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When human rights are abused ...

See also Response to AIS

When human rights are abused where does interfaith dialogue take us?

The AIS for the last 5 years, despite the negative reactions from some quarters of the Muslim community, has come together with our friends from the Jewish community in an atmosphere of respect and trust to improve our relations and soften the sometimes harsh attitudes that has existed between the two communities. But the recent military actions of the Israeli Government and the killing of hundreds of innocent women and children and the silence and lack of response and support from those that we have known over many years and with whom we co-organised numerous interfaith events and projects has very much upset and disappointed us and placed us in a difficult situation.

As you would know and have witnessed that the AIS has held the Annual 9/11 tributes in Australia’s largest mosque and worked relentlessly to educate and properly inform Muslims about Islam and the big risks that we have taken in doing so. You would also know that we have always condemned quite openly and publicly that the killing of innocent Jewish women and children by suicide bombers goes against Islam and is despicable.

The Muslim community of Melbourne and the wider Australian Muslim community has been deeply disturbed, traumatised and saddened by the recent events in Gaza  - not only the physical destruction of property and infrastructure but the disproportionate action and killing of the innocent. Of the 1300 (to date) we know at least 400 to be children, not to mention the innocent men, women and elderly that were also killed. One Muslim resident alone in the Broadmeadows area has lost 11 of her relatives.

Many Jews and important individuals from the communities of the USA , UK and France have openly condemned the disgraceful killing of women and children by the Israeli Armed Forces, Jewish residents in Los Angeles were so distraught by these incidents that they forced the Israeli Consulate to close. So disturbing was the situation that Turkey – a long time ally and friend of Israel, the first Muslim country to recognise the nation state and to also encourage Arab nations to recognise Israel, the only Muslim country to be engaged in joint military training – harshly condemned the actions of the Israeli Government and Army. Sir Gerald Kaufman, a British MP described the situation as "not only barbaric but also stupid" and added “I am not going to stand by and keep silent when the Israeli troops - with a dreadful government sending them there - kill large numbers of innocent people with no useful result at the end of it all.”

Interestingly, the only Jewish community that has not commented on these shameful atrocities is the Australian Jewish community and our Jewish friends with whom we have worked so close together. This has placed us in a very difficult situation. We are being accused of being puppets of Jewish organisations and that your intentions regarding interfaith dialogue were nothing but political. We are in a situation where we do not know how to reply to such accusations. Interfaith dialogue is a very sensitive issue within all faiths and we have to preserve our ties with Muslim communities. At this stage any statement made by you regarding the killing of innocent people in Gaza will strengthen our hand and we will have an answer for those who criticise us for having close relations with Jewish organisations.

The AIS looks towards its friends and all people on conscience during this difficult time of pain and anguish for support and condemnation of the killing of innocent people – irrespective of the perpetrators. Whether they are innocent Muslims or Jews, innocent Arabs or Israelis the killing of innocent people needs to be condemned unreservedly - always.


Response to the above from the JCCV

28 January 2009
The Board of Directors
Australian Intercultural Society

Dear Sirs,

I write on behalf of the Jewish Community Council of Victoria, the peak body of Victorian Jewry, in response to your email dated 23 January 2009, subject line: ‘When human rights are abused, where does interfaith dialogue take us?’ While not addressed to me personally, I have taken the liberty of responding.

In your email, you request a response from Australian Jewish leaders to the recent war between Israel and Hamas, stating that none has been forthcoming.

In actual fact this is not the case. Mr Robert Goot AM SC, president of the Executive Council of Australian Jewry, publicly stated the following on 11 January 2009: “We feel as much sadness at the loss of an innocent Palestinian as we do for the loss of Israeli lives”. I also note that in an interview published by The Age on 8 January 2009, I was quoted as saying that this war “brought no joy to the Melbourne Jewish community because people are getting killed.” These are but two clear statements of Australian Jewry’s concern for those affected by the conflict.

Judaism is founded on awe and love of G-d, The Creator. In every possible instance, Jews affirm life and deplore its loss, and nowhere more where that life is innocent. Accordingly I have no hesitation in stating again that our community laments the deaths of innocent Israelis and Palestinians, and also the other suffering that these peoples have endured.

Jewish communities worldwide, including our own, have long called for a two-state solution to resolve this distress. In 2005 we prayed that Israel’s withdrawal from Gaza would be the penultimate step to resolution. Sadly, tragically, this has not proved to be the case.

Instead of seizing the opportunity to build a viable and productive society, Hamas and its cronies have condemned Palestinians and Israelis to a living hell. And it is not only war; Hamas’ intransigence has impoverished the Gazans, leaving them dependent on handouts from the international community. This latest conflict, the inevitable outcome of persistent, intentional targeting of Israeli citizens (be they Jews, Muslims or Christians) by missiles fired from Hamas-controlled Gaza, is only the most recent example of Hamas’ bloody-mindedness. Indeed, even as I write, I am conscious of another truce violation by Hamas, and another Israeli death.

Regrettably there is no magic formula for protecting the innocent when confronting those dedicated to Israel’s destruction. This is particularly the case when Hamas (just like Hezbollah, its partner in crime) is prepared to sacrifice its own people on the altar of its ambitions. From hiding weaponry in schools, hospitals and mosques to using civilians as human shields, Hamas’ cynicism, as is becoming daily more apparent, knows no bounds. It is simply a terrible tragedy.

In conclusion, I thank the AIS for its efforts to improve relations between our respective communities. As you noted in your email, this is not welcomed by all local Muslims; unfortunately this is a metaphor for relationships between Muslims and Jews worldwide. We fear that suffering of innocents will continue until a two-state solution is forthcoming. Hence we pray that this day arrives very soon.

Yours truly

John Searle


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Felicity, I don"t thinkI wrote what the AIS should or shouldn"t do. I certainly was not suggesting that they encourage the enforcement of a biblical mandate that was given thousands of years ago by HaShem, to the Israelites for that time. My point was that Israel ignored HaShem then and continue to ignore Him now, and as such pay the penalty. Israel has a right to defend itself and crush Hamas and all who try to wipe us from the face of the earth. Israel should give up no more land for "peace", but instead look up to HaShem for help and direction.

Posted on 2009-02-02 06:38:51 GMT

Paul2 is correct. The only thing that will deter the aggressive imperialism of the newly petrol-charged Islam is total total total defeat. Even to the dismantling of the great black stone -- the meteorite they worship.

Posted by Gabrielle on 2009-02-02 06:21:32 GMT

I refer to Malvina"s response to Philip. Israel has no need to take over other people"s territory, but nations that have started aggressive wars against her MUST(!!) pay a penalty. Forget about Israel and consider a civilised world; no individual, group or nation can be allowed to aggress against her neighbour without incurring a penalty. It is unreasonable that a wrongdoer should be allowed to go scot free after offending: that would invite a repetition of the crime. It is wrong too, that no nation other than Israel, is expected to yield to the demands of those who have waged war - itself illegal - and who have been defeated. To make Israel yield, establishes a mortally dangerous precedent for civilised societies. Israel has a right to claim borders it - and it alone - considers vital to its security and its enemies must feel defeat to the very marrow of their bones and resign themselves to it. The Mohammedan world will not abandon its traditional quest for a glorified conquering past until that path has been shown only to lead to dishonourable defeat. It will not abandon war while Israel bashers keep saving them from their irrational nihilism, contempt for life and glorification of blood letting.

Posted by paul2 on 2009-02-02 04:42:08 GMT

Back to the topic - with all sincere respect, Phillip, a suggestion that AIS answers its critics by quoting the "biblical mandate to conquer Canaan and to drive out the enemy" would gain little ground. I suggest that the ICJS article: "ANSWERS TO DIFFICULT QUESTIONS", posted 31 January under Hamas/Gaza -should be forwarded to AIS immediately. Similarly, the article in Jerusalem Post 29 January- HAMAS BLOCKS GAZAN ORPHANS , where a weeks vacation for children orphaned during the war was organised and offered by the Kibbutz movement in Kafra Kasem, Haifa, and Kibbutz Sasa, could not go ahead because Gazan authorities refused to allow the children to cross the border, is a glaring example of the differences between both sides in the conflict. It brought to my mind the documentary I saw several years ago which told of Daniel Barenboim"s efforts to create a youth orchestra consising on Palestinian and Israeli youth. It showed the rehearsals and gorgeous music played be these innocent kids. Palestinian members said they had been expecting to meet some sort of monsters as they had never seen an Israeli before. Similarly, the Israeli members expressed the same fears about coming face to face with their Palestinian co-players. Unfortunately a concert arranged in Ramallah was hijacked because the Palestinian authority refused to guarantee the safety of the Israeli members of the orchestra. Barenboim is now a persona non gratis in Israel, but if we could only get rid of the terrorist element of Hamas, perhaps we could begin to speak the same language of peace. Did anybody read the article "A TRAGIC LOSS FOR WORDS" in Saturday"s Age, Insight page 7, by Ethan Bronner, New York Times? It is well worth a read.

Posted by Felicity on 2009-02-02 04:02:09 GMT

Malvina, thanks for that, I would love too.. I am on the north side of Brisbane, and I realise that you cant let me know on here of someone to contact.. My husband applied for the principals job of a Jewish school in Brisbane a few years ago, and it seems such a shame that we have come to the stage where they couldnt put the address of the school in their advertising, and of course we know the reason why eh.. He is now doing home schooling which is increasing at a incrediable rate both in the city and in the country, most because children are being viciously bullied in schools now and because the Queensland education system is one of the worst in the industralised world now..

Posted by Gaye on 2009-02-02 02:09:55 GMT

Thanks Franita, my goodness, I hadnt realise how deeply I felt about this, as after reading your encouraging, kind note here, tears rushed down my face, so that would be great. I have a non Jewish friend up north who I send a lot of items to to sell for Israel, but no one here in Brisbane.. not that I have looked as I am just so flat out and being on here a lot to fight those who know NOTHING about Islam and who think that Islam is a great way of life and is a peaceful religion.. I also go on CBS a lot as it is very left wing and needs people like us to help them see. Fighting a loosing battle I know as most of them are very left, but I try, so many fools blindly against Israel.. It would be great if some of you would also get on there and let people know what you know, Neesem does..

Posted by Gaye on 2009-02-02 01:43:01 GMT

Thanks Franita -- shall do.

Posted by Gabrielle on 2009-02-02 01:25:13 GMT

Gabrielle, I would suggest you emailing Keith Buxton as he is National Director and will have knowledge of such a group in NSW.

Posted by Franita on 2009-02-02 01:19:40 GMT

Is there a pro-Israel group in NSW such as described as being in QLD in the comment below?

Posted by Gabrielle on 2009-02-02 01:14:56 GMT

Gaye, bless you for your support for Israel. You might also want to email Keith Buxton National Director of Bridges for Peace, a group of people based in QLD who are very involved in supporting Israel. You will find some kindred spirits there. Keith"s email address is: or, go to

Posted by Franita on 2009-02-02 01:01:22 GMT

Thanks Philip. I am not Jewish, and at this stage I dont have any Jewish friends and not by choice of course, but I do have a bit of brain in there, I can see that this tiny little country is not the problem, and as I wrote at the time, I didnt agree with them giving the Gaza back. I said that you cannot appease an agressor and nothing they do other than killing all of themselves off will work.. I believe that soon God will do the work that is impossible for the Jewish nation to do. We know that Israel can not do anything, so God has to do it...As we who care all know, if Israel fight back they are wrong and if they dont they are gone.. I believe that they should rise up and hopefully the west will rise up with them.

Posted by Gaye on 2009-02-01 13:26:29 GMT

Gaye, it is sad indeed that many Jewish leaders have chosen to side with the ememies of Israel. I would anticipate that these same leaders, whilst they may go to synagogue, do not submit to Torah or trust in the God of Israel. HaShem decreed the nation of Israel to be His own, and to be the vessel by which His glory was to be revealed to the nations. We have been dismal in our responsibilities, and leaders such as you speak of will be judged accordingly. As I wrote once before, Israel failed in it"s biblical mandate to completley conquer the land of Canaan, to drive out the enemy, and has paid the penalty ever since. We are supposed to be a smart intelligent nation, yet we learn nothing from mistakes made in our history. Once again I have to write may HaShem have mercy on us.

Posted by Philip Hammond Biblical Witness for Israel. on 2009-02-01 11:27:52 GMT

Dear Mr. Searle, do you really think that there can be peace between Muslims and Jews when the Quran and Mohammad said to wipe out the Jews, Christians to the last or until they submit in the whole world. This is put upon all muslims once their numbers are large enough to do so, in the mean time they demand their way where ever they go..

Posted by Gaye on 2009-02-01 08:07:06 GMT

Philip, I agree, but with Jews like this bit from this article, what hope is there when their own are against them.. eg.. Many Jews and important individuals from the communities of the USA , UK and France have openly condemned the disgraceful killing of women and children by the Israeli Armed Forces. Where were these same people when thosands of rockets were being shot at Israel over the past 6 years??? Why were these Jews silent???. I would hat to be in their shoes when they meet their God... I have nothing to do with the Australian Jewish community nor with Jewish friends who work so close together, BUT, I do have a brain to think and eyes to see and what is expected of this tiny little country is disgraceful. They are expected to say or do nothing when thousands of rockets rain down on them and are condemed when they try to stop these animals from killing their families.. NOTHING is said about the wonderful things that Israel does for Gaza, and the world... That is what is Disgraceful, the silence against Israel.. totally disgraceful.. I am disgusted and angry and the injustice continually against Israel..

Posted by Gaye on 2009-02-01 07:59:29 GMT

The old saying "who needs enemies with friends like that", applies to the AIS. They no doubt see themselves as the ultimate answer to solving the relationship problems between Islam and the rest. The AIS has the front to say they are teaching Muslims about their faith, quote " educate and properly inform Muslims about Islam.." If the AIS is in fact teaching Muslims the Islamic faith then the AIS is indeed an enemy of Israel and Israeli citizens. The AIS then becomes a mouth piece for Islamic apologetics. If on the other hand they are claiming that they are exposing Islam for the evil religion it is, then how many of those taught have left the faith? One should not be surprised at such a letter written on behalf of the AIS, in fact one should expect such. My question is why would any person or organisation who trusts in the God of Israel, spend valuable time and resources in dialogue with such an organisation. It is high time we stood up to our enemies, the mistake Israel has always made is not standing up and defeating it"s enemies when the time is right. We continue to ignore HaShem and as usual we pay the price. May He have mercy on us.

Posted by Philip Hammond Biblical Witness for Israel. on 2009-02-01 06:32:45 GMT

11 lost in one family, well that will save her some money and they are all in paradise, isnt that great. Shame that she didnt get out when the Isralie shoulders went in and warned the people to get away from the area as they were going to bomb where the weapons were. They probably were some of the ones which formed a human shield around the site.. The article says, The Muslim community of Melbourne and the wider Australian Muslim community has been deeply disturbed, traumatised and saddened by the recent events in Gaza . And I can understand that but what they should be more traumatised about is that it was their own peaceful leaders who put human shields there and put their own families at risk of being killed. They should be angry at their own not Israel..

Posted by Gaye on 2009-01-31 11:54:06 GMT

I get fed up with all this nonsense about the AIS "softening the ....harsh attitudes...between the two communities (Islam and Jewish) When the foundational teachings of Islam call for the destruction of the Jews and tne rest of the non-Islamic world, what the hell do they think they"re saying? Relations can never "improve" until Islam drops its murderous imperative to violent global jihad and leaves the rest of the five billion human beings on this planet to get along with their lives. Islam should be banned as a totalitarian fascist ideology.

Posted by Gabrielle on 2009-01-31 05:16:12 GMT

I applaud the AIS statement as an exemplar of Mohammedan fact inversion. The poor dears have suffered for their conversations with the Jewish community (oy gevalt, that"s gans haram!) and when the chips are down, those ungrateful dhimmis humiliate the AIS by demonstrating that their dawa activities were a failure. They seem to have truly expected Jews to turn on Israel in gratitude for Mohammedan condescension in talking to Jews. Nowhere has AIS condemned Arab attacks on Israel, but Jews are expected to condemn Israeli retaliation against their superiors. What damned hypocritical, arrogant, delusional chutzpah!

Posted by paul2 on 2009-01-30 13:00:34 GMT

Malvina, you are dead right on all that you say and yes all loss of life is tragic, but it is more tragic when it is your own who cause the deaths as with Hamas using innocent women and children as shields. When Muslims in the millions stand up and are outraged at every little thing that happening to non Muslims which their own do to us, as they do when someone puts a quran in the toilet or make cartoons of Mohammad etc then I will know that there are some good Muslims who really want peace, but up until then I know that they are just sleeping until the time is right and they are called.

Posted by Gaye on 2009-01-30 11:25:38 GMT

Moshe Lichtenstein, spot on.. as is others on here. The article says.. Many Jews and important individuals from the communities of the USA , UK and France have openly condemned the disgraceful killing of women and children by the Israeli Armed Forces.. Well, these numbers were told by the Hamas and the media ran with it, so how do we know whether it was true or not, however a continuing IDF investigation into the number of civilian Palestinian casualties during the Israeli offensive in Gaza indicated that only 250 of the fatalities were civilians. The military estimates that between 1,100 and 1,200 people were killed during the offensive. Some 700 of are believed to be militants and most are believed to be Hamas operatives. According to Bob Simon of CBS"s 60 Minutes, Palestinians "have to submit to humiliating delays at checkpoints and roadblocks." Simon fails to mention the Palestinian terror that has plagued Israel, necessitating such security measures. What other nation would have put up with 8,165 rocket and mortar attacks on their civilians between January 2001 and December 2008..

Posted by Gaye on 2009-01-30 11:18:48 GMT

In some fashion I think its important to take the "faith" and "religion" components out of the question for a moment. According to a recently released report, only circa 250 actual civilian deaths were tallied in Gaza, as Hamas fighters are not in uniform. Similarly, the 43 deaths proported as having occurred in a UNRA school, are now clarified by the school officials as to NOT have occurred in the school, but outside, around the school. The point here is that there is a concerted instrumentation of "innocent civilian loss" being employed both by Hamas, and unfortunately the generally left leaning media are commercializing the emotional reactions caused by this dis-informational campaign. At the same time, there is little mention let alone emotional rallying behind the years spent attacking southern Israel - noting that thousands of rockets have fallen in S. Israel in the 3 years in which Gaza was not occupied. At some point one has to demand that Muslim sympathizers demand that Gaza is freed of Hamas (and other terror groups) living lucratively on the back of Palestinians, terrorizing them at gunpoint, and creating black market conditions for every imaginable goods and services. Then and only then will Gazans have a chance of a normal life.

Posted by Brian on 2009-01-30 10:12:12 GMT

Very simply, Hamas openly declares its policy of genocide; in accordance with Islamic belief it glorifies martyrdom; It was legally elected (as was Hitler"s Nazi Party). Within the first days of the recent war, Olmert publicly requested Hamas to stop firing rockets on Israel, repeating "just stop and we will stop". Hamas ignored him and continued. They achieved the deaths of fellow Palestinians and created numbers of martyrs. So what is the problem?

Posted by Felicity on 2009-01-30 07:11:54 GMT

I do not understand!!! the article says.. You would also know that we have always condemned quite openly and publicly that the killing of innocent Jewish women and children by suicide bombers goes against Islam and is despicable. If this were so then why did the Prophet Muhammad foretold in a hadith that "Judgment Day would come only when the Muslims fight the Jews, and the Muslims would kill the Jews, and the stone and tree would say: "Oh, Muslim, servant of Allah, there is a Jew" – of course he was referring to the occupying Zionist Jew – "there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him", except for the Gharqad tree."" ... "Allah willing, we will enter [Palestine] as conquerors and liberators, not through negotiations, but through Jihad and resistance, because the hadith goes: "And the Muslims would kill the Jews" – there is killing involved." And if most Muslims are peaceful I wonder why then that there is not world wide outrage from Muslims at the killing of non Muslims, or at the slaughter of tens of thousands of non Muslims every year in places like Sudan??? or of the gang rapes of our girls.. From What I have read of verses from their holy books and of what their narrators say of their books, killing to force people to join Islam is part of Islam.. And the world has helped their advance by saying that they are a peaceful religon, that most of Muslims are peaceful and at the moment many of them are, and many are lovely people, but what about when they are called?? The Muslims holy books openly say that they are to kill Jews, Infidels, and pagans.. to rid the world of evil.. Ishaq:208 “When Allah gave permission to his Apostle to fight, the second Aqaba contained conditions involving war which were not in the first act of submission. Now we bound themselves to war against all mankind for Allah and His Apostle. He promised us a reward in Paradise for faithful service. We pledged ourselves to war in complete obedience to Muhammad no matter how evil the circumstances.” Qur’an 8:12 “I shall terrorize the infidels. So wound their bodies and incapacitate them because they oppose Allah and His Apostle.” Qur’an 8:39 “Fight them until all opposition ends and all submit to Allah.” Qur’an 8:39 “So fight them until there is no more Fitnah (disbelief [non-Muslims]) and all submit to the religion of Allah alone (in the whole world).” Muslim:C9B1N31 “I have been commanded to fight against people till they testify to the fact that there is no god but Allah, and believe in me (that) I am the Messenger and in all that I have brought.” Muhammad said: “I have been ordered to fight the people till they say: ‘None has the right to be worshipped but Allah.’ And if they say so, pray like our prayers, face our Qibla and slaughter as we slaughter, then their blood and property will be sacred to us and we will not interfere with them except legally and their reckoning will be with Allah.“ Sahih Bukhari Volume 1, Book 8, Number 387 Now, it is obviously not talking about a spritual war but a war of death if Infidels will not submit to Allah, Their holy books say that only muslims are innocent.

Posted by Gaye on 2009-01-30 06:38:38 GMT

I see no reaction from the larger community and especially the Australian Muslim community to the vilification of Jews as a people and as human being by Hamas and many Muslim groups. I see not protest on world wide anti Jewish demonstrations to kill Jews. I see no mention even of the despicable situation where young Muslim are educated to hate and in the case of Hamas are recruited for killing training. So who are we talking to in the Muslim community?

Posted by on 2009-01-30 06:29:34 GMT

John Searle has adequatly covered all points. Dr.Benjamin C Cohney

Posted on 2009-01-30 05:37:46 GMT

An excellent reply by John Searle !

Posted by Jack Leder on 2009-01-30 05:37:26 GMT

Drop the "interfaith dialogue" until Muslims are prepared to examine the calls to murder in the foundational texts of Islm and further, examine the role model provided by Mohammad, allegedly "the perfect man" When Muslims are ready to debate these confronting topics, then we can talk. Until then, it"s just spicy food and bullshit.

Posted by Gabrielle on 2009-01-30 04:50:05 GMT

Tell the AIS to conduct a "Goodwill Tour" of Gaza in the name of politically correct Jews. I wonder just how long they will live to tell the story.

Posted by Farrel Savitz on 2009-01-30 04:14:59 GMT

I"d ask the question in the other direction. Dear AIS - we"ve met with you, eaten your food, invited you to our premises and had endless discussions with you. When are you going to organise a noisy demo in the streets to condemn Islamic terror. Oh, never mind.

Posted by Daniel. on 2009-01-30 04:14:46 GMT

Well said John Searle from an old lefty i don't always agree with you guys, but on this and Backman you've got my vote -- if we had one but that's another story

Posted by lumeah on 2009-01-30 04:02:43 GMT