Caulfield Synagogue President Robert Weil smears gay people following his transphobic attack

June 5, 2015

The Royal Commission into Institutional Child Sexual Abuse has brought to light a litany of hideous sexual abuse against children.  Consistent with past behaviour, Robert Weil has again tried to smear homosexual people, this time by labelling paedophiles exposed in this Royal Commission as “gay”, evidenced in a comment posted on J-Wire story “Transgender wedding in New Zealand“:

Robert Weil says:

I’ll grant you it wasn’t well handled at the Yeshivah Michael, but it wasn’t Rabbi’s who “caused the mess”. The mess was caused by sexual predators who delighted in sodomizing little boys. The Rabbis you refer to were not the perpetrators, unlike the gay Catholic priests at Ballarat and the gay teachers at Knox Grammar.

Robert Weil

Robert Weil

The sexual orientation of paedophiles is irrelevant and does not contribute in any way to the abuse.  Further, the victims of some of these male paedophiles were girls as well as boys.

The following comment by Robert Weil compounds the bigotry demonstrated in his attack, this time on transgender people.  He diminishes the merit of the relationship reported in the story by labelling it as a “dysfunctional situation” and presenting it as shameworthy:

Robert Weil says:

Ben, don’t be so dismissive of Rabbis. They understand far more than you, as they are generally the ones that have to be called in eventually to try and clean up the mess caused by dysfunctional situations such as this. Have some sympathy for the parents too.

Neither the wedding nor the relationship are dysfunctional.  The couple are normal, happy people in love with each other.  That they lack the support of family members is unfortunate and not their fault.

Ordinarily I’d be less alarmed by this type of transphobic and homophobic attack, putting it down to ignorance of the harm caused by such attitudes.  However what disturbs me most is that the author of these comments is the President of the Caulfield Hebrew Congregation, and as such holds a position of influence in the Jewish community in Melbourne:

Robert Weil - President - CHCThe prejudice on display here demonstrates a considerable disregard for a vulnerable and marginalised segment of society.  Physical attacks on homosexual and transgender people are not uncommon, are frequently brutal and may even result in permanent disfigurement, disability or death.  More common though are the self-loathing, helplessness and isolation that same-sex attracted and gender diverse people feel due to intolerance and bigotry, leading to poorer mental health outcomes, self harm and possible suicidal behaviour.

It would be helpful for Robert Weil and those who align with his intolerant perspective on sexual orientation and gender diversity to become more informed about the harms their attitudes can cause to the members of their community.

In 2015 there is no excuse for ignorance of these issues.  Over two years ago the Jewish Community Council of Victoria (JCCV) began promoting the No To Homophobia campaign.  Robert Weil’s synagogue, Caulfield Hebrew Congregation (CHC), belongs to the Council of Orthodox Synagogues of Victoria, a JCCV Affiliate.  It is incomprehensible that CHC would have been oblivious to the JCCV’s push for its affiliates to join in the No To Homophobia campaign, given that the JCCV recruited at least 25 other affiliates accordingly.

It is my hope that the board of the CHC, together with their spiritual leadership, are able to formulate a way forward that includes education on sexual orientation and gender identity, whereby they can proudly put their name to saying No To Homophobia, and stamp out the small-minded and harmful attitudes demonstrated here by their President.  Doing so will strengthen their community, build social cohesiveness and hopefully save lives.  Failing to grow in this way can only do irreparable harm.


Rabbi Dr Shimon Cowen claims gay kids are expendable, divert funds to needy Jewish schools

August 23, 2014

Rabbi Dr Shimon Cowen

Rabbi Dr Shimon Cowen, expert on anti-bullying research

Australia’s leading expert on bullying, Rabbi Dr Shimon Cowen, son of the late governor-general Sir Zelman Cowen, has just published the findings of his latest research.  He’s found that an effective way to counter the problem of anti-semitic bullying is to divert funding away from anti-homophobia bullying programs.

Rabbi Dr Shimon Cowen says he’s sorry for the little gay boys and girls who are bashed on a daily basis at school, enduring routine taunts of “poof” and “dyke”.  However he knows that it’s more important that little Jewish boys and girls are protected and has cleared his conscience for suggesting that programs like the Safe Schools Coalition Victoria be disbanded, with the funding diverted to the needy Jewish community, with poor funding options and barely adequate safety at their schools.

Cowen’s pièce de résistance from his research is the finding that the problem of homosexual bullying will eventually go away because, he says, if the gay boys and girls are bullied sufficently, they’ll eventually kill themselves due to self-loathing and depression.  He sees this as a win-win situation.

[This article was first published in 2012 however in correcting a broken link it has has somehow acquired a publication date of 2014]


Interview on the Manny Waks Hour, Feb 13 2014

February 15, 2014

Interview on the Manny Waks Hour on J-Air, Feb 13 2014.

“Manny Waks talks Education with Yossi Goldfarb. He talks to Michael Barnett about being gay and Jewish. Devorah Leah Waks calls from Israel for (The Waks Effect) segment.”

Skip to 29 minutes in to hear me, aptly just after the Barbra Streisand song.


Jewish Community Council of Victoria says “Gay is OK”.

November 1, 2013

This really is a revelation.  For the first time ever, the Jewish Community Council of Victoria has actually acknowledged that it’s ok to be gay.

JCCV says it's ok to be gay (Nov 1 2013)

A lot more needs to be said, but this is a start.


Michael Danby gets groovy on Marriage Equality

May 29, 2013

So, Michael Danby has finally seen the light.  He’s now 100% committed to supporting marriage equality, or the right for non-heterosexual couples to get married.

His office sent out this email yesterday, May 28 2013, confirming his revised position on his support for marriage equality.

My support for any future marriage equality bill

Dear …,

As I have mentioned in my previous correspondence, I have always supported the principle of marriage equality and I am extremely disappointed that Mr Abbott and the Liberal Party continue to oppose marriage equality and not allow their members a conscience vote on this issue in Parliament.

While, I abstained from the previous vote due to this refusal of the conservative parties to allow a genuine free vote on the issue, for reasons outlined in the podcast, the link of which is below, I will support any future marriage equality bill.

I hope that Mr Abbott changes his mind on this issue and allows members of his party a free conscience vote as their continual united opposition to marriage equality will ensure that any such Bill is not successful.

The podcast is of my interview with Macca (David McCarthy) on his Saturday Magazine Program on Joy FM on 25 May, announcing my support for any future Bills regarding same sex marriage.

Regards,

Michael Danby
Federal Member for Melbourne Ports
Parliamentary Secretary for the Arts

And so there you have it.  Michael Danby is now fully committed to removing the discrimination in the Marriage Act that John Howard’s Government installed in 2004 that prevents same-sex couples and intersex people from getting legally married in Australia under Civil Law.

Let’s just hope Michael Danby isn’t at the opera when the next vote comes up.


Miriam Margolyes – Australia’s newest Citizen and outspoken marriage equality advocate

January 26, 2013

I woke up on Australia Day to my partner Gregory telling me that Miriam Margolyes has become an Australian Citizen and that she had been photographed with Prime Minister Julia Gillard.  Nice one.

It’s not everyday that an outspoken (Jewish) lesbian marriage equality advocate is photographed with Julia Gillard, both sharing a moment of pure glee.

Miriam Margolyes is not one to mince her words, and has made it evidently clear that she believes Gillard needs to change her position to support marriage equality.

(“One-woman show with great expectations“; SMH Feb 1 2012)

Miriam Margolyes wants a word with Julia Gillard – although a word is not all the forthright British actor might deliver if she encounters the Prime Minister.

”I love Julia Gillard, she’s great fun, but I believe she is not in favour of gay marriage,” Margolyes says. ”She should be smacked.”

(“A woman not afraid to say her piece“; The Age Feb 25, 2012)

FORTHRIGHT British actress Miriam Margolyes – a ”socialist, lesbian, Jew” – is on a roll about gay marriage and her crisp English diction reaches a crescendo.

”People just get their knickers in a twist about this. Everybody should just grow up. If somebody you don’t know wants to get married, what the hell does it have to do with you?” she says.

”I don’t want to ape a straight relationship,” says Margolyes, who has been with her Australian partner for more than 40 years. ”The only reason I’d get married is to get some presents. I want some Le Creuset sets. Not that I cook.’

(“Barry Humphries joins Q&A“; Q&A May 28, 2012)

MIRIAM MARGOLYES: What about President Obama, who has come out in favour of gay marriage?

TONY JONES: Dragged into the open by his vice president?

MIRIAM MARGOLYES: Is that how it was?

TONY JONES: Pretty much.

BARRY HUMPHRIES: Afraid so.

MIRIAM MARGOLYES: Well, I wonder will it cost him in the election in America and would it here, for example? No, I don’t think it would here because Australians are sensible. In England, where they’re frightfully stupid, over 70% are against gay marriage in England. I, as it happens, since nobody’s asked, I don’t want to get married to my partner of 43 years but some people do and, you know, let them. It’s another question, of course. I realise that.

So how about it, Julia?  Go have a chat with Miriam and sort out her right to get married (and mine too), here in Australia, under Australian law, in case she ever decides she wants to tie the knot.  It won’t cost you the election and it might even help you win it, because love always wins over hate.


The ECAJ should look at it’s policy on Social Inclusion

January 16, 2013

I’ve written recently on how the Executive Council of Australian Jewry believes anti-discrimination legislation should not protect people on the grounds of gender identity and sexual orientation.  I’ve also written on how the ECAJ believe our society should be “inclusive” (that’s the ECAJ’s version of “inclusive”, which means everyone except gays and lesbians).

In The Age today the topic of the Anti-Discrimination Bill in relation to discrimination against lesbians and gays was raised, and the following reported:

Jews ”don’t have a position on this”, Executive Council of Australian Jewry executive director Peter Wertheim said.

Perhaps the ECAJ has forgotten the extreme discrimination that the Jewish people have suffered in recent and distant times?  Maybe the words “Six Million” might ring a bell?  Or “Pogroms”?  Or “Spanish Inquisition”?  Or “Pharaoh” and “Egypt”?  In the history of the Jewish people there has been no shortage of persecution.  Yet the ECAJ claim they don’t have a position on discrimination against lesbians and gays.

Hop on over to their web site and have a look at their Platform, in particular Section 1.1 on Social Inclusion:

1.1 NOTES that it is the vision of the ECAJ to create and support a community in which all Australians, including all Jewish Australians:
(a) feel valued and their cultural differences are respected;
(b) have a fair opportunity to meet their material and other needs; and
(c) are equally empowered as citizens to participate in and contribute to all facets of life in the wider community;

Given that the ECAJ want a society in which all Australians feel valued, have a fair opportunity, and are equally empowered to participate in and contribute to all facets of life, they actually do “have a position on this”.

The correct and only response from the ECAJ should be “We condemn all forms of discrimination, especially that perpetrated against persecuted minorities, and support an Australia where all people are treated equally.”

It’s not asking too much, is it?


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