Last week I told you to stay tuned for some big news in the Jewish community. Today I am revealing that news.
Up until April 2011 the Anti-Defamation Commission (ADC) had refused to speak out in any way on homophobic incidents in the Victorian Jewish community. You can read my blogs on the topic here.
In a welcome move, the ADC board has unanimously, but without fanfare, passed a motion that has added “GLBT issues” to their purview:
A motion was unanimously passed at the April 13 ADC board meeting to include GLBT issues as part of the organisation’s overall agenda to stand up for human rights.
ADC chair Anton Block told the Star Observer the motion passed was more a “recognition” than a formal resolution.
“It wasn’t so much a resolution saying we’re now going to deal with GLBT issues,” Block said.
“It was a recognition that our mission extends to those issues, but primarily our purpose is to combat antisemitism and racism.
“Dealing with GLBT discrimination is part of, I suppose, our purpose of promoting human rights, speaking out against homophobia or vilification of members of the GLBT community.”
This is a significant move forward in acknowledging that there are serious issues that GLBT people face that have up until now been ignored by the Jewish community ‘hierarchy’. However the language used by ADC Chairman Anton Block conveys more a tone of reticence than enthusiastic willingness.
Whilst this is definitely a step forward, even if it’s a small one, it is going to be of minimal benefit to anyone if the ADC continues to leave this change to their purview unannounced. It must talk to the community and tell it that it’s going to be available to receive complaints against as yet unspecified forms of attacks against GLBT people in the Jewish community
The ADC must also make it clear the type of complaints it will handle, and those it won’t, and whether they’ll accept complaints about intolerance or hate-speak directed at GLBT people by non-GLBT people from within the Jewish community. Further, it must also tell the community what it will do with these complaints. They must action these complaints to no less a degree than complaints they receive about racism and anti-Semitism.
I am cautiously optimistic about this step forward. Only time will tell if the ADC are serious are about combatting intolerance against GLBT people, or if this is more of the same lip-service that other sections of the Jewish community have artfully given us.
Anton Block is the Immediate Past President of the Jewish Community of Council of Victoria and is on the JCCV Executive. During his term as JCCV President, Anton Block took no action to address any injustice against GLBT people in the community, or to break down any marginalisation or invisibility that GLBT faced within the Jewish community. The current president of the JCCV, John Searle, was previously Chairman of the ADC .