Any claims that JCA funds have been provided for the “Kol Halev” initiative are “entirely false and misrepresentative of the facts”, JCA CEO Alain Hasson told The AJN this week.
The clarification follows an article in The Australian over the weekend, quoting Australian Jewish Association (AJA) president David Adler, which attempted to link JCA’s allocation to Stand Up with the Jewish social justice group’s leadership of the pro-Voice Kol Halev campaign.
JCA president Ian Sandler said on Tuesday, “JCA has not and will not fund any campaign supporting or opposing the Voice.
“JCA does not take political positions on any matter and never will. This impartiality is vital to the work we do,” he said.
“The newspaper article containing these claims is wrong and we are taking steps to address that.”
Funds allocated to Stand Up in NSW are used to run engagement programs for youth including the Step Up B’nei Mitzvah program, the Derech Eretz volunteering program and social justice education in Jewish day schools, he said.
“These programs are focused on Jewish engagement of young people in NSW on issues that matter to them,” he said.
Hasson said the JCA allocations process has “multiple layers of governance and review”.
“We are constantly ensuring our limited communally raised funds are applied towards supporting and enabling our vision of a thriving and inclusive local Jewish community,” he said.
“We are deeply disappointed that others would seek to tarnish the work of JCA by misleading donors and [the] community into believing that communally raised funds have been inappropriately applied.”
Stand Up chair Dean Levitan reiterated that no funds from JCA have been used for any Kol Halev events or the campaign more generally.
“The campaign is funded by individual donors who have decided to give directly to our community campaign and is not considered a part of our regular programming,” he said.
The AJN also understands that Terry Davis, who was quoted in The Australian as a “JCA donor” who said he “would hesitate before donating again”, is an AJA member.
The Kol Halev campaign is being run in partnership with the Jewish Community Council of Victoria and is supported among others by AUJS, B’nai B’rith, the National Council of Jewish Women of Australia and Shalom.
Additionally, The Great Synagogue’s Rabbi Benjamin Elton countered Adler’s assertion that the Voice to Parliament is contrary to the Jewish value that all people are created in the image of God. Adler has argued that “creating race-based divisions as proposed by the Voice so that there is a race-based mechanism to leverage political influence affecting the lives of all, clearly offends this principle”.
Rabbi Elton said this week, “There is nothing in the proposed Voice that offends against the principle that all people are equal and are created in the Divine image. What is being proposed is a mechanism whereby a group that has been marginalised has the facility to make representations to Parliament and Government on matters that affect them.
He continued, “We are lucky in the Jewish community that our representative bodies have the resources and the expertise to make similar representations, which are always given a respectful hearing. That capacity and the way it is exercised in no way offends against the principle of the equality of all people. indeed, in the interests of equality, we should want more people to have that facility.
“There may be good reasons to be in favour or against the proposed Voice, but they do not concern the Jewish believe that all people are equal and created in the image of God.”