JCCV trots out research when it suits and rabbis when it doesn’t

April 7, 2011

It’s apparent that the Jewish Community Council of Victoria is pandering to the sensitivities of its Orthodox constituents when it comes to tackling the uncomfortable issue of homosexuality.

Compare the radically different approaches it has adopted regarding youth alcohol abuse and the extremely vague problem of “issues affecting GLBT people”.

With the former, it has obtained government funding, trotted out respected academic research and is dealing with it like it is the most pressing issue on the planet.  Refer to the latest JCCV media release “YAP begins a new DAY”:

Current research shows that the rate of drinking at harmful levels by 12-17 year olds has doubled in the past decade. Research undertaken by the Victorian Drug and Alcohol Prevention Council has found that 90% of young people have tried alcohol by age 15.

And, there’s not a single rabbi in sight, despite much of this alcohol abuse occurring due to exuberant religious celebration.

Compare this with the uncomfortable problem of “issues affecting GLBT people”.  The JCCV has trotted out an Orthodox rabbi, apparently an authority on all matters homosexual, whose most useful piece of advice is that GLBT organisations cannot be members of the JCCV as they will fracture the community.

The JCCV has been briefed by Associate Professor Anne Mitchell, a respected Australian academic on relevant issues of human sexuality, yet the JCCV have not published a single reference to an iota of credible research on the matter.  Examples of the research they have not yet quoted include:

Studies conducted over the last decade reveal that GLB individuals attempt suicide at rates between 3.5 and 14 times those of their heterosexual peers

and

Those belonging to religious faiths that promulgate negative discourses about homosexuality are particularly vulnerable to suicide and self-harm. Conflicts between spiritual or religious beliefs and sexuality can result in significant psychological dissonance as well as division and exclusion from family, friends and community.

Why is it necessary for the JCCV to engage an Orthodox rabbi in order to address serious issues like homophobic bullying in schools, mental health issues, self-esteem and suicide, but not for the issue of youth alcohol abuse?  Is there no cause for concern that the exuberant religious celebrations might be the catalyst for the binge drinking?  Perhaps it’s necessary to bring in the rabbis and suggest they should sermonise on the community tempering celebrations a little if they are going to result in youth alcohol abuse.

So far the only thing the JCCV has achieved in dealing with “the issues that affect GLBT people” by bringing in an Orthodox rabbi is to demonstrate blatant homophobia and further exacerbate the problems they are reluctant to identify and address.

If the JCCV is at all serious about tackling the issues that are affecting GLBT people, such as bullying, marginalisation, invisibility, homophobia, intolerance, mental health issues and suicide, then they must understand the academic research, refer to the academic research and avoid Orthodox rabbis.  The Orthodox dogma is the cause of many of the problems, and will never be helpful in finding a solution to these problems.

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What do the JCCV, the ACL and fascist regimes have in common?

April 3, 2011

Two recent media releases have disturbed me deeply, one from the Jewish Community Council of Victoria (JCCV), and the other from the Australian Christian Lobby (ACL) .

In the February 16 2011 media release “JCCV, GLBT and Halacha, together We Can Move Forward” from the JCCV, President John Searle gives tacit approval to the notion that admission of any gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (GLBT) organisation will be damaging to the Jewish community:

Rabbi Rapoport contends that the GLBT community must accept that they cannot become official members of the JCCV as this would fracture the Jewish community.

In the March 30 2011 media release “Vic EO Commission oversteps mark in promoting homosexuality” from the ACL, Victorian Director Rob Ward declares that it is troubling that homosexuality be considered a normal behaviour:

“The suggestion that the aim is to have the sexual orientation of “gay, lesbian and transgender sportspeople….so public that it’s normal, so people don’t think about it”  is very troubling,” he said.

Here we have two organisations that are making statements that support the notion that GLBT people are in some way a threat to the stability of society and are abhorrent, abnormal and inferior.

Recent history reminds us of the atrocities perpetrated against homosexual men by the Nazi regime.  Similarly intolerant to homosexuals was South Africa under Apartheid.

From 1969 to 1987, psychiatrists of the South African Defence Force were implicated in serious abuses, stemming from attempts to cure homosexual conscripts

The long history of medical treatment to convert homosexuals to heterosexuals reached a peak in the seventies. The results were unconvincing, if not hopeless, and experience showed that neither patients nor therapists found it satisfactory.

Current regimes that persecute homosexual men include the Iranian and Ugandan governments.  The situation is so dire in Iran that the death penalty is the punishment for homosexual activity.

The JCCV has resigned itself to accepting the exclusionary stance proffered by Rabbi Rapoport and goes on to state:

However, the JCCV has a responsibility as the roof body to what it can do for the GLBT community within this restriction.

The language that JCCV President John Searle endorses in this media release, stating that GLBT Jews are unworthy of JCCV membership sends the message that GLBT Jews are a danger to the stability of society and that full and unconditional acceptance of us and our organisations is unacceptable.

This attitude is reminiscent of that of fascist regimes of the past, the same regimes that persecuted Jews and homosexuals, resulting in the genocide of the Holocaust that marks one of the blackest stains on humanity to date.

It is imperative the JCCV and the ACL distance themselves from any notion that homosexual, bisexual and transgender men and women are inferior to, less normal than, or more damaging to society than heterosexual men and women and the organisations that represent them.  While the JCCV, the ACL and any other such organisation perpetuates these notions, they are no better than Germany under the Nazi regime, South Africa under Apartheid or the current Iranian and Ugandan governments.

Lastly, the greatest irony of the stance the JCCV takes on homosexuality is that Anton Block, the chairman of the Anti-Defamation Commission (the branch of the JCCV that investigates and fights anti-Semitism and holocaust rhetoric) founded and sits on the very JCCV reference group that gives tacit support to Rabbi Rapoport’s statement.  The same organisation that is charged with fighting anti-Holocaust attitudes is actually promoting similar attitudes to that which the Nazi party and Block’s birth country of South Africa endorsed.


Star Observer keeping the AJN & JCCV bastards honest

March 9, 2011

[SOURCE]

This week Star Observer‘s Andie Noonan flexed her journalistic prowess and went one or two steps further than the half-baked effort by the phantom staff reporter at the Australian Jewish News.  Two weeks ago the AJN simply printed a lame rehash of the deeply offensive JCCV media release on addressing the Jewish community’s GLBT problem.  The Star Observer’s story contains a well-rounded understanding of the situation and presents a number of perspectives, to help the reader better understand the issues.  A far cry from the AJN’s limp coverage.

Why are the AJN always running scared of the JCCV?  Does their editorial mandate prevent them from countering JCCV dictate when it comes to matters of homosexuality?  Are the gays not allowed a voice?

Thanks Andie.  It’s good to see some intelligent and balanced reporting.  Keep keeping the bastards honest.


Killing two faygels with one stone

February 28, 2011

I find going to the gym really rewarding.  Tonight it was especially so because not only did I get to perve on some ultra-hot guys but I had a flash of inspiration, some might say it was divinely inspired, while I was pedalling away on the exercise bike.

There are a couple of issues that seem to be on the agenda about the offices of the Jewish Community Council of Victoria.  One is how to deal with the problem of “alcohol abuse issues affecting Victoria’s Jewish youth”1.  The other is that the JCCV and Rabbi Rapoport fear that if the GLBT community become members of the JCCV “this would fracture the Jewish community”2.

I have worked out a really simple solution to both of these problems.  It’s simplicity floored me, and I’m sure you’ll feel similarly impressed.

Oh, I just remembered, there’s a third benefit that will come from this.  A reduction in child abuse.  You get three for the price of one.  Such a mitzia!

The answer to the million dollar question?  Stop circumcising boys.  How simple is that?

You want to know my logic?  Well, when a Jewish boy is born, he is circumcised, usually when he’s 8 days old.  The mohel (the man who does the snip), according to some ancient Jewish customs3:

takes some wine in his mouth and applies his lips to the part involved in the operation, and exerts suction, after which he expels the mixture of wine and blood into a receptacle provided for the purpose. This procedure is repeated several times, and completes the operation, except as to the control of the bleeding and the dressing of the wound.

What happens here is the infant gets a feel for a man’s mouth around his penis, and this is impressed into his brain.  Some baby boys, the more intelligent (and better looking) ones, remember this sensation as they go through puberty, and rekindle the desire to have a man’s mouth around their penis.  This leads to their desire to grow up to be gay.

Other baby boys will, similarly, retain the taste of the alcohol and again, later on in their youth, will develop an obsession for more of the substance.  This leads to the problem of alcohol abuse.

By stopping this cruel practice, we can effectively stop homosexuality, youth alcohol abuse and as a bonus, reduce the incidence of paedophilia.

It’s really quite amazing.  Three remarkable outcomes from one simple action.

I’m so clever.

1Parents and Alcohol, Educating our Youth

2JCCV, GLBT and Halacha, together We Can Move Forward

3Circumcision, Talmud Style


My Letter to the AJN Editor

February 25, 2011

In response to the AJN’s unbalanced coverage of the JCCV’s latest “open mouth, change feet” statement of GLBT “inclusion” (I think they actually meant “exclusion” – they seem to get the two concepts mixed up so often these days), I have submitted this Letter to the Editor:

Dear Editor,

I welcome the historic resolution on Gender and Sexual Equality that the assembly of World Union for Progressive Judaism recently passed at their convention in San Francisco.  This resolution condemns bigotry and discrimination and calls for equality of gay and lesbian people in all facets of the community.

This approach by the WUPJ is in direct contrast to that being suggested by the JCCV-endorsed Rabbi Chaim Rapoport who “contends that the GLBT community must accept that they cannot become official members of the JCCV as this would fracture the Jewish community”.

The position that the JCCV and Rabbi Rapoport are taking on this matter of inclusion and acceptance of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender members of the Jewish community is in direct contradiction with the best practices of Australian health professionals expert in the area of human sexuality.

I strongly urge the JCCV to adopt a more inclusive, transparent and secular approach to this serious matter.  It seems that the JCCV have forgotten that they are not a religious organisation and that they represent a diverse range of religious and non-religious interests.

Michael Barnett.

I managed to keep the letter to under 250 words and have submitted it well in advance of the deadline for the AJN Letters column, so I’m sure they’ll publish it in the next edition.


JCCV grovels to Orthodox on gay inclusion

February 16, 2011

[SOURCE]

The Jewish Community Council of Victoria (JCCV) has today released details of ‘ground breaking’ work that they’ve undertaken, to try to work out some way to remove the hate and intolerance in the Jewish community that ostracises and marginalises people who are gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender or unsure of their sexual orientation or gender identity.  There is incredible stigma in the Jewish community around these areas of human sexuality and gender identity, especially amongst those who subscribe to a fundamentalist interpretation of Jewish teachings.

Compounding this issue is the reluctance of the Jewish community, at best, to engage in the topic of discussions around the area of suicide, especially youth suicide.  I mention this as there is an especially high and alarming rate of suicide amongst GLBT youth.

It is with highly cautious optimism that I am pleased to see discussions on this issue going on.  Some talk is better than no talk.  However I am extremely disturbed that the JCCV are undertaking this in the context of the Orthodox interpretation of homosexuality.  This issue is so serious that any religious parameters placed around the discussions will effectively render the entire process a complete waste of time.  It is the fundamentalist religious attitudes that have created this dire situation and while there is any respect given to them, there can be no credibility placed on what the JCCV are doing.  In fact these intolerant religious attitudes much be challenged, even if this is not popular.

From the media release:

Searle says that although the JCCV leaves questions of Halacha to the Rabbonim, the JCCV remains guided by principles of inclusion and support for Jewish people to live meaningful lives. “The JCCV was set up as an umbrella organisation to protect the needs of all Jews in the Victorian Jewish community and is hence obliged to investigate areas of concern and provide support structures as necessary.”

The JCCV is a secular organisation representing a highly diverse Jewish community. It is imperative that it respect the complete religious diversity of the community they claim to represent.  From a religious perspective, there is a significant percentage of members who are Progressive and Conservative, in addition to those who identify as Orthodox or similar.  There are also members of the Jewish community who are secular and who do not subscribe to any religious teachings.  This reference group must not operate within a religious context, as the JCCV is not a religious organisation and does not operative within any specific religious context.

The highly partisan stance the JCCV has taken on this matter betrays the impartiality of the JCCV, if it ever had any.  I would strongly encourage the JCCV to include representation from the Progressive community on this reference group, along with community members who do not have an Orthodox allegiance.

Given the extreme lack of transparency the JCCV has fostered with their GLBT Reference Group, one can only conclude that it consists of people stacked from the Orthodox community, people sympathetic to the Orthodox community and people who simply don’t understand the dynamics of the diverse nature of the Jewish community.

Until the JCCV acknowledges that the Progressive and Conservative Jewish communities have a diametrically opposed, inclusive and accepting understanding and interpretation of homosexuality to that of the fundamentalist Orthodox community, they will be doing the entire Jewish community a serious disservice.

Lastly, the JCCV continues to sideline people, such as me, who have the credentials to competently address many of their concerns.  It begs the question why this is the case.


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