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President's Report

President's Report

07 April 2014

United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC)

On 28 March 2014 the UNHRC passed a series of resolutions, including one that calls for a business boycott of “Israeli Settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, including East Jerusalem, and in the occupied Syrian Golan”.

This resolution is all the more egregious as during the UNHRC’s entire 25th session, only one resolution on Syria was voted on, despite the fact that more than 120,000 people have been killed in its civil war. There was also only one resolution against the regime in Tehran, which has executed over 80 people this year.

In addition, the UNHRC Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories, Richard Falk has called on the UN to ask the International Court of Justice to issue an advisory as to whether Israel’s “occupation” of Palestinian territories meets the legal standard of “colonialism, apartheid and ethnic cleansing.”,

The vote gives credence and support to the BDS campaign and does nothing to promote the peace process.

Racial Discrimination Act 1975 (RDA)

Nothing has exercised our minds and polarised the community in recent times as much as the proposed changes to the RDA.

The Exposure Draft of the repeal of Sections 18B, C, D and E of the Racial Discrimination Act has created heated debate, within our own and the wider community.

Free speech is critical to a sane and healthy society.  No less vital is the freedom to live in a society that does not attack you on the basis of “race, colour or national or ethnic origin”.

In an ideal society, freedom of speech would be unfettered. In our society, that is not, and has never been, the case. There is no absolute freedom of speech; it is always balanced so as not to infringe other rights. Where racial, religious and ethnic intolerance is patently evident, as it is in our daily lives, we cannot rely on the civility of our society as a protection. Statutory intervention thus becomes a necessity.

Clearly, the aim of the legislation is to achieve a balance. The current proposals in the Exposure Draft fail to achieve that balance.

To repeal provisions which have served us well for 19 years is of itself a great concern. But what is an equally worrying aspect of the Draft is the inclusion of subsection (4), which sets out such broad exemptions, that it makes nonsense of whatever protective provisions are proposed.

The broad coalition of ethnic and religious groups at both State and Federal levels is a clear and compelling indication of how the proposed changes are viewed by many communities, and David Marlow from JCCV and Peter Wertheim from ECAJ have worked hard to ensure that our community is part of that broader community voice.

I draw your attention to the JCCV Statement on our website at www.jccv.org.au, the ECAJ Statement at www.ecaj.org.au, as well as statements issued by ADC and AIJAC.

The government has opened the draft to community consultation and called for submissions. JCCV proposes input into that process via the ECAJ and with other communal bodies at the State level.

Social Justice Issues

The Youth Alcohol Project (YAP) has been operational for four years and the continued participation by the schools is a clear indicator of both the popularity and the value of the program.

The success of YAP has led the JCCV to make the strategic decision to expand its social justice activities in so far as it has the financial and staff capacity to do so.

I am grateful to the Executive and the professional staff, who have embraced this strategy and in particular, to Rimma Sverdlin OAM, whose portfolio covers these matters and to Jo Silver, who works so hard to turn our vision into reality.

The following are two ongoing JCCV projects, a notable aspect of which is that they have brought together organisations covering the entire spectrum of Victorian Jewish life.

Hospital Pastoral Carers immersion into Jewish Melbourne

The Jewish Community Council of Victoria (JCCV) in conjunction with the Healthcare Chaplaincy Council of Victoria Inc. (HCCVI) co-ordinated a Jewish immersion day for seventeen hospital pastoral care coordinators, with the aim of enabling non-Jewish pastoral co-ordinators to better understand the needs of Jewish patients.

JCCV is grateful to the Jewish Museum of Australia, St Kilda Hebrew Congregation, Melbourne Chevra Kadisha, Mikvah Chaya Moushka Schneerson and the Jewish Holocaust Centre for participating in this program by hosting the group and broadening their understanding of our community and also to the panel of Orthodox, Conservative and Progressive Rabbis who participated in the closing Q & A session.

JCCV Child Protection Training

The second Child Protection Training session has now taken place and the feedback is extremely positive.

There was full attendance by all participating organisations and some of the organisations are starting to review and implement policies on the basis of the training.

Maccabi Australia has worked hard and diligently on their policy and is to be commended for the careful and structured approach it has taken to the process, which is about to be implemented throughout all the State bodies.

The collaborative and intelligent interaction between the education sector participants, who represent almost the entire Jewish Day School system and UJEB and of the welfare sector is a clear indication that the culture within that section of our community has undergone a major change, with a far greater awareness of the need for policies and procedures not to just be on paper, but to be understood and implemented right across the board..

A Forum on Rights and Responsibilities for Elderly People is currently being planned.

Affiliation Fees

The motion on affiliation fees will be voted upon at the forthcoming Plenum.

The process of making affiliation fees more transparent and equitable has taken well over a year, with consultation with affiliates at every stage. JCCV appreciates the thoughtful and communally conscious approach with which the affiliates have addressed this issue.

Please ensure that your delegates are fully conversant with the terms of the motion and have been briefed as to how your organisation intends to vote.

Yom Ha’Shoah Commemoration

Yom Ha’Shoah Commemoration will take place on Sunday, 27 April 2014 at Robert Blackwood Hall, Monash University, Clayton

On the following Sunday, 4 May 2014, the commemoration will be held at Carlton Cemetery at 2.30 pm

These are pivotal events on our communal calendars, and I would urge you and your members to attend.

Council of Presidents

The next Council of Presidents meeting will be held on 19 May 2014 and a briefing will be sent out prior to the meeting.

The input of the affiliate is extremely useful in formulating JCCV strategy and I appreciate the fact that so many Presidents make an effort to attend.

Chag Pesach Sameach

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