Oh Dvir! Now It’s Official

Dvir Abramovich was at it again.

Yet another piece about how Jews and the Holocaust don’t get the respect they deserve.
Yet more responses from puzzelled or angry non-Jews.
Yet another attempt by me to demonstrate to non-Jews that Jews who cry wolf regarding anti-Semitism are not representative of the community as a whole.

Even I’m bored…

Or I would be had Dvir not been elected recently as a Jewish Community Council of Victoria (JCCV) delegate to the Executive Council of Australian Jewry (ECAJ).

Now, he will not only be writing on our community’s behalf under the banner of his Melbourne University position (and isn’t Melbourne University’s history department even slightly alarmed by the prolific, vitriolic and often poorly researched nature of Dvir’s media appearances?).

Now Dvir’s a community representative.


Now, when he slams John Safran, Mel Brooks, movies about the Holocaust, the Family Guy, Heeb magazine, and anyone else daring to stray beyond the Fiddler on the Roof stereotype of our people, he can do it under the banner of the Roof Bodies.

And what exactly are these Roof Bodies?

Both the JCCV and ECAJ need to let Australian Jews know whether they actually are roof bodies (meaning, they just represent a collection of communal organisations) or whether they’re quasi-representative organisations in their own right.

This is very murky because:

.The JCCV has amalgamated with the Anti-Defamation Commission (ADC – charged with uncovering anti-Semitism, wherever it may lurk)

. It oversees the Community Security Group (CSG – not a militia) and JEMP (Jewish Emergency Management Plan – I and three other people have heard of this group. None of us seems to know exactly what they do).

. It takes it upon itself to contract a drugs “expert” to let us know that our kids may smoke the occasional spliff.

. They’ve already had someone in to tell us that our kids drink a little.

. Its members indulge in countless media diatribes against enemies of the Jews….

We are entitled to ask: JCCV, what exactly are you?

You’re so much more than a roof body.

And you’re so much less than genuinely representative of Melbourne Jewry.

I’ve had the same discussion over and over.

You can read the details here - but in essence, just because the JCCV represents a number of Jewish organisations, and just because those organisations might be diverse, that does not mean they have a mandate to represent all Jews.

The reality is, the only Jews in Melbourne with any voting rights must be JCCV members to begin with. To be a JCCV member, the JCCV has to approve you first.

So let’s say your group represents Jewish homosexuals, as Michael Barnett’s group, Aleph did. And let’s say a sector of the JCCV vetoes your entry.

Bad luck for Aleph and Jewish homosexuals.

There’s no avenue for redress beyond a letter to the editor of the AJN.

And that’s the simple version.

Elections, as we’re told over and over by our leaders, are regularly held for our “leadership”. But we know that elections are not that same as representation, mandate, or indeed democracy.

Almost every tin-pot dictatorship in the world has some form of “election.”

Real elections require a real franchise, not just a group of pre-approved people who are allowed to vote. They also require a degree of choice in the candidates.

It seems that in the constant search for young blood, the youngest JCCV delegate to ECAJ, Alon Cassuto, was directly asked to stand – unopposed – for his position by the JCCV Executive Director.

That Cassuto happens to be intelligent, open, and ready to put in the hard yards for the community may be a testament to the Director’s skills in recruitment, but it certainly isn’t democracy.

So let’s dispense with the democracy/elections furphy and move on to what the JCCV actually does.

One thing it’s members have done, is speak to the media. When they do this, they do not mention that they speak only on behalf of the organisations they represent. Instead they imply that they speak on behalf of all Victorian Jews.

So, if Alon had to deal with the media, he might do a great job. But he’d still be speaking without a mandate.

And he’d have to push Dvir out of the way first.

For whatever reason, Dvir has taken it upon himself to be a particularly loud voice in Jewish and national media, enunciating a very particular worldview that is simply not shared by his contemporaries – Jewish or non-Jewish.

If you look at the 130-odd comments accompanying Dvir’s most recent spray in the Fairfax National Times, you’ll be able to count his supporters on one hand.

Almost 130 other people found the time to comment on his piece. These people made it clear that Dvir was operating far beyond wider community standards, and a number of Jews wrote in to say, “not in my name.”

The “Jewish Lobby”-silencing-all-dissent canard got dragged out numerous times.

How could it not?

Dvir’s piece was specifically, if unintentionally, designed to provoke such a reaction.

Dvir and a handful of Melbourne Jews may feel emboldened and energised by his chest thumping.

But how can they not see that such writing only drives a wedge deeper into our relations with wider Australia? Anyone with such a lack of understanding of how the media works, and of wider Australian cultural mores, should be STRONGLY discouraged from such public relations efforts in the future if he’s going to be a part of a body that seeks to represent us…

Even if it shouldn’t.

Generational change alone is clearly not enough to ensure refreshing an organisation’s mindset. Dvir may be younger than many other JCCV members, but that does not mean he’s in touch with what young people need or want.

I spoke to both Danny Lamm (ZCV) and Alon Cassuto on the phone about this general issue. The challenges posed by substance abuse and assimilation point to deeper problems in the community, and I was interested in both men’s perspective.

Danny – polite and generous with his time as always, even though he and I disagree on a number of issues – sees pathologies as individual rather than communal concerns.

He also stated, a number of times, that anyone who wants to, can be a part of the JCCV (from the Aleph experience, we know this isn’t the case) and that the JCCV would be delighted if more young people would offer themselves for service.

According to Danny, younger people would rather pursue more individualistic interests and it is for this reason they are underrepresented in communal institutions.

This was pretty much Alon’s line as well. He particularly emphasised the desperation for youth in the official organisations, and spoke of a culture of unwillingness among his younger peers to get involved.

The biggest difference between Alon And Danny – and this may indeed be generational – was Danny’s reluctance and Alon’s willingness to examine why young people may be averse to Jewish officialdom.

Alon particularly seemed to understand that a vast chasm exists between Official Melbourne Jewry and the unofficial networks.

Alon and I spent a while discussing how the gap between official and unofficial might be bridged, and how that bridging could provide serious impetus to young people’s involvment and maybe even a florescence in Melbourne Jewish life.

The thing is, resources, time and energy, and the numbersĀ  of people willing to lead such initiatives are limited.

If we’re spending all out time, searching every nook and cranny for anti-Semitism, writing incendiary pieces in the media, and getting into fights at every turn about ideology and Israel, most of our resources will already have been exhausted.

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3 Responses to “Oh Dvir! Now It’s Official”

  1. al says:

    Love Alex Fein’s non hysterical counter to the dictatorial paranoia of the Rubensteins and Birds of this world.About time Jews of Australia ,who seem to be incredibly touchy,stop believing all that stuff about the chosen people.

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    • Alex Fein says:

      Someone requested the deletion of this comment.

      It does not, however, breach the blog’s standards. The people referred to in this post comment publicly (and often vociferously) and are therefore open to criticism.

  2. al says:

    They are quick to criticise others and call them self hating Jews, but are very precious when it comes back at them

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