This letter appeared in the October 15, 2010 (Melbourne) edition of the Australian Jewish News:
AJDS deserves a slap on the wrist
KUDOS to the Jewish Community Council of Victoria (JCCV) for passing a resolution unanimously condemning in the strongest possible terms the left-wing Australian Jewish Democratic Society’s (AJDS) support of the Boycott, Divestment, Sanction (BDS) campaign. It is about time the JCCV made it clear that the AJDS’ extreme views on Israeli-Arab-Palestinian conflict are not in sync with the mainstream Jewish community.
The argument that Michael Burd puts forward here is extremely troubling. He asserts that because a view held by an organisation is “not in sync with the mainstream Jewish community” it must therefore be worthy of condemnation. What utter nonsense. A minority view, as unacceptable or extreme as many may find it, does not by default equate to a wrong or unworthy view.
The “mainstream Jewish community” has trouble coping with or discussing a lot of concepts, amongst which the AJDS’ view on BDS is not in isolation. One could start with issues such as indifference or opposition to Zionism, intermarriage, Orthodox vs Reform, secular humanism, child abuse, suicide, homosexuality, etcetera, etcetera.
It is imperative that the views and attitudes of the “mainstream Jewish community” be challenged and debated more frequently, in an intellectual and respectful manner. Any community will contain a diversity of opinions on most issues, of which more than one may be valid. Respect for this diversity is crucial for the health of the community. Minorities being shouted down in a parochial and bullying fashion by organisations such as the JCCV is far from respectful or healthy.
The JCCV promotes itself as “the voice of Victorian Jewry“. How remiss of me for taking an inclusive and plural interpretation of their motto. It’s time the JCCV stopped pushing its single agenda view of how they want their community to be. It will never work.