Its been a momentous week, with a huge number of issues surfacing. There is hardly time to do justice to all of the topics.
Justice has prevailed in two instances for the Jewish community of Australia. Fred Toben has had the judgement against him enforced and upheld. Brendan O’Connell has also been charged. No doubt he will appreciate this, as he craves all the attention and airspace he can get for his nefarious ideas. I’m not quite sure why the Jewish community has suddenly expressed so much alarm to the vicious and hateful videos that this person has been posting for some time. The sad thing is that there are many other Brendan’s out there. No rational debate or intelligent conversation will shift them from their ingrained hatred. For this reason I hope the law hits him with full effect, even if he enjoys every moment of delight in claiming that the Jews control the world and are silencing him, he should be defined by the law for the racist that he is, for all to see and understand.
The Pope has had a hard time in Israel. I noticed some items in the local West Australian media earlier this week that repeated a statement from the Vatican which denied the Pope had ever been a member of the Hitler Youth. However a few days later this was retracted. I notice that the retraction never reached the same local media sources that ran the erroneous story in the first place. Our local media has also been quick to pick up on all the statements by the Pope in support of Palestinian Statehood. Little has been said about the transfer of Christians out of the Palestinaian governed areas. I often wonder just how informed and aware many Austrailan Catholics are of the political leanings of their leadership, and of the historic injustice that the Jews still suffer from due to the Papal policies. The reality is that there is so much theological and cultural difference between Catholicism, Islam and Judaism, that it is almost unfair to engage in interfaith dialogue. Especially when the Pope is confronted by Palestinian cleric Tayseer Rajab Tamimi who strayed from the diplomatic script to encite hatred against Israel and demanding Christians unite with Muslims in opposing Israel. Kol Hakavod to the Pope for walking out, but had he not, just think of the damage it would have done to the already strained relationship he has with Israel.
The headline article of this weeks Maccabean is about the decision of the Maccabi movement to now enforce their longstanding policy which means that they will only accept Jewish members into their teams. The editorial position argues against this practice. While I have not always thought it is mission critical to have only Jewish sports teams, I can understand the benefit of this policy of reverse discrimination in order to meet club objectives. The social interaction that Maccabi facilitates between Jewish people is very important. So many Jewish couples have met through this organisation, and in a world where assimilation is the biggest destroying force of Judaism, a strong principle based stand is very important. With Maccabi WA now offering kosher food at its Cafe, a large number of new sports facilities, and a growing membership, it is certainly doing very positive and wonderful things to support Perth Jewish identity. This latest move can only strengthen the Jewish nature of a Jewish organisation, which is something that should be applauded. With that said, Judaism is not about being a member of a club (i.e. – Maccabi should not be the sole point of affiliation that a Jewish person has with their community), even if a Club can be about Jewish identification.
While I respect that many will have a different view to this, and that the Maccabean editorial is fairly reflective of the opinion of much of the community, I also think that this view highlights the generation gap within Perth Jewry. The younger members are quite comfortable in an exclusive Jewish team setting, the community has the critical mass to deliver complete team numbers, and the notion of a Jewish team is something special for them. They are still playing against non-Jewish teams and interacting with non-Jewish people, but with the unity and collective pride of representing a Jewish team. This may not sit well with the generation above, who often see the public display of Jewish community activity to be discomforting. If we present ourselves in an exclusive manner, what would other people think? That we think of ourselves as elitist? That it could lead to anti-Semitism? Far better to be pluralistic and ethnically mixed! That way we can justify to ourselves that we are not fully embarrassed by our own fear of Jewish identification. I challenge those people who think that Maccabi should allow non-jewish players into their team to step outside their paradigm and ask themselves why it is that they feel so sensitive about limiting Jewish organisations to Jewish participation. Is it because you are not completely comfortable with your own identity, and that the convenant of being a Jew requires you to be “different”, even if you don’t want to be. Truthfully?
Have a Shabbat Shalom and a Shavua Tov.