Guest Post written by Professor William (Bill) Rubinstein.
Much of the blame for the Feiglin controversy must rest with the JCCV (the Jewish Community Council of Victoria), which adopted and approved the resolution of the eleven protesting organisations soon afterwards, and issuing a press release condemning his “homophobia,” etc., posted on its website – and which, I see, has been inexplicably deleted from the JCCV website after being there since 9 October.
Many readers of “Jews Down Under” as well as commentators in the AJN have questioned the propriety of the JCCV’s actions. I agree, but what readers apparently do not appreciate is the extent to which the JCCV’s official statement of policy was instrumental in condemning Feiglin, so let me explain.
It seems likely to me that of the 60,000 Jews in Victoria, not more than one per cent are aware that the JCCV has an online “Overview” of its purposes, a “Mission Statement” about what it exists to do and intends to do. You might expect that any “Mission Statement” of the aims of the JCCV would say roughly this:
“The JCCV exists to represent the view of the Jewish community of Victoria to the government, the media, and the wider community, and to combat antisemitism and anti-Zionism.”
You might think so- and you would be wrong. The “Overview” consists of nine points, all of which “seek to achieve the following goals.”
The first is
“A better society by promoting understanding and cooperation between all faiths,”
and two others are
“continuing and enhancing the Victorian Jewish community’s contribution to social justice,”
“zero community tolerance of racism in general and antisemitism in particular.”
I don’t know when or by what sleight-of-hand these were adopted as the “goals” of the JCCV, but they strike me as greatly exceeding the remit of the body, and, more importantly, virtually mandating the JCCV to adopt a left-wing agenda on issues which have nothing to do with the welfare of the Jewish community and on which there is obviously no communal consensus.
Of course, if any member body of the JCCV wishes to “enhance” its own “contribution to social justice,” this is their perfect right, and countless bodies exist in the general community which lobby on behalf of “social justice”– whatever that means. (“Social justice” issues are generally construed to mean, of course, whatever is on the latest politically correct bandwagon to roll along- it seldom means support for non-ideological, non-controversial bodies like the Red Cross or the Blood Bank, but assistance to illegal immigrants and gays- whatever one might think of the merits of their case.)
As for “zero community toleration for racism in general and antisemitism in particular”, apparently after the JCCV has done dealing with the plight of the Greeks, the Basques, the Filipinos, the Eskimos, and the dolphins, if time permits at the end of a busy day it might get around to doing something for the Jews.
The JCCV presumably doesn’t really mean this, and I appreciate that its anti-defamation officer is highly competent, but this is exactly the way its statement reads.
Surely the representative body of the Jewish community in Victoria exists first and foremost to combat antisemitism, and surely any ethno-religious group in Victoria which thinks that it is being kicked around can defend itself via its own representative body, and not rely on the JCCV.
There is also the fact that the definition of “racism” is highly ambiguous. “Islamophobia” is often regarded in the media as a form of “racism” (although Muslims are obviously not a “race”). But outside every synagogue, Jewish day school, and major institution in Melbourne – including the premises of the JCCV- are uniformed guards.
Does anyone really believe that they are there to protect Jewish school children from Anglican jihadists or from Mexican suicide bombers?
We all know why they are there and why they are, at the present time, a tragic necessity. One wonders whether the JCCV regards their presence as a form of “racism” – and, if so, why they shouldn’t be sacked forthwith to save a great deal of money.
The thrust of the JCCV’s “Overview” seems to me to pave the way- if it does not actually require – formal anathemas against persons like Moishe Feiglin who are deemed to be opposed to “a better society” and “social justice.” A very large percentage of Jewish opinion and of the stance of members of the Jewish community on a range of controversial issues consists of views, it seems, which the JCCV is formally committed to combating.
Expect more Feiglins in the months to come.
Bill Rubinstein taught at Deakin University and at the University of Wales.