Oh, the Hypocrisy of Temple Beth Israel- it’s breathtaking .

Temple Beth announced they will be holding a Pride Shabbat

Bursting with moral rectitude, they announced:

It is at the core of who we are as Progressive Jews to recognise that this space knows no gender, race, or sexuality; the paradigm we form must be equitable and inclusive.  This is why TBI is proud to present its second Pride Shabbat, a celebration of our community and its GLBTI (Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender, and Intersex) members.

Last year, our first Pride Shabbat drew over 300 participants.  Jonathan Barnett, President and founder of Keshet Australia, PJV Vice President, and TBI Board Member, duly noted that many of Pride Shabbat’s attendees were stepping into synagogue for the first time since childhood.  He described many as having

“less of a formal recognition of Judaism, because they think they have no place in the community if they’re GLBTI.” 

Barnett went on to say that this disconnect between Jewish communities and their GLBTI members can have cataclysmic consequences. 

“Depression and suicide rates are much higher for GLBTI individuals, as they may feel unwelcome in the Jewish community, and therefore isolated and lonely.” 

Pride Shabbat is our opportunity to take action, and reintroduce GLBTI members and friends to their Jewish home at TBI.  For many GLBTI members and friends of our congregation, last year’s Pride Shabbat was their first experience feeling welcome and recognised within the walls of a synagogue.

  As Barnett recalled, the words delivered from the bimah that night “brought tears” to the eyes of many who were finally feeling not just tolerated, but genuinely accepted by their Jewish community.

They claim

It is at the core of who we are as Progressive Jews to recognise that this space knows no gender, race, or sexuality; the paradigm we form must be equitable and inclusive”.

Fine words, but hypocritical in the extreme, considering that last year they welcomed into their ‘space’ a group notorious for discriminating on the ground of gender, race and sexuality, the Islamic Research and Education Academy (IREA)

In 2012, IREA advertised an Islamic Peace Conference to be held in Melbourne, with invited speakers to include AbdulRahman Al-Sudais, the imam of Mecca. The Age’s Barney Zwartz reported:

IT’S billed as the ”largest, the biggest and the best-ever Islamic event in the history of Australia” – a three-day festival for an expected 20,000 Muslim….

But the chief attraction is a Saudi imam who has called for violent jihad.

It is an extraordinary coup for organiser Waseem Razvi to entice Dr Abdul Rahman al-Sudais who, as the man in charge of Islam’s two holiest mosques in Mecca and Medina, could be considered the world’s foremost imam.

He will be one of many international speakers at the conference – endorsed by the Islamic Council of Victoria, Preston Mosque and leading Muslim groups – in the lead-up to which 1000 local volunteers are being trained to carry out ”dawah” or proselytism for Islam.

But Dr Mark Durie, an Anglican priest, believes Dr al-Sudais should be refused a visa because he has called for the annihilation of the Jews, whom he called the ”scum of humanity”, ”rats of the world”, ”prophet killers” and ”pigs and monkeys”.

The Jewish News also reported, in Anger over ‘hate-speech’ iman”

PLANS to bring a controversial Saudi imam, famous for spouting anti-Semitic and anti-Israel hate speech, to Australia, have provoked an angry response from communal leaders. Abdul Rahman Al-Sudais, who has reportedly called for Jews to be “terminated” and labelled Jews “monkeys”, “pigs” and “the scum of the earth”, is scheduled to appear at the Australian Islamic Peace Conference (AIPC) in March.

“They are killers of prophets and the scum of the earth,”

Al-Sudais is reported to have said on Saudi television in 2002.

“These are the Jews, a continuous lineage of meanness, cunning, obstinacy, tyranny, evil, and corruption. They sew corruption on earth.”

Al-Sudais was refused entry to Canada in 2004 and was banned from speaking at a conference in the US. A spokeseperson for the Department of Immigration and Citizenship told The AJN while they could not discuss specific cases,

“There are provisions within section 501 of the Migration Act that allow the minister to refuse a visa, where a person is found not to be of good character.”

President of ECAJ Danny Lamm said:

“If the reports of his inciteful rhetoric about Jews is correct, those hate-filled messages are unwelcome in Australia.”

The organiser of the conference, Waseem Razvi, had not responded to requests for a comment…

In January 2013, Australian Christians’ Vickie Janson called on the Prime Minister to renounce the IREA conference.

In the interest of consistency and national harmony, the Prime Minister must renounce the March 2013 IREA conference and forbid her ministers from attending.

Last year, Julia Gillard reversed her decision to speak at the Australian Christian Lobby’s annual conference on the basis of some comments made by their leader Jim Wallace.

As strong advocates of freedom of belief and speech, honesty, integrity, human rights and the preservation of Australian common core values, Australian Christians call on Ms. Gillard to apply the same standard to the 2013 IREA Peace Conference in Melbourne.

The list of guest speakers announced for the March conference, which is being promoted under the false premise of interfaith dialogue, include:

Dr Zakir Naik

… Naik, a medical doctor, recommends capital punishment for homosexuals and the death penalty for those who abandon Islam as their faith. He claims that men have the right to beat their wives ‘lightly’ as long as it is not on the face and does not leave a mark. He was also banned from entering the UK after declaring that “every Muslim should be a terrorist.”

Abdul Rahman Al Sudais

Sudais is a Saudi Arabian Sheikh, who has called for the annihilation of the Jews, referring to them as “the scum of humanity, rats of the world … grandsons of monkeys and pigs.”

Sheikh ‘Assim Al Hakeem

Saudi Arabian Al Hakeem was prevented from speaking at Hertfordshire University and Sheffield Hallam University in the UK in March 2012 following protests by gay rights groups who objected to his homophobic statements…

Local guests include Abu Hamza from Islamic Information Services Network of Australia (IISNA) who won national notoriety by describing the proper way to beat your wife…

While IREA is expecting to attract a crowd of 20,000 Muslims to this event, and lure a few thousand non-Muslims under the pretense of interfaith dialogue, last month they exposed their intentions to train 1,000 Muslims including children as young as five, to be engaged in serious apologetics and missionary activity.

According to IREA, in addition to these notorious speakers, our own elected representatives and other officials, including our Prime Minister, are expected to attend.

While our Prime Minister has made public her views about misogyny, Australian Christians calls on her to decline the invitation to this event promoting or validating segregation, polygamy, female genital mutilation and a doctrine of jihad.

Fortunately, by March 2013, Andrew Bolt was able to report, in Muslim hate-conference collapsing

What was billed as Australia’s biggest Muslim conference – allegedly starring a parade of star speakers, including bigots and extremists – is collapsing into farce and claims of deceit.

 The conference was promoted by even the Islamic Council of Victoria, but I did warn about the organiser, Wazeem Razvi, founder of the IREA:

 Razvi talks big, and none of the overseas speakers he claimed in December he had asked is yet listed in the conference schedule.

 … An observer I cannot identify notes the highest profile speaker advertised – the Imam of Mecca’s Grand Mosque who has called for the “annihilation” of Jews – has no intention of coming:

 A notice placed on the web confirmed his non-attendance:

 Community Awareness Notice about so Called Islamic Peace Conference 2013 by IREA

Imam Kabbah Sheikh Sudais is not coming to Melbourne on IREA Peace Conference in March 2013.

I announce this with great pain and sorrow that the person named Wasim Razvi is holding fund raising dinners and programs in Melbourne and collecting thousands of dollars from the community in the name of Imam Kabbah Sheikh Sudais visit to Melbourne.

One of the Muslim community senior Representative spoke to Mr. Suleman (Dawah Department) of Saudi Embassy in Canberra who has told that he is not aware of any visit of Sheikh Sudais Imam of Kabbah to Melbourne on IREA so called Peace Conference..

Despite all the adverse publicity about Wasim Razvi and IREA, Temple Beth Israel last year held a “Sacred Music Concert”, “bringing together performers and communities from Melbourne’s Jewish, Muslim, Christian and Indigenous traditions”. What the audience wasn’t told was that the second half of the concert would feature the Muslim call to prayer, and a recital of the 55th Surah of the Koran (describing how Muslim men will enjoy deflowering virgins in paradise) by Abdul Aziz al Mathkour and Brother Waseem Razvi of IREA.

TBI showed not just naivety, but arrogance and hypocrisy, in inviting a group actively involved in the conversion of non-Muslims and who showed disrespect for liberal principles by uttering such a misogynistic Surah, as well as endorsing homophobic speakers at their conference. How can TBI claims to uphold gender equality while welcoming this homophobic group?

IREA – part of an international dawah (converting non Muslims to Islam) organization – was triumphant about its successful incursion into a Jewish sacred space. On its Facebook page is a photo of Waseem Razvi and three colleagues en route to TBI for the concert; with the caption

“Dae’es [i.e. missionaries] from IREA heading for interfaith event at a SYNAGOGUE”

 That caption implies that the quartet was not appearing at TBI in a spirit of honest interfaith dialogue, which emphasises there must be no attempt to convert, but for the purpose of proselytization. Furthermore, there is this boast on the IREA’s Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/IREA/181471978574423?sk=timeline

… we thank and appreciate the invitation from Cantor Michael Laloum and his initiative to work with Muslim Community…We hope & pray the doors of communication and mutual understanding are always open in order to achieve & fulfil the purpose of our lives i.e. to be obedient to the One & Only Lord Allah swt. As Allah swt says in the Quran ‘Say: O people of the Book (Jews & Christians)! Let us come to Common Terms as between us & you…..’ {AL Quran 3:64}

TBI’s pride in holding a Pride Shabbat must be weighed against their arrogance in refusing to issue an apology for welcoming this Islamic extremist group, who are openly homophobic, racist, sexist and anti-Semitic. It exposes them to a charge of gross hypocrisy and makes a mockery of their claim that

“this space knows no gender, race, or sexuality”.

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  1. Pathetic conflating of homophobia with Islamist extremism and Progressive Judaism.

    • Your answer really is incomprehensible. Considering you are an educator I would expect you to be clear about what you mean.

  2. Bryan, I have to agree with Shirlee. I couldn’t make head or tail of the point you were trying to make – if there was a point! Hopefully it wasn’t just an ad hominem attack because you didn’t like what I was saying. I am happy to debate if you are prepared to employ facts, reason and logic to counter my argument. However, if you are just feeling outraged by my impugning progressivism and letting you emotions run away with you, rather than tackling the issues raised, all I can say is that it’s very sad.

  3. Dear Pam,let me try be clearer.
    I was baffled how an article could move from being anti the Jewish gay community to anti interfaith work to anti TBI. While my comments were definitely not ad hominem, the article read like an anti TBI diatribe. While I do not support each of TBIs decisions, I think that their mistakes and strengths are for their membership to worry about. I also feel that about the poor choices that Chabad sometimes makes and that with so many of our other organisations. I am just sad how much energy could be given into intra-Jewish antagonism. I could not find one positive or constructive suggestion in this article expect for ‘ accept that I am right and you are wrong and you should only do things my way’. Feel free to impugn progressivism, but to what end?

  4. Dear Bryan, thank you for your reply. Let me make it clear that I am horrified at discrimination against homosexuals and against Jews. In fact, I abhor discrimination against any group. This is why I was appalled that TBI, which claims to support Jewish values and the gay community, should welcome into their sanctuary a homophobic and antisemitic Islamic group, IREA. Surely you cannot deny that IREA are radical Islamists?

    I am all in favour of interfaith dialogue. I just draw the line at being conned into a fake interfaith dialogue with an Islamist group which promotes hatred of Jews and destruction of Israel, the national homeland of all Jews, whether religious or progressive. We are all Jews, and should unify against those who want to destroy us.

    I am a secular Jew and certainly don’t agree with everyhing that Chabad does or says, though I respect their right to live as they wish, so long as it doesn’t impinge on my right to live as I wish. Sadly, TBI’s actions in promoting radical Islam poses a danger to all Jews, religious or secular.

    It is great to engage in interfaith with moderate Muslims who share our values of separation of religion and politics and who are not planning to convert us to Islam, as IREA are by issuing a call to prayer and urging “Let us come to Common Terms as between us & you” Those who have studied Islam know exactly what that means!

    For all our sakes, let’s engage with moderate Muslims who want to live in peace alongside other Australians and support them. They are, after all, the main victims of radical Islam, as evidenced by the barbarism currently being unleashed in Syria and Iraq.

  5. Bryan, to accuse me of being anti the Jewish gay community and anti interfaith work was erroneous and was actually an ad hominem comment. There is nothing in my article which was anti the Jewish gay community; quite the contrary in fact. I was stating that TBI shouldn’t invite homophobic groups if they claim to support the gay community. As for being anti-interfaith, nothing could be further from the truth, as I am actively involved with interfaith. I just object to sitting down with radical Islamists, who are vehemently anti-Semitic, anti-women and anti-gay. Surely both these positions should be supported by progressive Jews!

    I know for a fact that many who are members of TBI were deeply uncomfortable about their leadership’s positions, but were afraid to speak out for fear of being ostracised. Surely a truly progressive leadership would not be afraid of criticsim and would be prepared to engage in discussion about valid concerns?

    Your critcisms should be addressed to your leadership, not the messenger!

  6. TBI are gloating about their Pride Dinner. The rabbis are so filled with hubris, they are impervious to anything and feel they are above criticism.

    They refuse to see the hypocrisy – when it’s obvious to any with an ounce of objectivity – that you don’t make nice with homophobic radical Islamists one day and then welcome the gay community the next.


    All I can say is: Pride comes before a fall!

    • Read this yesterday and felt sick to the pit of my stomach.

      Before I got the Yahoo Message Boards closed down, there was a guy I had huge arguments with constantly about a ‘synagogue’, if you want to call it that, in Melbourne where this happened. I always thought he was making it up.!!