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CSG Needs Accountability Too

June 16, 2015 – 1:31 pm22 Comments
CSG - where's the congeniality?

Congeniality counts! It’s just as important as alertness or any other quality required by the CSG.

By Anthony Frosh
The Community Security Group (CSG) performs an important function for the Jewish community. In the current state of global affairs, the role of the CSG has become more vital than ever. The vast majority of CSG personnel are committed volunteers who give up their valuable time to attend physically and mentally demanding training sessions, as well as to be on duty, which can be both a boring and thankless task, often involving standing outside for long periods in unpleasant weather. For these reasons, I would encourage everybody exiting a shul or community event to thank the CSG personnel on duty.

Having said all that, a righteous contribution from the majority does not excuse an abuse of power from even a small minority. Over the years, I’ve heard of a few cases in various parts of Australia where people who were not at all security threats were denied entrance to a shul or community event. In none of the previous cases was I well acquainted with the people or the situation, and so on each instance I was inclined to think “well, there was possibly more to the story than what I’m being told.”

However, earlier this month, such a situation occurred in Perth where I was well acquainted with the person denied entry and so I decided to investigate. I made my own inquiries with the head of the CSG in Perth, the administrative leadership of the shul where the incident took place, and I was fortunate enough to stumble upon a couple of independent and highly credible witnesses. From all this, I am confident that the facts are not in dispute.

Here are all the essential and relevant details. Please note that I’ve written this account so as NOT to disclose the identities of ANY parties involved in this incident, including the CSG guards. It is strongly requested that any comments on this site or on social media respect this.

The person, a male in his late 40s, well groomed and well dressed for shul, arrived by design after the service, but in time for the kiddush sponsored by a family member for a family simcha. According to an independent witness I spoke to, he was intercepted by the two young CSG men on duty with a sabbath greeting and responded with a laid back “G’day.” According to the witness, the CSG guards appeared to react suspiciously to this greeting of “G’day” (obviously not the reply greeting they were looking for). According to the head of CSG in Perth who I also spoke to, the guards were suspicious because of his arrival time.

So, just to summarise the FULL list of suspicious activity that this person exhibited, which qualified him for denial of entrance to a family simcha:

  • Arrived late for shul

(Did these CSG guards think people arrive on time from shul as they do for the cinema?)

  • Responded to a sabbath greeting with a “G’day”

(i.e. apparently identified himself as likely non-Jewish or otherwise unaffiliated. Did these CSG guards also think non-Jews cannot enter a shul, not even for a simcha or associated kiddush ?)

After initially being denied entrance, the person gave the name of the family that he was connected to with regard to the simcha. The CSG guards responded that they’d never heard of that family, and continued to deny the person entrance until they had no other choice but to leave the premises.

At no stage during the conversation with the person did the CSG guards attempt to verify the person’s identity. Why one of the guards did not simply go inside the shul foyer and ask one of a hundred people at the kiddush who could have verified the person’s identity remains an essential question the CSG has yet to answer.

If the above is not appalling enough, the conduct of the CSG guards subsequently reached a further low.

On leaving the shul after the kiddush, a young woman, highly involved in the Jewish community, and known to the CSG guards was stopped and asked if she knew the family that the person had mentioned. The essence of her reply was “Yes, of course, they’re connected with the simcha and they are related to me”.   According to this woman, the reaction of the CSG guards to her reply demonstrated that they immediately realised they had made a terrible stuff-up.

However, despite now having the knowledge of their error, they have not contacted the family and/or person involved to apologise. If I had had a supreme moment of stupidity as they had suffered, then I think I would have been around at the person’s place that night with an apology and a large case of the finest cider!

Furthermore, I spoke with the head of CSG in Perth on the Monday morning after the fact, and at the time of going to press, he nonetheless has still not contacted the affected party to apologise on behalf of the CSG. Is there some security protocol that prevents offering an apology?

I happen to know that at the shul where this incident took place, the rabbinic leadership, as well as the lay and administrative leadership have a strong desire for the shul to be a very welcoming and inclusive place, not just to members, but to all visitors. I have personally witnessed the head rabbi at this shul perform enormously generous acts toward exactly such purposes. I also know one board member, who I would count as a personal friend, who also works tirelessly with such aims.

However, it is a reality that at many if not most shuls, including this one, the first and last (and sadly, in some cases, the only) faces a visitor to the shul sees are those of the CSG guards on duty. It is therefore incumbent on all CSG guards to be cognisant of this fact, and to realise the implication of this. For visitors to a shul, especially visitors who are either not Jewish or just not very affiliated, rude treatment by the CSG (to say nothing of complete denial of entry) will have a major impact on the way they perceive the entire Jewish community.

Again, I want to re-iterate that in my experience, the vast majority of CSG people do a great job, are very polite, and are driven by their concern over the particular security threats that the Jewish community faces. However, if even a small minority are corrupted by a desire for self-importance and to assert their authority, then the level of damage they can do is untold.

Finally, as a community, we should recognise that the aim of the CSG is to prevent situations that are very low probability but with severe consequences if they were to occur. These situations are difficult to predict and counter, therefore we should expect that false positives can happen from time to time. Nevertheless, it is imperative that the CSG leadership in each locality take ownership when such mistakes do occur, apologise to affected parties, and put in place processes to reduce the risks of such mistakes re-occurring. If the CSG will not do this of their own initiative, then perhaps it is time our community, which funds the CSG, puts in place an Ombudsman.

Anthony Frosh is a board member of a shul in Melbourne as well as a former volunteer with the CSG.

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  • David Langsam says:

    A good article Ant, but I disagree with your initial premise: “The Community Security Group (CSG) performs an important function for the Jewish community.”

    I believe they serve the needs of paranoids and thereby stoke the insecurity much-loved by our current Prime Minister and well documented in George Orwell’s ‘1984’ as well as Simon Sebag Montefiore’s ‘Stalin’.

    My own interactions with the CSG have ranged from politely getting out of my road as I walk into shul carrying a tallith bag and wearing a kippah, to getting in the road of a medical emergency following a cardiac arrest; and – unbelievably – causing the evacuation of a shul and the postponement of a bar-mitzvah because they didn’t like the fact that a ute was parked nearby.

    The ute in question clearly had no bombs on-board. Having explained to the CSG children that obstructing me on a public road was an offence, I spoke with the police sergeant and showed him how to check for car bombs. The tray was empty, there was nothing attached under the car, and apart from McDonalds’ waste and Murdoch papers the cab was empty; and a flashlight through the grill showed nothing but engine.

    But it wasn’t a new BMW, Audi or a Merc so it was clearly “suspicious” to the CSG kids. (I still don’t drive German cars.)

    At another shul, the CSG kids decided that a young woman sunning herself on the green strip opposite was a potential terrorist threat. They asked her to move on, threatened her and went well beyond their brief of allegedly protecting the shul. What they didn’t know was that she was not only a professional security guard and daughter of the guard on duty, but if I remember correctly has high level black belts in self-defense.

    Then there was the day I turned up at another shul at the same time as a woman with her carer. She was … let us say, a fragile personality and when interrogated by the CSG brats was stunned and lost for words. Very aggressively they demanded ID. It was obvious she was upset. It was also obvious that she was not a regular shul goer. I took charge and said she was with me and in the space of about 30 seconds walking from the gate to the shul had ascertained that she was not only nervous enough before the CSG interrogation, but that her children all had their bar-mitzvot at the shul. I left I believe this woman has been at that shul every time I have been since.

    These accounts are from different synagogues in Melbourne. There is one synagogue I like to go to best and it has NO CSG children causing havoc.

    These amateur POTUS Secret Service agents do more harm than good and I am appalled that we play their game and have to PAY their insecurity levy.

    David Langsam

  • Seraphya says:

    Is there an independent audit of CSGs books? They are staffed by mainly volunteers, take huge sums of money from the community and receive donations from sponsoring corporations as well as government grants. I don’t just mean an audit that ensures that no one is fleecing the community, but an audit for effective spending of resources.

    With little oversight over the way individual volunteers act on their duties it makes me worried that millions of dollars are going towards fraud, waste, and abuse.

    There is no need for CSG to hide behind the discredited theory of “security through obscurity” as an excuse for not having publicly available policies. For an organization that has its members carrying firearms and acting in the name of the community, playing spy games is no excuse for lack of accountability and transparency.

  • Steven says:

    Maybe it’s time to sack them all and for a transparent entity to raise money and hire private security guards who would be interested in doing a good job and not getting sacked.

  • David Langsam says:

    Very good point, Seraphya.

  • Sharon says:

    Anthony you may be right about a couple of occasional over reactions by CSG volunteers, especially in the case of the barring entry to the latecomer in Perth. You are right, those guards should have checked if the name matched the family whose simcha it was. But as a community, we need to appreciate the important job they are doing and work with them to predict any confusion; when it was my son’s Bar Mitzvah, I approached the CSG volunteers as I went in to Shule, thanked them for their time and informed them that I had a few non-Jewish friends including some Indian and Sri Lankan guests so to please be aware they wouldn’t know the drill, but they’d know our name and that of my son. Potential embarrassing situation – easily avoided!

    As a community, we are the victims of the most hate crimes and there are very real threats out there. The deadly attacks in Paris, Brussels, Toulouse, Bulgaria, Mumbai specifically targeted random Jews and we are not immune to anti-Semitic lone wolves or terrorist cells. You write from Melbourne, where there have been very specific threats from Islamic fundamentalists against Jewish targets including from Al Fuqan, just 3 km away and online chat forums by ISIS recruiters.

    The CSG volunteers are extremely highly trained, dedicated, altruistic volunteers. Seraphya is being deliberately offensive and demeaning in referring to them as ‘kids” and I’m at a loss to understand what huge contributions and sums of money he is referring to. CSG is run on a shoe string with a small handful of paid employees who earn little but are on call 24-7 and put in incredibly long hours. As for the ‘kids’ he refers to, many are university students, who give generously of their time and whose commitment to CSG prevents them getting paid employment or committing to other sports or leisure activities. During busy periods they may put in 4-5 shifts per week, otherwise regular Friday afternoon or Saturday shifts which begins hours before Shule and finishes hours after. In addition, they must attend compulsory physical and psychological training twice a week. They pay for their own suits, training clothes, equipment, dry cleaning and petrol.

    It’s an all encompassing, demanding, exhausting, time consuming, thankless, unpaid and expensive job. And they can’t even put it on their resumes!

    We should be thanking them, feeding them and working with them in their dedicating to our protection.

  • Boris says:

    Seraphya and David I believe your comments are connected. CSG keep us paranoid in order to get our money. If we do not buy their arguments that we are all going to die they won’t get the money.

    We now all await the inevitable bullying where CSG demands the whole article be removed.

  • Sharon says:

    Anthony, I agree that the incident you described in Perth was badly handled and those particular guards should have made more effort to checkout the latecomer’s purpose. However I am disgusted by the offensive, ignorant and derisive comments by the other three commenters. As a matter of interest, when it was my son’s Bar Mitzvah many years ago, I started the day by approaching the CSG guards, thanking them sincerely for their time and introducing myself as well as advising them that I had many non-Jewish friends and family attending who would not know the drill. I was also cognisant of the fact that my Indian and Sri Lankan friends would not fit the usual profile so I passed that on to the CSG operatives who were very understanding and we had no issues. Many problems can be avoided if we work with each other and don’t take them for granted.

    I am stunned that the three commenters below are so ungrateful and critical of our devoted volunteers who give so generously of their time and sacrifice the opportunity to seek paid employment or join a regular sport or leisure activity. Their training is so physically and psychologically demanding and incredibly time consuming on both week nights and weekends. As for the huge contributions and sums of money they refer to, they are extremely ill informed. There are a small handful of paid employees, generally hired after many years of voluntary work for the organisation. They work long hours for less than market pay. The volunteers who do the bulk of the work, do 4-5 shifts per week over busy times and on ‘normal’ weeks start preparation for their shifts hours before Shule starts and finish long after the last guest leaves. The shules who would otherwise have to pay for security, don’t even bother to feed the CSG volunteers who stand outside for up to 7 hours.

    In exchange for the honour of standing outside our events, keeping our community safe, they pay for their own suits, training gear and clothing, equipment, dry cleaning and petrol. They receive little thanks and the contemptible criticism of the other commentators here, they don’t publicise the threats or dangers they face and they can’t even mention their CSG work on their resumes.

    The danger is real. The attacks in Paris, Brussels, Bulgaria, Toulouse, Mumbai and Copenhagen were not random. We have hotbeds of Islamic fundamentalists all over Australia including just 3km away from Caulfield at Al Furqan, ISIS recruiters publishing the addresses of Jewish institutions in Melbourne and Islamic school principals in Melbourne teaching that ISIS are Zionists.

    It’s always the people who do the least who criticise the most. It’s obvious from their ignorant comments they know nothing about CSG or volunteering.

  • Perthian says:

    Hi Anthony,

    I have had a very similar experience at the same Shule when I first arrived in Perth about 2 years ago. I arrived at what they deemed a ‘late time’ so they tried to deny me entry.

    The teenager on CSG duty asked me questions which I answered, I was able to name the Rabbi, his wife, even one of his children who I was friends with back in Sydney, but he didn’t seem to want to let me in. He had a problem with the fact that I wasn’t carrying ID on Shabbos. I pointed out that I had walked to shule, and that it was against my religion to carry a wallet on Shabbos. This confused him so he called for assistance and I got to meet the head of CSG who as you have also dealt with.

    I thought that the guy in his 40s would handle the situation better than the teenager who called him for help. I was horribly wrong. Rather than resolve the situation, he actually escalated it. I found his attitude to be combative. Telling me that being late and not carrying ID is ‘highly unusual’ And that knowing the name of the Rabbi, his wife and more than one of his children, did not prove I was invited or was even Jewish. The Kippah I was wearing that day actually had a logo from my old shule which clearly said ‘Sydney NSW’ on it, but this didn’t satisfy his suspicion over having ‘not seen me before’. I’d be wiling to bet that he is part of the minority you refer to who give CSG a bad name. I’m not at all surprised that is unapologetic in your dealings with him.

    For the record I did eventually get in that day. I found matching the combative tone which they were using, was quite effective. I told them that:
    1. If they were really ‘Jewish Security’, they’d know that people not carrying on Shabbos is expected, not suspicious.

    2. If they were really Jewish, they wouldn’t expect Jews to show up on time for anything especially not something which occurs on a ‘day of rest’. If anything they should deny access to people who arrive early or within 15 minutes of the advertised start time.

    3. If I really wanted to gain unauthorised access, I wouldn’t walk up to the gate with ‘Teen-Guard’ on duty, I’d just jump the fence

    4. If they thought I was a threat, shouldn’t they be worried that I’ve caused a diversion and brought both guards to the top gate, leaving the bottom one unsupervised where 59 of my cohorts have just walked in late and unnoticed.

    I told them that I no longer wanted to go in, and asked for directions to the other shule which was in walking distance. I also pointed out that the Rabbi, would be hearing of this interaction as my friend will ask me how my experience at ‘Dad’s shule’ went, and I’d pursue a formal complaint.

    It might have been the words ‘formal complaint’, but the CSG head experienced a sudden change of heart and told Teen Guard to ‘just let him in’.

    Having dealt with CSG in other shules around Australia. I have been questioned many times. Usually it’s very simple and the guards handle it pretty well, but as you say, there are the odd instances where a CSG guard goes on a power trip. Unfortunately Perth CSG appears to have a Napoleonic leader hell bent on flexing authority

    on a final note, I’m not sure what the deal is in Perth, but in Sydney, when there was a Simcha, CSG always knew about it in advance, and knew the name of the family holding it. Most shules have someone standing out there along side CSG who is a member of the shule, and helps them recognise people and circumvent the need for interrogation.

  • Seraphya says:

    Sharon, the first hing I will ask from you is for an apology. You stated:
    Seraphya is being deliberately offensive and demeaning in referring to them as ‘kids”

    I did not once refer to anyone in CSG as a kid in my comment. To keep things civil, I will ask that you take back what you said and apologize for your mistaken attack.

    I will deal with some of your other claims which to me seem as baseless as your attack on what I did not say.

    The shules who would otherwise have to pay for security – Shules pay for CSG, they actually often pay more for CSG than they would be paying to hire a private security firm.

    shifts… begins hours before Shule and finishes hours after – if this is the case how come at some of the minyanim at some shules do CSG come in the middle of davening and disruptively “check for bombs” under the seats and bimah way after the davening is already in progress?

    don’t publicise the threats or dangers they face – Why don’t they publicize the threats? I think it is because if they did, we would see that we are often told to be afraid of a drunk mentally disturbed anti-semite in council houses, and online threats which are a dime a dozen on the internet, not actual real scary things.

    and they can’t even mention their CSG work on their resumes – they should be able to. I put on my resume that I served in the IDF. There is no reason they shouldn’t be able to put it on their resumes. It is ridiculous if they are told not to, its laughable.

    I don’t deny there are real dangers, but CSG seems to be as useful in preventing true danger as the TSA is at stopping weapons from getting on planes. What do you think the CSG does better and more economically than any random person with a mobile phone to call 000 on standing in or outside a shule?

    Maybe they didn’t get the government grant they were promised ( http://davidsouthwick.com.au/speeches/community-security-group-funding/ ), but from shule fees and donations their budget is in the some millions. And if volunteers are paying for their own food, petrol and clothing, where in the world is that money going?

  • JRom says:

    Hey mate…

    yeah this type of thing is pretty bad. Specially if someone missed out on attending a simcha. At simchas it’s particularly problematic if there are non jewish guests. This could be their first interaction with the community and it doesn’t exactly paint us in a good light.

    Over the years I’ve been pulled aside for questioning several times. I think it’s because I went to Yeshiva every Shabbos, and didn’t wear a white shirt or grow a beard.

    Usually it’s nothing more than a short run through the standard questions…
    Are you a member
    what’s your name
    have you been here before
    They usually let me in and even appologise for the inconvenience. One guy even asked me if he could practice asking me the questions because he was training… I guess the guy training him also pointed me out as looking suspicious :)

    However there have also been a few incidents were CSG guards appear to be seeking conflict rather than preventing it. It’s no different to police or military, where a minority join the force with the motivation being to seek conflict. It’s a way to kick ass without going to jail….

    Funniest incident I had was with a young kid who didn’t want to let me in because ‘he’d never seen me at this shule before’. I pointed out that I come every week and this is his first time here so he’s never seen anyone here before. There was a member of the shule telling him that I was a member and regular attendee but he didn’t want to listen. I eventually just walked in past him and told him to do what he thought necessary, which was… nothing.

  • frosh says:

    Hi All,
    Someone asked me on Facebook the following question:
    * Is it possible to provide whatever security we do need “congenially and unobtrusively”?
    My answer was “yes, certainly” as that has been my general experience.
    Living in Melbourne for the best part of a decade, I’ve never experienced a problem with the CSG. The odd time, I’ve even had to report a suspicious vehicle/incident, like the time I saw a couple of guys park an old bomb of a vehicle (no pun intended) right outside of Yeshiva without any number plates. It’s good to know that there is someone to report that kind of thing to who will take action.

    My impression of CSG in Melbourne is that is professionally run – yes, most people might be volunteers, but I think there is an ethos of professionalism in the leadership, and this filters through.

    It’s certainly fine to recount incidents or pose relevant questions, but I urge everyone to keep in mind when writing comments here or on social media, regardless of one’s opinion concerning the need for security etc, on national level in Australia, (my experience is) that the vast majority of CSG people give up a lot of their time and carry out their duties in a relatively congenial and unobtrusive manner. It wouldn’t be right to tar the dutiful majority with the same brush as the problematic minority.

  • frosh says:

    Hi Seraphya,

    I understand your point about issues concerning efficient use of funds etc. However, I tend to worry about this issue with a much larger but otherwise unobtrusive security establishment known as the Australian Defence Forces. For example, is there a really need for new (or even old) submarines? If so, who would they be used against?

    And if submarines are necessary for our defence, then the logical conclusion is that we should have nuclear submarines. Submarines running on conventional fuel are obsolete by about half a century, and cannot compete with nuclear submarines, so spending billions of dollars on non-nuclear subs is a complete waste of money. And people say there’s no money in this country to build a high speed rail linking up the cities of the Eastern Seaboard!

    Ok, I’m on an off topic rant. I guess my point is that even security expenditure is much more out in the open, as with the Australian Defence Forces, we see extremely little public scrutiny from the political class, nor from the mainstream media. Therefore, I’m not sure that if the CSG made its financial details more public, that all of a sudden we’d have some intelligent discourse on the matter.

    My sense is that most of our security spending doesn’t go to the CSG, but is spent on security infrastructure, e.g fences, cameras etc. Of course, the issue of that spending is a worthwhile debate – I think the reason we almost never see such debate is that the attitude in the community (Jewish and wider) is just to accept any proposed defence/security spending.

  • Seraphya says:

    The reason we see little public debate on defense spending is that there are a lot of special interest groups who care more about giving jobs to their constituents than what Australia really needs. It is even worse in the USA. My worry is that when defense is mentioned on the national level we sweep things under the rug, like the over $12 million per day(!) of fraud waste and abuse in just Iraq and Afganistan.

    At least with national defense spending there are audits and some level of scrutiny. In the newspapers there is talk about which contractors are bidding to make the next vehicles for land warfare and analysis of it.

    For the police, if you have a problem with the police you go to official bodies that handle your complaints and investigate. There needs to be an independent body, not just to deal with the day-to-day interactions of CSG with the public but monitor other issues about CSG such as preventing fraud waste and abuse. With the CSG loving its secrecy, what do they have in place to make sure individuals aren’t taking advantage of the cloak of secrecy to enrich themselves. It happens in the best of charitable volunteer organizations, with the added problem of secrecy it is hard to believe it isn’t happening.

    When the police became militarized in the USA because of National policy about surplus military gear being handed to local police forces a national conversation and accountability of politicians to the public changed how things will happen in the future. We should be making sure CSG is behaving correctly before something really bad happens, not after.

    With all the respect I have for the volunteers, this shouldn’t be taken as a criticism of them. I don’t blame the police officers who harm the disabled because of bad training regime, I blame the situation that has led them to not get the proper training. In my interactions with CSG, I see a lot of emphasis on silly things while actually important things are ignored. And that is just in the little bit I see without trying to look to hard.

  • frosh says:

    Hi Seraphya,

    I agree with you that that all organisations that receive community funding ought to have checks and balances and a level of accountability.

    Getting down to tachles, I’m interested in the details of how this might be implemented.

    Do you have a particular vision?

    I should add that I understand in Melbourne, for example, CSG is quite large and has a level of professionalism amongst the leadership, so I *assume* there is some level of this already through having multiple people in leadership positions (decision making comes down to more than the whim of a single individual).

    I think in Perth the situation is different as CSG is much smaller, and the ‘leadership’ is basically one person who has been the role for a long time. This is obviously a far from ideal situation in terms of the things you are talking about.

  • andrew wirth says:

    Frosh, you hit the nail on the head in your last comment – when dealing with low probability, high impact events it is almost a foregone conclusion that there will be false positives – in fact, if there are not false positives the system is not working – I’d much rather see a few healthy people in coronary care than send home people having heart attacks in error.
    Second do we know whether the people involved in this incident were motivated by a sense of self importance or perhaps were simply embarassed they had made a mistake (acting in good faith if overly zealous) and didnt have the skills to deal with the awkwardness they caused.
    Third, the guards were obviously not culturally aware – what better evidence is there of Jewishness than coming late for a simcha
    So I dont know if one should build a case for organisational change on one case – if there is systematic abuse then yes, there needs to be change- are you arguing there needs to be stats provided on the incidence of events such as the one your described?

  • frosh says:

    Hi Andrew,

    As always, all your points are logical and your questions are valid.

    In terms of being motivated by self-importance, (and I didn’t mention this in the article), I inferred this partly from my interaction with the guards earlier that day. They had been somewhat rude to me when I entered the shul. I arrived (FYI, before the Torah was taken out ), having walked to shul in the drizzling rain, with wife and toddler in a pram. They nevertheless asked to search my shul bag, which was fine with me, even though I thought the three of us didn’t really fit the profile of terrorist, and so I responded with a smile and a “sure, go ahead”. However, as I went to make conversation with them to thank them for being on duty (and forgetting they wanted me to open my bag, not me to just give them the bag for them to search), they actually responded with a very curt “Just open your bag!” or something like that. It was in aa tone that resembled some highway patrol office in an American movie saying “just put your hands where I can see them”. Anyway, for me, that’s water of a duck’s back, although I should admit that I made a mild wisecrack at their expense because of their manner. I later felt bad about that wisecrack, and thus I made sure to acknowledge them with a sincere wave of thanks when I departed after the kiddush, at that time having no idea of the incident that had happened in the meantime.

    Could the guards just not have had the skills needed after the fact? Yes, certainly. But I’d say that this should be part of their training/protocols, and at minimum, the head of the CSG in Perth should have made an apology the affected party once he had been made aware of the incident.

    I think it would be good if there were stats available on false positives or any other unpleasant interactions. I don’t think those stats necessarily need to be completely public, for security reasons, but some people should have them (CSG leadership, Jewish community leadership). In investigating the incident, and since publishing the article, I’ve been contacted by the odd person from Perth telling me their own story of issues with the CSG in Perth, leading me to believe that this is far from a one off occurrence.

    Is there a case for organisational change in Perth? I would say at minimum there is a case for a legitimate *review* by the Jewish community leadership over in the west.

  • Seraphya says:

    Speaking of false positive and CSG. Every time there is a panic over a false positive, rather than figure out why there was a false positive, and thinking about how getting distracted by this false positive might be the sort of thing that would lead us to a false negative; instead there is bragging about how this just proves you need to be more vigilant and what we are doing is important. Spotting false positives doesn’t mean you are going to find more true positives, and it certainly doesn’t make the threat more real. That is the biggest issue I have with the use of false positives; they are being used to show how the threat is scarier than we thought before.

  • letters in the age says:

    I usually wink at them in my normal facetious manner. ……(Some are quite cute.)

    The political outlook is rather depressing at the moment with this extremist government using everything for their nasty opportunistic agenda

    I’m more in fear of that conservative Anglo business and his self entitled Freedom” to engage in abuse towards women

    The Angry White Male is more of a threat in our civil society especially having Rosie Batty as Australian of the Year

    Food for thought.


  • letters in the age says:


    Anglo businessman


  • Sel says:

    Every aspect of Seraphya comments are 100 percent correct.
    I speak from years of direct experience.

  • Daniel says:

    I am a security professional of some 20+ years experience.

    I was a volunteer member of the CSG for much of that period.

    During both my volunteer and paid security duties I have interacted with tens, if not hundreds of thousands of people. If there’s one thing I’ve learned it’s that people who complain about their treatment, are more often than not, troublemakers who had it coming.

    It’s often the bloke who is drunk out of his mind, brawling with bouncers on a Saturday night and suing on Monday because he ‘somehow’ broke his hand. On Monday he is mild-mannered and demonstrates the highest dudgeon, oblivious to his own responsibility the night before or others he has hurt.

    Within the Jewish Community it was quite often people suffering from a false sense of importance. Also known as “don’t you know who I am”? Usually I didn’t, because they didn’t come to Shule very often, if at all. That alone was why they were challenged. If I don’t know you, I want to know who you are, before you’re coming near my congregation.

    When I started in the CSG, it was pre-9/11 and hardly anyone ‘got’ antiterrorism. The only time women ever had their bags searched was on the way out of a department store, not on the way into a building. You’d have to continually explain to people why they were being questioned or why their bags and bodies were searched. DIplomacy was important and often it caused conflict (especially by sanctimonious ingrates who were 90 minutes late for a family member’s barmitzvah as though that was someone else’s fault).

    Today, in a post-9/11 era when you could walk up to a total stranger in the city and demand to look in their bag (and they would probably let you) it should be much easier.

    Let me make it simple. If you go to a Shule and security don’t recognise you, they MAY want to talk to you. Let them. If you have a chip on your shoulder, then you know what? Piss off. If you’re polite they don’t want to spend any more time talking to you, than you do them.

    Indeed I found non-Jewish visitors were often the easiest to deal with. They’d come straight up to you, looking out of place and simply say “I’m not Jewish” and you’d suss them out and show them around. It was arrogant spoilt Jews every single time.

    Now, I’m not saying that every CSG volunteer was as tactful or experienced as I was. I accept that sometimes they might be a bit ‘OTT’. However when I read comments by David Langsam and “Seraphya” my frank advice would be stay home. Nobody needs to put up with your attitudes, least of all a volunteer who stands outside in the rain or boiling sun while you tuck into your third helping of cholent. I guarantee you’d be the first ones to complain when there is an incident and security weren’t present.

    For every sanctimonious complaint here, there were hundreds of thousands of people who didn’t have the issues you’re complaining about. There aren’t many businesses that have a less than 1% complaint rate but I’d say that’s the ratio here, and it’s not too bad all things considered.

    As for suggestions there is ‘paranoia’ or this is a funding racket, get over yourself. When security is done right, nothing happens. That’s the point however it’s not axiomatic (i.e. nothing happens so we don’t need security). Part of the reason the wider Australian public is now at risk of Islamist terror e.g. the Lindt Cafe, is because the ‘obvious’ target – the Jewish Community has hardened itself.

    Lastly, the *paid* management of CSG deserve the highest levels of scrutiny and should not be confused with the volunteers, who are with few exceptions, awesome guys and girls.

  • judah says:

    Before CSG existed, there was shul security.
    This was born out of events overseas in various countries where atrocities occurred.
    The security comprised members from that shul.
    The advantage was that members knew a lot of the people who attended and knew what was happening that particular day and who was involved.
    Shul security also knew all the local neighbours and their cars. The local nutters were known as well.

    The security role was simple – to be the canary in the cage!
    Something happens outside the shul, members inside are alerted and reacted accordingly.

    I have often seen CSG walk across the other side of the road to the shul to question people who were simply taking a walk. Absolutely laughable is that CSG often draw unwanted attention to a shul that it is unidentifiable as such; by wearing “Men in Black / Navy Blue” suits, sunglasses and earpieces in the mistaken belief that they will deter terrorists.

    CSG now have firearms – what a complete nonsense!

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