Monthly Archives: October 2021

Israel Budget Passes First Stage

Finance Minister Avigdor Liberman, left, shakes hands with Prime Minister Naftali Bennett during a Knesset vote on the state budget, September 2, 2021 (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

Finance Minister Avigdor Liberman, left, shakes hands with Prime Minister Naftali Bennett during a Knesset vote on the state budget, September 2, 2021 (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

The Bennett/Lapid Government of Israel is making huge inroads into achieving economic stability in Israel with the passing of the first reading of the 2021-2022 budget.

The Times of Israel reported that “It was the first time budget legislation was approved by parliament since 2018. Recurrent government collapses and repeated elections since the end of that year have left Israel without a budget” for three years.

The process of passing a budget in Israel seems to be long and quite different to anything we are used to in Australia. The one thing in common with Australia under its Coalition Government, is the need for there to be a Coalition Agreement for the budget to proceed.

Despite the unusual nature of this new Coalition Government in Israel, with parties from the left and right, and representing all streams of Judaism, agreement has finally been achieved. However,  we are not aware of all the elements, especially as they may affect the Progressive movement.

Foreign Minister and Alternate Prime Minister, Yair Lapid is quoted as saying in praise of the government for “holding normal and responsible budget talks that led to a budget that is not designed for politicians but rather for the good of the citizens of the State of Israel – for education, security, health, the economy and Israeli innovation”.

PM Bennett is quoted as saying he was “proud of the way that disagreements were solved through goodwill and real partnership. That’s how we get to better results for the sake of the people of Israel”.

Finance Minister Avigdor Liberman called it “the most social budget in the history of the country”. While the former PM Netanyahu’s one-word comment was “terrible”! He then enumerated some of his criticisms about cutbacks and higher taxes.

It appears the Knesset debate has been fairly calm and hopefully the pair of budget bills and three readings will be passed before the deadline of November 4, thus avoiding the triggering of new elections as in the past.

It is reported that the two-year budget “includes sweeping reforms of the kashrut establishment and the agriculture industry, steep taxes on disposable plasticware and sugary drinks, and considerable changes to import policies. It is said that the retirement age for women will be raised from 62 to 65 over the course of the next 11 years, but aid for women affected by the change will be boosted.

At this point, there are no details about religious reforms in the name of pluralism or changes to the funding of differing streams of Judaism. It is thought that such changes would be introduced incrementally in line with the support of the majority of Israelis as measured by the Hiddush poll on Jewish Israeli views.

ARZA President, Helen Shardey

Helen Shardey OAM
ARZA Australia President
UPJ Vice President

2021-10-27T13:05:16+11:00October 27th, 2021|News|

UPJ and ARZA Australia Joint Press Release on Australia’s adoption of the IHRA Antisemitism Definition

Scott Morrison addresses the Malmo Forum Photo: Screenshot

Scott Morrison addresses the Malmo Forum Photo: Screenshot

The Union for Progressive Judaism and ARZA Australia (the Australian Reform/Progressive Zionist Association) join together in warmly welcoming the Australian Government’s adoption of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of Antisemitism.

UPJ Co-Presidents David Knoll and Brian Samuel of the UPJ with Helen Shardey, President ARZA Australia warmly welcomed the announcement today by Prime Minister Scott Morrison that the Australian Government, people and nation will embrace the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) Working Definition of Antisemitism. The decision, importantly, is bipartisan, with Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese having earlier indicated his public support for the adoption of the IHRA definition.

According to the Jewish community’s peak body, the Executive Council of Australian Jewry, reported antisemitic incidents in Australia in May 2021 were two to three times higher than in May 2020.

Australian Jews should not be made to feel ashamed of their traditions or religious beliefs. Nor should they be made the butt of cruel jokes about their identity as Jews. This behaviour is un-Australian and racist. It reflects poorly on the Australian belief in “a fair go for all”.

David Knoll and Brian Samuel said “We have become aware of a growing concern among Jewish students on Australian campuses about displaying their Jewishness. As a result, many have stopped wearing their recognisable kippot (head covering) and other Jewish symbols, on campuses. However, it is a relief that light has now been shone on this matter and we encourage all institutions, including schools and universities to adopt the definition of Antisemitism and be prepared to discuss its implications with students. All Australians are entitled to fair go, free from racism, and education based on the IHRA definition will enable a better understanding of Antisemitism, which is racism against Jewish people.

Helen Shardey, President of ARZA Australia, also expressed the view that “while Australians should be able to disagree with the government of Israel on elements of its policies, there is a point at which such criticism is blatantly Antisemitic. It is to be hoped that there will be a better understanding of what Antisemitism is and an acceptance of its racist intent.

The definition is accompanied by 11 illustrative examples, seven of which relate to Israel, but which explain the way in which Antisemitism occurs in our daily lives.

The definition has been accepted by the European Parliament, The United States, Germany, the United Kingdom, South Korea and many other countries. Australia was made a full member of the IHRA in 2019, so it is fitting that the adoption of its working definition be accepted by the Australian Government at this time.

David D. Knoll AM and Brian Samuel OAM, Co-Presidents Union for Progressive Judaism
Helen Shardey OAM, ARZA Australia President

Contact: Jocelyn Robuck (04) 1670-0613

2021-10-15T18:12:48+11:00October 15th, 2021|News|

Issues of Gender Segregation Evolving in Israel

Israel's top court allows sex-segregated university classes to integrate Haredim - Israel News -

Israel’s top court allows sex-segregated university classes to integrate Haredim – Israel News –

Progressive Jews have long supported pluralism and equality in society. We value and tolerate a diversity of people with differing levels of belief and practice and differing gender identity.

Progressive Jews welcome to their Shuls and events people of any gender and do not practice gender segregation. We believe this is essential in the name of equality. We also offer people of any gender the opportunity to take on leadership roles in our Progressive Movements and recognize those with skills and experience.

Sadly it has been reported in Israeli media that the student union of Hebrew University, which was founded “to enable Jewish intellectuals to flourish and to free them from the burden of numerous Clausus” or limits to attend, decided to allow gender segregation at its events. Apparently the university moved to clarify that such segregation would only happen off campus, but this has not calmed the grave concerns.

It was also reported that there is a war being waged in relation to gender segregation in Israeli academia. It was explained by Haaretz that the intention was to bring more ultra-Orthodox Jews and Haredim into academia, but the feared result is likely to be a disaster if extremists try to push women out of public positions. Finally however, the High Court ruled yesterday that although separate gender classes are allowed, female faculty members will not be barred from teaching in all male classes and that the policy prescribing this should be repealed immediately.

The Court also determined that outside the classroom “genders must be allowed to mix freely in all other public areas of the campus”. Further the Council for Higher Education will “have to abandon its plan for single-sex classes in master’s degree programs”.

And so the work of the Israeli High Court continues to recognise the changing views of the Israeli community which supported the election of a New National Unity Government with pleasingly more Progressive views.

ARZA President, Helen Shardey

Helen Shardey OAM
ARZA Australia President
UPJ Vice President

2021-10-06T15:00:07+11:00October 6th, 2021|News|
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