Doctor Ruth Kweitel – keeping an open-mind, the JCCV way

Hi Ruth,

I question your level of dedication to removing vilification and discrimination of gay people from what you have written in this email.  Until I contacted John Searle in July 2009 he had never once made a single attempt to contact me on any GLBT related matter.  In fact he had never once made a public reference to any GLBT matter until I walked into his life.  You should also realise that Anton Block, also on the JCCV GLBT Reference Group, was president of the JCCV for 3 years prior to John Searle and not once during his term did he make a single effort to address any discrimination against GLBT people in the Jewish community.  In addition, he never once made contact with any GLBT organisation in the Jewish community.  If you believe that Searle and Block are driven by a genuine desire to make the entire Jewish community understand that homosexuality is normal and acceptable you must be off in fairy land.

Of course you are not interested in politics or hidden agendas but unknowingly you are taking guidance from one of the most political and agenda-driven individuals in the Jewish community.  Unknowingly you have found yourself in the middle of what might be the hottest political situations in the Jewish community.  I will keep the spotlight focussed on your reference group Ruth, rest assured of that.

As for appropriate channels, I consider a discussion between you and me on a private basis as appropriate.  You need to work through your issues so that you can see that this is a reasonable request.

I would appreciate you reconsider your hostile stance on this matter.  It is not very becoming.


From: Ruth Kweitel <>
Date: 2 May 2010 09:36
Subject: Re: Discussion re GLBT issues
To: Michael Barnett <>

Hi Michael,
I joined the GLBT committee because I feel strongly about vilification
and discimination of gay people and this was an opportunity for me to
help do something about it. I am not interested in politics or hidden
agendas which seemed apparent from the inflammatory and vindictive
emails you sent around, in particular naming JCCV Chair, John Searle.
I see my role as a GLBT committee member and am happy to discuss your
concerns but only through the appropriate channels i.e. the GLBT
committee. Obviously there is something going on between yourself and
John Searle, which I have no interest in, and I suggest you resolve
this so we can all work together for the common goal. Until this is
achieved, I see no point to us engaging in discourse and would
appreciate you cease your contact with me.



Dr.Ruth Kweitel, Psychologist.

From: Michael Barnett <>
Date: Friday, April 30, 2010 1:51 am
Subject: Re: Discussion re GLBT issues
To: Ruth Kweitel <>

Hi Ruth,

I haven’t yet heard back from you directly, but I understand from a message Nicky Jacobs sent me that you are uncomfortable in wanting to talk to me.

There are a lot of assumptions being made about me by a lot of people in the community and you clearly have only heard one side of “the story”.  I trust as a professional psychologist you are not going to start taking sides on this matter, especially without even having spoken directly with me.

My initial invitation stands.


From: Michael Barnett <>
Date: Friday, April 19, 2010 12:42 pm
Subject: Re: Discussion re GLBT issues
To: Ruth Kweitel <>

Hi Ruth,

I understand you’re involved with the JCCV GLBT Reference Group from having been in contact with Nicky Jacobs.

I would like to meet you and have a chat about a some concerns of mine behind the formation of the group and general issues in the Jewish community regarding homosexuality etc.

I have been involved with running Aleph Melbourne since 1997 and have over 13 years of relevant experience dealing with both the Jewish and GLBT communities.

My contact number is 0417 595 541.

I will make time to fit in with your availability.


5 thoughts on “Doctor Ruth Kweitel – keeping an open-mind, the JCCV way”

  1. I am somewhat bemused by Ruth Kweitel suggesting she is not interested in politics when she seems to have become involved with JCCV and John Searle, two very political involvements in Jewish affairs in Victoria.
    Working together to solve the intractable problem of homophobia in the Jewish and general communities is what is necessary at this time when homophobia is shown to be on the increase.
    IDAHO – the International Day Against Homophobia – is on 17 May every year and this year the same-sex relationships demonstration on Saturday 15 May is a good day to show the world that we are here, we are queer (and everything else in between) and we are not going away.

  2. Ruth,

    If you are genuinely interested in removing vilification and discrimination as you purport, I fail to see how refusing to engage with Michael will further that objective.

    There is now a much keener appreciation in the GLBTI community about how important our mental health is, and how systemic abuse religious or otherwise, is contributing to depression and suicide – and we have had a gutful of it.

    If you are genuine, more power to you. If not, then it behoves all of us to help Michael rectify the obscene intransigence that is killing our young people.

  3. Michael,

    An interesting exchange, and yet again showing how people (Ruth) will take a position on only half the story.

    How can anyone claim to have the best interest of a group at heart if they aren’t even curious enough to seek out additional information from you.

    She appears to have made up her mind about you, without actually discussing anything with you. Sounds pretty closed minded.

    Keep the spotlight on that group – it is looking more and more tokenistic.


  4. I cried, again, when I read this thread of emails.

    Again – because just last night I watched a DVD of “Prayers for Bobby”, and I wept bitter tears ( I was alone – I permitted my macho self to break down ) when 20-year old Bobby jumped to his death, at the intransigence of his own family in view of their religious beliefs. He “knew” god hated him for being gay, and that he was doomed to hell for something totally out of his control. He chose suicide. The film is based on a true story, by the way.

    I founded TEHILA in Tel Aviv some 20 years ago. TEHILA is the Hebrew acronym for something like the American P-FLAG – “Parents & Family of Lesbians & Gays”. (“Gay” wasn’t as “Politically in-Correct” back then).

    I founded TEHILA because I saw my own mother’s awful and unnecessary suffering at having a gay son. I founded TEHILA because about 30% of teen suicides are gay-related. I founded TEHILA – today a thriving non-profit, with outreach to parents of all sectors – Arabs, Haredi Jews, Russian speakers, English speakers – to save lives and minimize suffering.

    Please, Michael, Ruth and others: I beg you not to let even one more person harm him or herself emotionally or physically, because of your (mutual) inability to communicate and work together. You obviously have the power and the will to make change. Please do so.

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