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After the Rally

November 18, 2012 – 9:13 pm68 Comments

At today’s rally in Caulfield, Melbourne. Photo: Eli Parkes.

By Alex Fein
Many silly things have been written about the escalating conflict in Israel and Gaza over the past week. One of the more ridiculous refrains has implied that we wily Jews were making special use of social media to wage unprovoked war in Gaza. According to this logic – though never properly explained – an IDF announcement of an assassination on Twitter has changed the face of modern warfare.

The claim is particularly ridiculous considering that in the developed world, no aspect of modern life is unaffected by – or out of bounds of – social media. Why would Israel’s actions in Gaza be unique among human endeavour in not making it onto Twitter or Facebook?

Indeed, I’ve been relying heavily on Facebook for news of how my fellow Australian Jews as individuals and as a community have been responding to recent events. According to the Monash Gen 08 survey, between 70-80% of Australian Jews feel a deep connection to Israel that many would refer to as, “Zionist.” My Facebook feed reflected in microcosm the Gen08 findings that somewhere in the vicinity of 40,000 Melbourne Jews would have been feeling “special alarm” over the past few days as Gazan rocket fire intensified and the centre of the country came under attack.

In response to this communal concern, a Facebook group called, “Code Red,” (an initiative of the Zionist national and state organisations and AUJS) was set up in order to organise rallies in support of Israel for Sunday morning in Australia’s major cities. An employee of the Zionist Council wrote on Facebook that a pro-Israel rally would give Israel some much needed positive publicity amongst all the negative stories appearing in the Australian media. I felt this betrayed a terrible misunderstanding of both Australian media and wider public opinion.

To begin with, if we, as Zionists, have a problem with the media, we must ask why and how best we might address the absence of our narrative in Australian reportage. How is it that we have allowed the word, “Zionism,” to become synonymous with racism, even among many otherwise fair-minded journalists? Have our leaders cultivated good relations with journalists and editors of various news organisations? Do we have effective contacts with various media identities that could help our cause? Is the often adversarial nature of our leaders’ relations with the media helpful?

These questions remind me of a statement attributed to Albert Einstein: that a definition of madness is doing the same thing repeatedly and expecting a different outcome. Why do we continue with a set of public relations – with complaints about anti-Israel bias as the centrepiece policy – strategies that are simply not working?

When Sunday’s rallies were first mooted, they struck me as more of the same in terms of failed external communications. However, after reading people’s accounts of the rally on Facebook, I realised that the demonstrations also served an important communal purpose for many Australian Jews.

In external PR terms, our rallies have rarely – if ever – been successful. I cannot think of a single demonstration in my lifetime in which protesting Jews have changed Australian public opinion. This is because Australians in general do not like to see ethnic groups demonstrating about “homeland” issues. They believe that people come to Australia to leave ethnic strife behind and that dragging old conflicts into this country is detrimental to Australian social cohesion.

Indeed, if the anti-Israel rally mooted for next Friday in the CBD goes ahead and is as disruptive as hoped for by the organisers, that will be a considerable PR win for the Zionists. It’s extremely important for Zionists to be able to identify such “own goals.” This is why the decision to hold our demonstrations in Jewish areas, causing minimal disruption, was judicious.

The media, on the other hand, rely on the drama of such demonstrations to attract audience. The ability to shock or appal their readers, viewers, or listeners with stories of intemperate ethnics is key to circulation or ratings. The facts and minutiae are almost always secondary to the drama. This means that the most extreme behaviours are those most likely to be reported.

The organisers of rallies often fail to understand that they are not in control of the message – that the messages being quite literally mediated by journalists, editors, and producers. When it comes to public demonstrations in support of Israel, the media’s interests will almost always be in diametric opposition to Zionist Australia’s interests.

Although the rallies may have been designed as an external public relations tool, they also served another (probably unintended) function with far greater success. Rallies are most often “feel good” events, benefiting participants (by making them feel that they are a part of something bigger than themselves) more than the cause for which they’re demonstrating.

In the past, beyond writing letters to the editor, most Jews would have had no outlet for their worry, anger, or grief. Now, with social media, not only are they able to express themselves, they are given the feeling that they are contributing to the “effort.” Even so, there is nevertheless something inherently isolating about communicating via a computer. Therefore, a rally providing the opportunity for Jews to come together acts as a profound point of communal cohesion.

After the rallies had finished, people wrote on Facebook of their “pride” in having been a part of them. The demonstrations mitigated their sense of helplessness borne of not being able to offer tangible help to Israel during this crisis: they actually felt they were doing something.

What was most clearly demonstrated today was that Jews from a variety of backgrounds and orientations will mobilise and come together for a cause they believe in strongly. The challenge for our current leadership is to identify what, beyond war in Israel, might replicate this solidarity, and to waste no time in implementing programmes that will unify us and stand our community in good stead.

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68 Comments »

  • frosh says:

    Hi Alex.

    Your article displays enormous insight.

    I remember circa 2001, in the early years of the second ‘intifada’, I attended a pro-Israel rally in Perth (I think it was in the aptly named David Ben Gurion Park. The rally had a huge turnout, relative to the size of the community. It was attended by a broad cross section of Jews, as well as some people from pro-Israel Christian denominations.

    The feeling of positive energy and cohesion that I felt, along with friends and family, was amazing. I remember coming away from that rally feeling as if we had really done something, and as if we could just hold a few more rallies like that, we could make a difference on the ground. I realise today that those feelings were not particularly rational.

    By the way, the next day, in The West Australian, was an article with several photos, portraying those who attended the rally as non-integrated ethnic extremists.

    I think rallies have far greater internal benefit than external benefit. As Jewish supports of Israel living in the Diaspora, we feel inept and even guilty about our safety when we see terror reigning down on our brothers and sisters in Israel. Attending rallies can make us feel as if we have gotten off the couch and done something.

    I do think there is a role to play in publicly expressing solidarity with Israel, but in these days of social media, I wonder if this is more effective in terms of both external communication and expressions of solidarity. Perhaps the area a rally outdoes social media is that feeling of having “gotten off the couch”.

  • Yoram says:

    Nothing but war unites Jews. Just ask Bibi’s election strategist.

  • Eli says:

    Travelling into the rally in the midst of the early morning rain I wondered how many would attend. I was pleasantly surprised to see hundreds of people already there and many still arriving.
    The park was filled with Israeli flags waving in the wind and a sea of red, the colour of the day,stood out against the green of the park
    The rally even though outwardly a show of support for Israel,for our friends and families who are living there, it was perhaps more importantly group therapy for the Jews who live here.
    Regardless of the communal differences that often divide us,any possibility that Israel’s viability as our historical and spiritual home is threatened sets those differences aside and allows us to join in unison as one nation and one people.
    I loathed all the speeches and rhetoric from our communal and political leaders. Only because they simply repeated messages and sound bites that we have been hearing all week.
    What shook me however and was far more moving was when the gathered crowd joined in unison and sang. For that brief few minutes we were “Kol Israel” and that my friends is what it is all about.

  • Ilana Leeds says:

    B’H

    Was I at the rally? Yes. Did I feel I achieved great things by going? No, not really because that was not my reason for going. I went along to join with other people showing their support, love and solidarity for the Israeli population and Israel. For every person who went to that rally, there were just as many people who feel just as strongly as I do or any other person at the rally, if not stronger in some case, about Israel and show concern for our brothers and sisters ‘our Jewish family’ in Israel.
    Why did I go? To be one of the numbers and to show the rest of the world that Israel has support and that Israel has a right to exist and to fight back. Israel cannot be hit and hit and hit and hit ad infinitum. Those who lob rockets need to be aware that Israel may be small but she will fight back and defend her right to do so based on very good premise. All the journalists that Hamas and other terrorist groups try to intimidate into writing only ‘the Aza side’ of the story will be discredited by their lies and their bias. When the truth comes out, Israel will be shown for their civility under incredible duress and people will wonder why they did not hit back earlier.
    If we stand silently by and do not come out in support of Israel we allow the lies to stand. We must continue as the Rebbe says with mitzvot but indeed we must speak out, write our displeasure at the foolishness of articles such as Paul McGeough’s in the SMH and we must above all show the truth of the matter again and again and again and again because if we let lies stand, they become a kind of twisted new history. Some of us need to reread 1984 George Orwell. It is a good read and scary if you look at the media today.
    Here is the link to McGeough’s unbelievably biased article. Some of the scribes here need to take him to task on this article.

    http://www.smh.com.au/opinion/politics/rash-israel-lights-arab-spring-powder-keg-20121117-29ism.html

  • Alex Fein says:

    Frosh, your story illustrates the conundrum perfectly. Your statement, “As Jewish supports of Israel living in the Diaspora, we feel inept and even guilty about our safety when we see terror reigning down on our brothers and sisters in Israel. Attending rallies can make us feel as if we have gotten off the couch and done something,” bears repeating.

    Yoram, even war does not unite Jews. Facebook is replete with Jews of the hard left decrying every Israeli action as inherently barbaric.

    Eli, my piece clearly sets out the myriad problematics involved in public demonstrations. You write, “For that brief few minutes we were “Kol Israel” and that my friends is what it is all about.”

    Whatever the participants’ intent, that was most certainly *not* what it was all about. It was a public event, reported on by the media. Unfortunately, the media ultimately decides what it was all about as far as the wider Australian community is concerned.

    That’s potentially a high price to pay for a few minutes of feeling good about your fellow Jews. My question is, why can we not stage events or develop policies that foster similar cohesion without the considerable risks involved in public demonstration?

  • Alex Fein says:

    Ilana, could you please provide examples of how Australians at the rally offered tangible assistance in “fight[ing] back?”

    I understand the desire to show Israelis that we stand with them during this awful time, but I also wonder how much they really care about our demonstrations.

    I also wonder, if we presented them with a dispassionate cost/benefit analysis of such demonstrations, whether they’d be so keen for us to protest.

  • Shoshanna Jotdan says:

    The most impressive part of today’s come together was the ratio of young people. I totally agree that it is imperative to use the this opportunity to allow the community to come together

  • Otto Waldmann says:

    Rallies in a decent environment, such as the Australian context, cannot possibly compete with the actual action necessary in addressing the Israel-Palestinian conflict, meaning the ACTUAL frontline.
    The exclusive, particular life of urban demonstrations belongs to the PR necessary exercises. Calculating with cynical precision their efficiency within the context of the direct, armed conflict is in many ways futile, if anything, pretentious. The local value in mobilising, justifying the value of Zionist participation and exhuberance has become an essential ingredient in appraising the efficiency of communal leadership. Australian media has formulated already an idiom of general indiference, if not aversion, of having ANY o/seas conflict played up locally. SBS excluded, unless violent disturbances take place, for which the other side of the fence is news-worthy, the “news” are, at best, pegged on the 3rd tier, if not even lower.
    Back to our own little muttons, the Sydney rally of today was a shameful whimper. Apart from the fact that all TV channels dedicated max. 15 seconds to ALL, Syd., Mel, ACT, demos, the manner in which Sydney was organised – actually dis-organised – showed, once again the ineptitude, spineless profile of the NSW Jewsih leadership.
    The rally was supposed to be in a whole PARK, then reduced to the side garden of the Mizrahi shul, but , in fact, carried out entirely in the formal way INSIDE the safety of the shul. Excuse: Federal Secutiry advised it was safer so !!! Obviously concerns for safety !
    That considered, the numbers attending were well in excess of what the shul could contain, so some 2 thirds were outside, where it was NOT safe and, to boot, out there, in the UNsafe teritory, guess how many cops were guarding against the advised concerns ! The total grand force of…………..THREE policemen !!!

    Once every 10 years or so we have that oportunity to show the world publicly in numbers that we care about Israel , once every 10 years or so we can make use of that magic media and all we got was max. 5 seconds alloted to Sydney. Great PR !!!! Even greater morons at work.

  • Yaron says:

    There is a fundamental flaw in the arguments here, that Alex has pointed out.

    It is true that as a community we feel great when we publicly show our support for Israel, but no one cares.

    We may very well have the facts and truth on our side, but we have been presenting the facts for decades now and no one is listening. Why would they now?

    The situation is that people lie straight to camera, and because it is the best sound bite of the day they will get on the news, and that becomes the reality for the broader population.

    The question then becomes how do we change the narrative? As Otto points out, it is not with 15sec on the news. It is by presenting a different story to the world. One that the world will listen to.

  • Otto Waldmann says:

    Yaron is right not because he agrees with me, but because it has been incredibly obvious that the narrative conceoved for public consumption, both to the Jewish audience and outside it, reeks of standard flat, regurgitated arguments, most concocted from some jaded textbooks. In addition the style, even rhythm and intonation of the expression is totally devoid of peoffessional standards. The necessary mobilising spirit that any public discourse PARTICULARLY of the political kind, is abandoned to the “skills” of ambitious people in the community, chasing positions and titles well before they would have cared to look sincerly at themselves and question their REAL abilities. With the exception of well rounded Ron Weiser, the efforst of the rest of the communal respected leaders in the area of public presentation, speeches, were abyssmal, prticulaly that young bloke who has the pompous title of PR manager of some organisation. He spoke endlessly about his own importance while we were there to be enthused by our passion for Israel. The NSW Zionist Council Pres., flat and as exciting as an accountant or hardware shop owner could be at a political rally.
    Am I cheesed off !!! No way, just being meself, UTTERLY pi…ed off !

    ( comments re me typos shall be completely ignored !)

  • letters in the age says:

    Great article Alex!!

    The Gay lobby have been very successful in “changing public opinion ” about equality hence the election of Alex Greenwich in Sydney.

    A lot to be learned from there peeps!

    Cheers

  • Jonny Schauder says:

    Great piece Alex… good provocation too!

  • Jonny Schauder says:

    To reflect back some of the most amazing comings-together also happen at festivals… the Lamdeni Purim is amazing… the Chanukah in the park was great.

    Also community events like the Ajax family day was well supported…And of course Yom Haazmaut and Yom Hashoah are always gatherings of importance…

    but I think you’re asking about political issues on which we would unite… I’d hope that Jewish argument on issues of politics and policy… approaches and activism… stay diverse.

  • Otto Waldmann says:

    Jonny and “letters”

    just in case you wonder if I am the same cute and lovable guy from some other topic, NO WAY, I have no idea who that incredibly smart bloke is and that is because, unlike him, I happen to agree with you both and here is why:

    – the rally in support for Israel would have been far more effective if, as “letters” suggested, the participants, including the Rabbis, would have turned up in their glitter underwear, and instead of singing Hatikva, were dancing to the tune of ” Love train take me on the yellow brick road” and ” I love (any) Johnny and (any) Johnny loves me “, all a la Mardi Gras.

    – the same participants would have turned up dressed in colourful Purim gear and make speeches emphasising ( not a threat !!) that Israel shall force Hamas “militants” to eat humentashen with excessive cholesterol thus extending the Israeli blockade to the blood vessels of its enemies.

    So, friends again in the suggested spirit of of that diversity ??!!
    But why stop there , what did “diversity” has ever done for me !!??
    Would any of yourse blokes be interested in some good ol’ conflict !

  • Alex Fein says:

    Jonny, you raise some really interesting points.

    One clarification: I’d never suggest that the community unite regarding a political opinion. I think we’d agree: pluralism and diversity are necessary for the healthy functioning of any community.

    Regarding the communal events you mentioned, diversity’s an issue there, too.

    The official Yom Ha’atzmaut celebration tends to be the preserve of what Gen08 refers to as the communal “core.” It is very far from a grass-roots event.

    In other words, tens of thousands of Zionists in Melbourne do not attend that function and there is no cross-communal alternative celebration. While many in the community may be united in sentiment – gratitude for the establishment of the State of Israel – they are certainly not united in a physical space.

    Regarding Lamdeini and Channukah in the park, diversity’s similarly an issue. They are both wonderfully organised, and welcoming to Jews from a variety of backgrounds and orientations; however, ultimately, these are Chabad phenomena, which means that these services/events can not make provision for pluralist religious expression, nor should they have to.

    That leaves Yom HaShoah as the sole uniting force. A number of Jewish commentators and scholars from around the world (and Gen08 touches on this too) warn of the dangers of relying on the Holocaust for Jewish identity – that it’s neither desirable nor feasible to expect that it alone can serve as a source of identity and therefore a unifying force.

  • Rachel Merhav says:

    Dear Alex, The following letter from the President of the Hebrew University answers your question and explains why and how important it is for Jews outside Israel to do all they can to come out united in support of Israel at did difficult times . Every bit can make a difference: writing letters to the press, demand the media, particularly the ABC and SBS to be balanced in their reporting and despel lies and propaganda by Pro Palestinian lobby groups demonising and deligitimating the Jewish state.

    “Dear Friends,

    Below is a message from Professor Menahem Ben-Sasson, President, Hebrew University, which describes the University’s position during this difficult time in Israel. We are confident that the Hebrew University is doing its utmost for the safety and security of their students and teaching staff. Let’s hope for a peaceful resolution for this conflict.

    Kind regards,

    Eitan

    Eitan Drori

    Executive Director

    Australian Friends of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem-Vic

    B: +61 3 9272 5511 / +61 3 9272 5510

    E: eitan@austfhu.org.au http://www.austfhu.org.au

    Visit http://www.hunews.huji.ac.il for the latest campus news

    Take virtual tours of the four campuses http://multimedia/huji.ac.il/tour360/scopus/index-e.html

    ————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————–

    Dearest Friends,

    Israel once again faces difficult times – and it is at times like these that we are thankful for the support and good wishes of our friends around the world. We greatly appreciate all the many expressions of friendship that we have received from so many of you; it is truly heart-warming.

    As you are all aware, the State of Israel has engaged in a mission to secure and bring quiet to its southern region, which has been under ongoing fire for some time. The conflict has now spread from Sderot and the surrounding area to Beer Sheva, Ashdod and Ashlekon; even those in the Tel Aviv and Jerusalem areas have not been immune and have had to take cover as sirens notify us of imminent threats.

    Many of our students, staff and faculty have been called up to reserve duty and more may be called up in the coming days. I know that you join me in hoping that they are safe.

    The University has taken steps to ensure the safety of those on its campuses, provide shelter to those living in the most vulnerable and dangerous areas, and ensure support for those on reserve duty once they return to their studies. The measures we are taking include:

    – We have invited students from the south of the country who live in University dormitories to host their families on our campuses.

    – Students called up to reserve duty will receive special academic support, including photocopies of materials, catch-up tutoring on missed lectures, special extensions on exam dates etc.

    -The University Counseling services stand ready to assist all students as needed.
    -A website designed to help children deal with emergency situations is being made widely available.

    I have requested that all student services be prepared for an increase in demand for assistance, both in dealing with the current conflict and with its aftermath, once student reservists return to campus.

    Throughout this period, the academic community will continue in its teaching and research activities as long as the situation allows. As we all understand, the strength of a society is determined not by military prowess, but by its research and development, the creativity of its members, and by the way it cares for those for whom it is responsible.

    We all pray that this conflict will be speedily resolved with minimal casualties.

    Yours,

    Menahem Ben-Sasson

    President

    ——————————————————————————–

  • Alex Fein says:

    Rachel M, nowhere in Ben-Sasson’s letter does he request diaspora Jewry engage in public demonstrations or any other activity for that matter.

    He merely expresses gratitude for good wishes and support – something with which I have no argument whatsoever. I’m not sure why you think he is recommending any of the activities you endorse.

    You also wrote:
    “Every bit can make a difference”

    Can you please define ‘difference,’ and how that ‘difference’ might be measured.

    “…writing letters to the press, demand the media, particularly the ABC and SBS to be balanced in their reporting…”

    But that is precisely what our leaders and many others in the community have been doing for decades. It’s not working.

    We need to be able to distinguish between what makes us feel good and what is genuinely helpful to Israel and our community. The two are often not the same.

    You may feel empowered by writing letters or demonstrating, but I ask you to present evidence that such activity has yielded the desired result.

    One can “demand” all one likes that journalists, editors and producers behave differently, but such demands have not worked in the past and will not work now.

    We need a far more sophisticated means of presenting our narrative than letters of complaint or rallies.

    “… and despel lies and propaganda by Pro Palestinian lobby groups demonising and deligitimating the Jewish state.”

    Changing a narrative is extremely complex and difficult and has rarely – if ever – been the product of angry communications with news outlets.

    As I wrote in the article, to continue behaving in a way which has never produced the desired outcome, while expecting different results, is madness.

    We need to find a different way.

  • letters in the age says:

    Otto

    The celebrification of corporate activism works well

    Thats what i meant with the gay lobby

    Your ideas may appeal to some of the quirkier sectors of the community

    lol!!

  • Otto Waldmann says:

    Alex

    Your attempt at multiple targets had enthusiastically departed from the most iomportant aspect of Jdewish PR in Australia.
    EVIDENCE is aboundant that, in the past few DECADES, Asutralian Jewish leadership has been chronically unable to handle the Zionist narrative in the media world. I specifically said “media world” because the said failures have been comprehensive.
    Israel has been the subject of numerous public debates on TV, ABC, SBS in particular. A large numebr of such intense debates have been solidly attended by supporters of the opposite narrative while the Jewish community has been COMPLTELET absent on ALL occasions.
    I shall not delve into the importance of public participation in matters related to all aspects of Jewish life. As Zionism is a core element of a genuine Jewish identity, taking part in impotant public events which address principaly issues related to Israel has multiple important functions. Demonstration are an integral part of the personal expression seen as a necessary part of the Jew benefiting from life in a free, democratic syste, such as Australia. You questioning the validity of Rachel M’s motivation is, at best, if anything, flippant. It contradicts what you seem to advocate in your article.

    We must look seriously at what has caused a real inability of the entire leadership of Australian Jewry to handle publicly the necessary advocacy for Israel, as an integral part of providing our community with a genuine sense of care, protection coming from those we elect to , practically, represent us, LOOK after us.
    This is the real morphology of a PR crisis !!!

  • Alex Fein says:

    Otto,

    You wrote:

    “As Zionism is a core element of a genuine Jewish identity, taking part in impotant public events which address principaly issues related to Israel has multiple important functions.”

    Do you think all public events are of equal value and equal efficacy? My article asks whether the “feel good” factor inherent in attending a rally is sufficient justification for it, considering the costs. I also ask why we there is a dearth of cross communal events that can provide similar cohesion.

    “Demonstration are an integral part of the personal expression seen as a necessary part of the Jew benefiting from life in a free, democratic system, such as Australia.”

    Why do you believe demonstrations are integral to personal expression? There are multitudinous routes to expression, many of which do not carry the costs of rallying.

    It’s also a mistake to conflate the right to do something with advisability of engaging in that act.

    For example, it is my right in this country to be horribly rude to a waiter in a restaurant. That does not mean it’s advisable – for many reasons.

    Similarly, our right to demonstrate is not in question. Its advisability is.

    “You questioning the validity of Rachel M’s motivation is, at best, if anything, flippant.”

    Please provide evidence for my questioning Rachel’s motivation. And are you sure “flippant” is the correct term for what you mean?

    “It contradicts what you seem to advocate in your article.”

    How?

  • Otto Waldmann says:

    Alex

    I find it enetertaining that a clear sentence, with quite explicit terms and inherent concepts need be “explained”. I am saying “entertaining” and expect that , at once, you’d ask me if that would be the “right” term. I can tell you right now that it isn’t…

    – there no allusion in my statement that all events carry similar “value”, so the question is redundant – most definitely the RIGHT word !!! –

    – “feeling good” is an ethical imperative, a necessary condition, one that is a mandatory existential condition for a civilised society.
    You are, however, digressing badly from my phrase, again, aluding to notions not contained, unintended in what I wrote. You could, at the same time, indulge in any kind of idea spin, spinning, as you see it, from what you perceive as being my explicit and implicit ideas.

    – the fact that there are a raft of communal events complementing each other, contaning similar “agendas” supports the unassailable concept that all genuine Jewish organisations are supposed to contain similar fundamental values. Relative variety leads, in actual fact, to the same goals as they are all determined by the same Judaic principles. The complexities therein allow for aparent distinctions.

    – the right to demonstrate only enhances the anxiety of a free mind to express itself. The Jewish “mind” is predicated on the urge to state one’s opinion. We are educated, encouraged to behave as such. Just look at the spectacular results Jewish minds/characters have achieved where and when that freedom was exercised. A “mere” demo, like the one we are supposed to discuss here, is but a mere form of exercising that inherent right.

    Using “flippant” is one of the rare occasions I have been really, really kind. You should rejoice it…….

  • Alex Fein says:

    Otto, your comment is pure obfuscation and makes absolutely no sense.

    I see no point in further engagement.

  • Otto Waldmann says:

    Alex

    ditto !

  • Harry Joachim says:

    Yaron,

    Forgive me for saying it, but it is rather self-serving for you to repeatedly post comments in support of the article when its author happens to be your wife!

  • Yaron says:

    Harry,

    I have never denied that fact, but what are you suggesting? I should not have an opinion because I am married?

    There are two options here, either you are trying to stifle debate, or you have a personal problem with me.

    I hope it is merely the latter, since it would speak very poorly of you if it is the former.

  • TheSadducee says:

    “The challenge for our current leadership is to identify what, beyond war in Israel, might replicate this solidarity, and to waste no time in implementing programmes that will unify us and stand our community in good stead.”

    – anyone in a leadership position have any suggestions?

  • Reality Check says:

    The Sadducee, why not ask Manny Waks? But seriously, this latest fighting may give more reason for the UN to accept a Palestinian state,and Israel will then have to find a way to get Hamas, as well, to the negotiating table.

    What this has done is show that peace is the only answer.

  • Otto Waldmann says:

    Reality Check

    How did you come up with……………Manny Waks, of all people !!!

    Unless you ARE Manny Waks !

    [Eds: No, he’s not]

  • Jonny Schauder says:

    Hi Alex… sorry been flat out.

    I also find Otto incomprehensible. LOL. He’ll say it’s because I’m somehow insufficiently intellectual but it’s more likely that he has some quirky (mis)belief that what he writes makes sense to anyone else but him… nonetheless Otto is always entertaining. Otto, good to see you spark up when Manny is mentioned. I love consistency irrespective of context or meaning.

    And anyone could be Manny Waks on Galus… maybe I’m actually Manny Waks or Maybe Alex is actually Manny Waks…(remove mask and insert evil laugh here).

    Funny film clip from Friends that makes good fun of Otto-like (ab)use of the thesaurus…bit of fun… but Otto seriously it’s how you sound…
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9s0LqZMsfTQ

    No you’re right Alex the festivals are imperfect examples of total unity too… but I think that the idea the any of us can attend any of the variations is great. No one argues against celebrating festivals… so they are frequent and regular points of community unification. Again, something to be celebrated.

    And Ajax, Maccabi and other more social rather than political or religious movements also do achieve that unity.

    In collaboration theory unfortunately the only way to really guarantee the unification of a very diverse groups of people is to give them a shared and common enemy or threat. For example Many authors attribute the improvement of Black and White relations in the US in the 1950s and 1960s attributable to the reality that both groups were at war with Germany in WW2 and had to fight alongside each other – trusting each other, and working together.

    In all other situations unity is not guaranteed.
    In those cases unity has to be inspired through a leader’s vision.
    I must say that, perhaps unlike others, I think our leaders in Melbourne offer many exciting visions for us to choose from and rally behind and many are very uniting.

    Just to also let you know your article did contribute to me adjusting my own approach on a few fronts.

    1. I have been openly calling myself a Zionist since reflecting on your call to action on the word… enjoying the opportunity to explain what I mean to anyone that asks.

    2. I decided I did need to be more active on facebook within my Harvard Uni circles to rebut some of the ridiculous analysis being posted there. After reading your article it felt more like my “duty” to defend Israel’s actions in this specific set of events around Gaza; and that social media is the new forum.

    3. Actions 1 and 2 made me realise that there was a very different Israeli approach to this defensive action than others in the past. Somehow the various angles and approaches taken this time legitimised the defensive action more clearly. For example, it seems even the worst estimates of death in Gaza suggest about 60-70 innocent people killed and the rest were genuine Hamas militants.

    Many (no Otto not Manny) Many people on Facebook were using this number to attack Israel. But from where I sit, that is an extraordinarily “humane” result given there was more than 7 days of bombings in hundreds of locations of people with no defensive strategy at all. It suggests a care of targeting and warning that is unique when compared to any other violent context in the world right now.

    That sentinment was backed up in the following article from the New Yorker which I think gets it right that the approach taken was much more unifying than other gung ho style or “campaign style” approaches of the past.

    In that respect I think this recent Gaza experience was a quite unusually unifying in contrast to other Israeli actions where again there will be many different reactions from all over the Jewish community.

    see: http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/newsdesk/2012/11/gaza-ghosts.html

  • Jonny Schauder says:

    From the article…

    The lesson of the second Lebanon War was internalized: no confusion this time and no strategic hesitation. The operation unleashed was well-planned and based on remarkable intelligence. The lesson of Cast Iron was internalized, too: no mass killing this time, despite wrenching civilian losses, and no on-ground forces pushed into highly populated areas while being shielded by a wall of fire whose human ramifications are catastrophic. Neither Prime Minister Netanyahu nor Defense Minister Ehud Barak came across as a blood-thirsty war monger; they appeared to be trying to carry out a sophisticated operation with caution and care.
    This is why the Israeli public rallied around the campaign. Opposition leaders did not dare criticize it, while the major peace movements did not take to the streets with the traditional ritual of anti-war candle marches. Instead, there was a surprising degree of international legitimacy, internal legitimacy, and regional understanding.

  • Otto Waldmann says:

    Jonny

    Subjective musings on the collective Israeli…divisiveness aside, I could also attach some TV clips akin to your approach to issues. I am not so strict in my selection, pick ANY TV commercial for dishwashing detergents and you shall surprise yourself with own exclamation: ” That’s me alright !!”
    Now I washed me hands with this and didn’t need any convoluted Latin dictum.

    I need, however, to pick on your brief incursion into the Israeli public psyche.

    – traditionally Jewish Israeli peaceniks NEVER came out with their hysterics DURING any of the numerous conflicts/wars with the Arabs/Pals. They ALWAYS collected “intelligence” and, shortly after com,menced their campaign attacking the latest events. So, their absence on the scene while “action” was hot is quite consistent with their MO.

    – a massive “alevai” to the notions of “regional understanding”, “international legitimacy”. Your abrupt coda to the walk in the park comments ( here we must refer to the indispensible thesaurus and use the term “pedestrian” ) does not allow for the time needed by the same international, icluding regional, PR to spring into action condemning unilaterally Israel for all the sins in their Book of choice. Mind you, if, instead of watching good ol’ Frinds episodes ( howz about the one in which Phoebie is pregnant and shows that gorgeous naivete re which way is up, yeh that’s me 100% !!) and you would have paid attention to guys like SBS, CNN, BBC, ABC, you would have been disgusted by the “international legitimacy” you so generously bestow on those, and many other, objective news selectors and commentators.
    Otherwise always a delight perusing your unpretentious, non-elitist, non-revenge reeking indulgencies.

    A resounding LOL !!!

  • Reallity Check says:

    Otto, if you want people to read your stuff and take you seriously, write in a language we all understand. We can’t all be as clever as you.

  • Otto Waldmann says:

    Raelity Check

    Nonsense. You are clever and understand every syllable I put down. But you are also right, I AM more cleverer !

  • Reality Check says:

    Otto, I know yous is.

  • Alex Fein says:

    Jonny, that’s a really interesting take on popular reaction to the operation.

    I did notice a fair bit of heterogeneity, though, in response. Even a hawk like Ben Dror Yemini had doubts.

    I also think the operation’s brevity stood Israel in very good stead, PR wise.

    Regarding unity, like I said in my previous comment, we need to find a way to come together as Jews without necessarily agreeing on religious or political matters.

    And I know it goes against conventional wisdom, but such unity can only be sustainable if there’s positive impetus, as opposed to a negative unifying phenomenon – ie. the common enemy. We live in relatively benign times and simply can not manufacture a menace that could mimic past negative unifiers.

    Indeed, I think our lack of unity in Melbourne is a luxury we can afford (temporarily), that wasn’t available to us when we were a smaller, poorer community. Perth and Canberra Jewry, for example are far less divided.

    Sport can be a very valuable unifier, but it’s limited… to Jews who like playing sport :) Spectating among non-players tends to be reserved for major league competitions and does not generally serve as a pan-communal activity

  • Jonny Schauder says:

    Otto you have a wonderful personality disorder. Glad you’re enjoying it.

    Otto, I tried to keep myself disciplined in my viewing of the various reports… Strangely I found Al Jazeera very in depth!?!
    These various outlets have to try and stay neutral as do my mediation mates. But the whole world accepted the defensiveness of this moment and were able to some extent separate it from the narrative around the overall struggle of the Palestinians.

    Alex… Maybe mitzvah day should be twice a year… Very unifying. Even hashy was there to do mitzvah …

  • Jonny Schauder says:

    Otto good to see you talking from you huge aortic pump…

  • Alex Fein says:

    Jonny, unfortunately, I wasn’t able to participate in Mitzva Day, but from the little I’ve seen/heard, it seems like an amazing initiative.

    It definitely seems like the sort of thing that should happen more than once a year.

    Did you have the opportunity to participate? If so, can you provide some detail.

  • Otto Waldmann says:

    Jonny
    I would be glad if my disorder gave hope to all of you not quite there, not yet having achieved that “wonderful” state.

    Affording me the honour of attaining that humble condition of the Enthusiast would have affected me if I would have been offered a modicum of explanation as per why I am condemned to crawl well below the princiary heights of you inner sanctum.

    Vergilius: ” Felix qui potuit rerum cognoscere causas.”

    Let’s just agree that the principal causes of the recent, actually CURRENT conflict seemingly between Hamas and Israel can be found in:

    – elevation of the Muslim Bros. which , in itself prompted:

    – Hamas to gain additional impetus
    – Muslim Bros. to “mediate” with a Hamas poised to encounter massive losses while faced with the INABILITY of the same Muslim Bros. ,Egypt, to assist in meaningful ways.
    – US to advise the same Egypt that US support to an Egypt in multiple crisis is endangered if it does not intervene with Hamas in drastic ways to halt its aggressiveness. Whoever says/thinks that Muslim Bros. have altered their ideology toward Israel just because they are …..in power, should say so and I shall deal with that shlemil !!!

    As far as the “terminology” of the conflict, the “mere” fact that Hamas was singularly nominated as the oposing party and NOT the general generic Palestinians, is relevant in as much as the intention by Hamas to legitimise their status as an intergal part of the Palestinian entity, which is CORRECT. A re-radicalisation of Fatah is as possible as is their core ideology and praxis of parasite hostile activism toward Israel. DO deal with the (non)conflciting notion of “parasite activism”. It is perfectly logical, natural.Israel has acted accordingly mainly because Israel wants the entire world to see that, in effect, there are NO differences between Hamas and the “rest” of their ilk. Security between Israel and its foe for 65 years cannot be divided between wat is falsely seen to be happening in Ramallah and what is so vividly obvious in Gaza. In principle Hamas ARE part of the “negotiations” !!!
    I hate the notion of cyclical in politics/history, but the entire Palestinian structure functions on conflict and the immediate benefits of a perennial victim status, therefore, “renewing the radical expression of their enmity, the confict itself, is a necessity to their core condition . So, how ridiculous, actually idiotic, are the accusations against Israel that she “refuses” to negotiate peace !!!???

    In the meantime, has anyone noticed how Iran has been relegated to the back burner while we can be sure that it is not sleeping at all in nuclear terms !!!

    Felix also happens to be my little one’s name, currently and for the past 6 years at Cambridge, Princeton and Cambridge again, getting better than his old man.

    NB

    This is a very condensed offer, so any criticism of matters ommited is redundant a priori !!!

  • Jonny Schauder says:

    Yes Otto… Interesting and challenging dynamics in every direction.

    Alex I’m afraid all the mitzvahs for me today was driving my kids around etc so no real insights I’m afraid. I’m sure plenty will be written.

    Cheers guys

  • Nicholas says:

    I have also been at THAT demo,wearing a red t-shirt,as required (my missus being a genuine gingit did not cover her head).
    Sorry to see Alex driven into the welcoming arms of Al Jezirra by Otto’s creative fluids.
    I have concluded that Otto is an agent provocateur and obviously an admirer of Lin Chin,the weekend SBS presenter.
    Shame on you Otto – Lin is old enough to be your twin sister!

  • Levi (a refugee from the USSR) says:

    For too long attempting to curry favor and acceptance from the wider world, has clouded the judgement of Jewish leaders in both Israel and the diaspora, (overriding the true interests and security of Israel and the Jewish people.) Their desire for acceptance has ultimately back fired -Israel has never been internationally isolated like it is today and post war antisemitism is at it’s strongest. With the benefit of hindsight, we see what every peace accord and withdrawal has led to. The majority of Israelis see this – that’s why they have been consistently voting for right wing parties. the Israelis establishment and Australian and diaspora community leaders need to recongise this. They need to stop mouthing that mindless mantra of “two states for two people,” as it’s clear – for anyone one to see- that a potential Palestinian state is a clear and present danger not just to the existence of Israel and the wider region, but the world at large. We don’t need demagogue to mouth mindless mantras…we need true leadership.

  • Paul Winter says:

    Levi, you are a man after my own heart; current Jewish leadership is useless. A dignified rally where some hard truths are told would not impact adversely on our community. We could for example state clearly and strongly that the islamofascists commit double war crimes in attacking civilians and using their own people as shields. We could point out the duplicity of politicians who stand around picking their noses while millions die in the Congo (Dem. Repub.) and thosands in Syria, but all of a sudden become humanitarians when after long last Israel takes a swipe at the jihadis. We could criticise the partisan media. We could highlight the uncivilised behaviour of mohammedans in our community and their demand for a privileged status e.g. sharia law, sex segregated pools, exemption from criticism while they rant against others, etc. The problem is that our leaders are all trying to out gentile the gentiles through their urbamity and political correctness all the while failing to note that they are losing status. And that is why Avigdor Lieberman is in bad odour with so many Jews; coming from a hard environment, he speaks the language that our enemies understand and he spoils the dignified diplomatic image our leaders have made cult into which only true believers can be initiated.

  • Otto Waldmann says:

    Dear Paul

    I wish to remind you that, when our communal leaders are groomed for their important titles cum positions at all those specialised courses, local and o/seas ( see the massive travel expenses on the communal ledger ), the most important lecture is titled :

    “Ignore any criticism from you own constituency !!”

    but you knew that stuff, anyway.

  • TheSadducee says:

    Noting yesterday’s news about the PM being rolled from within her own party re. the UN vote on Palestine, I think that alot of this article is much more clearly urgent and topical than ever before.

  • Otto Waldmann says:

    As the just, desired decision did not prevail:

    – the authority of the PM within the caucus amounts to very little

    – the only option is to replace the current political “arrangement” with the alternative which, at least in terms of ME policy , is by far the better alternative .

  • TheSadducee says:

    Paul

    Do you really believe that community leadership doesn’t do enough to advocate for Israel already but has to present certain antagonistic talking points (most of which are already addressed btw) to satisfy some ideal that you have in mind?

    Clearly the current conservative line adopted by communal leadership isn’t working in terms of influencing public debate and discussion. So you suggest taking an even more extreme approach as the solution?

    Incidentally a couple of things –

    Lieberman is in bad odour because he is overtly controversial, occasionally offensive and tainted with scandal. He is hardly a role model to adopt for leadership in any civilised state.

    And I would ask you to consider the following – I didn’t see our community leadership and/or groups organising a protest and/or public solidarity expression with the victims in the Congo, Syria, or even for human rights in PNG? How then can we criticise others for something that we don’t do ourselves?

    Mahommedan is an archaic term, not usually used for about 50+ years in academic work and is often a cypher for less than pleasant positions held by the user. Why are you using it?

  • TheSadducee says:

    Otto

    The point is that the Israeli advocacy undertaken by the community and Embassy failed miserably in this instance. We need to critically examine why this is the case and take action to address this problem.

  • Otto Waldmann says:

    Saducee

    I will let Paul deal with yr criticism, as I trust him to re-explain…

    – the Embassy does its job as limited by its status in Australia.

    – the Aus. Jewish communal leadership does NOT do its job as its status demands. And this is not just in “this instance”.
    Very briefly, bcs I must do other things, one of the most imprtant matters to consider is that Aus. Jewish comm. leadership is composed of people WITHOUT the necessary competence in dealing with public relations at the general media level, comprehensive socio-political structure of Aus. We elect ambitious dilettantes who persist in their failures in spite of cler and relevant criticism/redirection of emphasis and MO. Which obviates the other “minor” issue, i.e. the same leadership completely ignores the opinions of its own community. You shall NOT see, for instance, any of them appear here or anywhere else taking part in these vibrant, intelligent, friendly debates. They are happy that accountability is not on the complusory menu of a groisse macher.

    to be continued…………

  • Levi (a refugee from the USSR) says:

    “Lieberman is in bad odour because he is overtly controversial, occasionally offensive and tainted with scandal. He is hardly a role model to adopt for leadership in any civilised state.”

    Some of Israel’s most model liberal politcians (tailor made for the EU) can’t even visit cities like London out of fear for being arrested for “war crimes.” Tzippy Livni and Amir Peretz are two such examples. Great role models. Ironically the “conterversial” Liberman doesn’t even have that problem. But then again which Israeli politicans aren’t classed as “controversial” by the holier than thou actors of the EU & international community?

    “didn’t see our community leadership and/or groups organising a protest…”

    It’s not the role of a ehtnic/religious community to do that. Their is to represent the interests of their own community. It is however the role of politicians and journalists. Very legitmate questoins are raised when certain politcians and jurnos get worked up about the “Palestinians,” decide to boycot Israel but have nothing to say about far worse human rights issues in neighbouring countries like Syria or other parts of the world.

  • TheSadducee says:

    Levi,

    I’m not sure how lightly you believe that jurisdictions issue warrants for arrest for war crimes to be?

    I don’t think the appellation “controversial” is innappropriate for Lieberman, despite your objections – he is currently under investigation for fraud and is on the verge of indictment for alleged crimes. Put aside his comments, views, etc and I think he qualifies quite well.

    I also disagree with your views on ethnic/religious communities’ roles. Are not we meant to be a light unto the gentiles? Surely, standing up for others’ rights as well as our own is more edifying than focussing on ourselves to the exclusion of everyone else?

    You do have a completely valid point about selective journalism or activism on the part of public figures and examining their motivations.

  • Levi (a refugee from the USSR) says:

    “I’m not sure how lightly you believe that jurisdictions issue warrants for arrest for war crimes to be?”

    Well it’s enough to keep left wing politicians like Livni from stepping into London.

    “don’t think the appellation “controversial” is innappropriate for Lieberman, despite your objections – he is currently under investigation for fraud and is on the verge of indictment for alleged crimes. Put aside his comments, views, etc and I think he qualifies quite well.”

    He’s right at home in the Knesset, isn’t he? How many Israeli politcians have been under investigation for various crimes? I don’t suppose you think sex fiend Haim Ramon is contraversial and you would love to have him serve as a cabinet minister? Many journalists and politicians don’t object to that. Or Ehud Olmert who is weighing up a come back (but probably not in the next Knesset)?

    “Are not we meant to be a light unto the gentiles? ”

    valid point. but we can’t be a light unto the nations until we learn how to represent our own interests and help our own. That being said – many Jewish organisations are actually engaged in external activism – Sudan, Tibet, Aborigonies etc…usually @ the cost of helping our own and resolving problems & issues that exist within our community.

  • TheSadducee says:

    Levi

    Lieberman is the Foreign Minister of Israel. Ramon is a former politician and private citizen. I’m not sure why you are making such a bizarre comparison? Or even suggesting any link with my expressed views here and Ramon’s behaviour?

    You seem quite agitated today – perhaps a nice cup of tea and lie down might be in order?

  • Levi (a refugee from the USSR) says:

    Not long after being convicted by a court of a sex crime, Ramon returned to politics and became the Deputy Prime Minister of Israel…

    and no, I’m not suggesting any link between your views and Ramon’s behaviour. How many sugars do you take with your cup of tea…?

  • TheSadducee says:

    Levi

    None thanks – I’m sweet enough. :)

    Now to get back to the issue at hand – the communal leadership really needs to examine its future actions and where they lead and benefit the community going forward.

    As the author notes, one well organised/conducted solidarity rally for Israel isn’t really going to help the community long-term.

    What actions do any readers suggest that might help?

    Take the opportunity to brainstorm!

    My suggestion is that the community organise a solidarity rally with victims of other human rights abuses from time to time to show that we care about more than just Israel. Easy PR win to be honest if conducted in a good way.

    Or that the community leaders reach out and try to engage and mentor youth in the communities to establish a successor generation with diverse views, rather than the “mini-me’s” in waiting which is the current preference.

  • Levi (a refugee from the USSR) says:

    the burning desire to be accepted by the wider community at the cost of actaully advocating for the interests of our community is what creates antisemitism.

  • TheSadducee says:

    No – antisemitism is a form of prejudice which is predicated on ignorance and/or malevolence and is ultimately irrational.

    Jewish actions do not cause antisemitism.

  • Otto Waldmann says:

    Levi

    I agree with most of your points except for that strange notion that ” It’s not the role of ethnic/religious community to do that (organise demonstrations). There is to repesent the interests of their community..”
    I suggest you put back on your thinking kippa because that quote does not do you justice. I wont give you my, alternate, view, suffice to say that I do hold a very opposite one….

    “Saducee”

    could you also revisit your own strange statement that: “Jewish action does not cause anti Semitism.”
    What DOES cause anti Semitism, Zoroastrian action !!??
    I would give you a bit of a benefit of the doubt and say that you could have formulated your intentions completely different.

  • TheSadducee says:

    Otto

    Antisemitism is not caused by Jewish actions.

    This strikes me as pretty clear.

  • TheSadducee says:

    Incidentally – readers will have noted the papers talking about the Jewish lobby pressuring the PM etc.

    Do we need our community leaders weighing into this issue with the resulting ill-will it seems to be generating?

    Any thoughts?

  • Otto Waldmann says:

    Saducee

    elementary logic:

    anti Semitism pertains to hostile attitude towards the existence of Judaic practices. Its relative rationale is easily found in the plethora of norms conceived in combating Jewish practices, the people theroff, the Jews. The said rationale is found, for instance, in the origins, the actual theology and cannons of the Church. STUDY THE STUFF and come back to me………..

    Also, Jewish communal leaders are duty bound to lobby all forms of governance, organisations, groups etc. prommoting and supporting Jewish causes !!!

    I just wonder Mr. Saducee under what massive rock do you really, really dwell. These are elementary, basic notions, stuff that only complete strangers to the Jewish community could come question.
    Hard to decide whether you are about to acquire your marbles or lost them……..

  • TheSadducee says:

    Otto

    Your view is wrong and must have come as surprise to those Jews who had converted to Christianity and were still murdered by the Nazis despite the fact that they had nothing to do with Judaism…

    And there is plenty of room under my rock – your welcome to come and share it, if your ego can fit.

  • Otto Waldmann says:

    Saducee

    thanks for the invite. You must be really desperate, in fact consistent with what you are regaling us with. I have much better offers.

    Struggle to understand anti Semitism, ain’t you. I suggest you study the reasons behind the Nazi Nuremberg Racial Laws.

  • Otto Waldmann says:

    saducee
    I said “study” the stuff, NOT “stir up the stuff aimlessly” and come back…

  • TheSadducee says:

    Otto

    Thanks for the advice. I’m glad I offered you the opportunity to demonstrate your learning.

  • Otto Waldmann says:

    Saducee

    ….just realised, once again, that a bit of modesty would not have allowed me to abuse my poor old knowledge, not to mention others….

  • TheSadducee says:

    Otto

    Thanks again. I’m glad that I offered you the opportunity to demonstrate your modesty as well.

  • Otto Waldmann says:

    … and my enlarged prostate is much better now…………..take it easy Saducee it ain’t you !!!

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