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Campaign Against JCCV

13 August 2008

Campaign to denigrate the JCCV

Last week the AJN published the latest in a series of letters either critical of the Jewish Community Council of Victoria or of the communal leadership in general, and suggesting the need for a new organisation

This letter, from ‘Barry Rosenfeld of Bentleigh East’, suggested that the JCCV should cease using the slogan “The Voice of Victorian Jewry”, as it is not representative of the entire community.

What ‘Barry Rosenfeld’ says is quite wrong. Perhaps of even greater concern, ‘Barry Rosenfeld’ does not exist.

The JCCV has a policy of engaging with its critics. Accordingly we endeavoured to contact ‘Rosenfeld’ following publication of his letter. We checked the electoral rolls, the White Pages, the JCCV communal database and Google and approached the AJN to ask ‘Rosenfeld’ to call us, all with no luck. We then decided to verify the authenticity of two other critics, ‘Darren Kamin of Caulfield North’ (AJN, 4/07) and ‘Belinda Hirskoff of Glenhuntly’ (AJN, 18/07), again with the same result.

We then alerted the AJN of our suspicions. After conducting its own investigation, the AJN has confirmed that these seem to be false names. Hence we can only conclude that either someone is being mischievous or more sinisterly, is making a deliberate effort to undermine the JCCV for their own ends.

The JCCV suffered some difficulties in the past. In recent times, however, it has turned around its financial situation. More importantly, it has advanced the interests of the Victorian Jewish community in various areas and is unquestionably moving even further forward. Our operations are transparent and readily verifiable.

The JCCV is a representative democracy. Those organisations that are affiliated to the JCCV have a voice on the floor of the plenum, which in turn elects an executive to manage the day-to-day workings of the JCCV. A similar system can be found in every parliament in Australia, and indeed in any parliament that elects an executive or ministerial cabinet to perform its day-to-day functions.

While not all Jewish organisations are our affiliates, the JCCV represents almost 60 organisations, comprising most of the larger Victorian Jewish communal organisations by membership and by financial standing. If you attend a shule, or send your children to a Jewish school; if you play sport for a Jewish club; if you volunteer for a Jewish charity; in short, if you get involved in our community, the chances are that you are represented by the JCCV.

Much of our work as ‘the voice of Victorian Jewry’ is done on behalf of the entire Jewish community, not just our member organisations. Recent examples include advocating to Government on the Racial and Religious Tolerance Act, the Citizenship Test and the Equal Opportunity Review; submissions to the Law Reform Commission on the reform of the law of abortion; submissions to SBS radio on the Hebrew and Yiddish programs; and co-ordinating the restoration of the gates to the Jewish cemetery at Carlton.

To this can be added our ongoing roles in maintaining communal security; staging the annual Yom HaShoah commemoration at Robert Blackwood Hall; Chanukah in the City with the giant menorah lit by Mayor John So; our work with the Ethnic Communities Council of Victoria, and with ethnic and religious communities; fielding media enquiries and generating media interest and public debate on matters concerning the Jewish community; developing relationships with Victoria Police and with Victorian politicians on both sides of politics.

These are just a few examples of our representational role. All of this work is done on behalf of the entire Victorian Jewish community, not just our affiliates. We are the only organisation that has the authority to do such work, and we believe that we perform our role well. We are proud to be ‘The Voice of Victorian Jewry’.

Yes, the JCCV can always do better and to that end, the Executive and staff welcome open and constructive criticism. However this libellous and cowardly campaign is a slur that reflects very poorly on its perpetrator(s). Indeed, it is a slur on the entire Victorian Jewish community and can only hurt its interests.

For further information, please contact:

Anton Block 0418 320 417 or Geoffrey Zygier 0413 731 545

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