Australian Rabbis join calls for the repeal of 18C

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After consultation with many members of the Jewish community in both Sydney and Melbourne, Dr David Adler of Sydney and Mr Avi Yemini of Melbourne jointly made a comprehensive submission to the Parliamentary committee which is inquiring into our free speech laws. This is generally known as the “18C Inquiry”.

“Our submission supports BOTH democratic and genuine Jewish values and both these compel the repeal of 18C and 18D” Avi Yemini said.

“We support open democratic values of which free expression is an essential principle, as opposed to stifling political correctness. Some have argued 18C is necessary to combat anti-Semitism. But it clearly does not work. In Europe, where there are numerous countries with laws similar to 18C, anti-Semitism is at its highest since WWII” Mr Yemini said.

“What happened subsequent to our submission is that we immediately started to receive tremendous broad support in the Jewish community, many wished their support to remain private however some felt so strongly they are prepared to go on the public record” Avi added.

“Our submission had been prepared after consultation with various Rabbis. After it was lodged, I have had further communications from our religious community leaders and some of the most senior Rabbis have added their names as formally supporting our submission” David Adler said.

“Free speech with its vigorous exchange of ideas, debate and argument has been at the core of Jewish academic development. The Talmud has many such examples. Our submission includes the example of Elijah the Prophet (from Kings 1, Ch 18) who publicly mocked the false prophets of Ba’al. It is quite likely that had Elijah done this in Australia in 2016 he may well find himself with a case to answer before Gillian Triggs at the Human Rights Commission. 18C is contrary to Jewish academic and theological values”, Dr Adler added.

Furthermore, many Jewish community leaders are calling for better understanding and knowledge of cultural and religious differences across Australia – including that of the Jewish lifestyle.

“Sadly, many of our community members tell us that on many occasions, non-Jewish Australians told them that they were the first if not only Jewish Australian they met so far. This issue clearly needs to be addressed early on in life where our children are exposed to many different cultural and religious practices within our diverse and colourful society”, said Mr. Yemini

“Us and future generations will then be able to make better judgements on what is acceptable and not-acceptable to say or do around others”, added Yemini.

“So just before the deadline for submissions on 9 December, we lodged a supplementary submission to the Inquiry which lists supporters who identified themselves in the first 48 hours after we lodged the main submission AND were prepared to go on the public record” Dr Adler said.

The submission by Dr Adler and Mr Yemini:

  • Supports free speech as a foundation of democracy
  • Demonstrates free speech is also a foundation of Jewish academia and theology and provides a biblical proof
  • Argues inhibiting free speech and laws like 18C have not been effective anywhere in combatting anti-Semitism
  • Jewish secular bodies arguing to retain 18C rarely use it and have not used it to deal with Islamic hate preaching against Jews despite having been given specific examples
  • Inhibiting free speech can actually cause physical harm, with examples in the submission.

Proposed alternatives to 18C and a can now do so. It would consist of a three-pronged strategy, neither of which compromise free speech:

  • Anti-Semites needed to be outed, named and shamed publicly. This needs to be done by non-Jewish leadership, politicians and media, even more than Jewish leadership
  • Better integration and education of religious/cultural differences at school and at work places.
  • There needs to be a broad strong commitment to the principles of the London Declaration on Combatting Antisemitism.

The submission and supplementary submission is available here: Jews for free speech

 

For further information:
Mr Avi Yemini 0433747423
Dr David Adler 0415256530

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