Media Centre
President's Report

President's Report

01 August 2011

Presented To Plenum

I met with Croatian Consul-General Antun Babic, Superintendent Neil Patterson re future of SIG, affiliates re fundraising dispute, CSG Advisory Board, Acting Chief Commissioner Ken Lay... I also attended David Southwick's function to farewell coach of Peace team, the Islamic Council dinner ... and was Interviewed by Sunday Age re Police strategy re racist crimes and journalists regarding sexual abuse... Click here for a complete list.

OFFICE STAFF

Michelle Coleman commenced as Executive Director on 4 July 2011. We all welcome her. She has settled in well and is in the process of meeting Exec members, Presidents and Exec Directors of other organisations and familiarising herself with the work of the JCCV and her responsibilities.

OFFICE RELOCATION

We are reviewing the proposed shift and I will be in a position to say more about it in a few weeks but it now looks as if we will be remaining in our present location in BW but simply expanding our office space and having the ADC collocate with us.

CONFERENCE IN ISRAEL

The conference in Israel which was attended only by Australian community leaders was very productive and we covered issues such as crisis management on a community basis, threat assessment, and dilemmas for Australia such as funding, protection of community buildings, national operation of CSG’s etc.

SEXUAL ABUSE CLAIMS

The claims of sexual abuse at Yeshiva College that have been made and the alleged suppression of such complaints are very serious. We issued an initial media release, limited to the Jewish press and also wrote to the one victim who has gone public, offering support and assistance. Unfortunately, this member publically criticised the JCCV for remaining silent and not offering support. I contacted the editor of J Wire and the ECAJ to correct the inaccuracies and provided a copy of the letter offering support and sent 3 days prior to the article being published.

A further media release, issued jointly with ECAJ, ORA and RCV and widely distributed to all media outlets has also been circulated.

The comments made by Rabbi Feldman, President of the NSW Rabbi’s association predictably attracted media attention. My view on this is very clear; his views are entirely unacceptable and must be rejected outright. Victims must be encouraged to report complaints to the police who can then investigate and, if appropriate lay charges. Rabbis have no place in the investigation of alleged criminal activity. Rabbi Feldman should either stand down or the association of Rabbi’s in NSW must remove him.

This issue will continue to be a topical for some time as charges are laid, court cases held etc. Our position must be clear; such abuse cannot be tolerated and neither can any cover up. Victims must be encouraged to come forward, supported and know they will not be punished or ostracised for doing so.

We have now organised a community forum in conjunction with the Taskforce, “Keeping Our Kids safe From Sexual Abuse” to take place on 14 August.

BDS DEMONSTRATIONS

The BDS demonstration, on 1 July 2011 resulted in a significant number of arrests (19) and has led to the naming of those 19 as “the Max Brenner 19”. Support for the protestors has completely eroded and the Police and Shopping Centre management are not prepared to tolerate continued demonstrations. It was clear before the last demonstration that shopping centre management had had enough as for the first time they erected posters stating that protestors would be regarded as trespassers. Fortunately, we were able to prevent any counter protests and in that way was even more confrontational between police and demonstrators who now will be challenging police on freedom of speech issues and allegations of police brutality and have support from ASU (Australian Services Union). Prior to this demonstration, Sam Tatarka and I addressed a student forum, explained why a counter demonstration should not be held and then discussed ways in which the students might positively present Israel on campus. We have offered support for the students in arranging pro – Israel events which it is believed will be far more effective than simply counter demonstrating.

A large number of demonstrators, possibly over 300 attended the demonstration on 29 July 2011. Despite signs warning they would be regarded as trespassers, they were still allowed to enter both Melb Central and QV after assembling at the State Library and protest in close vicinity to Max Brenner. There was a large police presence and no arrests at the time although it is expected there will be action taken against those who breached bail conditions by attending.

WORK WITH POLITICIANS

Very productive meetings have been held with politicians and advisors as set out above.

It is expected that we will soon organise another politicians lunch which we co host with the ZCV.

SHEHITA

There is much happening in relation to this issue but it is predominantly being handled by the ECAJ with some input from the JCCV and other State bodies. We are led to believe there is no cause for concern about legislative reform at this point in time but are aware that changes could be implemented by individual slaughter houses.

PUBLICITY

Lion FM

MJR has lost its licence and there have also been findings by ACMA that MJR breached licence conditions although the two are supposedly unrelated, the loss of licence supposedly due to band problems. We called a public meeting of all interested persons and made it known that the JCCV would support a unified attempt that was legitimately made on behalf of the community to regain a licence. The meeting was not successful and it appears as if several groups will each try for a licence and in those circumstances there appears little prospect of a licence being reissued.

VICTORIA POLICE

Following the resignation of Simon Overland from the position of Chief Commissioner, Ken Lay has been appointed Acting Chief Commissioner.  I have already met with him and discussed a number of issues that are pertinent to our community such as BDS, the foreshadowed dismantling of SIG and the multicultural advisory unit, YAP, GLBT issues, the Sexual Abuse claims and the operation of CSG. The meeting was very productive and cordial. There had been some publicity given to the proposed disbanding of SIG but I had already been reassured during my meeting with Superintendent Neil Patterson that SIG would not be disbanded; rather it would become part of a broader unit that would preserve direct contact with someone working with our community. I had also made contact with Simon Overland via e mail to wish him all the best.

The Victoria Police/Jewish Community supper was held on 7 July. It was well attended and was an excellent event.

JEMP

The JEMP AGM was held on 21 July and a revised mission statement was approved. Again, thanks go to the technical Committee and Danielle Dyskin for all their hard work.

COUNCIL FOR JEWISH EDUCATION IN SCHOOLS

The JCCV will be taking over the administration of the CJES from UJEB who, with the hard work over many years of Jeffrey Greenberg has done an outstanding been administering the fund. The JCCV will ensure all requirements ate strictly met.

FORGING CLOSER LINKS WITH YOUTH

Following my meeting with Dori Meron, President of MUJJS we agreed to have a supper meeting between student leaders and our Exec members combined with ZCV.  This will allow us to forge much closer and better working relationships with the younger leaders. Sam Tatarka and I also briefed the student leadership on BDS activities which was very beneficial.

INTERFAITH ACTIVITY

Uniting Church

The meeting to discuss the issue surrounding the anti Israel/BDS article that appeared in the AFP newsletter went well.

Islamic Community

The supper with the ICV was very productive and has allowed us to establish a solid foundation upon which we can move forward in a productive way and even work jointly on some issues of mutual concern such as shehita.

Croatian Community

I met with the Croatian Consul General at his office and we had some very productive talks. He is issuing a media release to his community and I have done likewise. I am arranging to meet with him and have supper at a Max Brenner store in the near future. There is also currently a very big Israel fair being held in Croatia.

CSG

Amit has finished and so has David Michelson. David worked for the CSG for over 7 years and I thank him for his dedication, support and assistance. Simon Glynn commenced on 4 July as did Justin Lipson. They are settling in very well and the office should soon be back at full operating capacity.

MELBOURNE JEWISH INDIAN COMMUNITY

Following the meeting Jo & I had with members of the Melbourne Jewish Indian Community we are arranging a function that will take place on 11 September 2011 during which we shall try to bring them into the general Jewish community.

INAUGURAL CJF (CAPITAL JEWISH FORUM) MELBOURNE EVENT - PALESTINIAN HEAD OF DELEGATION, MR IZZAT ABDULHADI

The event on 17 July organised by Capital Jewish Forum, a Canberra based organisation, run by Manny Waks featuring Izzat Abdulhad, the Palestinian ambassador had to be postponed. However, CJF did run an event in Melbourne on 27 July 2011 in which it hosted the US Ambassador to Australia and is hosting another event in Melbourne on 2 August 2011 in which it is featuring Dr Ghassan Khatib, Special Envoy of President Mahmoud Abbas. Again, there has been no consultation with ECAJ or JCCV.

MELBOURNE CHEVRA KADISHA

I am delighted to report the MCK have signed a contract to build the permanent Chapel at Lyndhurst. Works will commence soon and should be completed by June 2012.

LIGHTING IN FEDERATION SQUARE

The event which the JCCV co hosted with a number of other communal organisations, AIJAC, MDA, NCJWA and WIZO Victoria. Was very successful and provided some wonderful exposure for our community.

John Searle

1 August, 2011

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