Australian Jewish group warms to BDS step by step

A statement from the left Zionist group Australian Jewish Democratic Society. Good to see they’re standing firm in the face of Zionist lobby pressure. Shame that they only see the importance of BDS regarding the occupied territories and not much deeper against the infrastructure of occupation (alive and well in Israel proper).

But it’s a start and should be welcomed.

The Australian Jewish Democratic Society considers the Occupation of the West Bank to be a significant obstacle to the achievement of a lasting peace, and the settlements to be one of its worst manifestations.

Its effects are numerous:

*Israel’s youth must risk their lives in policing a hostile aggrieved Palestinian population, and risk becoming brutalised by the experience;

* Jewish settlers and their Palestinian neighbours have an understandably impossible relationship which often results in openly violent and destructive behaviour;

*It breaches international law, the very system that actually made possible the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948;

*Development of Palestinian civil society and its economy, which are the prerequisites of prospects for peace, is stifled.

Many Israelis share this view. The AJDS has decided that it does not wish to give financial support to those who produce and export from the settlements, and wishes to discourage others from doing so. We are taking this stand because we hope that it will encourage people to think about the question of the Occupation, and, at a more fundamental level, because we don’t wish to be supportive of people who breach International law, with or without the approval of the Israeli Government.

This is why we refer to this as a limited Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions policy.

Our position relates only to the Occupied Territories. We reiterate that we are opposed to a full BDS position which does not distinguish between the two sides of the Green Line. We agree with the Jewish Community Council of Victoria that a full BDS is likely to be counter-productive, however it is not clear whether the JCCV position is an in principle opposition to all boycotts, as the JCCV and the Executive Council of Australian Jewry have supported boycotts and blockades targeted at Iran and Gaza.

The strength of a community is reflected in the range of voices that it encompasses. To exclude ours would suggest that the JCCV does not represent the full community but just those who are to the right of centre mainstream. The JCCV has a right to criticise an affiliate when it considers it appropriate. However, the JCCV did not first discuss its concerns with the AJDS and many of its “accusations” are incorrect.

Our point by point rebuttal of the JCCV accusations is available as the attachment below, but we do suggest that the JCCV now talk with us directly to clarify their misunderstandings. Indeed, an apology would be in order. If it is considered that the AJDS is on the fringe of the Australian Jewish community, could we draw attention to one of the findings of the community survey undertaken last year by Monash University? Using a liberal definition of Zionism it found that 20 per cent of Australian Jewish respondents self-defined as non-Zionists. We suggest that this puts us well and truly within the mainstream. But seemingly some would prefer the JCCV to not represent Melbournians of our persuasion at all, let alone those to our left.

Furthermore, it should be pointed out that one third of the membership of the AJDS lives outside traditional Jewish areas of Melbourne. Our membership of the JCCV brings them into the orbit of the JCCV. Likewise many of our members have no involvement with any other Jewish group. Our affiliation truly puts meaning to “community” in the JCCV’s title. It behoves the community, led by our roof body, to reach out to all Jews, no matter their differences, whether political, religious adherence, geographic, ethnic or of sexual orientation.

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