When Independent Australian Jewish Voices (IAJV) launched in 2007, we were accused of being “self-styled radicals” and dangerous. We were clearly so irrelevant – Jewish solidarity on Israel was being challenged and therefore had to be countered – that the Zionist community has spent the last year hilariously demonising us and saying that we were threatening poor, little Israel’s existence.
Now, a group of Canadian Jews are raising their voices against Israeli policies and experiencing a similar response:
Two weeks ago, [Diana] Ralph helped set up the Alliance of Concerned Jewish Canadians, to counter mainstream groups, such as the Canadian Jewish Congress and the Canada-Israel Committee, that offer unconditional support for Israeli policies, particularly toward Palestinians.
“Because Israel is doing things in the name of all Jews, we all have a right to criticize the policies of the state of Israel,” she says.
Bernie Farber, chief executive of the Canadian Jewish Congress, says “no one ever says Israel is perfect” and predicts the fledgling group will have trouble finding support.
“It will remain a rump on the edge of Jewish society,” he says.
The alliance is an umbrella organization for 23 local groups across Canada, with more start-ups in the works.
“The floodgates have opened,” Ralph says in a telephone interview from her Ottawa home. “Montreal is meeting, Vancouver is meeting, Winnipeg is meeting.”
It’s almost beyond parody that the established Jewish community dismisses the Canadian initiative in a similar fashion to IAJV. It’s the only language they know. And yet, one year on, IAJV is thriving, generating debate in the Jewish and wider community and many plans in the works.
IAJV has established contact with this Canadian group and remain encouraged that a global network of concerned Jews are starting to show solidarity and challenge the dominant Zionist narrative.