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A Tolerant Jewish Voice For Israel

Orly Erez-Likhovski

Last Saturday IRAC’s executive director, Orly Erez-Likhovski had the privilege of speaking at the Jerusalem rally in front of thousands of protesters. (Facebook/IRAC)

Last week I received an email from Orly Erez-Likhovski, Director of the Israel Religious Action Centre (IRAC). Orly had been invited to speak at the Jerusalem protest rally in front of thousands of protesters. It was a very powerful experience for her, which is why she wanted to share some of what she had to say on that night. I will quote parts of her message.

“We, in the Reform movement , have been fighting for years for equality for all streams of Judaism, against discrimination and racism, against the exclusion of women and for LGBTQ rights. Just this week, we argued before the Supreme Court for equality for LGBTQ couples who want to adopt children.”

“Our motto has been Defending Democracy in the name of Judaism, because what the government is pushing is neither democratic nor Jewish.”

“We are fighting at the Knesset, in the courts, and in the streets. We are ‘praying with our feet’ as Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel said. We mark Havdalah every Saturday night right at the beginning of the weekly protests. We raise a tolerant Jewish voice, a voice that holds that ‘beloved is every human, for they were created in the image of God’ and believes in ‘you shall love the stranger’. A Jewish voice that cries out against the horrific and terrible events of the past weekend.”

“We are at a moment of crisis, but a crisis that presents an opportunity. Most Israelis reject extremism, support freedom of religion and equality, and oppose undermining our courts. This majority is saying that ‘we will not give up on democracy’.”

Orly went on to talk about the support from millions of Jews around the world who support the protesters and are Israel’s partners in defending Judaism and democracy. She also talked about us entering the month of Elul and quoted the poetic prayer ‘O child of Adam. Are you asleep?’. She said Since January, the Israeli public has awoken and risen up. This awakening is uplifting and moving. It is suffused with our power to change reality..

Watch Orly’s speech on Facebook

If you have the opportunity to support our Progressive movement in Israel through IRAC and the IMPJ (Israel Movement for Progressive Judaism) or through our world body the WUPJ (World Union for Progressive Judaism), please do not hesitate to give your financial support to protect freedom and democracy in Israel and Progressive Judaism world-wide.

ARZA President, Helen Shardey

Helen Shardey OAM
ARZA Australia President
UPJ Vice President
WUPJ Executive Board

2023-08-16T09:29:40+10:00August 16th, 2023|News|

Joint Statement by the Jewish Progressive Movement of Australia

Joint Statement by the Jewish Progressive Movement of Australia supporting the ZFA and ECAJ in criticising the new position of the Australian Government in relation to Israel.

The Union for Progressive Judaism, the Australian Reform Zionist Association and the Assembly of Rabbis and Cantors today announced their support for the joint statement by the Zionist Federation of Australia and the Executive Council of Australian Jewry in condemning the Australian Government’s decision to “harden its position on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.”

The joint public statement said the Australian Government’s language was inaccurate, ahistorical and counterproductive, pre-empting the outcome of negotiations between the parties and final status issues.

The statement suggested that “the Labor leadership ought to push back against factions within Labor, and instead work to re-establish a sensible, centrist and sustainable bipartisan position on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict must not become a political football”.

The Progressive Movement of Australia agrees with this statement in its entirety and urges the Australian Government to heed the advice given.

Helen Shardey OAM
President, Australian Reform Zionist Association

David Knoll AM and Brian Samuel OAM
Co-Presidents, Union for Progressive Judaism

Rabbi Allison Conyer
Chair, Assembly of Rabbis and Cantors of Australia, New Zealand and Asia

2023-08-11T09:33:56+10:00August 10th, 2023|News|

Jewish community strongly criticises new position of Australian Government

8 August 2023

The Executive Council of Australian Jewry and the Zionist Federation of Australia are deeply concerned by the Government’s statement and change in language about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

The ECAJ and ZFA are representative peak bodies of the Australian Jewish community. ECAJ President Jillian Segal and ZFA President Jeremy Leibler jointly stated:

“The change in language is inaccurate, ahistorical and counterproductive.”

“Describing East Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza as ‘occupied Palestinian territories’ effectively denies any Jewish claim to the West Bank and Jerusalem. The most important Jewish holy sites of the Temple Mount and the Western Wall are in East Jerusalem, and there has been an unbroken Jewish presence in the West Bank for thousands of years. Israelis and Palestinians have agreed to negotiate the division of the West Bank between them. Describing the territories as ‘Palestinian’ not only pre-empts the outcome of negotiations but is counterproductive.”

“Palestinians and Israelis agreed in 1993 that the settlements and the division of the West Bank and Gaza would be subject to final status negotiations. The Foreign Minister has previously stated that Australia should not pre-empt the outcome of final status issues. It is regrettable that the government has now done that.”

“Palestinian terrorism against Israeli targets has risen dramatically, and Palestinian leadership has refused to enter into negotiations with Israel in the last two years. Instead of attempting to pre-empt the outcome of negotiations in favour of a party that refuses to negotiate, the Australian Government should be urging the Palestinians to return to the negotiating table.”

“It is concerning that just as Arab states are moving closer to Israel and normalising relations, this announcement moves Australia in the opposite direction. The announcement will be used by Israeli and Palestinian hardliners to bolster support within their respective constituencies and put a peace agreement further out of reach.”

“The Labor leadership ought to push back against factions within Labor, and instead work to re-establish a sensible, centrist and sustainable bipartisan position on the Israeli–Palestinian conflict. The Israeli–Palestinian conflict must not become a political football”.

2023-08-11T09:33:32+10:00August 10th, 2023|News|
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