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The JCCV and Other Faith Communities Call for Compassion on Asylum Seekers While ECAJ Talks About Threats to Israel

September 2, 2013 – 6:05 pm10 Comments

From the editor:

refugee4The JCCV has just issued the following press release which stands in stark contrast to ECAJ policy:

“On behalf of Victoria’s faith communities, we join together to call on all Australian political parties and leaders to treat asylum seekers with the respect they deserve, and to uphold their basic rights to seek asylum in Australia, and to work and contribute to the Victorian and Australian community.

All major faiths have a tradition of welcoming the stranger and the foreigner and assisting those in need, where every person is precious and entitled to live with dignity, and each person’s life and rights are protected.

At the same time, we share the concerns of many in the community at the number of people who have perished as a result of attempting to arrive in Australia by boat to seek asylum.

As faith community leaders, we add our collective voice to that of many not-for-profit organisations, individuals, businesses and community groups who are seeking to ensure that all asylum seekers who are granted entry into Australia are afforded the right to work and the opportunity to sustain themselves as productive members of our community.

We call for:

  • Avoidance of the use of negative rhetoric and language that dehumanises asylum seekers; undermines the integrity of the discussion on this complex humanitarian issue; and perpetuate misunderstanding and intolerance;

  • Immediate extention of the right to work to all asylum seekers released into the Australian community on bridging visas;

  • Adequate Commonwealth support and living allowances to asylum seekers living in the Australian community on bridging visas so that they can sustain themselves and their families whilst they await the outcome of their claim for protection; and

  • The Australian Government to work with other governments in our region, and globally, to find sustainable and, above all, compassionate solutions to the challenge of supporting asylum seekers.

This statement is supported by the following organisations and individuals:

Anglican Diocese of Melbourne
Buddhist Council of Victoria
Interfaith Centre of Melbourne
Islamic Council of Victoria
Jewish Community Council of Victoria
UNESCO Chair in Interreligious and Intercultural Relations
Uniting Church in Australia”

***

Meanwhile, over at ECAJ, Danny Lamm has issued the following Rosh Hashana message (published on J-Wire):

“As we approach the Yamim Noraim, our time of reflection and renewal, we begin to assess the events of the past year and to express our hopes for the year ahead.

We live in a world of contradictions.  Science and technology hold out the tantalising prospect of curing illnesses, ending hunger and poverty, and diminishing many of the other traditional causes of conflict.  Yet strife and bloodshed are everywhere.  Not since the first half of the twentieth century have the world’s  horizons been darkened so ominously by the proliferation of hatred and war.

Dictators and despots once again issue blood-curdling calls for the destruction of Jewish life, as though Israel and the Jewish people are somehow to blame for the internal carnage in Syria, Egypt and elsewhere in the region. In Hungary and Greece, and other parts of Europe, a reversion to acts of violence against Jews and public expressions of antisemitism are becoming more frequent and are even tolerated.  In Poland, the surviving Jewish community is facing  attacks on its religious freedoms in the form of a ban on kosher slaughter.

Even in peaceful Australia, antisemitic incidents are reported daily and the threat to our communal institutions remains credible and persistent.  Against this backdrop, the old bipartisan consensus in support of Israel has started to break down.

While these challenges must not be minimised, we express our hope for a better year to come. We are a hopeful people. And so, we express our deep and solemn prayer that the coming year brings a comprehensive peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians, even while the Palestinians and Israel’s  Arab neighbours are unable to make peace within and among themselves. We hope that a resurgent antisemitism in Europe is confronted and vanquished. We hope that blow by blow, the shameful movement to demonise and boycott Israel is discredited  and defeated. We hope that this will be a year without a new Lebanon war, without a new Burgas bus bombing, without a new Toulouse Jewish school massacre

But to hope is not enough. We are a people defined by our willingness to act, by our ability to join together and overcome. In this year, we as a community have acted and achieved a great deal.

We have stood up to the institutional anti-Israel bias in numerous mainstream media sources in this country and caused them to modify their behaviour.

We joined with our colleagues from around the world at the World Jewish Congress plenary in Budapest to show our resolve to stand up to antisemitism in the places where it is most pervasive.

We have worked tirelessly with our international friends to ensure that Jewish communities around the world are able to live as Jews and practise the ancient rites of circumcision and kashrut

We ensured that while some countries seek to revise or even glorify their Nazi pasts, in Australia, we continue to revere those who stood against Nazism.  Raoul Wallenberg is now an honorary Australian citizen and the London Declaration on Combating Antisemitism has been signed by a higher proportion of Members of Parliament in Australia than anywhere else in the world.

We have ensured that now every Australian child will learn about the horrors of the Holocaust and understand the true nature of antisemitism as part of the national curriculum.

And we have ensured that communal security is an election issue and both parties have pledged to increase funding to secure our schools.

As we reflect on these and other achievements and the great challenges that face us ahead, we thank you, members of our superb community, for your passion, dedication and support and urge you to stand with us again in the coming year and help us to represent the interests of the Jewish people in this country and throughout the world.

On behalf of all of us at the ECAJ, we extend best wishes to each and every person in our community for a shana tova umetuka k’tiva v’chatima tova, a year of health, happiness, prosperity and peace.”

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