A response to Rabbi Daniel Rabin on marriage equality

Rabbi Daniel Rabin posted the following on Facebook:

Was a great experience to chat with some of the Year 12 students at Bialik College today and discuss homosexuality in Judaism and issues surrounding same-sex marriage and the upcoming postal vote.

Some of the things we talked about was the great sensitivity and emotion surrounding this topic and the need to be incredibly mindful that there are differences of opinion in this regard.

People on both sides need to respect the differing views.

It is totally unacceptable to denigrate, insult or hurt others because they don’t share your opinion.

I have seen signs of “Stop the Fags” posted around and I think that is disgraceful. I have written previously, in particular about the Jewish community, that we need to be accepting and inclusive of all Jews regardless of their sexual orientation. Signs like these can cause vulnerable people to take their lives.

At the same time, if someone does not support the marriage act changing, don’t immediately call them homophobic or assume they are being hateful or bigoted.

I encourage civilized conversation on both sides and hope we can live our lives with mutual respect, courtesy and care for one another.

Rabbi Rabin is president of The Rabbinic Council of Victoria.  On September 4 the RCV issued this statement (incorrectly dated September 9):

Sep 4 2017 - RCV statement supporting No vote on marriage equality postal survey

Daniel Rabin is also the rabbi at the North Eastern Jewish Centre (NEJC) in Doncaster.  I grew up in Doncaster and attended the synagogue there in the 1980s and 90s.  I went to Sunday school there and had my bar mitzvah there.  The religious community there was a big part of my life and that of my family for many years.

I also attended Bialik College in the early 1980s.

When I was at the NEJC and at Bialik I was struggling with my sexuality.  I had been struggling with it since around 1979, and the struggle continued for 16 years until 1996.  During this time I had no support, no positive role models and no one to tell me that I wasn’t broken, wasn’t an aberration, wasn’t an abomination and wasn’t abnormal.  I was also incessantly bullied on my perceived sexuality for most of my school years.

After I came to terms with my sexuality I stopped attending NEJC, withdrew my financial support and stopped active religious observance because I was repulsed that part of the Orthodox religious service was to read a passage from the Torah that said men who slept with men were an abomination and that the penalty for doing this was their life, or words much to that effect.

Words can hurt, even if they are token.

In 2017, the rabbi of my former synagogue has told students at my former school that people, people like him, who oppose equal treatment of all citizens under the law of Australia should not be considered homophobic, or assumed to be hateful or bigoted.

That’s fair enough.  He is perfectly entitled to express those views.  However simultaneously he should not be surprised when people, people like me, look at the words he uses and wonder how he could not possibly be seen to be homophobic, or assumed to be hateful or bigoted.

What Rabbi Rabin is doing is in effect asking for the law to treat people in a heterosexual relationship in a manner that advantages them over people who are in other types of legal, consensual relationships.  His arguments and his logic are spurious, drawing from speculation, fear-mongering and deliberate misinformation.

Rabbi Rabin is welcome to practice his faith and to express his religious obligations within the sphere of Halacha and the remit of his responsibilities as both a congregational rabbi and the president of the Rabbinical Council of Victoria.  However he is not welcome to interfere in the lives of people who wish to enter into civil marriages, especially those people who are not doing so in an Orthodox Jewish context.

To my mind, it appears as bigotry when I see religious leaders using their faith to treat as lesser or deny certain people the same rights they enjoy under civil law.

To my mind, it does appear hateful, not to mention deceitful and disingenuous, when religious leaders imply or infer that children raised by both biological parents are more deserving of their parents than children of adoptive, same-sex, gender-diverse and other parenting configurations.

To my mind, it does appear homophobic when religious leaders use their authority to spread misinformation, lies and deceitful propaganda about homosexual people, the relationships we have, the indignities we endure, and the intolerance and discrimination we face.

Rabbi Rabin asks for respect.  He forgets that respect is earned, not demanded.  At present, while Rabbi Rabin asks for people, people like him, to deny me the right to marry the man I love, the man I want to have look after me in sickness and in health, the man who I would give my life for, I feel little respect for his views.

Rabbi Daniel Rabin could learn a few things from those who want to remove discrimination under the law, not enforce it.  He may be a teacher of Torah, but he is yet to become a teacher of humanity.

 
Postscript – September 7 2017

Rabbi Daniel Rabin has issued a personal apology on Facebook for the RCV statement:

I accept this apology and call for the RCV to withdraw their statement and issue a similar apology for the hurt and insensitivity of their actions.

A Dedication to the Absence of Humility

A dedication to the absence of humility.

I dedicate this post to those people who believe they are more entitled to certain rights than other people.

I dedicate this post to those people who use religion to uphold bigotry and state that their god believes some people are sinful because of the way they live their lives.

I dedicate this post to those people who support those people who uphold bigotry and state that their god believes some people are sinful because of the way they live their lives.

I dedicate this post to those people who remain silent when those people who uphold bigotry state that their god believes some people are sinful because of the way they live their lives.

I dedicate this post to those people who know better and yet they remain tight-lipped.

I dedicate this post to those people who are so ideologically manipulated and brain-washed that there is no hope for them ever.

I dedicate this post to those people who believe fags should be killed.

I dedicate this post to leaders of states who don’t believe their citizens are all entitled to the same rights.

I dedicate this post to people who believe they are more worthy of certain rights just because.

I dedicate this post to hatred, intolerance, homophobia, transphobia, religious brain-washing, spinelessness and political cunning.

I dedicate this post to those people who enjoy beating a person to within inches of death and then tying them to a fence to see out the final hours of their life.

I dedicate this post to everyone who believes some people are less deserving of equal rights than other people.

~~~

~~~

MACKLEMORE LYRICS

“Same Love”
(with Ryan Lewis)
(feat. Mary Lambert)

When I was in the third grade I thought that I was gay
‘Cause I could draw, and my uncle was, and I kept my room straight
I told my mom tears rushing down my face
She’s like “Ben you’ve loved girls since before pre-k shrimp”
Trippin’, yeah, I guess she had a point, didn’t she?
Bunch of stereotypes all in my head.
I remember doing the math like, “yea I’m good at little league”
A preconceived idea of what it all meant
For those that liked the same sex
Had the characteristics
The right wing conservatives think it’s a decision
And you can be cured with some treatment and religion
Man made rewiring of a predisposition
Playing god, aw nah here we go
America the brave still fears what we don’t know
And god loves all his children, is somehow forgotten
But we paraphrase a book written thirty-five-hundred years ago
I don’t know

And I can’t change
Even if I tried
Even if I wanted to
I can’t change
Even if I try
Even if I wanted to
My love
My love
My love
She keeps me warm
She keeps me warm
She keeps me warm
She keeps me warm

If I was gay, I would think hip-hop hates me
Have you read the YouTube comments lately
“Man, that’s gay” gets dropped on the daily
We become so numb to what we’re saying
A culture founded from oppression
Yet we don’t have acceptance for ‘em
Call each other faggots behind the keys of a message board
A word rooted in hate, yet our genre still ignores it
Gay is synonymous with the lesser
It’s the same hate that’s caused wars from religion
Gender to skin color, the complexion of your pigment
The same fight that led people to walk outs and sit ins
It’s human rights for everybody, there is no difference!
Live on and be yourself
When I was at church they taught me something else
If you preach hate at the service those words aren’t anointed
That holy water that you soak in is then poisoned
When everyone else is more comfortable remaining voiceless
Rather than fighting for humans that have had their rights stolen
I might not be the same, but that’s not important
No freedom till we’re equal, damn right I support it

And I can’t change
Even if I tried
Even if I wanted to
My love
My love
My love
She keeps me warm
She keeps me warm
She keeps me warm
She keeps me warm

We press play, don’t press pause
Progress, march on
With the veil over our eyes
We turn our back on the cause
Till the day that my uncles can be united by law
When kids are walking ‘round the hallway plagued by pain in their heart
A world so hateful some would rather die than be who they are
And a certificate on paper isn’t gonna solve it all
But it’s a damn good place to start
No law is gonna change us
We have to change us
Whatever god we believe in
We come from the same one
Strip away the fear
Underneath it’s all the same love
About time that we raised up

And I can’t change
Even if I tried
Even if I wanted to
I can’t change
Even if I try
Even if I wanted to
My love
My love
My love
She keeps me warm
She keeps me warm
She keeps me warm
She keeps me warm
Love is patient
Love is kind
Love is patient
Love is kind
(I‘m not crying on Sundays)
Love is patient
(I‘m not crying on Sundays)
Love is kind
(I‘m not crying on Sundays)
Love is patient
(I‘m not crying on Sundays)
Love is kind
(I‘m not crying on Sundays)
Love is patient
(I‘m not crying on Sundays)
Love is kind
(I‘m not crying on Sundays)
Love is patient
Love is kind

Dame Elisabeth Murdoch, Patron of the Australian Family Association, dead at 103 | The Stirrer

No one doubts Elisabeth Murdoch did a great deal of good: but she also lent her name to bigotry.

This article was first published on The Stirrer.


Dame Elisabeth Murdoch, Patron of the Australian Family Association, dead at 103

Martin Cathrae http://www.flickr.com/photos/suckamc/

Last night Dame Elisabeth Murdoch died, aged 103. She was a much loved philanthropist. She was also a patron of the Australian Family Association.

Whilst on the surface a supporter of a cause that supports families might sound warm and fuzzy, the reality is that a supporter of the AFA supports a cause that is intolerant of same-sex attracted people, and intolerant of same-sex relationships. It upholds a definition of marriage that excludes same-sex attracted couples.

The good dame was also the patron of the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute. Today their web page announces:

Her vision and commitment have saved thousands of children’s lives and improved the health of many more living with rare and common childhood conditions.

The irony of this is that her having been a patron of the AFA, an organisation deeply intolerant of homosexual people, is that her good reputation gave credence to bigoted values that have proven links to contributing to the alarming rate of youth suicide, mental health issues and other forms of self-harm.

While she may have been a wonderful person, she linked herself with a disreputable organisation, in stark contrast to many of the values she espoused in her public life.  She sided with bigots and homophobes and we shouldn’t forget that.

Whilst many remember the great good that Dame Elisabeth Murdoch did for society, we must also remember her as a person who upheld bigotry.

Marriage Equality vs Catholic Bishop Christopher Prowse

Dear Catholic Bishop Christopher Prowse,

Your lies and untruths do you and your boy-raping paedophile-protecting Catholic Church no justice.

You have no credibility and you make no sense.

You perpetuate vile attitudes.

I dislike you because you are full of hate and intolerance.

Michael Barnett.

[youtube:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=52h08RNB6_M]

Monash University. Dr David Irving – Holocaust Denier. Incompatible.

Monash University believes it’s acceptable to have an association with an academic who likens homosexuality to incest and bestiality. Would it foster as good a friendship with a known Holocaust denier?

[SOURCE]

Monash University has issued the following statement regarding Dr David Irving:

Monash University is home to freedom of expression amongst our diverse staff and student population and encourages expert academic views, however Dr David Irving is not commenting on behalf of the University or the Faculty of Arts and the University does not endorse his comments. Monash University reiterates its respect for the dignity of all human beings, regardless of belief in the Holocaust.

They have further advised that Dr David Irving holds an adjunct/honorary role at the university, which entitles him to an email address and entry in the university’s staff directory.

Dr David Irving has expressed a number of vehemently and distressing racist and anti-semitic views as published on the Australian Supremacist Association web site.  These views were further substantiated by the mX newspaper in an interview they conducted with him.

Monash University begins their vision and long-term strategy with:

Monash is a university of progress and optimism.

and continues with:

The areas of focus outlined by Monash Futures include:

  • the ability to attract, recruit and retain the world’s best talent in both the academic and professional staff cohorts
  • ensuring we have the reputation to attract the best students – to make Monash their university of first choice

Dr David Irving is a person with virulent, historically incorrect and disproven views on the Holocaust.  If Monash is truly “a university of progress and optimism” then people with antisemitic, racist and nihilistic views toward the Holocaust are antithetical to this vision and have no place in the university’s ranks.

I contend that whilst Monash University continues the adjunct/honorary appointment of Dr Irving and whilst he has any opportunity to engage in any manner in the academic realm, through or on behalf of the university, Monash University are doing the greatest disservice to their students, their reputation, their vision and humanity as a whole.

I ask Monash University to make the continuance of Dr David Irving’s adjunct/honorary role conditional on him refraining from promulgating a nihilistic discourse on the Holocaust in any official and/or public capacity and to obtain from him a written assurance of this understanding.

If Monash University sincerely respects the dignity of all human beings, regardless of “racial purity”, they will ensure people with nihilistic attitudes toward the Holocaust have no voice on their campuses.

I suggest anyone who has a concern about the university’s ongoing association with Dr David Irving contact Professor Ed Byrne, Monash University Vice Chancellor and President directly.

If this scenario would outrage you, sign this petition.

Monash University. Rabbi Dr Shimon Cowen. Incompatible.

Monash University cannot continue an association with Rabbi Dr Shimon Cowen if they claim to have a respect for the dignity of all human beings, regardless of sexual preference. The two are incompatible.

Monash University has issued the following statement regarding Rabbi Dr Shimon Cowen:

Monash University is home to freedom of expression amongst our diverse staff and student population and encourages expert academic views, however Dr Shimon Cowen is not commenting on behalf of the University or the Faculty of Arts and the University does not endorse his comments. Monash University reiterates its respect for the dignity of all human beings, regardless of sexual preference.

They have further advised that Rabbi Dr Shimon Cowen holds an adjunct/honorary role at the university, which entitles him to an email address and entry in the university’s staff directory.

Rabbi Dr Shimon Cowen has expressed a number of vehemently and distressing homophobic views as published on the Australian Family Association web site.  These views were further substantiated by the mX newspaper in an interview they conducted with him.

Monash University begins their vision and long-term strategy with:

Monash is a university of progress and optimism.

and continues with:

The areas of focus outlined by Monash Futures include:

– the ability to attract, recruit and retain the world’s best talent in both the academic and professional staff cohorts
– ensuring we have the reputation to attract the best students – to make Monash their university of first choice

Rabbi Dr Shimon Cowen is a person with virulent, unscientific and outdated views on homosexuality.  If Monash is truly “a university of progress and optimism” then people with negative and destructive views toward homosexuality are antithetical to this vision and have no place in the university’s ranks.

I contend that whilst Monash University continues the adjunct/honorary appointment of Dr Cowen and whilst he has any opportunity to engage in any manner in the academic realm, through or on behalf of the university, Monash University are doing the greatest disservice to their students, their reputation, their vision and humanity as a whole.

I ask Monash University to make the continuance of Rabbi Dr Shimon Cowen’s adjunct/honorary role conditional on him refraining from promulgating a negative discourse on homosexuality in any official and/or public capacity and to obtain from him a written assurance of this understanding.

If Monash University sincerely respects the dignity of all human beings, regardless of “sexual preference”, they will ensure people with repugnant attitudes toward homosexuality have no voice on their campuses.

I suggest anyone who has a concern about the university’s ongoing association with Rabbi Dr Shimon Cowen contact Professor Ed Byrne, Monash University Vice Chancellor and President directly.


If this situation outrages you, sign this petition.

Rabbi Dr Shimon Cowen – turning harmony into division

In just one week Rabbi Dr Shimon Cowen’s steadfast desire to promote his bigoted, antiquated and intolerant views on homosexuality have successfully managed to cause the leadership of the Australian Jewish community and Monash University to distance themselves from him.

[SOURCE]

Rabbi Dr Shimon Cowen had a goal of bringing harmony to this world:

Rabbi Dr Shimon Cowen received a PhD in social philosophy from Monash University, Melbourne and rabbinic ordination in the Kollel Menachem Lubavitch, Melbourne, of which he was Programme Director, and from the Chief Rabbi of Haifa, Rabbi S.Y. Cohen. He also founded the Institute for Judaism and Civilization in 1998, helping to bring together the two worlds of religious tradition and secular society in discussion and, ultimately, harmony.

He completely missed the mark in achieving harmony.  In fact he’s succeeded in creating more social division and unrest than he probably ever have imagined he was capable of.

In just one week Cowen’s intolerant and bigoted views on homosexuality have led him to be shunned by the leadership of the Australian Jewish community and have caused Monash University, his Alma Mater, to distance themselves from him.

Time to rethink your strategy Rabbi?

Ilana Leeds shows strong support for shunned virulently anti-gay rabbi

The bullied anti-bullying campaigner joins ranks with the bully who wants to disband the life-saving anti-bullying program.

In September 2010 Ilana Leeds told us she was a victim of bullying.  On Monday this week (Feb 13 2012), Ilana Leeds showed her support for Rabbi Dr Shimon Cowen, a man who wants to delegitimise an anti-bullying program, simply because it affirms homosexuality.

20120213 Ilana Leeds blog supporting Rabbi Shimon Cowen

The hypocrisy here is amazing.  Really it is.  It’s beggars belief that a self-professed anti-bullying campaigner is promoting the very attitudes, based on disproven junk science, that have been shown to contribute to the alarmingly high rates of youth suicide in Australia.

The bullied anti-bullying campaigner joins ranks with the bully who wants to disband the life-saving anti-bullying program.

Australian Jewish Community Security and the invisible terrorist

The greatest harm towards members of the Australian Jewish community comes not from outside it’s high security walls, but rather, from within.

Two stories published on January 31 2012 came to my attention this week: “Safety at all costs” (The Age) and “The Jewish Press won’t be silenced” (The Jewish Press).  After reading these stories it’s clear to me that the greater harm toward members of the Australian Jewish community comes not from outside it’s high security walls, but rather, from within.

The Age story talks about the tens of millions of dollars the Australian Jewish community spends on security each year and questions the merit of such a large investment:

… the inconvenient truth was that the Jewish community had not faced a terror attack in Australia for 30 years, since the Hakoah Club and Israeli consulate in Sydney were bombed on the same day.

The Jewish Press story, coming from a US-based perspective but nevertheless one that is transplantable to the local context, advises:

A significant number of suicide attempts are committed by boys from not just religious but rabbinic homes — because they thought they were homosexual and had no place in the Orthodox world they grew up in, even if they had never acted on those impulses.

If the Jewish community is serious about preventing harm to those within its ranks, which I believe it is, it should, as a matter of priority and urgency, rethink its approach to community security and how best it invests its millions of dollars.  It should be addressing the real and alarming problem of youth suicide, ubiquitous amongst religious communities that are intolerant of homosexuality.  Only then, when all traces of the harm have been eradicated, should the focus be placed on the less evident issues affecting the safety of the community.

A statement from the ECAJ on International Holocaust Remembrance Day 2012

A statement by Peter Wertheim, Executive Director of the Executive Council of Australian Jewry, on International Holocaust Remembrance Day 2012:

“January 27 is the date, in 1945, when the largest Nazi death camp, Auschwitz-Birkenau, was liberated by Soviet troops.  It is a devastatingly appropriate day for all of us to remember and reflect upon the genocide that resulted in the annihilation of 6 million European Jews, 2 millions Gypsies (Roma and Sinti), 15.000 gays and millions of others at the hands of Nazi tyranny.

Auschwitz was not merely the final destination of many of these murdered men women and children.  In a very real and terrible way it continues to symbolise the final destination – the ultimate consequence – of hatred of the other that is allowed to go unchallenged.  The spectre of Auschwitz will continue to haunt the whole of humanity until it learns to free itself from the scourges of racism and other forms of hatred.

International Holocaust Remembrance Day is an opportunity for all of us to look inwards into our own hearts and minds and to resolve to confront our own prejudices.  For this is where racism and other forms of hatred begin.  No ideology of hatred can take root without the active participation or passive acquiescence of ordinary people.

We must never be afraid to speak out against hatred that is directed against ourselves, especially when it may be contentious or unpopular to do so.  Yet we must also be sensitive enough to recognise hatred that is being directed against others and to speak out in their defence too, even when it may be contentious or unpopular to do so.

The struggle against racism and other forms of bigotry is not easy.  Yet it has never been more necessary for all of us to be a part of it.  As the number of survivors diminishes with time, the need for us to pass on this message to our children only grows more urgent”