Menu JTA Search

Jewish umbrella considers booting Australian group for settlement boycott call

SYDNEY (JTA) — A Jewish organization in Melbourne could face expulsion from the community’s umbrella body for launching a campaign supporting the boycott of products from West Bank settlements.  

The Melbourne-based Australian Jewish Democratic Society launched its online website “Don’t Buy Settlements Products” on March 26, prompting the Zionist Federation of Australia to brand it “immoral” and the Jewish Community Council of Victoria to label it “repugnant.”

Nina Bassat, president of the council, which comprises more than 50 Jewish organizations in the state, said delegates may be asked to vote on whether to disaffiliate the progressive Jewish organization.

“The JCCV totally repudiates the AJDS campaign,” she said in a statement. 

Peter Wertheim of the Executive Council of Australian Jewry called for the organization to be disaffiliated.

"The AJDS campaign is repugnant to the strong anti-BDS policies of every Jewish communal roof body in Australia," he said, referring to the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement, "and to the ECAJ platform of support for Israel and its legitimacy as the state of the Jewish people."

Backers of boycotts of settlement products distinguish themselves from the broader BDS movement, which targets Israel and not just the settlements.

"The AJDS should not remain a part of the JCCV while it pursues policies that are so fundamentally at odds with those of the JCCV and the ECAJ,” Wertheim said.

Jordy Silverstein, an AJDC executive member, said the campaign was aimed at spurring discussion about the settlements.

“We reject the idea that this campaign is either immoral or repugnant," she said. "The campaign was formed in order to contribute to a much-needed conversation in the Victorian Jewish community about the role that settlements play."

She added, “We are deeply saddened that there are people within the JCCV who want to disaffiliate AJDS. This kind of communal gatekeeping doesn’t help us to create a more inclusive, politically pluralistic community.

NEXT STORY