JCCV suspends ties with Islamic roof body

The milestone decision to pause ties came after "malicious and outrageous" remarks by the ICV.

New JCCV president Philip Zajac. Photo: Peter Haskin
New JCCV president Philip Zajac. Photo: Peter Haskin

The Jewish Community Council of Victoria (JCCV) has announced it will suspend relations with the Islamic Council of Victoria (ICV) and has called for government funding to the Islamic roof body to be frozen.

The milestone decision to pause ties came after “malicious and outrageous” remarks by the ICV, including an attempt by its president Adel Salman to justify the October 7 pogroms in Israel, in which more than 1200 Jews were murdered, and many more raped and brutalised, and hundreds of hostages abducted to Gaza.

Salman told ABC Radio National on February 28 it was “absolutely legitimate for the Palestinians to try to break the siege of Gaza … for the Palestinians to rise up on October 7”.

After Jewish communal leadership expressed their revulsion, Salman softened his stance, stating on Facebook, “The ICV condemns the killing of innocent civilians on October 7. Just as we condemn the killing of innocent civilians by Israeli forces before and after October 7.”

However, the ICV’s reposting of a “statement of support” appeared to show the organisation hardening its attitude again. Titled “Zionists can go to hell – #We Stand With Adel”, the online statement said Salman “has taken an ethical and righteous stand. He is not the only one who recognises the legitimacy of the Palestinian Resistance … It is only the complicit corporate media and Zionist colonising ideologues who argue otherwise.”

In an ICV media release on March 2, vice-president Mohamed Mohideen described the Jewish community’s opposition to Salman’s statements as an “Islamophobic smear campaign”. A Victorian Multicultural Commissioner, Mohideen’s online activity has been probed by the commission.

Announcing the suspension of relations, JCCV president Philip Zajac cited “malicious and outrageous public remarks made by the president and vice-president”, a reference also to content on Mohideen’s social media.

“The JCCV has a long and demonstrated history of commitment to interfaith and intercultural dialogue. We have also been consistent in our condemnation of terrorism, whether it takes place against Jews in Israel, Christians in Sri Lanka or Muslims in New Zealand,” stated Zajac, calling on all Victorian faith leaders “to similarly reject working with the ICV while it continues to sow division and hate”.

Zajac noted the JCCV has held “productive and respectful” meetings with other Islamic leaders.

After Salman’s radio remarks, the JCCV called on the Victorian government to “reconsider funding to the ICV if the organisation does not distance itself from Mr Salman’s views”.

Describing Salman’s words as “utterly repugnant”, Executive Council of Australian Jewry co-CEO Alex Ryvchin observed, “While the civilised world looked at the barbarism of that day with horror, Mr Salman viewed it as a legitimate act. That is simply unforgivable.”

Zionism Victoria (ZV) president Yossi Goldfarb said, “If Mr Salman thinks that wholesale slaughter, mass rape and the kidnapping and butchering of innocent people in front of their families is legitimate, then he is a menace and a clear and present danger to Australia’s multicultural society.”

ZV executive director Zeddy Lawrence said, “‘Zionists can go to hell’ … How does one even begin to pretend that’s not antisemitic?”

Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council executive director Colin Rubenstein said Salman’s words were “a major blow to Australian multiculturalism”. Anti-Defamation Commission chair Dvir Abramovich said Salman “has let down anyone who believes in compassion and humanity”.

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