During the recent protests, Jews divided their support between opposing sides. So which one is the ‘right’ side? I hope that Jews – whichever side they chose – oppose:
· Racism (and that includes anti-Semitism).
Most Jews believe in an inclusive multiethnic society, such as exists in Australia and Israel. Admittedly, such societies are not without hiccups, as people import their own disparate cultures, but it is certainly an ideal most of us strive to achieve.
· Coercive Religious supremacism
It’s great to be proud of your belief system and feel it’s the best one for them. That’s why most of us stick to Judaism, when we can choose to convert to any – or indeed no – religion. However, it tips over into a toxic supremacism if we insist that those who do not follow our belief system are lesser humans, or worse, if we try convert them under duress or even actual violence.
· Suppressing freedom of speech
This includes shouting down those whose opinions we disagree with, labelling them racists/fascists, or resorting to violence against them.
Let’s turn now to the protests. Fairfax reported:
Violence has broken out at opposing protests in Melbourne over issues of extremism and tolerance.
Reclaim Australia protesters were… opposing “sharia law, halal tax and Islamisation”.
They were met by opposition from groups including Socialist Alliance and Socialist Alternative, who shouted anti-racist slogans.
Reclaim Australia protester Rhonda Cashmore said she had been branded a racist but that wasn’t what their protest was about.
“Most here are happy to have immigrants who want to come and fit in. We’re protesting against immigrants who don’t want to follow our laws.”
Rival protester Gerard Morel said he opposed anti-Islam protesters because his grandfather had experienced victimisation at the hands of the Nazis during World War II.
Rhonda Cashmore is Jewish, and so presumably is Gerard Morel, as his grandfather was a victim of the Nazis. Yet they are on opposite sides, with Rhonda explaining they opposed immigrants who don’t want to follow our laws. As for Morel’s empathy with victims, his is simply an emotional response, as he seems unaware of the Islam/Nazi connection:
Shortly after the protests, the Islamic Council of Victoria issued a media release:
ICV disappointed with government response to Anti-Islam rallies
“The Commonwealth has been quick to call on our community and leaders to speak out against extremism and hate preaching, yet when these are directed at us they have remained silent. We expect the Government to speak out strongly against these rallies and call them what they really are and that is nothing more than a racist and bigoted attack on Muslims.” – Mr Ghaith Krayem (ICV President)
Muslim groups have criticised the federal government for its lack of response to anti-Islam rallies… expressing their disappointment over the federal government’s “silence” on what they are calling a “national issue.”
The ICV says it was “reassured” by a statement made by Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews …”Free speech is an important principle but so is respect for multicultural communities”.
Lawyer and founder of the Islamophobia Register Australia Mariam Veiszadeh shared the ICV’s concerns…
“Such rallies are blatant examples of how Islamophobia, and the silence that often surrounds its condemnation, are threatening to become mainstream and ‘acceptable.’
Veiszadeh thanked “the ordinary Australians” who took part in the counter rallies.” You stood for inclusion, multiculturalism, love and tolerance.”
For another view, let’s hear from Paul Zanetti:
A couple of friends invited me to attend the Reclaim Australia rally on the Gold Coast. I didn’t know anything about the group except what I’d pre-read on social media. They say they want to send a message about Australian values and speak out against the rise of Islamic extremism.
Now, I don’t see any evidence of Islamic extremism on the Gold Coast, but there’s plenty of evidence of it around the world, including incidents in Sydney and Melbourne, and 100 or more Australians who’ve decided to head off to fight for Islamic extremists.
… when I arrived at the Bundall rally… I looked around for the neo-nazis, fascists and white supremacists but I was a little disappointed to see it was majority mums and dads and kids looking like they had mistakenly turned up for an Olivia Newton John concert in the park.
Aren’t protests supposed to have screaming loonies, throwing marbles under police horses, while waving extreme placards in front of cameras?
I made my way up to the front stage area, which again challenged my pre-conceived notions. The whole stage was adorned with more national flags than a UN convention. The largest flag of all was the aboriginal flag…
The MC welcomed all comers from every race and religion, even Muslims… He explained the purpose of the rally was to embrace Australian values of fairness, tolerance, free speech and equality; that Australia was a nation of inclusiveness, not exclusiveness.
Everybody was welcome to come to Australia, but that’s a two way street. All cultures irrespective of beliefs or religion must in return embrace the values of Australia. He then introduced a beautiful young nine year old girl of aboriginal heritage who sang the Australian national anthem in her Dharawal tribal tongue.
Golly, there just weren’t any signs of racists and bigots so far. But reading the reports the following day, there must have been, because social media activists said this was a neo nazi rally. The only violence stemmed from anti-rally protestors in Melbourne, Sydney and Hobart … determined to turn a peaceful rally into a violent shut-down of free speech.
The rally speakers were all well informed, researched and experienced. I was particularly transfixed by the three returned Australian servicemen from Iraq and Afghanistan regaling shocking stories of the treatment of women and children at the hands of strict Islamic cultures.
A young village boy in Afghanistan would receive an horrific beating if his father learned he had accepted a chocolate from a coalition solider, or worse, shot at by a Taliban sympathiser if he or she happened to be too friendly to one of our Aussie soldiers.
Well, there must have been two rallies on the Gold Coast because the family friendly event I attended exhibited all the best Australian values – tolerance, inclusiveness, free speech and fairness.
Not a racist or a bigot in sight.
The Gold Coast Bulletin had a different view. Alice Gorman wrote:
My racism radar starts pinging when the flag wearers carry signs with passive aggressive statements: “I’m not racist, just a proud Australian!”
The purpose of the rally, I think, was to “prevent Sharia law, halal certification and the Islamisation” of the Gold Coast.
Who knew the Gold Coast needed saving from Islam?
Save us from the bikies and the drug dealers by all means, but don’t bring your narrow-minded, ill-informed scaremongering to our multi-cultural city.
… there are about 5000 Muslims living in the city. Most…live in peaceful harmony with the rest of us …Like most organisations, there are good and bad people.
I’ve met some bigoted nasty Christians in my time, people who use the cover of religion to circulate their ill-informed message.
My own family arrived to Australia from Egypt in the 1950s. They were Greeks, fleeing a dangerous country and Australia welcomed them with open arms.
… no one told them they couldn’t follow their Greek Orthodox beliefs; no one told them they had to pledge allegiance to the “Aussie Aussie Aussie, oi, oi, oi” way of life..
I can’t help but feel the basis of the Reclaim Australia movement is centred on fear and misinformation…
I hope residents take the time to inform themselves with fact, before pledging allegiance to a movement with questionable motives.
A blogger calling himself Chaucer had this to say:
… Gorman will be largely unknown to most Australians, but she does have a blog and introduces herself thusly:
I’m a Walkley Award winning journalist with more than 20 years in the media industry… I write regular columns for the Sunday Mail Queensland and the Gold Coast Bulletin.
Gorman’s article leads with, I WORRY when people wear the Australian flag, as some sort of fashionable declaration of their “Aussieness”. Rather than recognising an assertion of proud patriotism the author says that triggers her, racism radar…
Of course, the reason that Reclaim Australia managed to attract sufficient supporters to stage rallies in 16 cities and towns across Australia appears completely baffling to the Walkley winner, The purpose of the rally, I think, was to “prevent Sharia law, halal certification and the Islamisation” of the Gold Coast. Such is gross ignorance, I think!
Gorman, the Green and socialist thinkers enjoy a long established, effective network to mobilise demonstrators via unions, universities and a plethora of brain dead social bludgers…ever eager to stifle any opposing view.
Socialist ideologues in Australia have had their controlling way for too long and like the spent tenets of Marxism, have failed—dismally! The worm is now turning, exhorting the silent majority to rise up…and the leftists are hysterically furious. The intimidating epithets of “racist”, “homophobe”, and “bigot” are being neutered. The ballot box is winning out!
In contrast to the Gold Coast scribbler’s zeal to besmirch those who care enough to educate themselves with the facts about Sharia and… why they must accept what is undeniably a Muslim tax imposed on 97% of non-Muslims in Australia…and where such money finds its way, that question has never been addressed with candour. Now that would be a wonderful assignment for a Walkley Award winning writer!
A more than passing acquaintance with the Koran is an essential starting place Ms Gorman—the strict laws on all matters Muslim are there. Alice says she is, struggling to see what the problem is. Well, it’s impossible to see anything with one’s head buried so deeply in the sand!
It turns out that Gorman didn’t even bother to attend the event! Harry Richardson writes:
The Reclaim Australia Rally was a very newsworthy event. There were lots of people, potential for conflicting points of view and a very hot button topic. I was quite surprised therefore; that the journalist assigned to cover the event for The Gold Coast Bulletin doesn’t seem to have taken a stroll across town to see for herself what it was all about.
This was a real shame and a lost opportunity, both for Alice Gorman and for her readers. Probably because she did not attend, her article missed the point badly. It was based on an assumption which was entirely at odds with the reality of the event.
The point of the rally was to provide people with information…most of the people who attended the rally went there to learn.
The speakers were all people with intimate knowledge of different aspects of Islam. All were respectful and none showed any hint of racism or hatred.
Ms Gorman seems to have assumed that the point of the rally was to disseminate false information and close Australia off from the freedom to be different.
She cites her own family’s experience fleeing from an intolerant regime in Egypt and the joy of their acceptance in Australia. This is where the real tragedy lies. The reclaim rally was organised to fight against the intolerance that her family fled Egypt to avoid.
… Ms Gorman says to her readers, “I’d really love to know what evidence this movement has that our “Aussie way of life” needs to protecting [sic] on the Gold Coast?
I hope she actually means what she says and that she is genuinely interested to find out the truth and review the evidence.
Journalists are supposed to be the ones sifting information to keep us informed of the truth. It would be ironic and embarrassing if they, as a profession, were the last ones on Earth to realise one of the most important truths of our time.
Please Ms Gorman, do the research and come to our next rally. You would be most welcome.
Green Left Weekly added their perspective – strikingly similar to Gorman’s:
The Melbourne rally was the largest counter-mobilisation against the racist, “Reclaim Australia” protests organised …by groups associated with the neo-Nazi and Christian fundamentalist far-right.
Reclaim Australia’s demands include stopping Sharia law being enforced in Australia, banning Halal certification, introducing “pride” in the Australian flag and the national anthem at schools, and to ban the burqa (or equivalent). All of these demands, absurd or extremist as they are, can be regularly heard in federal parliament and the opinion pages of the Murdoch press.
Not only did the media take the claims by “Reclaim Australia” organizers that they were not racist at face value, they suggested the racists’ professed concern about the threat of Sharia law was based on a genuine possibility.
The counter-protesters in Melbourne held Federation Square, despite violently being attacked by neo-Nazis at the “Reclaim Australia” event… Victoria Police protected the racists…
In Sydney, NSW Police had previously denied the anti-racists permission to rally in Martin Place, despite granting the racist rally permission.
Anti-racists also confronted “Reclaim Australia” events in Brisbane, where veteran racist Pauline Hanson was drowned out by anti-racist chants…
Keynote speaker, Pastor Danny Nalliah, claims the Neo-Nazi with the swastika tattoo was a gatecrasher and a ”plant ‘. Nalliah and his followers are strong supporters of Israel and would certainly not have welcomed Neo-Nazis. You can hear his version here:
Nalliah founded the political party Rise Up Australia. He had earlier successfully defended a lawsuit by the ICV, represented by Waleed Ali, under Victoria’s Racial and Religious Tolerance Act, along with his colleague Daniel Scot. Both Nalliah, from Sri Lanka and Scott, from Pakistan, are brown-skinned, and many members of his political party are non-white, so the accusation of racism is ridiculous.
Our Jewish roof bodies reacted predictably, considering most are involved in interfaith with the ICV:
The Australia/Israel and Jewish Affairs Council and The New Israel Fund have both condemned the religious bigotry recently expressed by Reclaim Australia.
Jeremy Jones of AIJAC said: “AIJAC strongly supports Australian multiculturalism. All who come to Australia should feel welcome, and should feel completely comfortable that they have the right to preserve and practise their own cultures, while all who live here also have responsibilities to adhere to Australia’s egalitarian, democratic values and to Australian law.
In light of reported support for the Reclaim Australia rallies by a group identifying itself as an Australian Jewish communal lobby, AIJAC wishes to make it clear that we condemn the religious bigotry on display at the rallies…
A spokesman for the New Israel Fund added:
“NIF Australia Foundation condemns the hatred and bigotry aimed exclusively at Muslims which was displayed at the Reclaim Australia rallies.
… This campaign to victimise and marginalise ordinary Australians simply because of their Islamic faith is reminiscent of the anti-semitism faced by Jews over the centuries.
The importance of promoting a shared society featuring pluralism and tolerance has long been part of NIF’s goals. As Jews, we recognise the importance of standing up and speaking out against bigotry and hate speech as well as working to protect an inclusive and cohesive Australian society.”
Comments show that many disagree with these PC platitudes. A few extracts:
- Is there no concern about the opponents of the Reclaim Australia rally, hateful members of the Socialist Alternative or similar anti-Zionist groups, who oppose the existence of Israel? It seems that the aim is to smear Reclaim Australia, ignoring the disreputable elements who opposed them who are really the culprits.
- …Multiculturalism and multi-race are not the same thing. Islam is not a race… Being against an evil set of ideas, especially when the stated aim of those ideas is to convert of kill you is not a bad thing…We don’t have the right to force others to conform to our ideas and this is the very nature of Islam!
- …wherever the Muslims are growing numerically such as in France, Jews are being persecuted and driven out – that is the non ideological reality… Ignoring reality because it doesn’t conform to your multiculti ideal is plain stupid.
Unsurprisingly, THE COUNCIL OF CHRISTIANS AND JEWS rushed to defend their Muslim interfaith partners:
One of the objectives of the CCJ is to promote respect and understanding between people of different creeds…Therefore, the Council deplores the racial and religious vilification and misrepresentation of Islam by those groups and many other individuals.
There is certainly a level of confusion by the community on what Islam really stands for and how the vast majority of Muslims respond to the extremist Islamists groups overseas and here in Australia…
The CCJ calls on the government and leaders of our community to provide the space and environment that would provide the Islamic community with the chance to be heard above the racist rabble and allow the broader community to understand how they wish to be seen by their non-Muslim neighbours…
Dr Philip Bliss
Our Jewish experience makes us especially sensitive to persecution and exclusion. We know what it’s like to be marginalized and despised, so we go out of our way to welcome the stranger. But what if the stranger is virulently anti-Semitic, calling for the annihilation of Israel, our Jewish homeland, and the death of Jews everywhere?
We know that Socialist alternative and the Greens mostly support the BDS movement against Israel, as do our interfaith partners, the ICV, which last year condemned Israel for their “wanton attack on the Palestinian people” during Operation Protective Edge, adding “Israel is an illegal occupier of Palestinian land… that in recent days has been indiscriminately murdering Palestinians without any reasonable excuse or justification”. No mention of the thousands of Hamas rocket attacks!
ICV’s Nazeem Hussain, whose ‘comedy’ programme, Legally Brown, exhibits his racism towards white people, is a leading light of BDS, the racist, anti-Semitic movement that seeks to demonise Israel and Jews who dare support their historic homeland. Vickie Janson of Australian Christians wrote:
“The Islamic Council of Victoria (ICV) has previously used vilification laws to prosecute Christian pastors for apparently vilifying and mocking Muslims. Yet ICV Spokesperson Nazeem Hussain and his partner in comedy presenting ‘Fear of Brown Planet’ received a VicHealth grant of $150,000 to legally vilify and mock non-Muslims because having a good laugh at others is deemed beneficial for mental health. Mr Hussain also supports the radical anti-Semitic BDS group making a complete mockery of the notion of charging others with vilification.”
Julie Szego seems utterly befuddled, condemning both those who oppose Islamists (Reclaim Australia), and the self-described anti-racists (Islamists and their Radical Left supporters!):
… I’d prefer not to be writing about the bigots in their Australian flag-burqas who took to the streets nationwide to “reclaim” the country from “Islamisation”…and the “reclaimers” spouting nonsense about a “halal tax” that ends up in terrorist coffers.
On the other hand, the more leftward you travel on the political spectrum the more timid the fight against Islamist extremism. The radical fringe sees no problem at all — an extreme form of a pathology that infects the progressive movement more broadly.
The weekend’s counter-demonstrations, orchestrated by hard leftists, gathered under the impressive banner, “No Room for Racism”. … the high-handed refusal to play the ball, as opposed to the bogan, the same unwillingness to engage in the contest of ideas that has helped progressives lose almost every cultural battle…
The main problem is these so-called anti-racists fall silent when Islamist groups such as Hizb ut-Tahrir emit their racist spew. At best the leftists see this exotic racism as an expression of multiculturalism, when it should be seen as a threat to multiculturalism.
At worst, the left regards Islamists as allies in a common anti-Western cause and not as the dangerous reactionaries they are.
And when even centrist politicians struggle to articulate the Islamist threat, the “reclaimers” can convincingly claim they’re the only ones courageous enough to speak out.
In Europe, decades of appeasement has brought social ills from gender-segregated beaches to radical Muslim clerics.
Here Bill Shorten rightly refuted the suggestion that Muslims were planning to bring sharia to Australia. Then he said:
“It was 50-60 years ago people said that the Catholics were trying to take over the joint – and that wasn’t true either.”
No it wasn’t. But neither did militant Catholics systematically assassinate those who dared publish nasty remarks about the Pope.
Szego seems to come round to supporting Reclaim Australia’s arguments, despite initially denouncing them as racist, thereby acknowledging it’s not racist to protest against Sharia law or to support democratic values against totalitarianism.
Time for the verdict: which side supports freedom of speech and religion, egalitarian values, and opposes racism and anti-Semitism?