Last Sunday’s protest in the rain
For those of you who live in Melbourne Australia, you will recall that last Sunday morning was cold, raining, and miserable.
Yet on a well-known corner, just outside the local park in Caulfield, a group gathered to express their deep concern about the policies of the Netanyahu Coalition government in Israel. Policies which they believe are a threat to the democracy and the concept of pluralism and equality in Eretz Yisrael.
You might say “what’s that got to do with Australia or Australians, Jewish or not? You enjoy a western democracy with freedom of speech and a multicultural society. So why do you care about what’s happening in Israel, a country on the other side of the world, with its own democratically elected government?
Well, the thing is, we do care. Israel is the miracle that gave the post holocaust world a home for the Jewish people. A place to call “their own”. A place where being Jewish is not a crime or something not to be proud of. A place that according to its Declaration of Independence will provide freedom and equality for all.
Yet the current Coalition Government of Israel is going down the path of overhauling the Judiciary and thereby denying freedom and equality for all. Further, the government has foreshadowed legislation which will deny the equal rights of women and those of the LGBTQ community.
And the further concern is that the government sanctioned actions of settlers in the West Bank, it is believed, will put the opportunity for peace with the Palestinians at risk. This is not a proven outcome, but a serious risk.
I joined the gathering last Sunday near the park with my umbrella and wearing a warm coat. I was with my two miniature Dachshund dogs who were wearing their raincoats and seemed to rather like being around the crowd and hearing the speeches.
I was proud that we in Australia had heard the call from Israel for an emergency protest last weekend. With the Coalition Government pressing the button to proceed with the legislation to abolish the “Reasonableness Doctrine as part of the Judicial overhaul, we were asked to be part of the intensifying struggle in Isael, by joining the international initiative to demonstrate. The voice of protest in the Diaspora is growing louder and we in Australia should be part of it.
Am Yisrael Chai
Helen Shardey OAM
ARZA Australia President
UPJ Vice President