Audio and transcript of interview with ADC chairman Anton Block

July 4, 2011

Further to last week’s announcement, the audio and transcript of the interview with Anton Block are now available online.

TRANSCRIPT: Transcript of interview with ADC chairman Anton Block on Gay & Lesbian radio JOY 94.9

AUDIO: ADC chairman Anton Block talks on Gay & Lesbian radio JOY 94.9


Anti-Defamation Commission to deal with GLBT Issues

June 23, 2011

[SOURCE]

Last week I told you to stay tuned for some big news in the Jewish community.  Today I am revealing that news.

Up until April 2011 the Anti-Defamation Commission (ADC) had refused to speak out in any way on homophobic incidents in the Victorian Jewish community.  You can read my blogs on the topic here.

In a welcome move, the ADC board has unanimously, but without fanfare, passed a motion that has added “GLBT issues” to their purview:

A motion was unanimously passed at the April 13 ADC board meeting to include GLBT issues as part of the organisation’s overall agenda to stand up for human rights.

ADC chair Anton Block told the Star Observer the motion passed was more a “recognition” than a formal resolution.

“It wasn’t so much a resolution saying we’re now going to deal with GLBT issues,” Block said.

“It was a recognition that our mission extends to those issues, but primarily our purpose is to combat antisemitism and racism.

“Dealing with GLBT discrimination is part of, I suppose, our purpose of promoting human rights, speaking out against homophobia or vilification of members of the GLBT community.”

This is a significant move forward in acknowledging that there are serious issues that GLBT people face that have up until now been ignored by the Jewish community ‘hierarchy’.  However the language used by ADC Chairman Anton Block conveys more a tone of reticence than enthusiastic willingness.

Whilst this is definitely a step forward, even if it’s a small one, it is going to be of minimal benefit to anyone if the ADC continues to leave this change to their purview unannounced.  It must talk to the community and tell it that it’s going to be available to receive complaints against as yet unspecified forms of attacks against GLBT people in the Jewish community

The ADC must also make it clear the type of complaints it will handle, and those it won’t, and whether they’ll accept complaints about intolerance or hate-speak directed at GLBT people by non-GLBT people from within the Jewish community.  Further, it must also tell the community what it will do with these complaints.  They must action these complaints to no less a degree than complaints they receive about racism and anti-Semitism.

I am cautiously optimistic about this step forward.  Only time will tell if the ADC are serious are about combatting intolerance against GLBT people, or if this is more of the same lip-service that other sections of the Jewish community have artfully given us.

POSTSCRIPT

Anton Block is the Immediate Past President of the Jewish Community of Council of Victoria and is on the JCCV Executive.  During his term as JCCV President, Anton Block took no action to address any injustice against GLBT people in the community, or to break down any marginalisation or invisibility that GLBT faced within the Jewish community.  The current president of the JCCV, John Searle, was previously Chairman of the ADC .


Gay children are expendable in Melbourne’s Jewish community

December 15, 2010

[SOURCE 1] [SOURCE 2]

And the homophobic hate just keeps pouring in from the AJN Watch website.

Of course, silence will reign in the Jewish community because there’s no anti-Semitism or anti-Zionism here.  Just some good old-fashioned homophobia, and we know that the leaders of the community don’t consider homophobia to be much of a problem because they won’t speak out against it.

Never mind if you’re a gay person being bashed by a homophobic thug in the street, as happened in Collingwood in October.  But that’s ok, because it wasn’t an anti-Semitic attack and it wasn’t an anti-Israel attack.  It was just a boring gay bashing.  Gay bashing.  Gay bashing.  Gay bashing.  Boring.  Everyday.  Gay.  Bashing.

When will the leaders speak out against this hatred?  Why are they so silent on the matter?  Perhaps gay children are expendable.

Their parents must be SO proud!

Sending kids to a Jewish youth group used to mean that you hoped they would spend their time there being imbued with Jewish and mentchlich values and ideals.

Habonim, it seems, has decided to go in the opposite direction.

We wonder how happy the parents are about this.

(Also it’s quite obvious that the AJN can’t find anything else newsworthy to report about this group.)

Labels:

7 comments:

Anonymous said…
How shameful of Habo management to allow this. And the AJN is continuing is promotion of gays and their issues
Tuesday, December 14, 2010 10:46:00 PM
Anonymous said…
I feel neither way about this issue…
Wednesday, December 15, 2010 9:49:00 PM
Adam Braitberg said…
To all those reading this thread, My Name is Adam Braitberg, and all though you may not be able to see it, that boy in the photo with the Habo Chultzah (shirt) is me.
I have spent my life in the Melbourne Jewish Community, Been a chanich and now a Madrich (leader) at Habonim Dror, i have been involved in Jewish education since i was a child as well as constant hours volunteering for many for the Jewish charities in our community and Israel.
And Guess What I am also Gay, Habonim Dror is a youth movement that is there for all chanichim (kids) regardless of sexual orientation, by attending a same-sex rally, we show that we support all people, regardless of difference. We educate our chanichim (kids) about respecting all individuals, a value that Judaism holds very highly, we also encourage them to see where there is something wrong in the world, and to actively make a change. And the lack of tolerance much of the world shows to same sex individuals is something that needs to change.
There are many people around the world not given the same rights as us. It’s not just youth movements that should be trying to make a difference, it is us as a Jewish Nation that should be upholding our values as people, and trying to make that change.
Wednesday, December 15, 2010 10:07:00 PM
Tyger-Lee Baise said…
I am featured in this photo and I am proud to say that my parents are extremely proud of me.Sending your child to a Jewish Youth Movement is not only about instilling Jewish values and ideals but educating youth on issues facing many people. This rally was an opportunity for us to show our support for the values of equality, civil rights and respect for all human beings. 

So yes my parents are proud of me and I am so proud to be a part of a youth movement that stands up for all people being intrinsically valuable and unique and is accepting of ALL human beings.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010 11:02:00 PM
Shilloby Weezel said…
Tyger that’s really great for your parents. Now what about joining in a march with Muslims demanding teh right to polygamy? That too comes under civil rights and respect of humans who are also intrinsically valuable and unique
Wednesday, December 15, 2010 11:13:00 PM
Bill K said…
Adam, you have all my sympathy for your sad predicament . But really, why the need to advertise your sexual proclivities?
Do what you like, but don’t bore the world with your activities.Habo has always been for ‘normals’ and not an outlet for problematics with sexual issues. 

So I can’t see any reason why they now go marching with the perverts and abnormals of the Sex party.

That was NOT the way it was when I was in Habo some years ago.

Or should you change the name from Habo to Homo?

Wednesday, December 15, 2010 11:18:00 PM
Anonymous said…
Well stated Shilloby. Why not go a step further? What if someone wishes to marry his dog, cat or even chimpanzee (remember that homo-pedophile Michael Jackson?)?Will Tyger and Adam and the Habonim crew be marching for that too? 

I wouldn’t be surprised if the answer was “yes”.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010 11:21:00 PM

Anton Block silent on his one-time support for gay Jews

December 2, 2010

[SOURCE (refer agenda item 10.1)]

Almost twelve years ago, in 1999, Anton Block seconded the motion for the gay Jewish social and support group Aleph Melbourne to become an affiliate member of the Jewish Community Council of Victoria (JCCV).

Motion for affiliate membership status of Aleph Melbourne

Motion for affiliate membership status of Aleph Melbourne

As history dictated in May 1999, this motion, put a second time after the first was deemed void due to a technicality at the March plenum meeting, failed to pass and the application by Aleph Melbourne was rejected by the JCCV.  No further application for membership by Aleph Melbourne has been made since and, particularly during the term that Block was president, no invitation to reapply for membership was extended by the JCCV.

Having since served a three-year term as President of the JCCV (2006-08), and now appointed to the position of Chairman of the JCCV’s Anti-Defamation Commission, there has been nothing but silence from Block on his one-time support for gay Jews.

But why did Block go silent on this matter?  Is he fearful that if he openly supports visibility and inclusion of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (GLBT) people in the Jewish community he might face a backlash from the Orthodox sector of the Jewish community?  He will only stand to gain support and adulation from the large Progressive, Conservative, secular and other sectors of the community that express their unconditional support for GLBT Jews.

I understand that Block is on the mysterious “GLBT Reference Group” that the JCCV formed in December 2009.  However his inclusion in this group has not been made public, as the JCCV has refused to disclose its membership.  If Block is on this reference group, as I believe he is, then he must speak up about it, and he must speak up as to why he sits on it.  I hope it’s for a more altruistic reason than kudos.

I put it to Block that maintaining this silence is harming the entire community, along with his credibility.  The alarming rate of suicide amongst same-sex attracted youth does not bypass Jews.  It is imperative that Block takes an active and vocal stance on fighting all intolerance of and working toward unconditional acceptance, visibility and inclusion of GLBT people in the Jewish community.  Only then will he show he is capable of being a genuine leader in his community.


Anti-Defamation Commission – an organisation in conflict with itself

November 23, 2010

In October I wrote to the Anti-Defamation Commission in relation to the issues I addressed in my previous blog, calling for them to take action.

I received this initial response to my message:

From: ADC Reception <Reception@antidef.org.au>
Date: 14 October 2010 10:48
Subject: RE: Call for Anti-Defamation Commission to echo ADL’s Denouncement of Carl Paladino’s Comments Denigrating Homosexuality
To: Michael Barnett <mikeybear69@gmail.com>

Dear Michael,

Thank you for bringing this matter to our attention.  We are taking this matter seriously; the ADC Board will consider it at its next meeting on Wednesday 20th October.    We will let you know the outcome of our discussion shortly after.

Kind Regards
Alain Grossbard
Acting Chairman ADC

I followed up with the ADC after their board meeting and received the following response:

From: ADC Reception <Reception@antidef.org.au>
Date: 25 October 2010 09:55
Subject: RE: Call for Anti-Defamation Commission to echo ADL’s Denouncement of Carl Paladino’s Comments Denigrating Homosexuality
To: Michael Barnett <mikeybear69@gmail.com>

Dear Michael,

The Board has declined to comment.

Curiously, the matter goes from genuine concern to silence.  But really, this shouldn’t come as a surprise, because we know the ADC won’t comment on anti-gay hate in the Jewish community.

With the immediate past JCCV President Anton Block being appointed to chair of the ADC, I don’t expect this situation to change.  The ADC’s parent organisation is the JCCV (not B’nai B’rith as the Jewish News continues to misinform all).  The ADC tows the JCCV’s “let’s not upset the Orthodox” stance and remains muzzled by them.

Deborah Stone, Research Director at the ADC says on Galus Australis:

But I’m quite clear on my Jewish identity and my rights as a Jew to be free from hate speech. I’m also clear on my responsibility, as a Jew and as a human being, to advocate for respectful pluralism in Australia. So when an opportunity to use my media and research background came up at the Anti-Defamation Commission, it seemed a good fit.

Of course, but don’t let a little hate toward gay people get in the way of you doing your job.  We all know anti-gay hate isn’t nearly as harmful as anti-Jew hate.  Jewish Gays can cop it, can’t we?  We don’t really matter all that much.  A little suicide or self-mutilation here and there won’t matter to the families of the young kids who feel they can’t cope with the anti-gay hate that the ADC won’t address.  But god help those who throw anti-Jew shit at Jews.  Lord knows the ADC and it’s overlords at the JCCV will turn heaven and earth to seek adequate redress.

The ADC needs to take a good look at itself.  The JCCV needs to take a good look at itself.  The Jewish community needs to ask itself if they want to be represented by these self-serving, gutless organisations that elect egotistical leaders in acts of nepotic arrogance.

They don’t give a fuck about the welfare of your kids.  Only their egos and political careers.


Anti-Defamation Commission Must Speak Out

October 14, 2010

[SOURCE]

As per the media release below, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) has spoken out about the hate and bigotry perpetrated by Carl Paladino (who acted it in conjunction with Ultra Orthodox Jewish leaders in New York), against gay men and women.

I call on the Anti-Defamation Commission (ADC) in Victoria to speak out and support the Anti-Defamation League in their criticism of Carl Paladino and anyone else who sends a similar message of hate and intolerance, especially in our community.

Paladino’s attack on gay men and women in New York is an attack on all gay men and women, including those here in Victoria, Australia.

The ADC claims it has no authority to speak out on homophobic hate when it is targeted at Jews.  I genuinely believe this is an act of cowardice.  If the organisation was genuine in its care about Jews in Victoria, especially gay and lesbian Jews, it would take a stand.  If it remains silent on this issue it will confirm to all that it is does not take the issue of hate and discrimination seriously.

I quote from the ADC Mission Statement:

The ADC supports the following objectives stated in the preamble to the United Nations Charter:

  • “to reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person, in the equal rights of men and women and of nations large and small, and
  • to establish conditions under which justice and respect for the obligations arising from treaties and other sources of international law can be maintained, and
  • to promote social progress and better standards of life in larger freedom, …”

The ADC aims to serve the Jewish and wider Australian community by reducing antisemitism, and combating racism and religious and ethnic prejudice.  We seek to secure justice and fair treatment for all people.

This is matter of human rights.  The ADC must speak out immediately.  As an arm of the Jewish Community Council of Victoria, the ADC must act in the best interests of all members of the Jewish community.

ADL Denounces Carl Paladino’s Comments Denigrating Homosexuality

New York, NY, October 12, 2010 … The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) today criticized Carl Paladino for a series of anti-gay remarks, including his assertion that children should not be “brainwashed into thinking that homosexuality is an equally valid or successful option.”

Ron Meier, ADL New York Regional Director, issued the following statement:

We are appalled by Carl Paladino’s comments denigrating homosexuality and suggesting that a homosexual lifestyle is not “valid.”  His statements are an affront to all New Yorkers, and are particularly disturbing in light of several recent hate crimes targeting the LGBT community in the New York Metropolitan Area.

We have repeatedly urged all candidates to refrain from appeals to prejudice and bigotry.  Such appeals are offensive, counterproductive and contrary to our nation’s democratic values.

Earlier this year, ADL urged our national leaders – and candidates – to commit themselves to restoring civility to our public discourse.  We renew that call today.  A truly effective candidate is one who engages in thoughtful and reasoned debate and rejects divisive and hateful rhetoric.  That is an essential ingredient of leadership.

A 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, ADL neither supports nor opposes candidates for political office.

The Anti-Defamation League, founded in 1913, is the world’s leading organization fighting anti-Semitism through programs and services that counteract hatred, prejudice and bigotry.


Jewish News – Letter to the Editor – Internet Hate

May 3, 2010

From: Michael Barnett <mikeybear69@gmail.com>
Date: 3 May 2010 02:11
Subject: Letter to the Editor / Your Voice: On Internet Hate
To: AJN Letters to the Editor <letters@jewishnews.net.au>
Cc: yourvoice@jewishnews.net.au

I refer to the cover story on Internet Hate in last week’s edition.  The Jewish Community Council of Victoria (JCCV) oversees the B’nai B’rith Anti-Defamation Commission (BB ADC).  It also auspices a reference group “to address issues of vilification and discrimination against gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (GLBT) Jews as well as mental health issues occasioned by exclusion”.

In August 2009 I brought to the attention of the BB ADC the situation where a Jewish blog site in Melbourne was publishing hate material targetting gay Jews in Melbourne and Israel.  Deborah Stone of the BB ADC responded by saying “Unfortunately my board is not prepared for our organisation to engage with discrimination issues beyond our specific remit of antisemitism and racism”.

I put it to the JCCV now that if they, and in fact the entire Jewish community, are serious about Internet based hate material then a zero-tolerance for all forms of hate targetting people in the Jewish community must be established.  It is unacceptable to selectively fight some types of hate and turn a blind eye to others.

It is also incongruous of the JCCV to claim to be addressing discrimination against GLBT Jews at the same time as not speaking out against the hate material targetting GLBT Jews.

The Jewish community must speak out against homophobic hate from within it’s own walls and not be the perpetrator of hate if it wants the wider society to help when it claims to be the victim of anti-semitic hate.

Michael Barnett.
Ashwood
0417 595 541


Victorian Jewish community and Internet hate: the victim becomes the perpetrator

April 29, 2010

The cover of the April 29 2010 edition of the Australian Jewish News (Melbourne) features a story on the spread of anti-Semitic hate on the Internet.  This leads into the main story on page 3, another story by the Washington Post on page 20, an editorial on page 22 and finally a pictorial comment by cartoonist Kron on page 23.  That makes 5 pages of coverage on the topic.  One would think the paper has taken the topic of Internet hate fairly seriously.  But has it?

Wind back to August 7 2009 when the AJN Watch blog posted a choice piece entitled “Australian Jewish News, Australian Goyish News or Australian Gayish News?”  You can read it here.

For the unenlightened, AJN Watch describes itself:

About Me

AJN WATCH
Melbourne, Australia

AJN WATCH observes & comments (mainly) on prejudice, misrepresentation and monopolistic abuse of power in the pages of the Australian Jewish News – especially regarding the observant community. The AJN is the main source of information to and about Australian Jewry and aims to set the agenda and influence attitudes. It is this blog’s mission to spotlight errors, expose misrepresentations and vigorously respond to items that malign or defame the Orthodox community. AJN WATCH also posts and comments on a variety of topics of interest to its readership. We invite Guest Posts as well as topic suggestions.

It’s clear from reading this that the blog is based in Melbourne, it represents a segment of the Jewish community and it’s on the Internet.

In this particular AJN Watch blog on August 7, 2009 you can find the following comments:

there are no less than 9 items(!) about the AJN’s current sweethearts – the homosexuals (or to use the full label – “Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transvestites”).

…a couple of repeat letters from the usual Torah-hating, gay-loving, single-issue-obsessed letter-writers (see top right) and of course a Kron cartoon.

Just like Browne and Bersten, we too have no idea who the TA gays killer is. But there is as much a chance – in fact far greater – that it was another homosexual (jealous lover’s tiff, maybe) as it being the work of an ‘ultra-orthodox’.

The last thing their readers are interested in is what is happening in Tel Aviv snakepits of dreck and perversion.

Your comment that “Israel is one of the more gay-friendly countries in the world and you don’t have to spend too much time in the more vibrant sections of Tel Aviv to become aware of a strong and tolerant gay culture” indeed nauseates, depresses and disgusts not only Hamodia readers, but all decent, civilized and moral people – of all religious beliefs. Your pride and delight that Israel has become a world-leader in depravity and debasement says much about you and your publication.

The last two paragraphs quoted above are especially offensive and adequately qualify as hate language.

I raised this issue at length with both the Jewish Community Council of Victoria (JCCV) and the B’nai B’rith Anti-Defamation Commission (BB ADC) at the time.  In doing so I found out that the BB ADC is in fact an arm of the JCCV.  Further, it has since been clarified to me by B’nai B’rith Australia that the BB ADC no longer has an official connection to B’nai B’rith Australia and that the only connection is a legacy use of the name.

I phoned John Searle, President of the JCCV, and arranged to meet with him to discuss a number of issues including the August 1 2009 Tel Aviv massacre and the subsequent hate language in the August 7 2009 AJN Watch blog.  John Searle suggested we meet at his house and so I went and visited him on the evening of Wednesday August 19 2009.  At the meeting I handed John Searle a copy of this letter.

I expressed my concern to John Searle about the hate language used in the AJN Watch blog and that it was necessary for the JCCV to speak out against this vile hate and intolerance.  As the JCCV had a history of speaking out against terrible acts perpetrated within the Jewish community, such as when it commented on the sexual abuse case at a Jewish school, it was my firm belief that the JCCV must also speak out against this terrible situation unfolding within the Jewish community.

The single response from John Searle to my request of the JCCV was “Ignore it and it will go away.  Don’t give it oxygen”.  I was stunned at this callous and insensitive response.  They don’t ignore anti-semitic hate.  They don’t ignore sexual abuse.  Yet they want to ignore homophobic hate.

After this meeting I contacted the B’nai B’rith Anti-Defamation Commission.  I felt they would be able to help, as their web site states:

B’nai B’rith Anti-Defamation Commission Inc. (ADC) is the human rights arm of B’nai B’rith Australia/New Zealand. The ADC is dedicated to the elimination of antisemitism; to combating racism, intolerance and prejudice; and to seeking to secure justice and fair treatment for all.

Not aware then that the BB ADC was a part of the JCCV I asked them to respond to the AJN Watch blog.  I explained that it was unacceptable that a member of Melbourne’s Jewish community was able to post hate material about gay Jews on the Internet and get away with it.  The response from the BB ADC staggered me.

From: Deborah Stone <ResearchDirector@antidef.org.au>
Date: 31 August 2009 09:54
Subject: Homophobia in the Jewish community
To: Michael Barnett <michael@aleph.org.au>

Dear Michael,

Thanks for the material regarding your campaign to fight homophobia in the Jewish community. Unfortunately my board is not prepared for our organisation to engage with discrimination issues beyond our specific remit of antisemitism and racism.

Good luck with your work.

Regards
Deborah

Peace 和平 Paco سلام שלום

Deborah Stone
Research Director
B’nai B’rith Anti-Defamation Commission
03 95725770
0414 946489
http://www.antidef.org.au

This response confused me because their web site clearly claimed they were dedicated to combatting intolerance and prejudice.  I sent another email:

From: Michael Barnett <michael@aleph.org.au>
Date: 31 August 2009 12:46
Subject: Re: Homophobia in the Jewish community
To: Deborah Stone <ResearchDirector@antidef.org.au>

Hi Deborah,

This is clearly an attack on Jews by Jews.  If anyone knows how to handle any sort of attack on Jews it would have to be your organisation.

Is your organisation not prepared to stand up against this extreme level of hatred against members of the Jewish community?

Regards,
Michael.

to which I received this final response:

From: Deborah Stone <ResearchDirector@antidef.org.au>
Date: 31 August 2009 12:48
Subject: RE: Homophobia in the Jewish community
To: Michael Barnett <michael@aleph.org.au>

Hi Michael,

The truth is no it isn’t. You have my personal support but the ADC as an organisation is not prepared to get involved.

Kind regards

Deborah

So that was it.  The BB ADC was only prepared to fight certain types of intolerance and prejudice against the Jewish community.  Clearly homophobic attacks on gay Jews were not the right sort of hate and intolerance.

Now this is where it gets interesting.  The JCCV has since formed a reference group to investigate what sort of mental health issues gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (GLBT) people in the Jewish community are facing.  There are proven links between intolerance of homosexuality and alarmingly high rates of mental health issues, self harm and suicide.  The JCCV knows this because they put out a media release claiming so.  The JCCV also controls the BB ADC, an organisation that selectively speaks out against hate.  If the hate is on the Internet and it is targeting Jews then they’ll take an interest.  If the hate is on the Internet and it’s just targeting gay Jews, they don’t want to know.

So here we have it.  The JCCV says it is trying to combat mental health issues in gay Jews on the one hand, and on the other hand it silently stands by and allows people within the Jewish community to spew virulent anti-gay hate in all directions.

The Jewish community needs to sit up and ask a few questions of the JCCV.  For starters, the question needs to be asked why the JCCV (and under it the BB ADC) allows harmful homophobic hate within the Jewish community to go unchallenged, whilst simultaneously it has a zero tolerance policy on anti-semitic hate.

If the Jewish community is to be taken at all seriously when it cries victim about anti-semitic hate on the Internet, it must first deal with being a perpetrator of anti-gay hate on the Internet.  Only then should anyone care.


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