Like many on our IAJV list, you may have received information suggesting that we had deceptively associated our original signatories with the recent Palestinian statement that was published in The Australian on Wednesday 12th. Although this misinformation was widely circulated, the advertisement itself confirms what we had reassured many concerned people, namely, that only those who specifically wrote emails to endorse the statement were listed, and IAJV was not in any way identified with the published statement as author or sponsor.
As we indicated, we had forwarded the statement to our IAJV email list on behalf of other groups and were not among the authors or sponsors of the statement. While, understandably, many people did not wish to sign the statement, it was entirely consistent with the IAJV goal of encouraging and widening discussion for us to forward it, and it would have been so even if none of our original signatories had wished to sign it.
Although we have acted properly in this way to ensure that our original signatories were not associated with the published Palestinian statement, the ‘dirty tricks’ campaign suggesting otherwise has been clearly intended to embarrass our original signatories and discredit us. We have now learned that the misinformation has been widely disseminated by the NSW Jewish Board of Deputies by an email on the Board’s letterhead.
The Board’s email includes a doctored letter purporting to be from IAJV, pasting at the bottom a list of original supporters who had, of course, not signed the accompanying statement (available here http://www.iajv.org/jbd-letter/). The misrepresentation has caused enormous distress and anger and many people had written to us expressing their justifiable outrage.
The Board of Deputies is aware of this misrepresentation but has yet issued no correction or apology either to IAJV or to the individuals who were misrepresented.
If, like others, you would like to demand a public retraction and apology from the Board, please contact us.
It is significant that the Australian Jewish News was fully aware of these facts and chose not to disclose them to its readers when it mentioned the role of the Board in its latest edition. Apart from its treatment of this matter, the consistent pattern of AJN coverage reflects the problems we are facing with the Jewish community.
We had been concerned that the IAJV initiative might be damaged by these tactics of the NSW Board and the AJN. However, it is now clearer than ever that Jewish voices need to be heard that are independent of the orthodoxy of official community organizations and their spokespersons.
The furore surrounding these events has confirmed one of the more disturbing features of the Jewish community and its official representatives – that is, the pretence that there is open, honest debate. The intense pressure for conformity and “loyalty” has been heightened, as people have even felt they must now withdraw their public identification with the original IAJV statement of a year ago even though they have not changed their views or commitment to it.
Despite the seriousness of these concerns, we believe that it is a mistake to become preoccupied with local, internecine struggles that divert attention from the vastly more important issues – namely, the ongoing tragedy of the Israel/Palestine conflict and, above all, the worsening plight of the Palestinians.
Accordingly, we hope that we may continue to strengthen and develop our initiative to encourage a wider, more honest, respectful debate and thereby to make some contribution towards peace and justice for Israelis and Palestinians. Towards this end, a subsequent email will clarify our conception of IAJV and its operations and how we might maintain and strengthen our efforts towards our shared goals.