Daniel Baker’s 2009 letter to the JCCV

A letter from Daniel Baker to the Jewish Community Council of Victoria from November 2009.

Daniel Baker sent the following letter to me in Nov 2009 in lieu of being unable to attend a meeting with the Jewish Community Council of Victoria in person on Dec 4 2009.  This was a meeting that the JCCV had invited members of Aleph Melbourne to attend, to establish issues of concern to gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people.

The initial meeting invitation had been extended by the then Executive Director of the JCCV, Geoffrey Zygier (who is now the Executive Director of the B’nai B’rith Anti-Defamation Commission that is connected to the JCCV).  This meeting/consultation turned out to be a precursor to the formation of their GLBT Reference Group, and it would seem from the discussions that panned out during this meeting that the JCCV had decided to form this reference group in advance of this consultative meeting with Aleph Melbourne.

Attending this meeting at Beth Weizmann were John Searle (the then JCCV President), Anton Block (the then JCCV Immediate Past President), Andrew Rajcher (invited as an unannounced guest of the JCCV, and unwelcome from my perspective given his particularly unhelpful stance on the matters being discussed), about 10 members of Aleph Melbourne and other interested parties that I had invited to attend, and myself.

On concluding my reading of Daniel’s letter to those present at the meeting it was immediately dismissed by the two JCCV representatives present and an expression was given indicating that they were not the slightest bit interested in its contents.

All round, a particularly unfortunate and unpleasant experience, and one that showed the true colours of the JCCV.

From: Daniel Ari Baker
Date: 2009/11/17
Subject: Meeting with JCCV
To: Michael Barnett

Hi Michael,

Thanks for your facebook message re the upcoming Aleph meeting with the JCCV. Unfortunately I will be overseas until the end of January 2010, and so won’t be able to attend, but I do have a few comments which you might bring up at the meeting; but there a number of issues raised by such a meeting which I feel I must address.

The JCCV has for many years now discriminated against GLBTQ people in the Jewish community, most obviously by its exclusion of Aleph from membership, but also by its failure to censure Rabbis and other community organizations which preach hate. Further, it has done nothing to counteract the ideology put forward by even the most forward thinking mainstream Victorian Rabbis, viz. that heterosexual marriage and the bearing of children is the only way to achieve full participation in our Jewish community and the Jewish people at large. Indeed, the very fact that this meeting is being organized now, that the JCCV is only now beginning to take an interest in ‘Gay Jews’ Concerns’ (not, incidentally, in gay Jews themselves, but in their concerns – that is, the factors which will influence their next vote for the  JCCV executive) is, in my opinion, appalling. I have been studying in Philadelphia since July of this year, and can tell you that the involvement of the mainstream Jewish leadership with gay Jews puts the JCCV to shame. For example, at the University of Pennsylvania, where I am studying, Hillel, the national Jewish student union, has a subsidiary body called J-Bagel, which caters to the many gay Jewish students across America. Rabbis and community leaders attend Shabbat dinners organized by this group, and gay Jews are treated as valuable assets to the community at large. One can hardly imagine any executive member of the JCCV coming out so openly and positively for the cause of GLBTQ Jews.

Honestly, I am outraged by Mr Zygier’s statement that ‘the details of what form [inclusion] might take have to be worked out; we’re still at the information-gathering stage’. Mr Zygier’s suggestion that there is some uncertainty about what form the enfranchisement of gay Jews should take undermines the earnestness of the JCCV’s ostensibly friendly approach. There are no ‘different forms’ of inclusion: either a community is enfranchised, or it is not. Either gay Jews are full and equal members of the Victorian Jewish community, or they are not. Mr Zygier suggests that the JCCV is trying to be ‘as inclusive as possible’. The remark seems, with respect, disingenious at best and mendacious at worst. Inclusion is the easiest task in the world; all that it requires is the renouncing of one’s own antihuman prejudices. Until Jews of all kinds, including queers, are welcomed, the JCCV cannot claim to be committed to tolerance. It is possible, even preferable, for  an organization which claims to represent an ethnic community to include all quarters of that community; if it does not, it can legitimately claim neither a desire for inclusiveness nor, indeed, to be a fairly representative body.

Further, Mr Zygier’s reference to the ‘information-gathering’ stage is offensive in the extreme. Gay Jews are not specimens to be examined and theorized: we are human beings, and his suggestion that some kind of study must be performed on gays before enfranchisement can be considered is degrading and disrespectful. What information could possibly be required? We are Jews. We are gay. We are unwilling to renounce our Jewishness, and are equally unwilling to renounce our queerness. That is all there is to it: the matter is extremely simple.

Kind regards,

Daniel Ari Baker

Miriam Margolyes – Australia’s newest Citizen and outspoken marriage equality advocate

Miriam Margolyes, new Australian Citizen, lesbian and outspoken supporter of marriage equality, meets Julia Gillard.

I woke up on Australia Day to my partner Gregory telling me that Miriam Margolyes has become an Australian Citizen and that she had been photographed with Prime Minister Julia Gillard.  Nice one.

It’s not everyday that an outspoken (Jewish) lesbian marriage equality advocate is photographed with Julia Gillard, both sharing a moment of pure glee.

Miriam Margolyes is not one to mince her words, and has made it evidently clear that she believes Gillard needs to change her position to support marriage equality.

(“One-woman show with great expectations“; SMH Feb 1 2012)

Miriam Margolyes wants a word with Julia Gillard – although a word is not all the forthright British actor might deliver if she encounters the Prime Minister.

”I love Julia Gillard, she’s great fun, but I believe she is not in favour of gay marriage,” Margolyes says. ”She should be smacked.”

(“A woman not afraid to say her piece“; The Age Feb 25, 2012)

FORTHRIGHT British actress Miriam Margolyes – a ”socialist, lesbian, Jew” – is on a roll about gay marriage and her crisp English diction reaches a crescendo.

”People just get their knickers in a twist about this. Everybody should just grow up. If somebody you don’t know wants to get married, what the hell does it have to do with you?” she says.

”I don’t want to ape a straight relationship,” says Margolyes, who has been with her Australian partner for more than 40 years. ”The only reason I’d get married is to get some presents. I want some Le Creuset sets. Not that I cook.’

(“Barry Humphries joins Q&A“; Q&A May 28, 2012)

MIRIAM MARGOLYES: What about President Obama, who has come out in favour of gay marriage?

TONY JONES: Dragged into the open by his vice president?

MIRIAM MARGOLYES: Is that how it was?

TONY JONES: Pretty much.

BARRY HUMPHRIES: Afraid so.

MIRIAM MARGOLYES: Well, I wonder will it cost him in the election in America and would it here, for example? No, I don’t think it would here because Australians are sensible. In England, where they’re frightfully stupid, over 70% are against gay marriage in England. I, as it happens, since nobody’s asked, I don’t want to get married to my partner of 43 years but some people do and, you know, let them. It’s another question, of course. I realise that.

So how about it, Julia?  Go have a chat with Miriam and sort out her right to get married (and mine too), here in Australia, under Australian law, in case she ever decides she wants to tie the knot.  It won’t cost you the election and it might even help you win it, because love always wins over hate.

The ECAJ should look at it’s policy on Social Inclusion

Conveniently, the ECAJ have overlooked their policy on Social Inclusion when it comes to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people.

I’ve written recently on how the Executive Council of Australian Jewry believes anti-discrimination legislation should not protect people on the grounds of gender identity and sexual orientation.  I’ve also written on how the ECAJ believe our society should be “inclusive” (that’s the ECAJ’s version of “inclusive”, which means everyone except gays and lesbians).

In The Age today the topic of the Anti-Discrimination Bill in relation to discrimination against lesbians and gays was raised, and the following reported:

Jews ”don’t have a position on this”, Executive Council of Australian Jewry executive director Peter Wertheim said.

Perhaps the ECAJ has forgotten the extreme discrimination that the Jewish people have suffered in recent and distant times?  Maybe the words “Six Million” might ring a bell?  Or “Pogroms”?  Or “Spanish Inquisition”?  Or “Pharaoh” and “Egypt”?  In the history of the Jewish people there has been no shortage of persecution.  Yet the ECAJ claim they don’t have a position on discrimination against lesbians and gays.

Hop on over to their web site and have a look at their Platform, in particular Section 1.1 on Social Inclusion:

1.1 NOTES that it is the vision of the ECAJ to create and support a community in which all Australians, including all Jewish Australians:
(a) feel valued and their cultural differences are respected;
(b) have a fair opportunity to meet their material and other needs; and
(c) are equally empowered as citizens to participate in and contribute to all facets of life in the wider community;

Given that the ECAJ want a society in which all Australians feel valued, have a fair opportunity, and are equally empowered to participate in and contribute to all facets of life, they actually do “have a position on this”.

The correct and only response from the ECAJ should be “We condemn all forms of discrimination, especially that perpetrated against persecuted minorities, and support an Australia where all people are treated equally.”

It’s not asking too much, is it?

Clarifying the authority of the ECAJ

Contrary to its claims, the Executive Council of Australian Jewry does not represent the entire Australian Jewish Community.

Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee
PO Box 6100
Parliament House
Canberra ACT 2600
Australia
legcon.sen@aph.gov.au

January 11 2013

Dear Committee Secretary,

I wish to clarify some potentially misleading information presented in submission #242 by the Executive Council of Australian Jewry (ECAJ) on the Exposure Draft of Human Rights and Anti-Discrimination Bill 2012.

The ECAJ describes itself as “the officially elected representative organisation of the Australian Jewish Community and speaks on its behalf.”

If you review the ECAJ web-site (www.ecaj.org.au) you will see on the front page it lists its constituents and affiliates.  These are the organisations and communities it represents.  To help you understand this better, let me give you an example.

One of the constituents of the ECAJ is the Jewish Community Council of Victoria.  The JCCV represents approximately 60 member organisations in the Victorian Jewish community.  There are many organisations it does not represent, including a number of schools, synagogues and other organisations.  The JCCV claims to be the voice of the Victorian Jewish community, yet it has no authority to be the speak on behalf of the organisations it does not actually represent.  Similarly, the ECAJ has no authority to claim to represent those organisations, communities or citizens who are not affiliated with its constituents.

It is also important to understand that the ECAJ does not represent in any way the best interests of gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and intersex people in the Jewish community.  The ECAJ, and its constituents have no formal GLBTI representation, and have never engaged in any formal consultation with the GLBTI community to understand and cater for the specific needs of this highly disadvantaged, marginalised and victimised minority section of its community.

In fact it is clear from the ECAJ submission to your committee that they believe GLBTI people should not have any protection under anti-discrimination legislation.  The ECAJ also give tacit approval that same-sex couples should be denied the right to equality under the Marriage Act, which is further evidence that the ECAJ do not represent the interests of GLBTI people.

To this end you will have a better understanding that not only do the ECAJ not represent the entire Australian Jewish community, but they do not and cannot speak on its behalf.  Further, I can state with absolute authority that the ECAJ do not speak on behalf of gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and intersex people in the Jewish community.

Finally, I would like to make it clear that it is imperative that anti-discrimination legislation afford full protection to people on the grounds of gender identity, gender expression, biological sex characteristics and sexual orientation.

I will be glad to assist in clarifying any of this information.

Sincerely,

Michael Barnett
Convenor
Aleph Melbourne
www.aleph.org.au
0417-595-541

Ethical Eggs | The Stirrer

An interesting ethical dilemma for lesbians considering egg donation.

Ethical Eggs is the second piece I’ve had published on The Stirrer.


Ethical Eggs

October 12, 2012 – Family – Tagged: egg donorlesbianOrthodox Jewssame-sex attraction – no comments

Recently it came to my attention, by way of a Sydney-based Jewish gay mailing list, that an observant Orthodox Jewish couple (married and nominally heterosexual) were unable to conceive conventionally due to a medical condition.  However they were advised that conception could be achieved with the assistance of a donated egg.

To accommodate their strict religious requirements the egg donor ideally must be Jewish and must be, and remain, unmarried.  The writer of the post felt that if the egg donor were to be a lesbian, this would rule out the likelihood that she would ever marry (a man), thereby meeting the aforementioned prerequisite that the donor be now, and remain, unmarried.

By the time I had digested the gist of this somewhat unusual request I was starting to feel a little uneasy.  Not that someone should donate an egg.  In itself that was fine.  What bothered me initially is that it was considered acceptable to use a lesbian woman as an egg donor simply because she would effectively be guaranteed never to get married (under Jewish law).

In 2012 in Australia this is a correct assumption.  Lesbian couples cannot currently marry in Australia, and if they get married overseas their marriages are not legally recognised here.  In any case, Orthodox Judaism does not currently recognise same-sex marriages anywhere in the world, so even if they could get married under a civil jurisdiction, they would not be considered married under Orthodox Jewish law.

What this doesn’t take into account is that at some time in the future lesbian couples may be able to get civilly married in Australia.  Given this possibility, it raises questions as to whether said lesbian egg donor, unmarried at the time of donation, would still be considered unmarried in the eyes of the Jewish law if she were to tie the knot with a same-sex partner under civil law.  Whilst this is not a concern of mine, it may need to be a consideration for the prospective parents.

What is of greater concern to me is the welfare of any child born from the gift of an egg to this couple by an unmarried lesbian donor.  Specifically, I would be concerned that this child might be raised in a manner that did not take into account that it may grow up to be same-sex attracted.  Given that Orthodox Jewish couples of strong religious observance do not typically consider homosexuality acceptable, the likelihood of such an inflexible upbringing is high.

Should the child turn out to be other than heterosexual, and assuming it was nonetheless expected to conform to heterosexual norms, there is an increased chance of negative mental health outcomes, self-harm and even suicide.  Current Australian scientific research1 shows that these scenarios are prevalent in religious environments intolerant of homosexuality.

The ethical dilemma for the egg donor, as I see it, is whether she should donate an egg to a couple, with the full knowledge that any child born of her egg and raised by this couple will potentially suffer due to the religious attitudes of the parents, if it turns out to be same-sex attracted.

How would the egg donor feel if this child experienced a life of misery because it was forced to conform to heterosexual norms?  Would that be an acceptable outcome to the donor?

Ultimately this decision is one for the egg donor to make.  Being party to the creation of life is not a responsibility to be taken lightly, and hopefully the donor would take this situation into account, along with any other considerations she may have.  Needless to say, all parties would want the best outcome for the child.  I just hope all parties understand the consequences of their actions and attitudes.

  1. Refer Suicide Prevention Australia – GLBT Position Statement (PDF here)

Queer Jewish Crisis | The Stirrer

When is a crisis not a crisis?

Check out “Queer Jewish Crisis“, my first contribution on The Stirrer.


Queer Jewish Crisis

by: Michael Barnett

September 25, 2012 – Family, Religion – Tagged: Jewish, Keshet, suicide – 3 comments

I recently attended a talk by Keshet Australia aimed at getting its message out to the Jewish community.  The local Keshet, based on its USA counterpart, advertises itself as “a Jewish GLBTIGQ (Gay, Lesbian, Bi, Transgender, Intersex and Gender Queer) movement to better educate Australian Schools on how to educate a Jewish child on GLBTIGQ.”

At this talk a flyer was distributed, the opening paragraphs of which described a crisis of Queer[1] departure from the Jewish community and how Keshet is placed to address it.  As a seasoned activist this crisis was news to me, with my priorities centring on reduction of isolation, self-harm and suicide.

Legitimate crises in the local Jewish community include the state of aged care and the entrenched and chronic covering up of child sex-abuse.

Other community crises surround alcohol abuse, domestic violence, poverty, private school fees and intermarriage.  The cost of keeping kosher is even of concern to some.

Another almost ignored real crisis is the rate of self-harm and suicide in the Melbourne Jewish community.  Rough figures were published in 2011 claiming approximately two people a month attempt suicide or self-harm.  Taken together with the alarming rate of suicide amongst same-sex attracted people and this issue should be given elevated priority.

My experience of coming out as gay in the Jewish community was one of compassion at best and indifference at worst.  I was not strongly religiously observant, but I continued to attend an Orthodox synagogue for some years and my friends and family accepted me and continued to include me and connect with me as they had always done.  In fact, for a number of years after coming out my Jewish “identity” actually strengthened.

Individual experiences will no doubt differ to mine, depending on the attitudes of the person’s family, friends and religious community.

I have made a number of observations about what happens when people self-identify as other than heterosexual.  If their religious context is accepting, they will open up to their peers and live a full life merging their sexuality and their cultural context.  If their religious context is intolerant they will more than likely find a context to express their sexuality at a safe distance from their cultural community, keeping both alive but separate.  I have not yet experienced many who give up their entire religious community simply to allow unhindered sexual self-expression.

And so I challenge this perceived “crisis”.  I feel it is a phenomenon that is alarmist, unfounded and exaggerated.

If a person departs their Jewish identity due to peer intolerance when they “come out”, it may potentially induce a situational crisis for their friends and family due to a sense of confusion, bewilderment, loss and even grief.  But keeping a sense of perspective, these situations are not ubiquitous or universal.

There may be legitimate grounds for concern over people leaving the Jewish community but the reasons for this are potentially varied and complex.  One mid-20’s community-minded gay woman recently told me that her university and career choices took her away from much of the Jewish surrounds that she was immersed in during her secondary school years.

Disengagement from the Jewish community may occur for ideological reasons, lack of need for a connection, or prioritising a connection with a different community.  All reasons are legitimate.

People leaving the Jewish community is not a crisis or even a problem if they make these choices voluntarily, free from duress.

If a situation arises that drives many away from a community, the crisis should be identified as the underlying reason why people are leaving rather than the fact that people are leaving.  We invariably seek the path of least conflict.

As to Keshet’s claim on their flyer “We need to keep Jews, Jewish”, I disagree.  We need to keep people in the Jewish community happy and alive.

 [1] GLBTIQ / same-sex attracted / gender diverse, etc


20120805-Keshet-flyer

Jewish Gays still excluded from Victoria Police Jewish Community reception

Why is Victoria Police continually excluding the only organisation representing Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender people from their annual reception with the Jewish community?

For the third consecutive year Aleph Melbourne, the only organisation representing GLBT people in the Melbourne Jewish community, has not received an invitation to attend this year’s Victoria Police Jewish community reception.  This year’s cocktail party was organised in conjunction with the Jewish Community Council of Victoria (JCCV), as it was in previous years.  Aleph Melbourne was invited to the 2008 and 2009 Victoria Police Jewish Community reception dinners.

I was advised by Bruce Colcott of Victoria Police in advance of the 2011 Victoria Police Jewish community cocktail reception:

The organisers invited those members of the Jewish Community who hadn’t been given an opportunity in the past to attend  to represent their organisations.

Giving the benefit of the doubt, it would be fair to say that with the number of organisations in the Jewish community, “the organisers” would have been able to include everyone they had previously overlooked in their 2010 and 2011 events.  It staggers me to think that with 100 police and over 70 members of the Jewish community in attendance, there wouldn’t have been enough room to invite one more person.

In their 2011 GLBT Reference Group report, the JCCV said that all community organisations should adopt a policy prohibiting discrimination and vilification based on a person’s sexual orientation and gender identity and that it was clear that Jewish members of the GLBT community are subjected to discrimination, harassment and abuse because of their sexuality.

It would seem that the JCCV haven’t followed their own advice and Aleph Melbourne continues to be discriminated against by them and some of the wider Jewish community.

I question whether there is some sinister motivation for the ongoing exclusion of the most vulnerable, marginalised, and excluded group of people from such an event.  Victoria Police have not been able to come up with a credible reason why there has been such an “oversight” on previous occasions.

Does Victoria Police have a policy of excluding GLBT organisations from these types of events?  If not, why the ongoing exclusion?  It doesn’t bode well for their liaison with the GLBT community.


22 Jun 2012
The Australian Jewish News Melbourne edition
AJN STAFF

Cops, Jews come together

THERE was no emergency call and no suspicious characters or packages that led 100 police to descend on Beth Weizmann Community Centre earlier this month. There was, however, plenty of goodwill and friendship, as the Men in Blue and the Jewish community came together for their annual reception.

Commander Ashley Dickinson chats with hate-crime victim Menachem Vorchheimer.

“We are fortunate to enjoy warm and productive
relationships with Victoria Police at all levels.”
Nina Bassat
JCCV president

Now in its sixth year, the cocktail function saw Victoria Police men and women and over 70 members of the Jewish community, as well as representatives from other ethnic communities, celebrate diversity.

“This night is a significant occasion on the police calendar and indicates the commitment of the force to community engagement as a mainstream policing strategy,” said commander Ashley Dickinson, who acted as host and emcee on the evening alongside deputy commissioner Tim Cartwright.

Jewish Community Council of Victoria (JCCV) president Nina Bassat thanked police for the way they handled recent protests outside Parliament House, which was hosting a cocktail party to celebrate Israel’s 64th birthday at the time. Anti-Israel demonstrators screamed abuse, called for the destruction of the Jewish State and burned an effigy of Victorian Premier Ted Baillieu.

“We are fortunate to enjoy warm and productive relationships with Victoria Police at all levels,” she said.

“This enables us to feel as a community that our voices are heard, and that we can count on VicPol to do their utmost to ensure our safety,” she added.

A Q&A session with a young member of the police force and a performance by Leibler-Yavneh College’s a cappella choir followed.

Why you should not donate to the JCCV 2012 Appeal

The JCCV claim to represent the entire Jewish community in Victoria. In reality they only represent heterosexual Jews and those pretending to be heterosexual.

The Jewish Community Council of Victoria has launched their 2012 appeal with an enticing email:

<http://mikeybear.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2012/05/20120516_jccv_appeal.png”>JCCV 2012 appeal

The pitch begins:

THE JCCV WHO?

We’re often asked what we do, how we support the Jewish community and build social cohesion within the wider multicultural community. Given the JCCV 2012 Appeal, it is timely to address these questions.

A good starting point is to define the role of a peak body – a representative organisation that provides information dissemination services, membership support, coordination, advocacy and representation, and research and policy development services for members and other interested parties…

and wraps up with:

So to our original question – the JCCV who? We speak on behalf of our community and are recognised as the body to turn to for issues regarding the Jewish and broader communities. There is so much more that we would like to do if we were better resourced and we need your support to remain relevant, viable and effective. , and to increase our efforts on the community’s behalf, we need our community’s support and your understanding.

Just before you whip out your credit card and fork out your hard-earned, take a moment to ponder the integrity of the message you’re being fed and question whether you’re donating your money to an honest, ethical organisation.

The JCCV appear to be taking some creative license here in having you believe they speak on behalf of the entire Jewish community.  It is clear that they don’t represent the best interests of gay, lesbian, bisexual, queer or same-sex attracted Jews whilst they stand by the following claim:

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

So whilst the JCCV would want you to believe it represents the entire Jewish community in Victoria, in reality it only represents those people who are heterosexual, those who are pretending to be heterosexual, or those who are openly same-sex attracted and celibate.  Some honesty in their marketing would be a start (followed by some integrity in their leadership).

I should add that this over-zealous desire to infer representation of an entire community of Jews is not constrained to Victoria, as has recently been evidenced in New South Wales, where their orthodox rabbinical council inaccurately claimed representation over all “mainstream” Jews in that state.

If you’re looking to donate money to a worthwhile organisation that is genuinely interested in the welfare of all people in the community, and not just those that meet with certain narrow religious expectations, ask some questions first.  Find out if the organisation you plan to fund is accepting and inclusive of all people, without regard to their sexual orientation or gender identity, and if they welcome and recognise those people, along with their partner and any children, unhesitatingly.

Rabbi Moshe Gutnick demands religious exemption for marijuana use to facilitate Jewish gay weddings

In a submission to the Australian Senate on Marriage Equality, Rabbi Moshe Gutnick has called for the decriminalisation of marijuana for strictly religious sanctioned use to assist gay Jewish men in achieving sexual redemption.

In what can only be described as a cliff-hanging turn of events, Rabbi Moshe Gutnick, president of the Organisation of Rabbis of Australasia, has come out and admitted in a submission to the Australian Senate inquiry into Marriage Equality that there has been a fundamental misunderstanding of the Torah that has to this day posed as a religious barrier to gay marriage.

In the Senate submission Rabbi Gutnick stated that the traditional interpretation of the Torah has rendered sex between two men problematic, because the translation of the Torah into English was thought to be that a man should not sleep with another man as he would sleep with a woman, with the penalty for doing so that they both be stoned to death.

He felt that this attitude to homosexuality was deeply troubling and discriminatory and so sought advice from a pool of sage rabbis from around the world.  These rabbis looked at the original wording in the Torah and felt that maybe there had been a misunderstanding of God’s word and that there was room for a better interpretation, one that offered a more acceptable outcome.

After weeks of collaboration, these rabbis unanimously agreed to reinterpret the Torah and provided an English translation that now states that a man should not sleep with a man as he would with a woman, but rather he should sleep with a man differently to how he would sleep with a woman.  However should he be found to be sleeping with a man as he would with a woman, they should both become stoned to a state of holy happiness, except if there’s a dearth of marijuana.

And this is where Rabbi Gutnick has called upon the government to decriminalise the use of marijuana, for strictly religious purposes, to ensure that two men found having the wrong type of sex with each other are dealt with in a more humane and appropriate fashion.  The pool of rabbis agreed that each man should be given a bong and a quantity of marijuana and be instructed to smoke the other man’s pipe until each had reached a state of spiritual redemption.

Rabbi Gutnick clearly expressed in the Senate submission that this relaxation of the use of marijuana would only be required for Jewish men and not for gentiles, as gentiles are spiritually unclean, due to not having had a religious circumcision ceremony.

Most unexpectedly, Rabbi Gutnick apologised to the gay community for his earlier claim that he would be opposing gay marriage and noted that since this religious loophole had been found to the previously problematic issue of homosexuality, he now had no issue with gay marriage, and in fact fully endorsed it, claiming that gay men are now encouraged to “shtoop like rabbits, especially on Shabbat”.

The explanation given in the Senate submission was that he realised that if same-sex marriage was legalised in Australia, he wanted the Jewish community to have unfettered access to the estimated $161 million dollars of wedding spend likely to be outlaid on same-sex marriages.

He said that it would revitalise the kosher catering and hospitality industry, that kosher food suppliers would feel the surge of business and that all manner of Jewish shops and enterprises would thrive from the rush of gay weddings, especially the Jewish diamond and ring merchants.  Rabbi Gutnick went on to say that the kosher butchers would do particularly well because he knew how much gay men liked their meat, and added that the kosher fish-mongers would do particularly well from lesbian weddings.  Rabbi Gutnick went to great pains to explain in the Senate submission that his connection to Kosher Australia should not be perceived as a conflict of interest.

Rabbi Gutnick’s new enthusiasm for gay marriage was evidenced by his statement that Orthodox Judaism was particularly sensitive to the needs of single-sex celebrations, because in traditional heterosexual weddings the men and the women were required to be separated by a mechitzah, and so there was an existing culture of men celebrating with men and women celebrating with women.  He added that it’s actually a principle feature of the religion that men must spent considerable amounts of time with other men, in close confines, in the absence of women.  He said he felt that it was very homoerotic at times, and the headiness of the masculinity in the crowded prayer and study sessions was particularly appealing, especially on those hot days, when the men were dripping with a particularly musky sweat, and were just a little frustrated.  He noted that this frustration was most evident when the men were denied sexual gratification with their wives during their periods of uncleanliness, and further exacerbated by the total religious prohibition on masturbatory relief.

In the summary of the submission, Rabbi Gutnick repeated his apology for the long overdue admission that to deny gay men and women the right to equality was in fact an oppresive and persecutory behaviour and that he had looked back at the history of the Jewish people and felt that he was in no place to call for the superiority of heterosexual Australians over homosexual Australians.

An addendum to the submission included a suggestion that Rabbi Gutnick officiate at the first mass Jewish gay and lesbian wedding in Australia, co-hosted by Adam Hills of the In Gordon St Tonight fame, because he said the ABC studios in Elsternwick were at the centre of the ultra-religious quarter of Melbourne’s Jewish community, and that he was particularly proud of the ground-breaking work that Adam Hills had done to break down barriers in the community around gay marriage.

MEDIA ENQUIRIES: Rabbi Moshe Gutnick (rabbig@ka.org.au)

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.