Wednesday, September 30, 2009

JNF: Palm tree destruction and Xmas trees

J-Wire: JNF Australia shocked at palm tree destruction
September 30, 2009 by Henry Benjamin

In what appears to be a pre-Succoth hunt for palm leaves, dozens of palm trees have been destroyed in Israel. JNF Australia is outraged. Federal president Grahame Leonard told J-Wire: “This appears to be a deliberate attempt to irresponsibly and without authorisation strip the trees of their palm leaves in such a way as to destroy them. JNF Australia has interests in palm plantations in the Negev. These are not our trees. But it doesn’t matter whose they are…this is a despicable destructive act and those who did this should be ashamed of themselves.”

Sydney Yeshiva Centre’s Eli Feldman spoke to J-Wire . He said: “Although the report says it is appears to be the work of those in need of palm leaves for Succot, we should abide by the principle of being innocent until proved guilty. Nevertheless, it saddens us very much to hear this news. We instruct all our members to follow the law of the land and to make sure proper permission is granted before touching a tree. Our organisation is very conscious of the work JNF does and most of us have Blue Boxes.”

The JNF’s Michael Marmary told J-Wire: “While on a routine tour, KKL-JNF foresters were surprised to discover that dozens of palm trees planted along the banks of Nahal Harod, in Israel’s northern Jezreel Valley were severely mutilated. It is assumed that individuals interested in the palm branches, used in the prayer services of the upcoming, weeklong Succoth holiday were involved.” While conducting a routine patrol along the banks of the Harod Stream (Nahal Harod) that had been nurtured and rehabilitated over the years KKL-JNFforesters were shocked to discover dozens of palm and date trees stripped naked of their branches.

KKL-JNF World Chairman Efi Stenzler stated, “These trees were planted a few years ago in an effort by to rehabilitate Nahal Harod. We rehabilitated the banks of the stream, planted fruit trees and forest groves, constructed and upgraded picnic areas for the enjoyment of the area’s visitors, paved hiking and cycling trails”.
Gil Atzmon, regional KKL-JNF director said, “The trees were decimated in a wild and barbaric manner. The injury was identical in all of the trees, all of the trees’ branches were cut from their tree trunks, seemingly to expose the palm branches to the sunlight so that they would receive a nice green color just before the holiday when these criminals would return and cut the remaining branches”. Atzmon further noted, “This is a mortal injury to the trees. Their treetops were damaged, an injury that will almost certainly cause the trees to wither and die. It hurts to see horrific vandalism such as this”.
The mutilation of the trees for the sake of obtaining their branches is rare in comparison to the damages caused to wild palm trees and willow trees in areas throughout the country because of their use as roofing for the outdoor succas (tabernacles). The injury to the wild palm trees in numerous areas has left these regions virtually stripped of these types of trees that were once a significant part of the regional landscape. This uncontrolled cutting has created a situation in which many of the trees have lost all of their branches, and there were even cases in which whole trees were ripped from the ground.

In earlier years, the country’s Chief Rabbis issued proclamations decrying this phenomenon and reminded Jews “a succa constructed with stolen palm branches is not kosher”. In the past, individuals caught cutting and stealing the branches were fined fines reaching upwards into the thousands of shekels.The KKL-JNF is planning to reinforce its supervision of its forests close to the Succoth holiday and distribute roofing materials for succas at various sites throughout the country in order to combat this phenomenon. The distributed branches are the remains of the trimming routinely conducted inthe forests to protect the life of the trees.

We agree - that is certainly not the way to go about getting S'chach for Sukkot and must be condemned. However reading the outrage expressed in the article one could get the impression that entire forests have been decimated, when it reality they are talking about a dozen or two trees. So, fellas, lets not get things too much out of proportion

But...meanwhile the highly-regarded AJNWatch Reseach Unit did some sniffing around and reported that the very same JNF seems to be far more accommodating when it comes to supplying Xmas trees to Christians. (A gesture no doubt to ensure that no traditionalist Christian will be tempted to chop down a tree on his own... )

Free Christmas Trees from JNF for Christian friends and members of the Foreign Press - 30 November 2006

To: Members of the Foreign Press

From: Shlomit Shrvit, Spokesperson

Dear friends, Re: Christmas Trees

As has become our custom, Jewish National Fund will be pleased to distribute Christmas trees that have been thinned out from its forests to its Christian friends and members of the Foreign Press. The procedure of thinning out of the forests this time of year is part of the regular curriculum in the Jewish National Fund forests.
Trees can be picked up from our Givat Yeshayahu Nursery (near Beit Shemesh) begin from Sunday Dec. 17, until Dec. 24 2006 between 08:00am - 15:00pm.
Kindly contact us in order to reserve your tree - please do so no later than Sunday, Dec. 18, 2005. In your reservation, kindly indicate at the same time the approximate height you would like the tree (between 1 to 6 meters).

Best wishes for a joyous holiday season to you and your families.
Best Regards,

Orit Hadad
Spokesperson's Office

Jewish National Fund

(AJNWatch sidebar comment: Orit Hadad, is the spokesperson for the spokesperson Shlomit Shrvit! This got us wondering. Exactly how large is the JNF's "Spokesperson's Office"? And what about the rest of its bureaucracy? How many extra forests could be planted by reducing unnecessary staff? We asked our Researchers this and similar questions. They sent us to these links: / / / These article are from a while ago and we hope that matters have improved since. But no one here can recall the Australian Jewish News reporting these issues. If any of our readers do, please let us know.)

Another blogpost of interest (especially the comments section):

* * * * *
Meanwhile it seems that the JNF may be talking out of both sides of its mouth, ie, trying to do the right thing for Christians and at the same time assuring their Jewish (especially traditional and religious) supporters not to be overly concerned about the possibilty of their Blue Box coins helping celebrate a 'holy day' of a religion responsible for untold pain and suffering of Jews for centuries.
How does the the JNF spin it? They say that they actually only giving away "...Christmas trees that have been thinned out from its forests." (More later.)

"Thinned out"? Huh? Since when do Israeli forests require "thinning out"? The experts say that even planting for another 100 years, there will still be no need to "thin out". Come on JNF, pull the other leg - it plays "Jingle Bells".

[We here at AJNWatch have no firm view on this matter either way. Who knows, maybe handing out Xmas trees to those unlovely churches (and their monsignors, bishops and nuns,) UN officials, foreign journalists and embassies, will keep them busy stuffing stockings, thus having less time to spew anti-Israel rhetoric. Maybe. Maybe not.
But please, JNF, don't take your supporters to be total fools.]

We doubt that Eli Feldman knows about the Xmas-tree links. After all, he would surely realise that the Yeshiva's mentor and inspiration, the Lubavitcher rebbe, would've never approved financially supporting distribution of Xmas trees.
* * * * *

As for the JNF's claim that the trees are sourced by being "thinned out from forests", see what the JNF itself says in an advertorial in Jerusalem Post . Here one can see exactly where these Xmas trees come from:

Choosing your own Christmas trees from KKL-JNF forests

"I can't believe that Israelis ensure that Christians in Israel have Christmas trees! This is really cool!" We were speaking to Nathan, a student at the Jerusalem University College on Mt. Zion, whom we met at KKL-JNF's traditional Christmas tree distribution at their regional offices at Givat Yeshayahu, on Wednesday, 10th December.
"... I'm studying the history and geography of the Holy Land at the Jerusalem University College, the only Protestant institution of its kind. I'm on a two-year program and let me tell you, this is really amazing!"

Every year just before Christmas, KKL-JNF distributes trees to churches, monasteries, embassies and the foreign press in Israel. Eli Ben-Sheetrit, KKL-JNF forester in charge of the lower Judean coastal plain, told us about the project and how it worked: "The first thing we had to do was to choose which tree would make the most beautiful Christmas tree. We decided on the Arizona cedar and as you can see, no one is disappointed by our choice. We used to cut them down in the KKL-JNF forests and bring them here for distribution, but then we had no way of knowing if we were cutting too many or too few. A few years ago, we decided to grow the trees here at Givat Yeshayahu on a few plots especially set aside for this purpose. We alternate between the plots to make sure we always have enough trees to meet the demand.
"We receive one-year old seedlings from KKL-JNF's tree nursery at Eshta'ol - this year I have received 2,000 seedlings. They grow here for another two years until they are about two meters tall, which is the height that most people want. I expect to distribute about 1,200 trees this year. I receive a list of the institutions that requested trees, from Ms. Sarah Singer of the Interior Ministry and in addition, individuals can also take trees for a symbolic fee. KKL-JNF subsidizes the project to continue the good relations with our Christian citizens and visitors. We also supply trees to the United Nations missions in Israel. Personally, I have been working in KKL-JNF for 27 years and I want to see this beautiful tradition continue every year."
After registering with Eli or with Sarah Singer, one can go directly to the cedar grove to choose his tree, where a KKL-JNF employee fells the tree and helps load it into the truck.
Early in the morning, busloads of nuns arrived from Jerusalem and Bethlehem who received almost 400 Christmas trees. Amal came to choose trees for Christ Church at Jaffa Gate, Jerusalem. "Christ Church was the first Anglican Church in Jerusalem and I have been coming here every year for trees - this year I'm taking twelve. We really appreciate this and I look forward to returning next year."
For people not affiliated with a church or formal organization, coming to choose and take away a tree can be a real family outing. We met Maiwenn, who is originally from Brittany, but now lives with her husband Udi in Jerusalem. "We heard about the tree distribution through my husband's work, CBC TV of Canada. Apparently KKL-JNF sends out faxes to various organizations in Israel. It's a great opportunity to get outside with our kids and it's a special experience to choose our Christmas tree in the forest where it grows."
More trees will be distributed before Christmas on Monday, 22nd December, mainly to embassies and the foreign press in Israel.
For more information, please visit our website at or e-mail Sponsored content

Another report:

Jerusalem Distributes Free Christmas Trees to Christians
Susan Jones

Jerusalem ( - The city of Jerusalem distributed free Christmas trees to Christians on Thursday as part of a longstanding tradition, a city spokesman said.

For decades, Israel has distributed the trees free of charge, particularly to the expatriot community of Christian leaders, journalists, diplomats and others. One observer quipped that the Jewish State is probably the only country in the world that gives away free Christmas trees to Christians. It is "symbolic of the way Jerusalem unites all three monotheistic religions," said Jerusalem municipality spokesman Gideon Schmerling in a statement. The trees are donated by the Jewish National Fund, which is the country's forestry agency.

"Every year we distribute about 1,200 Christmas trees to religious leaders from different churches, diplomats, U.N. representatives, U.N. peacekeepers and the foreign press," said Paul Ginsberg, head of the forestry department of northern Israel."We also make trees available for sale for the Christian Arab population," Ginsberg told the Cybercast News Service.

Between one thousand and fifteen hundred trees are sold each year."Because we're the only official forestry agency in Israel, we feel responsible to sections of the population to provide them with a service they require," he said.

According to Ginsberg, the most popular variety is the Arizona Cyprus, which looks the closest to a "normal Christmas tree," has a fairly dense number of branches and a greenish-gray color. Most trees are four to six feet tall, although special-order trees are larger. They are harvested as part of the regular process of thinning out the forests."We do our best not only to plant trees for future need [but also to make sure they are] the right size," he added.


So here's some free advice to the JNF. Plant plenty of forests of palm trees. Every year before Sukkot set up distribution centres all over the country. This will put an immediate stop to random vandalism and destruction.

To use their own words: "Every year we distribute about 1,200 Christmas trees ...," said Paul Ginsberg, "...Because we're the only official forestry agency in Israel, we feel responsible to sections of the population to provide them with a service they require..."

This will also show that JNF has "Jewish" interests at heart and deserves the support worldwide Jewry.


Footnote: AJN article about problems in the JNF Sydney office:

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Alex Fein responds

A Very Dirty Business: AJN Watch Gets Personal
Posted by sensiblejew on September 25, 2009

AJN Watch is a nasty little site, run by people who have some serious issues with the Jewish News, homosexuals, and now me, among others. What makes their latest post so special is that they feel they have stumbled upon some extremely hot, breaking news.
What these people do not realise is that their, “latest scoop” is already known to everyone who has a passing acquaintance with me. They allude to various dark secrets in my past, using suspiciously similar language to the Sensible Jew’s troll (who has now taken to writing gay bashing emails of late – he is clearly unwell).

As AJN Watch is written by one or more anonymous cowards, they don’t make any concrete revelations because they clearly fear legal retribution and, I suppose, exposure.
If their identities were exposed, it would be interesting to see what various legal remedies any number of people in the community might seek.

As for those of you who don’t already know the deep, dark secret they want to reveal about me, it’s very simple:
My ex-husband and his family come from a repressive Middle Eastern country.
Though nominally Muslim, they are utterly secular and repudiate any show of religiosity. Their views on any political topic would be very welcome at pretty much any Shabbat dinner table. Indeed they graced our table at numerous Shabbatot and chagim and some of my warmest memories involve their joining in the singing at family Seders.
All these people – both family and friends – are our well-wishers. They are people with identical sentiments regarding liberal democracy, and would surprise the uninitiated with their admiration of Jews and Israel. One of them asked me how he could make his family more, “Jewish.” It took a while for me to work out what he meant. His view was that there was nothing stronger than the bonds of a Jewish family, that education was highly valued, and that community was also very important.

For a number of political reasons, my ex-family and my circle of friends really didn’t need to be publicly associated with a Zionist blogger. That is why I began this site anonymously. When I came out, it was under the naive assumption that Jews in our community would not actually want to drag the names of some of the only friends they have in the Middle East through the mud, and potentially compromise their well-being.

AJN Watch believes that if more Jews knew about my ex-husband, they would be revolted enough to abandon this site in droves.

From comments, emails, Facebook activity, and the people I actually know in person, I know that most Jews are better than that. Most Jews are smart enough not to be repelled by someone’s ethnicity or religion. Most Jews are smart enough to know that when you have few friends in a region, you don’t make their lives as unpleasant as possible all in the name of running a cowardly vendetta.

So, AJN Watch, please know, if you continue in this grubby campaign, there are increasing numbers of us who might enjoy the opportunity to expose you and your sources, to gather some legal advice, and to see which government departments would take an interest in such a malicious and vindictive hate site.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Who is Alex Fein?

Thank you to all who sent us some personal background material re Alex Fein. Very interesting stuff indeed which we would be more than happy to publish. But at the moment these would only be classified as 'allegations' - and we prefer to do the responsible thing and await appropriate verification.

On the other hand, maybe Fein, who seems to be following this blog, is prepared to do the right thing - by her readers and the Jewish community in general - and reveal all voluntarily. No doubt she comprehends what we are alluding to. If not, here is a hint given by Fein herself to a journalist from the Sunday Age:

The Return of the Sensible Jew
TOM HYLAND - August 23, 2009

The blogger, Alex Fein, says she has been surprised by the level of intolerance to debate within the Jewish community. .....The Sensible Jew is a blog set up in May to stimulate debate among Melbourne Jews about what its author perceives to be failings of Jewish community leaders. Until recently, it, too, has been anonymous..... and she's outed herself: she is Alex Fein, 34, ....

She says her initial decision to remain anonymous and then to temporarily close the blog are linked to serious and sensitive family issues....Ms Fein says her own decision to initially remain anonymous, and then to temporarily silence the Sensible Jew, had nothing to do with fear of intimidation - at least not in Australia, and not within the Jewish community. Instead, a family member was concerned that the safety of relatives living overseas could be jeopardised if Ms Fein was publicly identified with a blog related to Jewish issues. Ms Fein won't go into details of what she says are sensitive family issues, but the relatives are non-Jews, living in the Muslim Middle East. If her blog was ever a danger to them - something Ms Fein doubts - the danger has now passed....

I am sure all of us who have seen Fein's writings and statements would welcome further details about those "relatives..non-Jews, living in the Muslim Middle East". And if and how such relatives impact upon her views regarding matters pertaining to Jews and Israel.

A pertinent comment by Sensible Shikse":

"...Neither of those things would normally be relevant to an argument, and pointing them out might be derided as a "personal attack". However, Fein's ongoing demands for "transparency" does ring a little empty when she comments on certain issues and doesn't disclose her own background to them. As they are such an obvious trump card apropos her credibility, I suspect they are the reason she originally cowered behind a pseudonym until it was impossible to do so..."

Over to you, Alex Fein.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

"AJN shmutz-dredging"

Kudos to Ms Goodvach for her condemnation of the AJN and its disgusting reporting style – especially regarding orthodox rabbis.
Dredging up shmutz seems to be the AJN’s speciality and unfortuantely we here at AJN Watch expect nothing better from them.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Celebrating the birthday of Rabbi Shem Tov !

J-Wire September 23, 2009

Yeshiva celebrates birthday of Rabbi Shem Tov

Fortunately J-Wire didn't write that his first name was "Baal"...

(We look forward to their report on 7 Adar regarding the yahrzeit of Rabbi Rabeinu.)

Friday, September 18, 2009

Comment on change of editors at the AJN

By Les Rosenblatt on the Galus Australis site:

Les Rosenblatt says:
September 16, 2009 at 2:40 pm
I expect australia’s small Jewish community mainly based in melbourne and Sydney will continue to look to the AJN for its social reflection in all the photos of well-groomed would-be noticeables at various fund-raisers, openings, etc.
It will also read with more or less interest the odd bit of coverage of scandal in the courts, stresses in the jewish education system, the latest on Jewish births, deaths, marriages, and Australian/Jewish political system/personages interaction.
In other words, standard ethnic community newspaper fare – tabloidish, parochial commercial, social, cultural and sporting material.
Where the AJN has been remarkably disappointing is in its hard-faced denialism of complexities of Jewish identity, religious belief, and political diversity amongst Australian Jews with particular reference to the contradictions and complexities of Jewish nationalism in relation to global and middle-east (including Israeli-Palestine conflict) issue engagement.
It was sadly evident that the sportingly fair-minded (to the extent that a former sports editor turned AJN editor could continue to be so) Ashley Browne would run up against the Jerusalem Post-loving owner of the AJN who would be happy to see the Likud/Irgun/Labour militarist orthodoxy of Israel embraced as the pre-eminent beacon of security for Jews nervous about their place in the world.
Absolutely no need to even admit to any alternative possibilities. Simply give AIJAC its weekly column, extract large slabs of copy from the Jerusalem Post, publish press releases from the Israeli embassy,and showcase Michael Danby as local hero. The rest is spam or real estate.
Ashley did allow a variety of opinions in his letters columns and did at least try to be reasonably inclusive of the not too controversially border-line article. But it was not going to wash with the owner and his command of his property.
I predict the new editor will last perhaps 18 months and be a bit like the Jonathan Shier effect in the ABC during the Howard years – a dull flash in the same tarnished pan.

Les Rosenblatt.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Was PM conned?

One has to wonder about the ABC. Was last Wednesday REALLY such a quiet news day that the best PM crew could come up with was to slake the attention-craving thirst of a pair of nonentities - serial kvetchers Fein and Barnett?

Were we the only ones shocked seeing how F&B were ‘featured’ on the ABC’s PM Report? Of course, as in their blogs, here too they attacked AJN Watch. (We take it as a compliment - as well as proof that our blog is working.)

But how did the national broadcaster allow itself to be so comprehensively conned by these publicity-hungry nobodies – whose connection to Jews and Judaism is almost zilch? Had the ABC done even minimal research they would have realized that the most Jews know nothing - and care even less - about the bleatings of these two individuals - who live on the far, far fringes of the Jewish community (or even beyond).

F&B's sole agenda is criticizing and attacking everyone and everything that doesn’t fit into the warped hallucination of their ‘Judaism’. Is it PM's role to assist them? Come on ABC, you can do better than that.

Here is a transcript of that PM program with AJN Watch’s comments in bold.

ABC Radio – PM Report

Jewish leaders accused of ignoring homophobia

Alison Caldwell reported this story on Wednesday, September 16, 2009 18:34:00

MARK COLVIN: A rift is developing in Australia's Jewish community over the treatment of homosexuals.

Rift? What rift? Only in the eyes of Michael Barnett and 2 or 3 of his mates. No one else in the Jewish community gives a continental about this non-issue.

MC: A major gay and lesbian support group claims Jewish community leaders are ignoring discrimination and hate language aimed at homosexuals.

“Major gay and lesbian support group”. Major? A group that at best can get a dozen supporters (and not all of them Jewish) to its parades and public gatherings is “major”?

MC: It wants Jewish representative bodies to come up with a clear policy upholding gay rights.

Yeah. Like what?

Alison Caldwell reports.

ALISON CALDWELL: When two young people were shot dead in Tel Aviv last month at a gay and lesbian youth centre, Melbourne-based Michael Barnett wanted nothing more than for the leaders of the Australian Jewish community to take a stand against violence towards homosexuals. But he says his calls for action fell on deaf ears.

Has there EVER been a case of violence in Australia against Jewish gays? Ever? Has any Australian Jew or Jewish group EVER incited violence against gays? Of course not! But that doesn’t deter Barnett from his ongoing ad-nauseum campaign.

MICHAEL BARNETT: The Israeli leadership, the Prime Minister, the President of Israel, they spoke out against intolerance and hatred and said you know, everyone deserves respect.Yet in Melbourne where there is the family of one of the two people killed, there wasn't even a single statement from the community leaders.

A 89-year-old great-aunt of one of the victims lives in Melbourne. Very sad for her. But since when do community leaders make statements for relatives of victims of overseas casualties? There are sadly many murder and manslaughter cases in Israel every year. No doubt some of them also have relatives in Australia. Do you expect John Searle or Danny Lamm to send them all condolences? Is that why they were elected to their offices?
Why should a gay murder victim be any different?.

ALISON CALDWELL: He says the silence from the Jewish leadership was symptomatic of a much deeper problem.

MICHAEL BARNETT: There's a lot of intolerance of gay people in the Jewish people. Calling gay people perverted and disgusting, comparing gay people to people who commit incest or bestiality, there's all this language that gets used from people like some rabbis in the orthodox world who speak out against gay people.

As he tends to, Barnett deliberately forgets to mention that the designations and comparisons are not individual views, but clearly detailed in the Torah. Religiously observant Jews – and indeed members of other faiths who are believe in the bible, will state what is written there – as the words of G-d. That is what G-d thinks of such individuals. Sorry about that. Address your complaint to Him – not the ABC.

ALISON CALDWELL: Michael Barnett is the coordinator of Aleph Melbourne, a support group for homosexual people in the Jewish community. He believes representative groups are afraid to express their support for homosexuals for fear of offending ultra-orthodox groups in the community.

He doesn’t even consider the other possibility, ie, that representative groups don’t wish to waste their time attending to the never-ending demands of a carping whinging micro-group – who don’t know what they want and in any case will never be satisfied.

MICHAEL BARNETT: I want every state and national Jewish peak body in Australia to have a specific, unambiguous policy addressing the persecution of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Jews in regard to homophobic hate and intolerance, irrespective of whether it originates from outside or inside the Jewish community.

And that will cure all ills? Who are you trying to kid?

MB: The policies must be enforced with the same zero tolerance afforded to anti-Semitism and holocaust rhetoric and other hate crimes.

You mean we shall no longer be allowed to state that the Torah considers homosexuality as a perversion? And for the weekly Kriat HaTorah in the Shuls, you will demand that the Baal Koreh omits all verses that the Aleph Society deems offensive? Where is YOUR tolerance for freedom of religion?

And in case you wish to learn exactly what the Torah states about your way of life, you can't do better than attend your closest Orthodox Shul this Yom Kippur and listen to the Torah leining prior to the Mincha service. (For the benefit of the surprisingly large number of non-Jewish followers of our blog - see Leviticus 18:22-30)

ALISON CALDWELL: Much of his anger is levelled at a Jewish blog which recently described homosexuality as "depravity and debasement" and extolled the virtues of reprogramming homosexuals.

The Jewish blog being referred to is indeed AJN Watch. (Thanks for the publicity, it would have been nice had you mentioned our name.).) We wonder if Alison Caldwell checked us out before making the above statement or did she simply believe F&B? We had another look but couldn’t find any reference to ‘reprogramming homosexuals’. We would appreciate if Ms Caldwell can point it out to us. Not that we have anything against such an idea – if it works. Of course only upon request. However a far better idea would be to give publicity-sick homosexuals psychological/psychiatric help to get over their mania of non-stop public blabbering of their proclivities and their incessant provocation of normal people. Maybe a brainy doctor could cure this malady and counsel them on ways to live their personal lives – privately.

AC: In July, a Sydney rabbi wrote to the Australian Jewish News, comparing homosexual intercourse with adultery, bestiality and incest.

Actually he was quoting the Torah. That is what rabbis are expected to do.

JOHN SEARLE: If it's a matter that's guided by religious laws, then those laws will presumably be applied. Now I can't say very much about those because I'm not an expert in those areas.

ALISON CALDWELL: John Searle is the president of the Jewish Community Council in Victoria. It describes itself as the roof body of Victorian Jewry. On its website, it says it shows zero tolerance towards anti-Semitism and racism but it has nothing to say about supporting or protecting gay or lesbian people within the Jewish community.

It also says nothing about supporting Jewish diabetics, asthma sufferers or road accident victims. There are enough organisations – government and voluntary - that help such people. There is no need for duplication. Especially in this case, seeing that there are so few of them anyway.

JOHN SEARLE: If we need to rewrite a policy that was written some time ago, we can certainly look at that and if it needs to be adjusted in any way, we can adjust that.

ALISON CALDWELL: John Searle says he's against vilification of any sort.

JOHN SEARLE: The JCCV has issued statements condemning vilification of all minority groups, including vilification based on grounds of sexual orientation, sexual preference.

ALISON CALDWELL: He says the council has sought advice from numerous sources on how to be more inclusive and will invite gay and lesbian support groups to events in the future.

Michael Barnett says it's not enough.

MICHAEL BARNETT: Lip service, motherhood statements, platitudes, rhetoric, anything but "yes, we're going to do this and take it seriously".

JOHN SEARLE: I reject the allegation or assertion that inviting people to participate in community events is simply lip service.

ALEX FEIN: My blog is called The Sensible Jew.

(Some may say that it’s not very sensible and definitely not very Jewish…)

ALISON CALDWELL: Jewish blogger Alex Fein has written about the issue in recent weeks. She says the vast majority of Jews support homosexuals and describes those who don't as minority extremists. But she says groups like the Jewish Community Council of Victoria need to be more proactive.

ALEX FEIN: It's not enough to say that homophobia is problematic. I think all people of good faith would like to see concrete action.

“Concrete action”? Like banning Torah quotes?

MARK COLVIN: Alex Fein the author of the blog known as the, ending Alison Caldwell's report.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Sensible Jew blog unhappy with AJN Watch

Sensible Jew or Superkvetcher Jew blog ?

From Sensible Jew blog

Strange Connections: Communal Diversity Under Threat?

This is not a story for a single post.
It’s a story about trying to work out exactly what is going on in some of our communal organisations. It’s a story about how sectional interests can so easily override mainstream Jewish opinion. It’s a story about intimidation.
I recently wrote to Deborah Stone at the Anti Defamation Commission to ask her what her organisation was doing to combat vilification of gays and lesbians in the community.
There are some very
unpleasant sentiments coming out of a minority sector within Jewish Australia that indicate a problem, and I was curious about whether the ADC had any plans to tackle the issue. After all, on their website, their mission statement says that, “[they]seek to secure justice and fair treatment for all people.”
It would be pure waste of time debating this supremely arrogant know-all, who represents about as many members of our community as does Antony Loewenstein. Full of herself and regarded by most as a serial kvetcher about almost everything in the community, the last thing she is interested in is a differing POV.

However, we welcome unbiased and reasonable readers to check out our observations and see for themselves if we are guilty of 'vilification' or actually made some fair and rational comment.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Fred Morgan buries "sacred texts containing G-d’s name and words of the Torah"

Guest Post – submitted by a member of the Melbourne Rabbinate

Thank you to those behind the AJN Watch blog. You are providing an admirable service for the Australian Torah-observing community and we all owe you a vote of thanks.
There has long been a need felt for a public platform where the Torah's point of view - especially when it may be ‘non-politically-correct’ - may be aired. In addition to keeping watch on the AJN, your blog seems to also fulfil this necessity. The is a most welcome development. And I am convinced that the AJN has toned down its anti-frum rhetoric by a number of degrees since your arrival. There is still a long way to go, but every little bit helps.

However, al achshav baati, ie, an item in the recent issue of the Jewish News reporting on reform rabbi Fred Morgan’s recent officiating at the “burial of books and sacred texts containing G-d’s name and words of the Torah”.
(Actually, this AJN item could serve as an apt launching pad for a sermon on the topic of Reform Judaism’s theology and clergy - who have, tragically, long ago buried the Torah and sacred texts containing G-d’s name. But that is not the object of this present post.)
Before snapping pictures at this social/burial gathering out in the boondocks, someone should have reminded Morgan that:
1) Burial of sacred items is done in cemeteries – not in someone’s back yard.
2) From the look of the items pictured, it seems that they were in pretty good condition and as such may not be buried, and
3) When burying decrepit and torn volumes of holy sefarim, they must be enclosed in long-lasting containers that will ensure that the contents do not quickly deteriorate – ‘lemaan yaamdu yamim rabim’.

I realise that quoting Torah or Halacha to a reform rabbi is a complete waste of time – after all there are very few dictates of the Torah that they observe, still I find it my rabbinical duty and responsible to do so. Why? To warn any unsuspecting and unknowing Jew who may at some time consider emulating Morgan’s method of disposing ‘books and sacred texts’. Remember; discuss this with your Rav.

On the other hand, a colleague with whom I conferred regarding this post, pointed out that if the books buried in that backyard ceremony were items published by the reform movement, they would no doubt qualify to be categorised as sifrei minim. Thus the burial would have been appropriate. He is of course 100% correct and if that was the case, then for once a reform rabbi was acting according to the Halacha.
Meanwhile, whilst doing some research on the local reform movement I cam upon this item:


Selichot presents an opportunity for reflection and preparation as we enter the High Holy Days period. This year, we will commence Selichot with a film screening ‘Tackling Peace', narrated by Hugo Weaving, is the inspirational story of Israeli and Palestinian youths who unite over the game of Australian football. The film features legendary footballers Kevin Sheehan, Ron Barassi and Robert ‘Dipper' DiPierdomenico.

Nu, if Selichot won’t attract them, a movie surely will…

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Editor of London Jewish 'throwaway' confirmed as new AJN chief

As we reported on Tuesday, Zeddy Lawrence of London will be taking over the AJN following the dismissal of editor Ashley Browne.
"It can't get worse", seems to be the general commentary in a quick Vox Pop that we conducted on the appointment. (The AJN is welcome to quote.) We sure hope so.
Of course, we'll continue to keep an eye on developments.

Meanwhile we did some research on Lawrence's current newspaper the 'London Jewish News' and we see that it is a free weekly "throwaway" - a la the Leader newspapers here - albeit aiming at the Jewish community. The ENTIRE newspaper (page-by-page) is also available for view on the net. See .

Maybe the new editor will convince AJN's publisher to go down that past. Giving the paper away would do wonders for the lousy circulation figures. And of course nobody would ever again complain that they overpaid for it...
After all, the PRW, one of the better sections of the Jewish News is already being distributed free of charge - so why not go the whole way?

Kamien's [3-year-old] scoop...

Looks like Adam Kamien was running short of his typical showbiz crud this week - managing only 2 smutty pictures.

So how does he fill the slack? The lazy man's way, of course. Sloppy trawling of the internet followed by some slipshod cut-and-pasting.
But, really. Did it have to be that stale and ancient chestnut that’s been forwarded to and fro for years by millions of emailers? (A google search for "Pay Every Penny Save Israel" results in almost 60,000 hits - going back a long, long time!)

To save Kamien further time and effort (after all, he must be SO busy), here's a piece to help fill next week's column:

Pepsi and Coca Cola Contains PORK (PIG) extracts - PROVEN!!
Educate ur muslims friends on this issue

Shocking / Bad News : Pepsi and Coca Cola contains extract from Pork (Pig)

Most of the people avoid Pepsi and Coca-Cola for various reasons:-
Because of harmful chemical contents such as excessive carbonates, etc.
Because it is a Jewish product and they are supporting and funding Israel's terrorist activities.
Now there is yet another reason which is more dangerous i.e. "Haraam" contents in these drinks.
The following news article has been published in Al-Riyadh Newspaper on 20th August 2006. This is the translation of the news article. Please see the attached news in Arabic.

The scientific and medical research says that drinking Pepsi & Cola leads to cancer because the key element is taken from Pigs sausage. The heavenly books Quran, Bible and Torah forbids eating Pork, as it is the only animal that eats dirt, dung and urine, which makes lethal and deadly fabric polluted germs and microbes.

According to a report published in Jordanian magazine, the head of Delhi University's Science and Technology Center , Dr. Mangoshada scientifically proved that the key element in Pepsi and Cola contains extract from the intestines of Pig which causes cancer and other deadly diseases.

The Indian university conducted tests on the impact of drinking Pepsi and Coca Cola which proved that drinking them lead to more rapid heart rate and low pressure. Also drinking 6 bottles of Pepsi or Cola at a time causes instant death. It also contains chemicals such as carbonic and phosphoric acids, citric acid which harms teeth and causes bone fragility. Bones kept in the Cup of Pepsi melts during the week knowing that the bones of the dead remain in the grave for thirty years. Research itself confirmed that the calcium dissolved in Pepsi and it weakens the bladder, kidneys, kills the pancreatic, leads to diabetes and infectious diseases.

Pepsi or Coca-Cola lovers nothing to worry as it is not the only drinks available on this earth, as we have other healthy alternatives such as natural fruit juices, canned coconut water, flavored milks, buttermilk etc., all of them are conveniently available even in the small stores.

This is not a surprise since the Coca-Cola, Pepsi producers are Israelis. i.e Zionists(jews), who would simply do anything on their part to destroy the peace loving muslims like they did to the lebonese civilians...

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

J-Wire tips new AJN editor

From J-Wire:
Zeddy Lawrence tipped to be new AJN editor
by Henry Benjamin

Informed sources have told J-Wire that Zeddy Lawrence, editor of the London Jewish News, is tipped to take over the role at the helm of the Australian Jewish News.The sources have said that he is a witty, polished newspaperman who can only benefit the Australian Jewish media flagship.

Zeddy Lawrence

According to British Jewish website,, Lawrence is a former TV comedy scriptwriter and radio presenter and is now the editor of the Jewish News [London].
Sources who know him well have told J-Wire that he will be a welcome addition to the Australian Jewish community and that he is expected to be based in Melbourne. To read an example of his writing skills click here . The page contains links to many articles written by Lawrence.
As yet, Lawrence’s new position at the AJN remains unconfirmed. Zeddy Lawrence is the brother of Sydney’s Great Synagogue’s Rabbi Jeremy Lawrence

Friday, September 4, 2009

A new low for Kamien's Shmooze column

Not enough for Adam Kamien that he dedicates his weekly page-2 Shmooze column to the grubby and sordid alcoholic and drug-induced adventures of showbiz drekerati. Nor his recent despicable piece poking fun at the painful plight of an injured young boy, this week he adds smut to his page by depicting some chazerei ‘artwork’ of an Israeli unknown.

Which other family-orientated journal would permit the publication of this soft-porn? None that we can think of. Only the AJN, which claims to represent the entire community, has no values or standards at all. Keep this up and you’ll soon have no readers at all.

To quote recently sacked-editor Ashley Browne : “The readership at the Jewish news is quite elderly. One of the things I tried to do, with some success I think, is take it younger…we did a redesign to freshen it up and make it more visually appealing. It’s very hard, because you’ve got people in their mid-40s who won’t buy the paper because they flick through it at shabbos dinner at their parents’ place. The challenge is to make people buy it. “

People – young and old – are not going to buy a newspaper that offends their morals. Childish and odious writing will not persuade the average Jewish family to spend $3.50 for the paper.
On the other hand the growing band of Hamodia readers have no problem to spend $6 every week to get their dose of news and features.

Maybe now that publisher Robert Magid has started a clean-out by letting go of editor Browne, he should continue the process by ridding himself of the embarrassing Kamien .
(He's the one who arrogantly greeted our blog by warning that he will be ‘watching the watchers’. Strangely we never heard from him again…)

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

A keen Hamodia reader in New York

Maybe if the AJN also had such dedicated and ardent readers, it's circulation figures would improve and not require lame excuses.