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A Cacophony Of Concerns About Israel

The Israel Religious Action Center and the Israel Movement for Progressive Judaism out in support of democracy

The Israel Religious Action Center and the Israel Movement for Progressive Judaism out in support of democracy

The cacophony of concerns being expressed both in Israel and the Diaspora about the policies of the new Israeli government is almost deafening.

In the space of a couple of days deep concerns have been expressed by the Chair of the World Zionist Organisations Yaakov Hagoel, the Chair of the Jewish Agency Doron Almog, the World Chair of Keren Hayesod Sam Grundwerg, the Chair of the Board of Trustees Keren Hayesod Steven Lowy, Chair of the Jewish Agency of Governors Mark Wilf, President and CEO of the Jewish Federations of North America Eric Fingerhut, Chair of Jewish Federations North America Julie Platt, Vice President of the URJ and Executive Director of ARZA (US) Rabbi Josh Weinberg, MK Gilad Kariv and UPJ Co-president David Knoll.

The direction being taken by the new Israeli government under Benjamin Natanyahu is the basis for the deep concern being expressed which it is believed could “potentially undermine the status quo and threaten Israel’s ties with world Jewry”.

Specific concerns relate to:

  • The Israeli Justice Minister’s plans to reduce the power of the Israeli Supreme Court which has been described as “destroying the court’s independence”. Legal experts have described it as a dangerous plan and others like Ex Chief Justice Barak say it “will strangle democracy”.
  • Threatened changes to the Law of Return and conversions to Judaism which govern eligibility for citizenship, which many believe would destroy Jewish Peoplehood and the cornerstone of the national home for Jews who were persecuted and scattered among the nations of the world.
  • The threat to remove the law’s “grandchild clause”. This additional clause was only added in 1970, even though grandchildren had always had the right to citizenship. Despite the outrage to this proposition, Netanyahu has agreed to set up a committee to examine Israel’s policies in this area and specifically as it relates to grandchildren of Jews abroad.
  • The policies related to Jewish identity, Jewish heritage and education are apparently the responsibility of several controversial ministers in the new government, with authorities, directorates and two separate departments for education. One for Jewish education and the other for Education. This looks like a recipe for confusion and territorial disputation between rival ministers.

These are but a few of the concerns being raised loudly in Israel and across the Diaspora. It is my hope that we as a Progressive/Reform Movement can speak with one global voice to influence the way forward while in unison with David Knoll strongly supporting Eretz Yisrael as the home for the Jewish People.

ARZA President, Helen Shardey

Helen Shardey OAM
ARZA Australia President
UPJ Vice President

2023-01-12T13:43:08+11:00January 12th, 2023|News|

Chag Chanukah Sameach!

Kislev 5783/ November/December 2022

Kislev 5783/ November/December 2022

Wishing you a joyous and meaningful Chanukah

The ARZA Australia Executive

Helen Shardey OAM, President
Steve Denenberg, Immediate Past President
Dr Sue Silberberg, Vice-President
Benjamin James, Vice-President
Tony Leverton, Honorary Treasurer
Cassie Barrett, Honorary Secretary
Rabbinic Advisor: Rabbi Fred Morgan
Committee Members: Avishai Conyer, Ayal Merek
Ex-Officio: Noa Abrahams, Rabbi Allison Conyer and Sefi Shalam

Assembly of Rabbis and Cantors Australia, New Zealand and Asia

Rabbi Allison Conyer, President
Rabbi Kim Ettlinger, Vice-President
Rabbi Martha Bergadine, Secretary
Rabbi Rafi Kaiserblueth, Treasurer

The UPJ Executive and Staff

David Knoll AM and Brian Samuel OAM, Co-Presidents
Roger Mendelson, Immediate Past President
Danny Hochberg, Vice-President
Helen Shardey OAM, Vice-President
Sally Castle, Honorary Treasurer
Professor Larry Lockshin, Honorary Secretary
Committee: Andrew Blencowe, Dorothy Graff OAM, Judi Hall, Associate Professor Joshua Keller, Amanda Mace, Dr Sue Silberberg

Rabbi Allison Conyer, ARC Representative
Noa Abrahams, Netzer Federal Mazkira
Sefi Shalam, Progressive Community and Netzer Shaliach
Sharene Hambur, WUPJ Representative

Jocelyn Robuck, Executive Manager

2022-12-15T12:47:13+11:00December 15th, 2022|News|

Love And Fear For Eretz Yisrael

Friday's rally in support of the residents of Abu Ghosh and Ein Nakuba (Photo courtesy IRAC)

Friday’s rally in support of the residents of Abu Ghosh and Ein Nakuba (Photo courtesy IRAC)

The Jewish world, particularly the Progressive/Reform Jewish world has expressed deep concern over the direction of the new far right Coalition being formed to govern Israel after the recent election.

It is agreed that the election result delivered a decisive victory for the largest political party in Israel and therefore the possibility of some political stability after years of failed governments. But the very deep and probably well-found fear is that the fabric of Israeli society and its democracy are at risk, as are Jewish/Arab and international relations.

Of course, it should be conceded that the population living in a free and democratic society preserves the right to choose their government and we should all respect this choice. However, we, as Jews with a vested interest in Eretz Israel also preserve the right to offer criticism of the way Israel is being governed if we believe the rights of the Jewish people are being trampled on, or the Right of Return to Israel is being unfairly denied.

We take this view because for most of us Israel remains an important part of who we are.

Views expressed in Israel and the Diaspora about these issues are mounting. A report received today from IRAC described an act of terror which took place last Friday by Jewish extremists aimed at Arabs. “This time they burned 5 cars in two Arab villages of Abu Ghosh and Ein Naqquba”. Graffitied slogans read “Am Yisrael Chai and Deportation for Arabs”.

IRAC took action to make it clear that “Racism is not our Judaism” organising a demonstration for those wishing to “show solidarity and support for the citizens” of these model Arab villages.

“We wanted to show our fierce opposition to racism and incitement expressed by members of the incoming government coalition”. Apparently within hours a WhatsApp group of nearly 900 Israelis formed to keep people informed about the demonstration and future campaigns.

The demonstration was joined by the head of the Racism Crisis Centre which works together with the IRAC legal team monitoring and reporting on racist incitement, especially by Israeli leaders and politicians.

The view was expressed that the fact so many Israelis were prepared to join IRAC in publicly expressing their opposition to what many believe is Government Coalition inspired racism, does demonstrate that there is a glimmer of hope and that as Channukah approaches that light will prevail over darkness in Eretz Yisrael.

ARZA President, Helen Shardey

Helen Shardey OAM
ARZA Australia President
UPJ Vice President

2022-12-02T13:26:48+11:00November 30th, 2022|News|
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