Shortly after I wrote the article Aussie Rabbi Attacks Brigitte Gabriel, I received the followed message from Rabbi Kennard on Facebook:
Dear Ms Hopf,
Thanks for the write up in “Jews Down Under”.
I must share with you my thought that, given my very strong support for Israel, regularly expressed in my AJN Column, my own FB page, and my messages to my students in school, perhaps you and Ralph Zwier are spending time attacking the wrong target – time and attention that could be more usefully focussed on actual anti-Israel propaganda, rather than someone whose “crime” seems to be telling students that Bridgette Gabriel’s view may not be the only one?
Here is my reply:
Dear Rabbi Kennard,
Thank you for your message in reply to my article. I can assure you I didn’t query your support for Israel, but rather was expressing concern that you chose to denounce an eminent speaker, Brigitte Gabriel. As someone invited to speak at Mount Scopus Memorial College, presumably by the School Board, she deserved to be accorded respect.
It would therefore seem inappropriate to undermine the School’s choice by writing to the students giving your personal, extremely critical views about what she said, especially given that Ms Gabriel is an acknowledged authority on Islam, both through her own lived experience as well as her extensive research and scholarship.
I am puzzled about your view that only Muslims can pronounce on Islam. Surely in a free society like Australia, people have the right to discuss any belief system they choose. If they cross the line and stray into racial abuse, defamation or incitement to violence, there are laws which can be used against them.
I was also surprised that you wrote emails to the students after the talk, which amounts to telling the students what to think, rather than allowing them to use their own judgment. Presumably they were senior students, so surely they had a sufficiently broad education to evaluate the content of what Brigitte Gabriel had to say on the subject of Islam.
I note that your school is involved in the Building Bridges programme, the Muslim sponsors of which are the Islamic Council of Victoria. To be logically consistent with your response to Brigitte Gabriel, you would also need to send an email to your students warning them about ICV’s dislike of Israel .
For example, in a Media Release dated July 10 2014, headed
“ICV condemns Israeli attack on Palestine”, they wrote:
In the last 72 hours the world has been witness to an unfolding atrocity in Palestine at the hands of Israel. The Islamic Council of Victoria is appalled and horrified at the wanton attack on the Palestinian people, homes and civil institutions. The loss of life, particularly those of children and unarmed civilians, is an indictment on the state of Israel and all nations that remain silent in the face of such abhorrent actions.
The ICV draws attention to the fact that Israel is an illegal occupier of Palestinian land and has for many years refused to abide by numerous resolutions of the United Nations. It is an occupying force that in recent days has been indiscriminately murdering Palestinians without any reasonable excuse or justification.
The ICV calls on the Australian government, and all people of good conscience regardless of race, religion or creed, to voice their collective repulsion for the actions of Israel and take all actions and measures possible to force the Israeli government to cease their wanton murder of innocent Palestinians.
“The Australian government cannot continue in its blind support for the state of Israel in the face of such heinous and inhumane actions on its part. The Islamic community demands an immediate response from the Government on this serious issue,” Mr Krayem said.
The ICV calls on the government to issue an immediate unequivocal condemnation of Israel demanding it cease all military actions against Palestine and to meet with Islamic leaders urgently to assure the community of its commitment to the value of all lives whether they be Israeli, Palestinian, Muslim or Jewish.
You end your message
“you and Ralph Zwier are spending time attacking the wrong target – time and attention that could be more usefully focussed on actual anti-Israel propaganda”.
Precisely Rabbi Kennard! Maybe rather than attacking Brigitte Gabriel, a staunch supporter of Israel and the Jews, you should be focussing on those who spread anti-Israel propaganda such as in this media release!
With Best Wishes,
Link to the interview with Rabbi Kennard on ‘Nothing Left’ with Michael Burd and Alan Freedman, followed by
Rev Mark Durie, Islamic scholar who responds to Rabbi Kennard.