Islam. “Humiliation and wretchedness were stamped upon them and they were visited with wrath from God,’ says the Qur’an (II, 61) speaking of the Jews. From time to time Muslim rulers, and more often Muslim populations, felt it necessary to restore this condition if the Jews seemed to be escaping from it.”

    Now I come to Lewis’s comments on the “Golden Age” myth of Muslim-Jewish fellowship. In his Islam in History (1973), he devotes a whole chapter to the “romantic” view of Islam promoted by European Jewish scholars in the nineteenth century, especially in Germany where there was so much antisemitism directed to Jews, and rejects it: “The reality was of course more complex, less idyllic, less one-sided. There had been times of persecution under the Muslims and times of prosperity under Christian rule in Spain–and many Christian states, as well as Turkey, had given shelter to the Spanish Jewish refugees. . . . The golden age of equal rights was a myth, and belief in it was a result, more than a cause, of Jewish sympathy for Islam. The myth was invented by Jews in 19th-century Europe as a reproach to Christians–and taken up by Muslims in our own time as a reproach to Jews” (p. 134 ff.). He goes on to remark that following the decline of Muslim unity and creativity from the 10th century onward, especially after the Crusades, there was a definite hardening of attitudes to both Christians and Jews, with especially the treatment of Jews growing worse and worse over the later centuries. This is almost unanimously shown, he says (p. 135), by accounts of European travelers in recent centuries, who write of the Jews being the most humiliated group in Muslim society, in “a tortured, despised and belabored state,” ill-treated on every hand. It is precisely this history and experienced reality that is described, with all due nuance, in the Bostom book through extracts from the chief religious authorities in Islam over that period, and which is supported by articles by most of the leading academic authorities on various aspects of the treatment of the Jews under Islam.

    The myth lives on, again solely for ideological and political reasons, amongst some Jews even today. I recall discussing this issue about 5 years ago with a noted, much published specialist on Islamic-Jewish relations in Spain after listening to several of his lectures (and reading his books), and I asked him why he so constantly stressed the benevolence of these relations, for example, in Cordoba in the 11th century when this century saw the wholesale slaughter of Cordoban Jews, over 3,000 of them, by Muslim mobs, and when the very authors he liked to quote as beneficiaries of convivienca (such as Yehudah HaLevi and Shlomo ibn Gabirol) actually wrote about the painful humiliations and worse that they suffered from on a daily basis. He answered that of course what I said was true, but he felt he had to press this line in his writings, to counter the “right-wing” in Israel!

    There is one further ironical point I might make in conclusion, merely as “food for thought.” With all due respect to the sincerity of your commitments, Larry, it seems evident to me that these commitments are so deeply rooted in worldview and ideology, and so tied to your own personal identity as well, that they are highly resistant to any challenges by empirical reality even of the most authoritative or dramatic sort. If this is so for you, who sincerely insists on your commitment to sweet dialogue and negotiation between opposing groups no matter how extremely divided, why should it be any different for Muslims committed to their received religion and its teachings about the West, jihad, “justice,” and Jews? You are not likely to change your views fundamentally in the course of your life. Why should the Muslim world, and especially the more extremist sector amongst them who are the source of dangers to the Jewish community, be any more likely to do so?

  • Levi (a refugee from the USSR) says:

    Speaking of Alinsky and other useful idiots of the West (including our own home grown ones) there is a fascinating interview with Yuri Bezmenov, a former KGB agent turned Soviet dissident. Before defecting to the West, Yuri was stationed in India. He gives an eye opening account on how the USSR sought to subvert and demoralize the West with the help of Western academia, intellectual chattering class, celebrities and media. He explains that the reason why the Soviet regime called these people useful idiots, was because the regime truly despised these people. Once the soviets gained power in a certain country, the first to be eliminated were always the useful idiots because they were the people who would end up becoming the most disillusioned with the soviet system (that’s after discovering the real “utopia” that the USSR had to offer). In their place, the soviets would seek to collaborate with narcissistic people. He cites Vietnam, Cambodia and Afghanistan as examples.

    Throughout the course of the interview, he appropriately uses terms like “half baked” intellectuals or “pseudo” intellectuals to describe the useful idiots and states that because Soviet subversion of demoralisation of a society is so deeply entrenched, when confronted with clear facts stating that black is black and white is white, the useful idiots aren’t moved. Sounds all too familiar doesn’t it?

    He also gives a hilarious account of how the Soviets flirted with the idea of using transcendental meditation as part of their subversion techniques and Yuri was sent on special assignment to an ashram. There he met lots of useful idiots – stoned, Americans living the good old bohemian life style. He described them as extremely stupid and naive people who embraced “Indian” culture, but were extremely despised by the local Indians. Sounds familiar all too doesn’t it,lol? The Soviets certainly lost the cold war, but won their war of subverting the West and have left a dark legacy. Issues concerning Israel are a good example of this subversion – just look at groups like J street the NIF, Peace Now or our very own proudly Aussie owned AJDS. and ironically just like the soviet regime, the people who despise these useful idiots the most happen to be the Islamist fanatics. As a an ex soviet citizen, none of this is new to me or my family, but a real eye opener to others.

    The interview is broken up in a few parts.

    http://m.youtube.com/index?desktop_uri=%2F&gl=AU#/watch?v=O_vsaPEajh0

    http://m.youtube.com/index?desktop_uri=%2F&gl=AU#/watch?v=Srw3YSda1XY

    http://m.youtube.com/index?desktop_uri=%2F&gl=AU#/watch?v=A-ZQbJHagx4

  • Larry Stillman says:

    Eliezer, whoever you are (anonymity is easier). You appear to be reasonably learned and you should recognize that there are a variety of opinions about the alleged Golden Age and so on. I never said that life was grand, and I think above I said there was a chance that life could be nasty, brutish and short.

    But I did say that the determinist and fundamentalist view you take is not one shared by many. And Lewis’s latter day views are respectfully dissented from by many, despite his longevity and learning.

    Notice that I haven’t said anything about you as a person, so rather than cheap shots at my identity, you may care to justify the lack of fundamental skills–language, culture, social and political and religious sciences and so on–amongst the harshest critics of Islam and particularly the fact that there books do not meet acceptable scholarly standards These are not considered opinions. They are that of amatuer Islamaphobic bigots, similar to 19th century anti-Semites. Daniel Pipes (obsessed with Obamas as a Muslim) is another. (Lewis is in a different category). .

    And from my very small sample, the Muslims I know all regard jihad as one thing–personal challenge. They are entirely respectful when I tell them about Judaism. Political, terrorist Islam is an entirely rejected thing in their lives.

  • Raoul Machal says:

    Larry, you write “YES, I do expect a high level of competence … I don’t know any other way to ‘read’ what a religion is supposed to say”.

    This is so symptomatic for this conversation between the fish and the bird. Your statement perfectly encapsulates the problem: Nobody but a few scholars give a damn what Islam is “supposed to say”. You will in fact never know what Muhammed really said, since compilation of written records began long after his death. The records are tainted and made to suit the worldly protagonists. The religious veneer is shaped to suit their agenda.

    Our friend Robert Spencer has just published an interesting summary on the sources writing precisely to these questions.

    But all this is of no practical concern and irrelevant for people living in the real world, faced with the real problems of Islamisation by mass migration from OIC member countries. Our friends Sam Solomon and Elias Al-Maqdisi have written a popular little book to this extend: Modern Day Trojan Horse: Al-Hijra, The Islamic Doctrine of Immigration.

    Of course nothing in your league, but just to make it perfectly clear: What concerns most of us is what actually happens under the banner of Islam; what this so-called religion actually DOES, has done in the past and will most likely do in the future. The massed don’t matter, never have. Neither under Hitler, nor Stalin or Mao.
    It’s all about the one percent and their cheer squad.
    As Elizier wrote, these gentlemen won’t change their views just as you won’t change yours. But we in the real world have to actually deal with the real consequences how Islamic supremacists read, view and interpret their scriptures, and how they use them to gain widespread authority, indoctrinate the masses, motivate their lieutenants and shaheeds, and propagate the virus further and further. If you’re blown up in a pizza shop, forced to move house, the public health and aged care system collapses and your children are bullied and become strangers in their own communities, you give a rodent’s rectum about Old South Arabic.

    That’s what it is all about, the practical consequences. Nothing more, nothing less.

    I’d like to leave this discussion with a little parable from Buddha, called the parable of the poisoned arrow. It goes like this:

    “The Buddha was sitting in the park when his disciple Malunkyaputta approached him. Malunkyaputta had recently retired from the world and he was concerned that so many things remained unexplained by the Buddha. Was the world eternal or not eternal? Was the soul different from the body? Did the enlightened exist after death or not? He thought, ‘If the Buddha does not explain these things to me, I will give up this training and return to worldly life’.

    Thus, he approached the Buddha with this question, who replied:

    “Suppose, Maunkyaputa, a man were wounded by an arrow thickly smeared with poison, and his friends and companions brought a surgeon to treat him. The man would say: “I will not let the surgeon pull out the arrow until I know the name and clan of the man who wounded me; whether the bow that wounded me was long bow or crossbow; whether the arrow that wounded me was hoof-tipped or curved or barbed.

    All this would still not be known to that man and meanwhile he would die. So too, Malunkyaputta, if anyone should say: “I will not lead the noble life under the Buddha until the Buddha declares to me whether the world is eternal or not eternal, finite or infinite; whether the soul is the same as or different from the body; whether an awakened one ceases to exist after death or not,” that would still remain undeclared by the Buddha and meanwhile that person would die.

    Whether the view is held that the world is eternal or not, Malunkyaputta, there is still birth, old age, death, grief, suffering, sorrow and despair – and these can be destroyed in this life! I have not explained these other things because they are not useful, they are not conducive to tranquility and Nirvana. What I have explained is suffering, the cause of suffering, the destruction of suffering and the path that leads to the destruction of suffering. This is useful, leading to non-attachment, the absence of passion, perfect knowledge.”

    Thus spoke the Buddha, and with joy Malunkyaputta applauded his words.”

    (Majjhima-nikaya, Sutta 63)

  • Doodie Ringelblum says:

    Levi – what would be the point of a discussion with Arnold Zable?
    Perhaps that you could better understand his attitude and thinking, rather than just making assumptions. Perhaps you could engage in useful discourse. Perhaps you could convince him – or he you – of an alternative point of view.

  • Levi (a refugee from the USSR) says:

    I’m not making assumptions, I’m basing it on a first hand account from my father.

    My only hope is, that in future he won’t go masquerading as a pole to the poles and just be a Jew ;)

  • Larry Stillman says:

    Raoul, of course I do not take the Quran literally and I said earlier that one of the problems with Islamic scholarship as I understanding it is that it has not adopted higher criticism which leads to essentialism. Yet this essentialism is mirrored by Islamophobes like Spencer and other mal-educated individuals who are motivated by hate.

    Even Abraham Foxman, of the ADN has said, quoted on Wikipedia with a link to the original “Spencer and Geller American anti-Muslim writers because their writings “promote a conspiratorial anti-Muslim agenda under the pretext of fighting radical Islam. This belief system parallels the creation of an ideological — and far more deadly — form of anti-Semitism in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.” He continued, “we must always be wary of those whose love for the Jewish people is born out of hatred of Muslims or Arabs.

    I’d been thinking this earlier, but not gone so far, but since the ADL has, I will. The kind of thinking of Spencer and it seems you and others resulted in the murders by Brevik in Norway, the mirror image of the political terrorist Islamists. Now, knowing where you are coming from, I am glad your IP address and that of others is logged in case there are problems.

    Thus Foxfam said @ http://tinyurl.com/9aqeg7n and people can read the whole article here.

    “The suspect in the July 22 attacks, Andrew Behring Breivik, published a 1,500-page manifesto quoting from the writings of European and American anti-Muslim writers, including Robert Spencer and Pamela Geller, who promote a conspiratorial anti-Muslim agenda under the pretext of fighting radical Islam.

    According to ADL, Breivik’s views seem to be influenced by a coherent ideology present in growing numbers both in Europe and the United States, which views Islam as an existential threat to the world and sees leaders and governments as collaborators in allowing Islam to “infiltrate” the West.

    “The suspected terrorist in the Norway bombing and shootings seems to have been motivated by anti-Islamic sentiments, but he did not attack Muslims. Rather, he reserved his extreme actions for those whom he thought were collaborating with Muslims and allowing them to take over Norway,” said Mr. Foxman. “Breivik was clearly influenced by an ideological movement both in the United States and Europe that is rousing public fear by consistently vilifying the Islamic faith. While the situation of Muslims in America — and how government and society deal with Muslim minorities and multicultural issues — is quite different and better in America, there are extremists here who think much like him and must be a matter of concern.”

    According to ADL, Breivik’s focus on “left-wing” multiculturalists destroying white European culture in favor of minority cultures such as the Muslim community is common among the far-right and the groups that straddle the far-right and conservative worlds in the U.S. They blame the government, universities, and the media for promoting diversity and minority cultures over European or American culture and accuse them of undermining “Western civilization” or European-American values.

    The League, which has strongly condemned the attacks in Norway and expressed deep sympathy for the Norwegian people, also warned against the rush to judgment that led some to blame Muslims for the attack before all of the facts were known to authorities.

    “The rush to judgment that resulted in many initial accounts inaccurately blaming the attack on Islamic terrorists underscores the obligation to assess terrorist threats and acts without creating an atmosphere of blame and suspicion of the larger Muslim community,” said Mr. Foxman.

  • Doodie Ringelblum says:

    Levi – “I’m not making assumptions, I’m basing it on a first hand account from my father. ”

    Whilst declining to hear the first hand account of the person you’re naming.

    Very sad and very telling.

  • Levi (a refugee from the USSR) says:

    Not nearly as telling as the sensational Fairfax article “Jewish hate speech…”

    a nice photo opportunity and 15 mins of fame all at the expense of the entire community. Seems pretty consistent and fits very nicely with my father’s account.

  • Doodie Ringelblum says:

    Levi Quote “When Zable addressed these polish students he always spoke about his own “polish” “pride” and “identity”. ….It’s a consistant pattern of naivety”

    Levi Quote “Zable was a product of the cultural revolution of the sixties and seventies. From that cultural revolution many people of the West today – especially the intellectual chattering class- view the world through a perspective of moral and cultural relativism. ”

    Levi Quote “I’m not making assumptions ….”

    Levi Quote “What would be the purpose of our discussion?”

    Yes indeed……

  • Levi (a refugee from the USSR) says:

    Ok, so Arnold isn’t a product of the counter-culture revolution, nor he was ever influenced by it at all..

    My advice to the Fairfax photographer – ensure that the next photo opp that accompanies a head line like “jewish hate speech” is one of Arnold smoking a pipe.

  • Ann Fink says:

    Kol ha kavod to Larry for his diligent and comprehensive research . But impossible to discuss theoretical future social behavioral outcomes on the basis of historical (however well researched) and contemporary gallup poll/social survey data. Problems are 1. the unintended consequences of human action; 2. self fulfilling prophesies; 3. attitudes, as measured by polls or social surveys do not necessarily translate into action. 4. complexity of factors contributing to evolution and modification of social behaviors over time and place. Won’t go into all the details and arguments here, and especially not with “scholars” who refuse to identify themselves. (my credentials, D.Phil Oxon.in Social Anthropology. BA (Hons) Melb Uni Philosophy and psychology and Dip.Soc. Studs. Melb Uni Any attempt to generalize about the future behavior of a group as diverse as are the Muslim communities in Australia (as Mandi and others have pointed out) is bound to end up as unsupported generalization.

  • Levi (a refugee from the USSR) says:

    Honors in philosophy and psychology? That’s certainly impressive. Thanks for giving us your credentials, Ann…

    Of course, if one bases their argument on the fact that the Muslim community of this country is 1. led by racist, hate filled bigots 2. The Results of a survey revealing the antisemitic attitudes of the average muslim, 3. On what has occurred to the Jewish communities of Europe…is only making “unsupported generalizations.”

    Unsupported generalizations never help anyone… “Jewish hate speech…”

    Yuri Bezmenov spoke a lot about half baked intellectuals.

  • Eliezer says:

    I cannot forbear another post, simply to recommend to Levi, whose comments have been very much to the point, and well put, a really stunning article on Soviet subversion at Tabletmag.com — by the way, an excellent web Jewish journal as such. Have a look at: http://www.tabletmag.com/jewish-news-and-politics/103576/the-cold-wars-arab-spring?all=1 Another outstanding Jewish news journal on the web I might also mention to you is Jewish Ideas Daily.

    As for the pitfalls for Jews of leftist thinking itself and its hostility also to general Western liberal democratic interests, in Europe and beyond, see Robin Shepherd, A State Beyond the Pale: Europe’s Problem with Israel (2009), and Bernard Harrison, The Resurgence of Anti-Semitism: Jews, Israel, and Liberal Opinion (2006). Harrison is a British philosophy professor, and he applies his analytical and deconstructionist skills to contemporary left liberal commentary on Israel, Zionism, Jews, etc., in British media, taking it apart and showing its logically and morally self-refuting nature. Shepherd is a specialist in international relations, also British. Both are non-Jews, but understand full well the centrality of anti-Jewish rhetoric in the fundamental crisis of self-confidence and self-belief now afflicting Western civilization as such. When put together with the first-mentioned article cited from Tabletmag.com, a lot is illuminated.

  • Larry Stillman says:

    Is that all you can do Levi, is personal disparagement? I suggest you check what a DPhil qualification from Oxford is. In particular, anyone doing any advanced work in the social sciences is well aware of the dangers of causal thinking and its failure when transferred across from the hard sciences.

    So it is time for some payback. The point is, you appear to reflect classic Soviet determinism in your thinking.

    And it is the coward technique, so beloved of Soviet fronts, to hide behind fabrications and pseudonyms . Maybe in fact, you are a resurgent old Soviet communist plant, hiding behind a fabricated identity, pretending to be in opposition? Or perhaps in fact, you are actually a a proponent of taqiyyah ( a covert Muslim), and not even a refugee from the USSR, hoping to set in place a revolutionary situation?

    Who really knows at this point….

  • Levi (a refugee from the USSR) says:

    If you advocate an open border policy that potentially places your community and this country as a whole in a more vulnerable position, the burden on proof is on you to provide hard evidence that this will not be the case. So far, no one – including the good Rabbi Genede has done so (despite even the rabbi acknowledging that there might be a danger). No credible facts, proof or a solution on how Australia can actually screen/vett people with no papers. Absolutely zero – despite the mounting evidence and hard facts that proves beyond doubt that this would endanger the jewish community (facts like the antisemitic incitement against Jews by Australian mainstream Muslim leaders, the fate of jews in france, Sweden and the UK – amongst hundreds of other evidence).

    Australia does have a moral obligation to accept refugees but not via an open border policy that allows people to come here without papers. Even if the danger was minimal- and that’s clearly not the case- and the likelihood of a tolouse style massacre would only be a fraction of a percent- than it is still too great a risk. And every Jew with the right moral compass – especially our community leaders (many of whom are unfortunately demagogues) should and must oppose this.

    Posting your resume on this site is a red herring. The amount of doctorate and honor degrees you have is completely irrelevant and does absolutely nothing to advance your argument or counter the arguments, hard facts and evidence brought by others. The only thing you could have possibly achieved is to give the owners of this blog the idea to run a site similar to Linkedin – a great idea that could possibly generate more revenue for this site.

  • Eliezer says:

    The claims that criticism of Islam produced Brevik, and therefore should not on any account be made, and that Spencer and other knowledgeable critics of Muslim violence and jihad are at fault because Brevik cited them, is very dangerous talk. It is also seriously fallacious scapegoating, smearing all who are concerned with Muslim immigration with the Brevik brush. So, although I did not intend to contribute anything more to this blog, which is descending into the gutter, I must comment. It is “dangerous” because it is a transparent attempt by Larry to suppress and delegitimize freedom of speech on basic issues facing our society in general, and Jews in particular, things affecting their well-being and survival that Jews have every right and indeed duty to be concerned about and to discuss. The attempt to blacken, even to demonize, all legitimate criticism about unrestricted Muslim immigration by associating it with Brevik is not democratic, but demogogic; it is actually a justification for replacing democracy with “People’s Democracy” thinking such as prevailed and still prevails in Fascist and Communist countries. Only “permitted thought” is to be allowed. This in itself is a danger to our way of life. It is also fallacious, because Brevik’s story is not one of being brought to his views by Spencer or any other commentators on Islam or on Jewish or other general topics (including Winston Churchill, Thomas Jefferson, Thomas Paine, Edmund Burke, Karl Marx, Theodore Adorno and his “Frankfurt School,” and others he cites along with various Christian theologians, etc.). Rather he studied all these sources after being forced by his own life experience to question Muslim attitudes and behaviour in Norway and elsewhere. He ran as a teenager with Muslim kids in a street gang, hoping to find with them a kind of family fellowship. But he got to the point where he could no longer stomach their constant sneering boasts about their rapes of Norwegian girls, their phrasing of these and other crimes as a kind of “just revenge” against non-Muslims, and their open and utter contempt for Norwegian society and their expressed desire to overthrow it. The similarity of these attitudes to those shown by the French Muslim rioters that tried to burn down Paris and other French cities in the “banlieu riots” of 2005, Muslim riots and demonstrations against Danish cartoons throughout Europe and the world also in 2005, various outright terrorist atrocities throughout Europe and the world throughout the first decade of this century (including against Jews and Israel, whose stalwart resistance at the frontline of the global jihad won his admiration), led him to conclude that his own experience pointed to something more general: there was indeed a major threat facing Western society. That is what led him to his reading. What he found, including the terrorist atrocities and riots themselves, was true or at least arguably so, and was certainly a serious issue. But none of those named above are responsible for what he made of what he found. All the people he cited, whether politicians, political commentators, or scholars, have dissociated themselves from what he did, and his justifications for it. It is mere guilt by association to try to delegitimize them because of him. Just about every viewpoint under the sun could be outlawed making use of the same criteria, that some extremist used it to justify extremism.

    But it is highly relevant to know that according to Brevik himself, he took his terrorist actions because he felt that there was no other way for him and those like him who were concerned about the Muslim threat to make their views known and seriously considered, in Norway and beyond. For the Norwegian media has steadfastly refused down through the years to discuss the Muslim question, or immigration as such, or even current crime statistics revealing Muslim behaviours. There was a total prohibition against any articles being published in any major Norwegian newspaper or magazine by political figures or commentators critical of open Muslim immigration. Christianity can be freely criticised, even in the most unrestrained way, but Islam never. The right has complained about this for decades. The same is true in Sweden, where the social democratic newspapers have an almost complete monopoly on public comment, and close out all competing views. This meant among other things that whole political parties, even those gaining one-third of the vote in Norwegian elections and having significant numbers of people in parliament, were silenced and frozen out of the media, under a total ban in newspapers, television and artistic/cultural circles. They were not interviewed, or if they were, partisan accounts and distorted contexts were given of their positions. Even if their platforms were centrist right, explicitly and emphatically liberal and democratic, tolerant of minorities, but still critical of massive Muslim immigration, they were termed “extreme right-wingers,” “racists,” moral defectives and unworthy of attention.

    The chief reason for Brevik’s actions was the liberal left (or rather not so liberal left) elitist suppression of democratic debate on these basic issues. Throughout most of 2011, Brevik sought to work with others of liberal right-wing tendencies to produce a new conservative newspaper in Norway that would provide a forum for open discussion of these matters. This finally fell through: they were all amateurs, tended to argue rather than plan, and did not have the funding needed, among other things. (On all this, see his emails, in Norwegian but they can be put through a Google translator, at http://www.document.no/anders-behring-breivik .) These sorts of futile efforts, which had gone on for a long time by that point, taught Brevik that there was no hope for changing anything through the moderate parties working within the system. He was kicked out of the liberal right groups he had briefly joined (and which have been blamed for his actions anyway), as his views got progressively more radical and extreme, and his circle of fellow agitators got smaller and smaller. If democracy had failed, or rather no longer existed, he concluded, perhaps the best path left was to imitate the Muslims themselves (as he wrote in the above cited emails).

    After all, he pointed out in these emails, Muslim terrorism and criminality had brought big rewards to Muslims throughout Europe, gaining them political power, “respect” and fearful compliance again and again. He praised the Muslim terrorism methods for their effectiveness, but thought they could be turned against the pro-Muslims (not the Muslims themselves, but the “Marxist” and other leftist undemocratic pro-Muslims who, he believed, were the real one trying to undermine Western culture and values). He thought that this avenue was the only sure and effective one for getting public debate on these matters. It is a telling point about his bomb in the centre of Oslo that it not only was outside the main government office, but (unreported by most media accounts although he wrote of it) also outside the building right next to it housing Norway’s biggest social-democratic newspaper. He wanted to send a message to the leftist elite that ran the country as their own private fiefdom, that they were the real enemy of the Norwegian people and would suffer the consequences. That is also why he attacked the Social Democratic Party’s youth camp, where the future leaders of that party were being “educated.” (It was not coincidental but only part of the surreal situation that what they were being “educated” in was pro-Palestinian hatred of Israel, and that they had just finished enacting a mock “flotilla” attack breaking through the “Israeli blockade” to Gaza beaches, in support of the terrorist group Hamas.)

    So the real cause of Brevik, Larry, was just the attitudes shown by some of the comments on this webpage: the attempt to demean and dismiss without any consideration at all legitimate and needed debate on the topics raised here, especially for those concerned about the well-being and future of the Jewish community. To ban Spencer from the discussion, for example, or Wistrich, the EU and US official monitors of antisemitic incidents, the Pew Global Survey, etc., even Bernard Lewis “in his latter day views” (all references were to early books from the early 70s to the 80s), Daniel Pipes (look up his academic qualifications before slandering him) and most definitely also Bostom (or rather, his book’s most comprehensive and full anthology of Muslim texts relating to the Jews of any in English, including from many ancient and modern mainstream Islamic authorities never before translated into English, and as well the over 20 articles by a who’s who of world-recognized top quality scholars), is NOT to serve moderation. It only encourages extremism. These things do not disappear if you close your eyes and try to stop others from looking. It only seems that way to you, but actually helps to make the problem much much worse.

  • Mandi Katz says:

    Eliezer – no-one has tried to silence anyone. People often claim that they are being silenced when people disagree with them.

    People get intimidated in political debate- and it is effective when the person using the tactic (and it happens across the political spectrum) has more power and particularly the power to exclude the subject of the bullying from a community, or the standing to label the person so that they are regarded with derision by the community or subset. But while it’s not very nice, it’s not an abuse of any entrenched right unless you are defamed. And if you have controversial opinions, it goes with the territory, And in any event, you are not identifiable, so how can anyone damage your standing or reputation?

    I am sickened by the implication of your comments that Breivik felt he was left with no choice but to kill. All terrorists claim to feel that way. There is no justification for murder, whatever its political setting. How can you write “The chief reason for Brevik’s actions was the liberal left (or rather not so liberal left) elitist suppression of democratic debate on these basic issues”?

    The chief reason for Breivik’s actions was that he exercised his free will to murder people.

    You have shown your true colours here.

  • Raoul Machal says:

    Larry, I said goodbye the other night with Buddha, and you come back with Breivik?

    If the one writing here under the name of Larry Stillman is indeed the real Larry Stillman, you have just demonstrated (with IP and time stamp) the point that no golden academic record in humanities or other pursuits can make up for a decent human character.

    Building little straw men to discredit people instead of their arguments in a lively discussion is one thing. But slavishly following Alisnky rule # 13 to the extend that you not only associate a mass-murdering mad men with decent and law-abiding people you have never met in your life, but publicly suggesting their thinking is indeed responsible for the mass murder’s actions, is as low as leftists agitprop and verbal gutter wash can get. Shame on you.

    If this is how it works in some quarters at Monash Uni these days, I fear for our next generation.

    If anyone cares to read the two psychological reports on Breivik (just google) you will notice two interesting facts: ‘Spencer’ as a search term in the two text files comes back with one result. If you run a search with ‘Marx’ over the same two text files, and applying Larry’s gutter technique, you’d be in no two minds to conclude who Breivik’s real motivator must have been.

    But then decent people wouldn’t do this is much as they would never associate the Beatles and their aficionados with the Hanson murders.

    Elizier has said everything else that needs to be said.
    It finds, in most parts, reflection in the two psychological reports. Mandy should not hit on E. words, rather separate the message from the messenger.

  • Eliezer says:

    Mandi, reread my post, this time carefully and with your temper in check, and you will see that I have not endorsed what Breivik did, nor his justifications for it. On the contrary, you will see that I criticised it, and called it “extremism” and “terrorism,” which is utterly abhorrent per se, no matter who does it or for what reason. That also includes all Palestinian and other Muslim terrorism, by the way, which the left excuses as legitimate “resistance” to “occupation.” It is all evil stuff, and inexcusable. It would be nice by the way to have the AJDS make plenty of strong public protests about the Muslim and Palestinian support for terrorism against Israel, e.g., with letters to the newspapers in response to apologists for the Palestinians. I have not seen those. I have said however that extremism of Breivik’s sort is the inevitable result of suppression of democratic discussion of basic issues facing a society. And the fault for that lies squarely on the leftist rulers of Norway, who have very effectively banned such discussion. This is yet another case history demonstrating the truth of R.J. Rummel’s insights concerning the correlation of violence, both internal civil strife and external wars, with lack of full democratic structures and freedoms in a society (google Rummel Power Kills). Also see Robert Dahl, Pluralist Democracy in the United States: Conflict and Consent (1967, but not outdated even now) and his Democracy and Its Critics (1989). This should be required reading by all those interested in what democracy really consists of and does. Or, if this is not good enough, the Federalist Papers, written by Alexander Hamilton, John Jay and James Madison back in the 1780s to explain the logic behind the newly proposed American Constitution. It is all discussed there.

  • Eliezer says:

    Every day brings another news item about the increasingly dire situation in Europe for Jewish communities, due to the Muslim immigrant presence there. Here are two from France that I just happened to come across today without searching for them. Now even the Socialist government and media in France, after initial resistance following the Toulouse atrocity, have finally admitted frankly that there is a big and growing problem with Muslim antisemitism, but of course things are just as bad in Sweden in certain areas, The Netherlands, England, and elsewhere where the link is denied on the left as here on this blog. With this sort of support, Jewish leaders feel more able to make public statements about it. The Chief Rabbi of France, for example, has recently spoken up candidly about the significant rise in Muslim antisemitic attacks following the Toulouse atrocity, as reported by Michel Gurfinkel, “French Jews: No Future,” at: http://gurfinkielsblog.blogspot.com.au/2012/08/french-jews-no-future.html There is a link in that article to another even longer and more detailed article in the left-wing magazine Le nouvel Observateur: Isabelle Monnin,”Voyage au bout du nouvel antisémitisme,” Le nouvel Observateur, 08.07.12, at: http://tempsreel.nouvelobs.com/le-dossier-de-l-obs/20120703.OBS5907/la-france-n-en-a-pas-fini-avec-l-antisemitisme.html Since it is filled with personal stories, it might appeal to Larry’s and Ann’s interest in personal ancedotes. But it also has statistics and solid content.

  • arieeel says:

    So now that the Asylum Seekers report by Angus Houston and co has been released – and the government has promised to legislate all of its recommendations –  what do we think?
     
    This is my first post on this topic as I feel there has been a lot of commentary from both ends of the pendulum and I wasn’t sure where I stood.
     
    The reason for the boats coming to Australia is that the entire UN refugee processing system is broken. It is a bloated beaurocracy which does little to help  the thousands still languishing in refugee camps around the world. When our parents and grandparents came here as refugees immediately after the Shoah, the UN system was not in place yet (it was only signed in 1951).The way it worked until then was that people did what Magid calls “destination shop”. For example, my grandfather walked into the US embassy in Vienna and  asked for asylum and refugee status for the family. He was told no problem, but there’s a 4 year backlog of applications being processed.So, he walked into the Australian emabassy. There he was told no problem, but there’s an 18 month backlog of applications being processed. Without  hesitation, he accepted the deal and they arrived in Australia in January 1951 with official Australian Government papers.
     
    With the system as it stands now, I don’t blame people trying to circumvent it. However, I also don’t believe they should be able to decide that Australia is  the place for them without first speaking to Australian officials in their port of departure or in the first safe place they arrive at. The system needs to  be amended (and Australia should lead the way) so that people who flee Afghanistan (or Sudan or any other dangerous place) can seek asylum in an embassy in  their first safe stop. For example, there are refugees who fled Afghanistan in the 1980s on foot (using people smugglers), but once they arrived in a safe  place – ie India – they went to the Australian embassy and requested asylum.
     
    Furthermore, the media uses language to distort the real picture. For example, ABC radio claimed the other day that people “flee Afghanistan for Australia on  boats”. This is as ridiculous a notion as it sounds; you can’t board any sort of boat in Afghansitan to flee it. The boats are used to arrive in Australia,  not depart from Afghanistan; there is a big difference here. Australia should send immigration and DFAT officials to Malaysia and Indonesia to process asylum claims there. There should be an agreement with the local  governments that people who are waiting to have their refugee status determined be allowed to work and live freely in the community. Beyond this, I think we need to have a civil discussion about how to alleviate this situation. In my humble opinion, the UN is part of the problem and unless  it drastically reforms its processes, cannot be part of the solution. It will take a coalition of the likes of Australia, USA, Canada, NZ, Britain to be  brave and chart a more effective and compassionate path.

  • Eliezer says:

    @Mandi, you wrote that “no one is trying to silence anyone.”  Unfortunately, this is not entirely correct, although I certainly would agree that you at least have been civil.  But have a look back over the posts again. When I posted my first response dissenting from the views expressed here, solely by discussing the objective issues and not making any personal nor offensive comments, I was bluntly told to shut up, and if I did not like it here to leave the country.  Much more serious is the comment made some 15 posts before this one (I cannot provide the precise day and time data since the new formatting of the post comments removes that data from them, replacing it with just “3 DAYS AGO” — paragraph breaks have also been removed, making posts harder to read), by Larry Stillman.  He wrote:   “The kind of thinking of Spencer and it seems you and others [have,] resulted in the murders by Brevik in Norway, the mirror image of the political terrorist Islamists. Now, knowing where you are coming from, I am glad your IP address and that of others is logged in case there are problems.”    As you must confess, Larry is explicitly threatening with these remarks to report critics posting on this blog to the police as suspects or involved persons if any Breivik-style atrocity whatsoever occurs here in Australia, at any time.  In other words, this is a chilling guilt-by-association that even goes beyond McCarthy-ite smears, because it blames precisely the critics of Jewish community support for massive Muslim immigration for any future Muslim-related atrocities against Jews or other Australians.  The very fact that such events would entirely validate the critics’ warnings is used as a method of criminalizing them and effectively outlawing their views.  The logic is precisely the same used by the left to blame Spencer and the liberal right in general for Breivik, not themselves and their illiberal suppression of dissent.  This is most certainly an attempt to silence critics, by the very person who runs this blog.  It is highly offensive and threatening.  And it is precisely the sort of thinking I was complaining about.  I frankly think that an apology and retraction would be in order.

  • Eliezer says:

    I was referring to and requesting an apology and retraction from Larry Stillman, obviously, not Mandi.

  • Eliezer says:

    (Written four hours after my previous post) — It may be a long wait for Larry to bring himself to apologise and to retract his threats, if he ever does, but rather than wait for that indeterminate outcome I would like to share now a few more highly relevant items regarding Breivik and his goals.  
     
    They come first of all from Daniel Pipes’ websites and articles.  Larry of course has explicitly included Pipes on his academically unqualified, ignoramus/bad-guy list.  However, Pipes is far better qualified academically than Larry himself, as he would certainly have to know.  Pipes has received a doctorate from Harvard in medieval Islamic history, has written many scholarly books on Middle Eastern affairs including one on colloquial Egyptian Arabic, taught world and especially Islamic history at the University of Chicago and Harvard, presently edits the Middle East Quarterly, a leading academic journal on Middle Eastern affairs, and helps to run the outstanding academic-level website Middle East Forum, http://www.meforum.org., which I recommend to all readers.  He also helps to run the very important Campus Watch (http://www.campus-watch.org) which has organized and maintained documentation of the doctrinaire anti-Zionist, if not outright antisemitic, and pro-Islamist, leftist biased teaching by too many Islamic Studies and Middle Eastern Studies scholars at too many universities in the U.S. and elsewhere.  This very much needed group, Campus Watch, has proven that mere academic qualifications do not necessarily equate to impartiality, knowledge or decency.  My conversation, described earlier, involving an academic specialist on Jewish culture in Muslim Spain whose often admirably learned books were admitted by him himself to be intentionally slanted by leftist political partisanship, is only one instance of a very common phenomenon.  Every academic, regardless of their own field, will have their own many recollections of similar conversations within their discipline.  The fellow-travelling of the Social Sciences academic world, including those in International Relations and Eastern European Studies, regarding the Soviet Union and Communism in general is a matter of record.  
     
     
    Pipes also has his own blog at http://www.danielpipes.org.  On this blog he includes articles he has contributed to many journals and newspapers over the years.  He has commented on the Breivik matter, for example.  In his article, “The Left Distorts Breivik’s Mental World,” he responds to claims that citations by Breivik of people like himself, Spencer, Bostom, etc., and also leading European politicians on the liberal right, show their role in inciting Breivik’s terrorism.  (This article is available at danielpipes.org and also at http://europenews.dk/en/node/56933 — have a look at this entire website, by the way, the best source for news about the problems of Muslim immigration and about other “multiculturalism” issues in Europe, including the plight of Jewish communities there.)
     
     
    Pipes cites a statistical study of Breivik’s writings, which show that Breivik cited as many leftist pundits and politicians as he did rightist ones.  Karl Marx, Theodor Adorno, Herbert Marcuse, Antonio Gramsci and other major leftist thinkers were all very big in his references.  Gramsci’s and Marcuse’s views that violence could help to eliminate the bourgeois centre and be purgative in bringing about a Marxist society appealed a great deal to him.  Polarization is essential to radicalization of society.  Muslim spokespeople and religious writings were even more often cited.  
     
     
    But such citations, including those of Spencer and Pipes, does not mean that Breivik entirely agreed with them.  Quite the contrary, Breivik indicates his strong disagreement with Pipes and Spencer that there even is a “moderate Islam” that could be a counter-weight to extremism and jihadism, or that, as Pipes and Spencer have often strongly emphasized, Western governments need to encourage and give a voice to genuinely moderate Muslims (rather than pandering as at present to covertly or even explicitly Islamist groups and spokespeople).  Pipes suggested (see his “Norway’s Terrorism in Context,” July 27, 2011, at
    http://www.danielpipes.org/10007/norway-terrorism-in-context ) that Breivik quite intentionally tried through his citations and comments in his manifesto to implicate moderate scholars as well as leaders of the centrist and liberal right in his own planned terrorism, precisely to discredit them, to increase the polarization and radicalization of Norwegian society, and ultimately to boost the ranks of people like himself.  This theory is supported by passages in his own manifesto ignored by the leftist critics who wish to use Breivik to silence the liberal right.  As all extremists inevitably do, Breivik despised the centrist right as well as the left.  In that manifesto, Breivik explicitly looked forward to a “witch-hunt” following his terrorist atrocity, in which moderate and non-violent critics of Islam and immigration would be demonized and suppressed.  One of the chief of those victims, a commentator in the Scandinavian countries whose pen-name is “Fjordman,” who was outed by leftists and is now I believe in hiding (one of those like Salman Rushdie and the Danish cartoonist fearful for his life), has written that Breivik apparently intended to make his brief membership in the liberal right Progress Party of Norway (that Fjordman adheres to) as a means to undermine it.  It should be noted that the Progress Party before the Breivik atrocity was the second-biggest party in Norway and posed a serious threat to Social Democratic dominance.   
     
    Breivik is not a dummy.  Actually, he is very bright, and very malicious, as his reading list and comments show.  He had certainly learned from his leftist mentors on revolutionary activities, much though he despises them, too.  As Fjordman comments (see the “June 12, 2012 update” at
    http://www.danielpipes.org/10007/norway-terrorism-in-context ), “Unfortunately, he has at times been quite successful in his efforts. In this regard, most of the mass media and the political establishment have essentially acted as Breivik’s useful idiots from day one.”  A point to take to heart on this website.  
     

  • RaoulMachal says:

    @arieeel – unfortunately the whole debate is so badly distorted by the media, people’s minds are poisoned. The old story of the real big lie and repeating it long enough. There is no war, conflict, civil unrest or persecution of Muslims in Indonesia. It may not be 5-star and the are no CentreLink offices, but there are UN offices and Australian offices to apply to. If you set sail from Indonesia to Australia you are not fleeing murder, persecution or a war zone. You are not a refugee under the UN convention. Schengen states apply this principle for years as the safe third country rule. But just as we don’t pay a tax on carbon, we are brain-washed into a refugee problem.

  • Levi a refugee from the USSR says:

    http://sheikyermami.com/wp-content/uploads/ahmadinejad-egypt.jpg

    Click on this link and guess who the person (with the hand to the heart) to the right of Ahmadinejad is. A clue…he is a “proud” Aussie and a product of our open border policies. I hope I didn’t give too much away. Oh no, it’s the yellow “peril” all over again….

  • RaoulMachal says:

    First Australian Al Quds day in Sydney, Hyde Park 2pm this Friday. Can one sing Kumbajah while the head is still stuck in the sand?

    http://www.facebook.com/events/492247287467887/

  • Eliezer says:

    Quite rightly and appropriately, I notice that Raoul Machal and Levi have, like me, posted comments recently despite Larry Stillman’s earlier threat to report us all to police or ASIO “if problems arise” in the future regarding terrorist acts.  This is an appropriate response to Larry, and I would want to encourage any other future readers critical of Muslim immigration to continue to express themselves on this galusaustralis website without any fear whatsoever.  
     
    For Larry’s threat is an entirely empty one, as he would know.  It is mere bluff and toothless intimidation.  There has been no endorsement by criminal behaviour nor violence of any sort by any commentators on this blog, which might be reasonable grounds for police investigation.  And, besides, comments that are simply critical of Muslim immigration or Islam as such must number in the many tens of thousands and can be found in web discourse and newspaper articles and letters columns throughout Australia and beyond.  They would not be worthy of the slightest ASIO or police attention even in the event of terrorist atrocities, not to mention that there are not enough people in ASIO and the police to keep track of all that.  
     
    Furthermore, it is not against the law, and cannot ever in the future be against the law so long as Australia remains a liberal democracy, for Jews quite legitimately concerned about the security of their local Jewish community to debate whether it is appropriate or in the interest of the Jewish community for Jewish leaders to endorse massive Muslim immigration to Australia.  It is not a criminal offense either to cite authoritative global surveys showing the very high level of antisemitism in Muslim countries around the world and especially in those countries from which most Muslim “refugees” are coming, and therefore the political and even physical threat to Jews wherever there are large Muslim populations.  It is also not a criminal offense, and can never be so, to cite authoritative scholarly resources of very high standard showing the deep roots and history of antisemitism, and its present intensity, in mainstream Islam.  Neither is it against Australian law, nor will it ever be, to refer to academic studies of European Muslim immigration that unanimously show that radicalism and Islamism has increased in the second- and third-generations of settlement, regardless of the policies and economic circumstances in any particular European country.  So assimilation has not worked in the same way as for all other immigrant populations, and the risk to Jews is a serious long-term issue, not just one of the here-and-now.  But the long-term dangers don’t take too long to surface.  As one French Jewish leader in Lyons put it, “It is not just our situation in this country deteriorating; it is also that the process is much quicker than expected” (see the article cited just below).
     
    Nor can it be against the law to cite official European Union and U.S. government reports, which in this case confirm the increasing Muslim attacks and victimization of Jews in Europe, nor to draw attention to the despair amongst Jewish leaders about the future for their Jewish communities in those countries.  I have cited a very recent expression of that despair coming from many rabbis as well as lay leaders in France, for example, including now the ecumenically-active Chief Rabbi Bernheim, due to those constant and horrific Muslim attacks against them.  I would recommend that Rabbi Genende read carefully the article I cited; I do not think he is likely to take it lightly: see
    http://gurfinkielsblog.blogspot.com.au/2012/08/french-jews-no-future.html .  Similar such testimonies have come from Orthodox Jewish leaders and rabbis elsewhere in Europe, so these remarks are not anomalous. 
     
    And, finally, it cannot be against the law to deplore the leftist silence on these issues, and, where leftists have political power, their attempts to suppress all discussion of the problems arising from massive Muslim immigration.  I mentioned below the fact that in Norway and Sweden the press is solidly under the control of Social Democrats, and dissenting views, even from the leaders of the second-largest party in the country, get no coverage.  I have had my attention called to yet another article on this, this time regarding a speech by the Swedish journalist Ingrid Carlqvist, who helped to found, just last year, the Swedish Free Press Society.  Have a look at the article at 
    http://europenews.dk/en/node/56566
     
    All of these are things discussed at more length in my earlier posts, but I summarize them here because the new formatting effectively makes those earlier posts nearly unreadable.  But the critical comments by Levi, Raoul Machal, Sadducee, and others are all also innocuous and pose no danger to Australian society; they are, however, important and legitimate considerations for internal debate within the Jewish community, and there is nothing wrong with them.

  • Eliezer says:

    That’s cool: no one has a right to form an opinion on Islamic views of Jews except for those with a knowledge of “Classical Arabic, Old South Arabic, Greek, Syriac, Turkish, Persian, Swahili … Bahasa and so on.”  Actually, none of the experts on the subject know all these languages, so that rules out everybody, not just us ordinary folk who can read all of this stuff in translation (as in Bostom’s book).  Except, it seems, Larry, although he does not know these languages either.  “Otherwise, we are dealing with sensationalists and amateurs” allegedly similar to rabid antisemites.  Hm-m.  As for “the (often Jewish) founders of Islamic Studies like Goldziher,” see my response to this post regarding the “myth” of the Jewish-Muslim Golden Age of convivienca in Muslim Spain: that was specifically about those Jewish founders of Islamic Studies in the 19th century.

  • Eliezer says:

    The silence from Larry Stillman, who monitors this website constantly since it is his own production, is deafening.  It is a full day after I requested an apology and retraction from him, and there has been nothing, a sudden cessation of all comments from him.  It should not be such a big deal: everyone makes mistakes and can say things in irritation that on reflection they no longer mean or agree with.  But stalling makes such mistakes more emphatic and shows something deeper, so that one ends up digging oneself deeper into a hole it is harder to climb out of.  Furthermore, I see that contributions from his acolytes and supporters have also abruptly ceased.  I would suggest to them that if they really do stand for democratic principles, they should urge Larry to retract his remarks and get over it.  Otherwise, their silence is their own “bystander” support for Larry’s position and the kind of democracy it suggests.  Galusaustralis and ADJS should be on a higher plane than that.
     
    Let me just review a few other problems arising in this non-dialogue, since I believe that none of this is inconsistent.  In a civil and low-key way in previous posts I presented massive and solid, reliable and authoritative evidence, ranging from official EU and US governmental reports to scholarly research essays to very full anthologisation of Islamic texts and outstanding studies of Muslim-Jewish relations, and Larry has dismissed them all, often with ad hominem attacks that were themselves pedantic or fallacious (e.g., regarding the academic standing or rather irrelevance of Robert Wistrich, Andrew Bostom and Daniel Pipes, and even the truth and significance of the assertions made by Bernard Lewis in his earlier scholarship that confirmed the other authors cited).  Now it is quite possible to doubt one or another person or authority, and to raise genuinely sincere questions about that, no matter what sort of list is presented.  I may not agree with the doubts expressed, but it is all part of normal serious discussion.  But the total and sweeping rejection of all of these authorities, often for the flimsiest or even fantasizing reasons, purely because of their ideological inconvenience, and even the attempt to delegitimize all of this as the actual cause of Breivik-style terrorism, goes beyond the responsible and betrays another agenda altogether.

  • Eliezer says:

    2 days and still nothing from Larry Stillman, nor even from others managing this website or supporting him.  That being the case, can we take it that making threats against dissenting views is quite acceptable and approved policy at galusaustralis?  I shall have to direct that question to the folks at “General Feedback.”

  • frosh says:

     @Eliezer Eliezer, contrary to what you have stated, Larry Stillman is not the producer of this site. Perhaps the knowledge that you are wrong about this basic fact will open your eyes to the possibility that you could be wrong about several other basic facts.

    As it happens, it’s no secret that Stillman and I are on far from friendly terms.

    If you feel someone has threatened you, the correct procedure is to email the editors.

  • Eliezer says:

     @frosh   Frosh, thank you for your response.  I am not sure what “several other basic facts” you think I should reassess, but it seems to me that Larry’s role here at galusaustralis is a different sort of question than those I discussed in earlier posts, in which the references and their conclusions which I cited in support of my points are just matters of fact.  One can have whatever opinion one likes about them, but their findings are as reported by me.  
     
    As for my assumptions about Larry’s role in this blog, I surmised that he was involved with the running of the website and webpage because, first of all, he stated that he was keeping a record of IP addresses and email addresses of those persons who differed from him, and this meant that he was no mere commentator like the rest of us but he had direct access to the inner workings of the website and its confidential data records, access that would be available only to its managers, and what is more, he presented himself as a person fully authorized to use this confidential information against the bloggers if he personally felt it was necessary.  He did not speak about any need to consult anyone else.  Therefore he was one of the website’s top producers and organizers, a kind of chief executive in its workings. QED, as it seemed to me, especially since no one else on the blog qualified his claims.
     
    Furthermore, he presented himself on the webpage from the start of his posts as a person who, in conformity with the ideology of galusaustralis itself, and seemingly on its behalf (but perhaps I misunderstood this?), was the organizer of activist pressures on the AJN through acolyte letters and emails attacking Robert Magid, an organizer who even spoke for its viewpoint to media (TV, radio, etc.).   I think therefore that my construction of things was a reasonable one.  If, as it now appears may possibly be the case (but I am still unclear on this), Larry Stillman is not a website manager, does not have access to IP and email address information on bloggers, and and in any case cannot on his own authority simply decide to disseminate this information to third parties if and as he personally wishes, then he was not as he represented himself.  The error in such a case would arise from his misrepresentation, not my unreasonable assumptions.  However, I await clarification.

  • Eliezer says:

     @frosh  The “General Feedback” page editors have now fully clarified the situation, and I am satisfied that my concerns as regards this website, however reasonable they were in terms of comments on this page, were incorrect as regards the actual website administration or blogger’s access to IP and email addresses.  This concludes the matter as far as I am concerned and I will not pursue it any further.

  • RaoulMachal says:

     @Eliezer I would caution to conclude with absolute certainty the person commenting here was the real Larry Stillman. I find it difficult to align a person with Mr Stillman’s academic record with what was written here. Some of the comments under Larry Stillman’s name show a serious lack of maturity and out of character for an esteemed academic. Perhaps someone who knows the real Larry Stillman can shed more light on this question. But it wouldn’t surprise if malevolent pranksters use the name of a better know person and discredit him by making disparaging statements on public websites and blogs. I am not suggesting this to be the case here one way or another, just to keep an open mind.
     
    IP addresses are a dime a dozen for those who use commercial VPN access services, or other cloaking techniques. When we get into discussions with someone at the pub, we wouldn’t expect everyone to carry a sign around their neck with full name and home address either, right? Likewise it can make good sense to partake in online discussions with consideration to privacy. 
     
    I wouldn’t be concerned about the Larrys of this world dobbing at ASIO.
    Australian and other security services would be well aware from which direction the wind blows. They’d keep tabs quietly at a different level. The real concern IMHO is what the ‘Larrys’ of this world are doing to scores of young, impregnable people in our universities. No wonder there are so many GenYs out there who think the Holocaust was invented by Steven Spielberg, the evil Zionists invaded the peaceful  Palestine nation and Islamists are the best friends Jews, Christians, Hindus and Buddhists ever had. 
     
     
     

  • Eliezer says:

     @RaoulMachal  Thank you for the points you made, and your other posts, too.  Actually, this article attacking Robert Magid was the first item I have ever read from galusaustralis, as well as the first time I have ever had anything directly to do with “Larry Stillman.”  My comments purely reflected the remarks made in regard to this article, remarks I treated on their own merits.  As for whether the remarks really were from Larry Stillman, it would easy enough for him to disown them, on this very web-page blog, if they were not.  I would also draw your attention to his earlier posts on this web-page, which certainly seemed to reflect a person highly positioned within AJDS and organizing activist protests and fronting up to TV and other media, as Larry Stillman.  However, the real issue is that of the endorsement of Muslim immigration into Australia by leaders of the Jewish community, who thereby put their own community at risk.  I believe I have shown irrefutably that there are such risks, and that the usual excuses for dismissing them have no validity.  My real focus has been on mainstream Jewish community leaders such as Rabbi Genende, alerting them to the very real and serious problems that attend such an endorsement.  What to do about such a problem, once it is taken seriously, is another matter altogether.  But Robert Magid has shown courage, integrity and community responsibility in bringing this subject to public attention, and the attacks against him, as we have seen, are more often ideological than substantive.

  • yaelaroni770 says:

    I read Rabbi Genede’s well written and emotive article looking to see what he might add to this discussion as a rabbi. What does the Torah say? What does the Halacha say? Reference to some very important biblical verses and Talmud texts that clearly identify the significance and importance of Chessed is not the Torah’s final opinion or Halacha’s verdict. It is simply a consideration that is a component of an assessment. I was looking for answers to questions alluded to by Rabbi Genede but for which I did not find answers.
     
    For example, he states,
    “I do not believe there are limits to compassion”.
    But he MUST accept that there are limits. Otherwise he would sell his last shirt and give the proceeds to those less fortunate than us, because compassion does not mean shedding tears and making speeches, but taking action. Is there no limit to how much action we must take? Or how much we are permitted to take? Does God permit us to jeopardise our well being and that of our family and community, to help those who clearly are suffering?
     
    So how much are we permitted to give away, and I don’t just mean time and money, but security and emotional comfort? Because Rabbi Genede admits that,
    “As Jews, we are particularly fearful of Muslim immigrants and their potential for extremism. These are not light fears but like many fears they are in large part unfounded”
    What risks are we permitted to take in order to assist those who may end up causing us trouble? And how and who is to determine the risks? The Halacha one thinks, would be inclined to err on the side of caution. My life takes priority, is the ruling about keeping the water and preserving my life and as the Talmud expresses it, being responsible for the demise of another human.
     
    The Torah instructs us to consider some nations incorrigible, and that we cannot live with them under any circumstances, even if they are to be separated from us and relegated to the lowest caste of society. This does not mean that they are to be hated; they can live in peace and comfort but not together with us. So I agree with Rabbi Genede’s analysis that,
    “The challenge for a (democratic) [dignified] society is to create hope and opportunities for the disadvantaged. The challenge of a moral society is to provide a home for the persecuted.”
    But that home, might well be elsewhere, not in our society. But this is not Rabbi Genede’s view, he insists that our society will gain when we absorb,
    “if you absorb your migrants with compassion and skill you build a stronger society both economically and ethically.”
     
    But I do fully agree that,
    “It is hard to know what is fact and what is fiction”
    and found this: “Australia is one of only about 20 nations worldwide that participate formally in the UNHCR’s resettlement program and accepts quotas of refugees on an annual basis. In 2008, under this program, Australia accepted the third largest number of refugees (includes refugees and other humanitarian entrants) for resettlement in the world.” http://www.aph.gov.au/binaries/library/pubs/bn/sp/asylumfacts.pdf
     
    I am sure we should be doing more. I am sure that some of the negative opinion in this national discussion is of a heartless, unwholesome and unhealthy nature. But that does not determine the outcome of this discussion.
     
     

  • arieeel says:

    I’m not sure I’m comfortable with citing halacha as to how the Australian Government should behave regarding refugees or any other topic. They do not recognise halacha as their guidance, although they do from time to time ask all religious groups for an opinion on one matter or another (without any obligation to accept those opinions). 

  • Rabbi Meir Rabi says:

     @arieeel That is a decision for the Australian Govt. to decide.But we are having a discussion about the Jewish perspective. Certainly when it is a position posted by a rabbi of an orthodox congregation and even more so when it is made in response to an opposing opinion of a Jewish thinker made in a Jewish newspaper.
     
    I think YaelAroni has made some legitimate and thoughtful observations that deserve a more measured response.

  • Levi a refugee from the USSR says:

    Reagrding halacha, there being no limits to compassion and our halachic obligation to treat the “stranger” (Ger) in a dignified and humane way because as the Torah notes “we were strangers in Egypt”….I’m still waiting for Rabbi Genede to answer my question re the concept of Ger Toshav. After all, the very same Halacha, that he cites, does not allow any non Jew to permenantely reside in Israel unless they accept the Seven Laws of Noah and abandon their idolatrous practices. Obviously Halacha obligates us to limit our compassion. If the good Rabbi doesn’t answer this question, than perhaps he is just being a little…err…selective…when it does to Halacha…

  • Mandi Katz says:

    A Jewish perspective is not limited to a halakhik perspective.  Many people identify Jewishly in many other ways – and they might bring to their Jewish perspective, values and views based on the experience of Jews  – broadly history, but also traditions about the way that many Jews (of course not all, or even anything like a majority)  have  spoken for the underdog. 
    Also there are many approaches to interpeting halakha and Jewish ethics.
    So the way the rabbis “muted” the idea of the ‘ger’ to the narrower obligations to the ger toshav reflected their world view and the historical context in which they lived and set precedent. What makes their positions more authentically Jewish than a broader construction of the notion – more akin to of treating minorities with compassion,  and arguably closer to the biblical precept ?
    For some people, rabbinic Judaism is the only authentic version of Judaism.  Others see it differently. None of us has an exclusive view of what constitutes real Judaism, in a way that is binding on  people who don’t see it that way.
     

  • Levi a refugee from the USSR says:

    Rabbi Genede stated that the Talmud/Torah obligates us to “have no limit to our compassion” on the orphan, widow and…stranger. my response was…the same Torah and talmud that he quotes sets very stringent conditions for “strangers” to reside in the land of Israel. I wasn’t trying to get into a debate on what is more authentic (even though I have a very clear view on that also ;) ), merely a response from the Rabbi who started a discussion from what the halachic perspective might be.

  • @Mandi Katz
    Jewish perspectives are not limited to Halacha any more than Labor, Liberal, Christians, Bhuddists etc are limited to their constitutions, bulls and desiderata.
     
    But at some point we must concede that these perspectives have limitations beyond which it is no longer reasonable to define them as the thing whose inspiration, strength, structure, principles, protection and guidance we are seeking.
     
    And we must ask ourselves, “Why are we trying to refer to these perspectives in this discussion?” because if it is in order to reinforce our position and to empower our argument, then we may be overstepping the bounds of being legitimate. It is part of the broader argument between the various Jewish groups: who in fact is legitimately entitled to represent authentic Judaism. By way of example, is the CHASSIDIC song festival in any way CHASSIDIC? Or is it just a brand name that sells pretty well?
     
    (And, allow me to digress, no different than the commonly accepted “fact”, that the blue bands on our Israeli Flag, represent the bands of our Tallis. I think those Tallis bands on our flag, indicate National recognition of a Divine Covenant, a very deep, unshakeable connection between Gd’s People, His Land and His Torah.)
     
    Why do we speak of the “Jewish” view towards refugees? Is it not because we are drawing strength and guidance from Jewish values and Biblical experiences? If it is just the recent Jewish experience we reflect upon then we need not connect this to our Torah heritage. We may more readily suggest that their plight resonates with our collective consciousness of our own suffering, humiliation, mistreatment and abuse by a world overwhelmingly malicious and uncaring. Yet I am under the impression that almost all those who promote the Jewish perspective in the discussion about refugees, reflect upon the Biblical narrative, be it from an ultra-orthodox perspective or a Biblical Historical perspective. Either way, it draws its energy from the Halachic traditions howsoever they are interpreted. Even those who do not formally embrace these religious traditions use them nevertheless to buttress their pleas for a more merciful and loving approach to the refugees.
     
    Furthermore, the indictment has been stated: those who are less than “compassionate without limitation” are not upholding Jewish traditions. But these “traditions” are little more than views that may not reflect the ancient and authentic Jewish Traditions. Traditions that are founded with deep, strong foundations that have survived the vicissitudes of History. This is the Halachic tradition.
     
    I accept that the majority are not practicing Orthodox, Halchic Jews but I submit to you that the very vast majority associate Orthodox Halachic Judaism with the authentic item.
     
    But this does not mean to say that Halachic tradition disallows nor even discourages compassion far beyond what we are presently witnessing. It could well be argued that it positively encourages such a posture, but we are yet to see that argument/discussion

  • RaoulMachal says:

    To “have no limit to our compassion” is suicidal in anyone’s tradition and language. The Buddha is recorded as as saying “Though, monks, thieves and brigands were to come and cut the body limb by limb with a double-edged saw, even then if one harbours any ill-will or hatred towards them, for that reason he is not a follower of my teaching. Even on that occasion, one should train and discipline himself to guard his mind thus from feeling ill-will: ‘May our hearts be not perverted, may our minds be not defiled, may we not become angry with them, may we not utter harsh words against them; but may we dwell in love, kindness and compassion for them, may we have tenderheart of good-will, devoid of any ill-will or hatred’ (Majjhima Nikaya I, 129).
     
    Is this not a wonderful sentiment? And is it any wonder the soldiers of Allah had little resistance when invading what is now Afghanistan, Pakistan and India?  Buddhists dispatched to an untimely end during  the Islamic expansion along the SIlk Road are roughly estimated at 10 million. [David B. Barrett, Todd M. Johnson,World Christian Trends AD 30-AD 2200, William Carey Library, 2001, p. 230, table 4-1.] 
     
    If our compassion would indeed have no limit, it will consume us and those around us and in the end we can no longer be compassionate. As is the case with medicine, poison and wine, we need to be wise and guide our actions by considerations beyond the immediate feelings of wanting (to be seen?) to do good. 
     
    Karl Popper’s ‘Paradox of Tolerance’ applies to compassion as it does to other human qualities.
     
     

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