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

Feb 16, 2012

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

Feb 3, 2012

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

Jan 27, 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”


A straight colleague challenges the bigotry of Margaret Court

Jan 17, 2012

Today in the office two of my colleagues embarked on a conversation about the news around Margaret Court that was dominating the Australian Open. Both of these colleagues are heterosexual, married men in their late forties / early fifties, both with a reasonably firm grip on reality and both people who would speak up against intolerance and discrimination. In fact one, of South African Indian background, lived through the oppression of the Apartheid regime.

The conversation started off by my South African colleague asking the other what the deal was with Margaret Court and the rainbow flag protests that were being reported in the news.  My other colleague confidently said:

They need to pull her name off that stadium.  There’s no room for that sort of bigotry in a country like this.

I was sitting next to my colleague when he said this.  He’s not one to mince his words, and to hear this profoundly frank statement made me exceptionally proud to know him.

I posted the comment on Facebook (directly and via Twitter) as soon as what he had said sank in.  In the subsequent 10 hours well over thirty people have ‘liked’ my colleague’s comment, shared it once and reposted it once.  It has also attracted a range of supportive comments.

Clearly it has struck a chord.

I have to agree with my colleague. There is absolutely no room for this sort of bigotry in Australia. Increasingly the wider population is standing up to the hatred of homosexuality that has pervaded our society since the nation was founded.

It is incumbent on the leaders of our society, our governments, to fight the hatred and bigotry that same-sex attracted people face. It has to come from the very top, from the office of the Prime Minister. Sadly Prime Minister Gillard has, to date, shown herself to be completely lacking in the necessary skills to counter this hatred. Maybe she’ll discover them in time to make a difference during her ‘leadership’ but I won’t be holding my breath.

In the meantime I sit comfortable knowing that even if the leader of the nation has sold out to the homophobic right, there is an increasing number of heterosexual citizens who are prepared to stand up to the bigotry and hatred that their same-sex attracted compatriots are having to face.

Thank you to my colleague, and to every other heterosexual supporter fighting for our equality, our rights and our dignity.


Transgressing the GLBT community

Nov 8, 2011

[SOURCE]

Over recent days I’ve found myself contemplating what the GLBT community is, or is supposed to be.  I live in Melbourne, and base my experience of “GLBT community” from my personal experience of “it” here.  It’s many things to many people.  To some it’s everything.  To others, it’s a “lifestyle” they’d rather not participate in.  Yet for many of us, it’s an integral part of our lives, and something that for the most part enriches our experience of being not “straight”, in one way or another.

So why have I been pondering this?  Something has happened that was for me so radical to my understanding of “GLBT community” that it made me begin to question if this amorphous notion of cohesiveness was simply something in my imagination, or if there was actually something going desperately wrong.  What am I talking about?  Specifically, it involves a well-known transgender activist signing her name, as a representative of Transgender Victoria, to a document that opens with the statement:

The reference group recognised that Jewish Halacha prohibits gay sexual behaviour and, according to orthodox rabbinic interpretation, lesbian sexual behaviour.

That a transgender activist had signed her name to a document making this statement troubles me deeply.  This sends a message of approval, tacit or otherwise, that the aforementioned religious prohibitions against homosexual and bisexual behaviour cannot be challenged in any way.  It shows that the transgender activist in question supports the notion that she is working under a framework of religious intolerance of homosexuality and bisexuality, and that in order to be accepted onto the reference group that this document was formed out of, there can be no dissent on this underlying principle.

The statement in question is misleading, divisive and dishonest whilst the “Jewish Halacha” being referred to is not qualified as being “Orthodox” and whilst there is no mention of a different and accepting interpretation of homosexuality and bisexuality by the Progressive and Conservative Jewish communities.

I sincerely believe the term “Sold Out” applies here.  There is no plausible excuse that could convince me that a representative of an organisation whose mission statement begins with the words “To achieve justice and equity for all transgender people” could put their hand on their heart and say that acknowledging immutable religious intolerance of homosexuality and bisexuality doesn’t sit uncomfortably with them, in the slightest.

Sure, homosexuality and bisexuality are independent of transgender issues, but in the context of GLBT issues and the GLBT community they are inextricably linked.  The bigotry that GLBT people experience is shared collectively.  The suicide rates our youth suffer are shared collectively.  The hurt and intolerance are shared collectively.  Hurt one of us and you hurt all of us.  Sit on a panel of people who accept an understanding that gay people are sinners and you are furthering the collective hate, bigotry and intolerance against all of us.

The actions of this renegade transgender activist who has allowed her principles to be steamrolled by a homophobic Jewish community council has left me staggered and in shock.  If this is what GLBT has become then I want nothing to do with the T, and will have to make do with a diluted GLB community, a community that is less, a community that is not as rich and as fulfilling as I believed it previously was.

However, perhaps this is not what GLBT has become, and perhaps there is simply a person whose actions and beliefs are misguided and has not understood that by allowing herself to be blinkered by the hate and intolerance of some religious bigots, she has let the team down, and that she can at any stage simply say she’s not going to put up with the religious intolerance and the hateful guidelines of the reference group in question and return to the community that has supported her and the values she previously stood for.

Ultimately this is about reducing harm, saving lives and making better of a woefully bad situation.  Suicide and mental health issues amongst trans and same-sex attracted people are very real.  Any intolerance of us, of our relationships, of our community is unacceptable and there is no excuse for it.  Supporting people who are intolerant of us is just as inexcusable.

Only time will tell whether this transgender activist will understand the harm she has done to her cause, and to ours collectively.  It is possible to repair the damage, and I hope that it happens soon.


Why is Ilana Leeds obsessed with Bestiality?

Dec 17, 2010

Ilana Leeds enjoys bringing bestiality into the conversation.  What is her obsession with the topic?  Clearly it is a viewpoint endorsed by the AJN Watch web site that publishes her bigoted, hateful and bullying opinions unchallenged.

Ilana said…
B’H No one is judging. On a deeper level, we have to look at homosexuality as equated with bestiality and understand that both activities require the individual to submit to baser instinctive behaviours on one level that requires much effort to control. If we support marches for ‘gay rights’ and support a gay lifestyle, then why are we not marching to support child sex offenders because surely they are ‘just one of many variations of HUMAN sexuality’? Child sex offenders will use that argument to negate criticism of their behaviour to and say that they were merely ‘helping children to express their inner sexual desires’. I know that people like Mikeybear who runs Aleph have great issues with my views on the subject and I want to get away from the personal aspect of it, because there are many worthwhile and gentle sensitive gay people who contribute to society in many very worthwhile ways. However, I for one am not going to support a gay lifestyle and I certainly will not march in favour of sexual behaviour and lifestyle that I disagree with. If I had two people going for a job and both were equally qualified and one was gay, would I hesitate to hire a gay person, definitely not. Would I go to a gay nightclub (despite the fact that I do not hang out at night clubs and never have seen it as a desirable activity), definitely not, but would I stop a gay person coming to a function I (for arguments sake held) definitely not, but I would require a certain code of conduct. Am I in favour of sending my son to a Jewish Youth Group that supports same sex marriage – definitely not, because those sorts of values are not what I want for my son. I had a similar answer to someone who suggested that I remove my son from a school and send him the Caulfield Community School because they believe he has ‘behaviour issues. Now, the Caulfield Community School may be very worthwhile for the sons and daughters of XXXX (removed by blogmaster) and if I wanted my son to become like those poor little blighters and for him to get an education in the social mores of fringe dwellers, I certainly would see that as an option, but I do not. It would be the beginning of the end of him and corrupt him, Now when we choose a youth group, we want certain values to be supported and espoused. I have not come across anywhere in Jewish literature that homosexuality is a Jewish value, although people will argue that David and Jonathan had a homosexual relationship. I believe that had a deep relationship that was purely spiritual in its essence and love. I think it is very hard for us in these days, when we are so connected to the material and physical world, to conceptualise a love or a relationship that is on a purely spiritual level without physical or sexual expression. I can understand how a mother’s love for her child may entitle her to go beyond condemnation of socially unacceptable sexual behaviour and she may endeavour to ask for acceptance of her child and indeed support from the wider community for her child’s sexuality. However, while the wider community can accept her child as who he or she is, we should avoid accepting his or her deviant sexual behaviour as the norm and indeed we should avoid supporting it as the norm.

Friday, December 17, 2010 10:06:00 AM

Thank you Mr Braitberg

Dec 17, 2010

Adam Braitberg was part of the Equal Love Rally in Melbourne on November 20, 2010.  I took a photo of him and a friend Tyger-Lee Baise, both proudly displaying their blue Habonim Dror shirts, and showing their support for equal human rights for all Australians.

From 20101120 Equal Love Rally

Because they participated in this rally, as part of a Jewish organisation, they came under attack on the AJN Watch web site.  You can read all about it in my previous blog.  Keep an eye on the comments on the AJN Watch site though, as the conversation continues (to dismay).

Yesterday Adam’s father, George, made a profound statement, and in doing so has moved me deeply.

George said…
I am Adam’s father. To those that see fit to judge someone you don’t know or have ever met, I ask you to explain what right you think you have to behave in this manner. As Jews we are well aware of the history of bigotry, slander and false accusation. To judge my son, without knowing him is perpetuate the belief that “difference” in itself is an excuse for hatred. How ashamed am I of Jews who show such intolerance. I love you Adam. Dad
Thursday, December 16, 2010 11:17:00 PM

Adam’s father is a wonderful role model for showing unconditional love and acceptance of his son Adam.  He is an example to every member of the Melbourne Jewish community and the wider Australian society on how we must bring up our children.  It is only with this positive and supportive attitude that we can start to overcome the horrifying level of suicide, self-harm and mental health issues that (religious) intolerance afflicts on Australia’s same-sex attracted youth.

Thank you Mr Braitberg.  You and Adam have demonstrated far greater leadership ability and are infinitely better role models than those who currently claim to speak on behalf of the Jewish community.  They don’t need a ‘GLBT Reference Group’ to arrogantly identify and address “our issues”.  They need intelligent and compassionate leaders like you.


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