jewin' the fat


Win or Lose – It’s how you play the system

Another year, another conflated Oscars ceremony. Thanks to the ACT government, and their nifty Canberra Day Public holiday, I watched the Oscars broadcast with the same breathless excitement I watched Channel Nine stumble through Eddie Maguire’s homophobic ramblings to broadcast the Montreal Winter Olympics.

At least the Olympics highlight package, that is.

It doesn’t take a genius to realise that the Oscars are 8% bad jokes, 18% bad dresses, 30% drunk after party photos, and 40% politics. This year, my political favourites included The Hurt Locker‘s Katherine Bigalow getting even with her ex-husband James Cameron, Sandra Bullock proving that a bad dye-job and a southern drawl can make or break a career, and of course, Christoph Waltz’s ability to turn incorrect syntax into Oscar gold!

Israel has a proud history of quality filmmaking. Recent titles which have touched the hearts and minds of international audiences include Beaufort, Eyes Wide Open, Waltz with Bashir, Yossi & Jagger, The Bubble, Someone to Run With$9.99, and most  recently, the 2010 nominee for Best Foreign Feature Film Ajami.

Yaron Shani and Skandar Copti, Co-Directors of the Academy Award nominated film, 'Ajami'

Telling uniquely Israeli stories of the cultures, foods, rituals, languages, loves and lives of citizens of the State of Israel, it’s acclaimed offerings have been touted at film festivals and award ceremonies for decades.

And while none have achieved Oscar glory yet, Ajami was a firm favourite in the lead up to the big night.

Alack, in an interview with Israeli TV aired on the eve of the award ceremony, the film’s co-director, Skandar Copti effectively spat in the face of the government film fund which bankrolled his tale of the mean streets of Jaffa, and in the face of his Jewish-Israeli co-director Yaron Shani and stars (Arab-Muslim, Arab-Christian and Jewish alike), who were visibly disappointed that their hard work had not been rewarded. Though some sent celebratory text messages after the announcement that Argentinian nominee “El secreto de sus ojos” (The Secret in their Eyes) had taken out the category, many involved in the joint Arab-Jewish production saw betrayal in the remarks of Copti.

Israel Film Fund Director Katiel Schory was a little more considered in his approach. “Everything is okay, it’s perfectly alright,” he said. “[Copti] is entitled to his view. I’m very happy with the film and we stand behind it. In Israel, there are many narratives and this is one of those narratives.”

“The film represents Israel exactly,” said Israeli-American choreographer Barak Marshall. “It touches on almost all of the issues we face in Israeli society and it shows how broad the public debate is; that someone who is from Israel can negate his very connection to the state shows how wonderfully strong and alive our political culture is.”

The political fallout from Copti’s remarks clearly registered with the mostly Arab-Israeli cast, who were notably divided from the rest of the X Bar after-party guests, a shin dig hosted by the Israeli Consulate in Los Angeles.

In Copti’s Channel 2 interview, he did say that though the film is “technically” Israeli, it did not represent him, and proffered “I cannot represent a country that does not represent me”.

So what is this “technicality”? The citizenship of the players, crew and cast alike? The location of filming – in the internationally recognised Israeli municipality of Tel Aviv-Jaffa? The languages spoken in the film (Hebrew and Arabic, two of Israel’s official national languages)? Or how about the people who paid, through the auspices of the Israel Film Fund, for part of the film’s production – the tax payers of Israel – Jew, Muslim, Christian, Druze, Baha’i, Bedouin and Armenian, amongst others?

It is not enough to say that because one’s government doesn’t represent one’s personal perspective, that one cannot represent one’s nation on an international stage, as Copti protests. It’s an unfortunate symptom of the open, democratic society that many perspectives and opinions are offered equal footing in public space, sure, and that sometimes our issues are marginalised, but guess what?

If there was one message Ajami offered the Academy and viewing public, it was an insight into the pluralist, multi-ethnic, unique character and chaos of Jaffa. It was about the individual’s fight to survive in a world that is non-homogenous, and often unfair.  And that in a free-market of individual agendas, sometimes, some one has to lose.

In this case, it was Copti. Technically, of course.

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Means Justify the Ends, Beautiful Friends, The Ends
March 2, 2010, 11:19 AM
Filed under: Israel, media, Zionism | Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Ok, after all the speculation and hear say, after all the he-said-she-said and pointless re-iterating of irrelevant, un-newsworthy facts and numbers, names and casual insinuations, it’s time to set the record somewhat straighter than its current spiral-shape – because all this spin is making me dizzy.  So before you rip off your clothes, pull out your hair and run down your street screaming “APOCALPYSE NOW!! I SEE THE FOUR HORSEMEN!”, take a deep breath, or a shot, or a hit of your inhaler and read this.

Une : Self-righteous indignation is only permissable if the indignant are blameless. Don’t kid yourself Australia, Britain, France, or even you, Gold-medal winning Canada – sure, this time you are the victim, but are we forgetting that espionage is the dirty little secret of many great powers, used on varying occasions to kill, maime or capture war criminals, arms dealers and military and political leadership. No one is blameless, and all are punish-ed if they believe they are.  

Deux : There is no proof Mossad nor any Israeli was involved – it’s not like these people left their business card, or even a 20-shekel printed T from the Carmel Shuq. But, like all great conspiracies, the rumour is 3/4 of the way to the truth, and lights a great big stinking flare for all the crazies to come out (take this choice quote from New Matilda’s comments section, on Mustafa Qadri’s seminal work “Has Israel Finally Gone Too Far?” –  

“All Israeli Duel (sic) passports should now be triple checked and bags searched. Israel is using(some give permission)their citizens (sic) passports for their murderous deeds (9/11 ) cheering when the towers were pulled. Two planes hit two towers and building 7 just fell down ??? Mossad has blood on its hands. Guilty your honor.”  

Thanks Mate. Stellar contribution to the debate). Even in the murky jurisdictional waters of international justice, defendants are innocent until proven guilty, and subject to a fair trial – by the courts, not by fire or the media.  

Trois : The ends justify the means. Let’s not forget the end result of this little fiasco. There is one less self-described murderer and violent agitator in the world, who was killed while in Dubai on an arms-dealing mission for his organisation, Hamas, whose own political charter calls for the destruction of its neighbour, and who has acted upon that charter countless times in violent terrorism against citizens of the State of Israel. Where I come from that’s a winner. Sure, it (allegedly) took 27 people to arrange it, and a slew of tennis-related props, but the guy is no longer with us, and while I offer his family my condolences, I offer those responsible my congratulations.  

Quatre : When you assume, you make an ass of you and me. With the AFP on the way to Israel to conduct its own investigation, there is no doubt Australia is taking allegations of passport fraud seriously. However, it is worthwhile to remember that the three dual citizens named, were also shamed in extensive media coverage of the issue. I’m not a conspiracy theorist by any means, but it would be reasonable to assume that any and all parties, complicit in any illegal undertakings would be far less inclined to reveal their true involvement with hordes of cameramen and journalists banging down their doors. Especially if the likely outcome were jail time/extradition to their country of origin or revoking of their citizenship. Funny that. 

Cinq : It was Contextual, I swear. Remember that nothing happens in a vacuum – the response of the Australian government is tempered directly by the state in which it finds itself – demoting a minister, held responsible for the deaths of four tradies, and led by a Prime Minister who believes their hold to be slipping.



The Odd Couple of days
February 27, 2010, 5:07 PM
Filed under: Comment, Identity | Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

I found myself recently on a road trip, heading down the beautiful south coast with a ragtag bunch of friends and acquaintances. Amongst us were 2 Labor hacks, 1 PhD student, an Ethiopian immigrant, a Torres Strait Islander, a couple of Catholics and a range of couples, singles, old flings and potential new ones, as well as a guy who seemed to relish every opportunity to point out that myself and one other in the group were Members of the Tribe – though he didn’t see fit to put it as politely as that.

But I suppose, it was kinda my fault anyway. I did discuss it with my fellow Heeb – that is, our general Heebi-jeebiness. More specifically, after a few months MIA, I was interested to find out about his life, including his non-Jewish girlfriend, and how he was dealing with the clashes in belief and religious practice (she is an atheist). Perfect pre-dinner conversation. It started meekly enough, but before we knew it, it seemed everyone had an opinion on our musings, and were being quite vocal in their appreciation, or in this guy’s case, disgust. Then we entered the twilight zone, and bizarre-0-man provided the ultimate conversation buzz-kill:

My Grandmother warned me about people like you”. (Me? I thought? what, conservative? Opinionated? Pseudo Feminist? Middle Class? Sorry?)“She warned me about Jews. Don’t Trust ’em.”

The next day was shite. More rain, rain and rain. Good thing there was take-away fish and chip shop, Rugby Union on TV and a stack of board games, including Monopoly. (side note: I am not an avid Monopoly player. I am not interested in investment, and am far more likely to be seen frittering my wealth away on rent and chance cards, landing myself in Debt and in Jail. Now Risk. There’s a game for me!) So we settled in to play. Someone nominated me as the Bank, mostly because I was sitting closest to the board and already mesmerised by the pretty colours. And away we went! Soon it became clear that Jew 2 and I had put  a foot wrong, and not because we both were hemorrhaging money faster than Lehmann Brothers.  Rather because we were so unwilling to give up without a fight for our precious coloured paper.

“Ah, the Jews are out in force today … you guys should be good at this, you know, gouging people for rent … Jews hate to lose money …Yeah you love money … well, it is what they were born to do …”

Now once again, perhaps we had led them down the garden path a bit – you know, played along, laughed it off. Pretended the 7th or 8th jibe didn’t sting far more than the 1st or 2nd. Well eventually I went bankrupt (I told you), and it was with a sigh of relief and a deep sense of gratitude to whomever bought me out and let me escape to check my Gmail. Out of the fry pan and into the fire.

After the Rugby, it was dinner time and the hordes were hungry. We shopped, cooked and feasted, and while we sat around drinking wine, licking our fingers and picking at leftovers, someone brought up the unusual topic of hazing, on university campuses. So I thought ‘hey, I’m amongst friends, a little sharing never hurt’, and offered my experience as an executive member of a Jewish university Campus group, and the spectacle we presented to the first-year group which involved four heads of campus in Sydney, our hands tied behind our back, and an apple that had to be eaten. Again, within an instant, my story about consensual adult public fruit-eating  has turned into a travesty of sexual rights and abuses, and I was being accused of being just as bad Nazis for forcing honest, hard-working Germans to vote for them in 1936.

WHAT THE DEUTSCHMARK?!

Now, I could have reminded this human-rights defender about the history of pre-war Germany, and still bristling with the desire to stick my fork in his leg and his fresh t-bone up his nose, my Jew-in-arms came to be defense, but without much effect. Apparently asking consenting adults to engage in harmless, though messy showboating for the amusement of 18 year olds is akin to supporting a dictatorship with genocidal tendencies. Thanks for bring that to my attention. Oh silly me. Isn’t my face red now, hmm?

In an effort to stop my outrage bubbling into violence, I busied myself with cleaning up, while more wine was poured, and the group wound up covered in chocolate and eating nectarine slices. Happy families indeed. The next day it was home time and I woke early to make it down to the beach for a swim before everyone woke up. As I got dressed upon my return, I noticed a familiar black white and red poking out of my bag. ‘Must’ve been her Nazi voting instruction manual’, I hear you surmise.

Nope. It was my rip-off I Heart Israel T-shirt, bought in Occupied Palestine with a serious dose of Irony and Zionism, no less. I threw it on indifferently and as I rolled up the sleeves, I realised why my anger had suddenly dissipated. I could have called this guy any number of names under the sun, most of them a reference to his lack of understanding, knowledge or appreciation of culture, history and sensitivity. I could have called him out on his disrespectful language, tone and reference, how he, as an Indigenous Australian should understand the danger of antiquated, unsubstantiated prejudice and baseless bigotry.

But it all melted away. I let it go. Because you can wear your heart on your sleeve and your identity with shame, or pride, or joy or irony or contentment. The point is, you get to choose,  no one else. No matter what they call you.

PostScript: We have booked another escape for an upcoming long weekend to that same gorgeous spot of southern coastline, and we have instituted a strictly non-negotiable ‘no bigot’ policy. That’s right. This time, this Jewess gets to choose who comes along for the ride. And I’m calling shotgun.



Jew is as Jew does

We knew it would happen eventually, and you know what they say – when the shit hits the fan, everyone gets covered in it.

I’m talking of course about the imminent ruling of the Supreme Court in Britain, regarding the case of a Jewish boy who was born to an Orthodox Jewish father, and Progressive Jewish mother (a Convert). This boy, whom the courts have dubbed ‘M’, was denied enrolment to the Jewish Free School (JFS) in London, on account of the fact that the school adheres to a strict Orthodox-only enrolment policy. ‘M”s parents decided to sue on the grounds of racial discrimination, and so we find ourselves waiting with bated breath for the ruling that could change the very way we define ourselves, and our community as Jewish, right here in Australia.

Jewish

Up until now this has been protected by the laws in the UK governing religious freedoms, especially in running educational institutions. Now whatever you believe about the validity of a school operating for the youth of a particular religion, this case is basically proposing that rather than a religion, being Jewish is purely a blood-line – a ‘race’.  

In fact, this case goes to the very fibre of what a ‘Jew’ is in our contemporary society – a race, ethnicity, culture, nation, religion – and whether it is possible to have our cake and eat it too. 

I’ll begin with a story. As with most great stories, this is a tale follows a simple and popular narrative structure.

There is a boy. He meets a girl. At a summer camp for young (Jewish) people. Needless to say, by the end of the camp, they are smitten, and they begin to date. He is a good Jewish boy, from a nice family in Sydney’s north, and she is a sweet, funny Jewess from the south-East of the city. The relationship barrels along, sparks fly, plans are made and before you know it, he is on one knee on a beach proposing they spend forever together.

Except that Mother didn’t tell her daughter that when she married the girl’s father, she was impatient, in love and ill prepared for the tumult of Orthodox conversion. So she converted as a Reform Jew. And that her Orthodox-educated, raised and believing daughter, according to Halacha, is one too.

Now at this point, the story shifts focus, and for many, it becomes a crash course in choose-your-own-adventure – something that many are not prepared for at all. I mean, she was from the right side of the tracks – hell, she could even be more observant than he is, but it changes little in terms of the strict Halacha that governs these situations. And again, agree or not with the Jewish law, this is a purely religious standard, for those who wish to abide by it.

But what about civil liberties? Where is the space in this paradigm for human rights? The ability of a citizen of a country to choose his or her own destiny, regardless of their race, religion, class, sex or sexual orientations? Recent calls by prominent Muslim community spokesperson, Keysar Trad to integrate Shariah Law into the Victorian legal system were met with anger and condemned as being an affront to the very independence and multilateralism of justice. For all. Imagine if the laws governing Jewish marriage, death, divorce – were all suddenly absorbed into a secular, national system, and overruled by it. It will destroy a system that thrives in its separation of church and state.

Australians are beholden to a justice system steeped in British traditions, as according to our history as a former British colony. Our government system, our past times, eating habits – even the Jewish community in Australia looks to the London Beth Din to dictate the terms of Orthodoxy, and rule of matters of Jewish life and law.

So what happens if the British Supreme Court rules in ‘M”s favour?

Well, no doubt it’s decision would need to be accepted by the London Beth Din, and changes made to the JFS accordingly. It means that the right to define who is a Jew is taken away from the community, and given to the courts, in direct contradiction to the human rights of the individual to practise their religion freely and without prejudice.

It means for Australian Jewish schools, clubs and organisations, precedents are being set removing the autonomy of the institution, and the religious structure of the Australian community may begin to erode. It means that while our claim as a nation may be upheld, our religious rights as Jews may not be.

It means that the rights of the individual are protected in law, above and beyond the rights of the community. Unlike other peoples, Jews have ensured their survival over millenia through the power of tzdaka, the importance of tikkun olam and the power of the many, over the self-interest of the few. It would be a shame to start now.

It also means that for Australians, we may have to accept that being a Jew is no longer just an ethno-culture or religion, but strictly defined by the word ‘race’, a concept created by those groups who would have seen Jews eradicated – and almost did.

And that is something I, and you, and even those still perched on the fence,  should not be forced to abide.



John Safran – Blacking up, and getting down

Come to the edge, he said. They said: We are afraid. Come to the edge, he said. They came. He pushed them and they flew.     

                                                                        — Guillaume Apollinaire

John Safran is arguably the King of Satire. After the “Make a realistic wish” debacle of the Chasers War on Everything backfired, and the Gruen Transfer going MIA, it was a personal pleasure of mine to hear Safran, of John Safran’s Music Jamboree, and John Safran Vs. God is back on the ABC. This time, he is diving head first into the messy world of Race Relations, asking the hard questions about racism, religious prejudice and whether we should stay with our tribe, or leave it.

In an ABC Unleashed article, Kim Dalton, ABC‘s Director of Television laid down the gauntlet, daring audiences to build and bridge and get over what they think the ABC is about. Tackling holy cows, and pushing the boundaries of good taste, Dalton applauded his intelligent audiences and suggested, “If you think you are going to be offended or outraged (or want to be offended or outraged) then don’t tune in.”

But tune in we did. In a circumnavigation attempt to rival that of Jessica Watson, Safran takes his peculiar brand of squirm producing, power-subverting humour on the road, crossing state lines, continents, ideologies and even races, in an attempt to push the audience to discover what really keeps them apart.

Is it skin colour? Is it guilt – in Safran’s case, of the ‘Jewish Mother’ variety? Is it simply tribalism? Are we able to leave our prejudices behind, and bring all nations together to become a truly global community, living in peace and harmony? Should we get funky, set some mood lighting and make rainbow babies with people we have nothing in common with?

Safran bravely goes where no man has gone before. And he is crucified along the way.

John Safran is crucified in the Phillipines for Race Relations

John Safran is crucified in the Phillipines for Race Relations

This 8 part series premiered on Wednesday night, as with most of John Safran’s work, amidst a mire of controversy, drummed up by the PC police and their minions. Headlines screaming racist, immoral, offensive only drove the puclic interest in the series higher, and the masses were not left so unsatisfied.

In the series opener, Safran takes gene-based dating to a whole new level, consulting a scientist to determine if his penchant for Eurasians is justifiably a genetic preference. Turns out, a panty-sniff test is just what the doctor ordered, and after stealing a dozen pairs of under wear belonging to childhood friends, the Thai Princess, Nicole from the Pussycat Dolls, and . Though obscene (“Ooh, good … Oooh, less good”) is part scientific-fascination and another part creepy. But the fun doesn’t stop there. Throwing in his school-yard Rabbi, a few ex-girlfriends and even some racially-charged pixelation, we are off and running. Oh yes – we head over to Israel and Palestine, land of political (in)correctness, in Safran’s efforts to create the ultimate mixed-race – the Jalestinian.

Probably an image I will have imprinted on my brain forever is a smothered-giggle from Safran, as his Palestinian boom-operator masturbates about two feet away from him. Crass? Yes. Hilarious? Absolutely. And that is just the beginning of this irreverent, devil-may-care series, which takes public propriety and shoves it back in its box. Of course, ripping through the PC shield we have all been covered with for so long, requires some grunt (Thanks boom-operator guy), and no doubt as the series progresses, we will be compelled to take a look at our own prejudices, forced or imbibed, and evaluate their legitimacy.

Not a bad idea, especially considering the trigger for such self-reflection is mostly sexual innuendo, awkward situation comedy and simple laugh-out-loud-can’t-look-away-oh-no-he-didn’t-did-he funny.

Safran hits the G-spot of satire Gold with this one. He is bold, unafraid, and blissfully unpretentious in his geek-makes-good style. After Hey Hey It’s Saturday beamed stupidity and crass across the world, Australia gets a chance to redeem itself, with a man who is not afraid to push the limits of good taste, as long as he makes his point.

And it is a point excellently made.

John Safran’s Race Relations airs Wednesday nights on ABC1 at 9.30pm, AEDST.



A Sad Day for Sydney
September 30, 2009, 4:24 PM
Filed under: Comment | Tags: , , , , , , , ,

It is a sad day for the Sydney music scene, when a much loved venue closes unexpectedly – for fans, musicians and patrons.

Meanwhile, across town, another local business is being forced to close, to the disappointment and detriment of families, friends and supporters. It may not be as flashy or popular as the Hopetoun Hotel, but Alikat Pre-School is a self-reliant, non-government funded local business, providing an integral public-service to the community for over 23 years.

While ABC Learning Centres are being shut down, even after being propped up financially and administratively by the Rudd Government, Alikat Pre-School has no strings attached. It is a financially successful, educationally sound, community focused business and educational institution, which deserves as much noise and fury at the news of its forced closure.

As to the Hopetoun, people would travel to Alikat from across the city of Sydney, to ensure and entrust their children to Lynne and Nadene. Some even crossed the globe, to give their children the opportunity to learn and grow.

One need only look at the children who attend this highest quality school, to see the impact Alikat has had on generations of Sydney youth. From its humble residential garage beginnings, to the extensive, outstanding facility it now calls home – the ethos has remained the same. Every child deserves a top-class education, and this young age is crucial to development.

This appears to be in direct opposition to the Australian Government’s Early Childhood Reform of ensuring that every child has access to quality early childhood education in the year before they commence school. Some parents have moved to the area to be closer to the school and the community, developing friendships and community support networks, running parenting courses and offering moral and social support to those who immigrated to Australia.

Now with 8 staff and hundreds of alumni, it is as much a staple of local culture as the famed Hoptoun. In fact, it probably taught a fair few of those Hopetoun Music fans motor-skills, readied them for school, taught them to appreciate rhythm and melody, and refined their first live performance ability at the annual end of year concert.

I should know – I was an Alikat pre-schooler some 20 years ago.

Four months notice, now down to just over two, is just not long enough to relocate and obtain all the relevant licenses required, never mind trying at this late stage to enroll our children elsewhere.

We need educational facilities like Alikat as much as we need music venues like the Hopetoun – they both support, nurture and inspire the talent of our youth. Don’t let either of these local gems fade away. We will be that much poorer for their absence.



Punch and Jewdy

At a swanky media party in Melbourne, glass of white in hand, I struck up a conversation with a bright eyed young Melbournian, who had a plan to revolutionise the JC with his own version of Hasbara.

The only problem is that he was beaten to the punch.

Welcome to the cut throat world of JC public diplomacy – where in a surprisingly similar fashion to Israel, confusion abounds, bureaucracy is King, and the debate is most fierce behind closed doors. There are red lines that cannot be crossed, individuals that cannot be pushed aside, and powers-that-be which must be given the last word.

So when I was presented with this community anarchist, I chuckled inside, shaking my head at this kid’s chutzpah – not only at the vision he had, but his having proposed it at all. Of course I smiled warmly as he continued – mostly because I was interested in how exactly he was planning to reinvent the wheel, and succeed where scores had failed before him. But as far as progress relies on unreasonable men looking to change the world around them, I wished him the best, and continued around the party.

But it got me thinking about traditional JC politics, and the mutinous young people who dare to buck convention, and try something different. Like this guy – smart, funny, charismatic, with zero chance of achieving his goal. And not for lack of trying …

Take the example of a young Jewish student leader, experienced and well conditioned by his/her involvement in a youth movement/university body. They have considerable skills and knowledge of informal education/PR/public diplomacy/marketing/demography, are flexible and their message is easily adaptable. They have strong contacts amongst their peers, and are committed to the community. As their tenure as leader comes to a close, they begin to look to continue their involvement as … uh, as a … um …

The reality of the JC is that there is a gap, and filling it is not a priority. There is an extensive investment in our young people, through formal and informal education from preschool to University age, but once they have taken it upon themselves to strike out on their own, the JC, well, lets them.
The current model of JC advocacy (incorporating interests in the Australian Jewish Community and Israel) is inflexible, averse to change or innovative media, and largely unwelcoming of new concepts/partners/parameters. I’m not recommending extreme change, or a shift in focus, but there must be some avenue to incorporate other ideas, individuals and influences. Without evolving in style or form, we will be permitting our next generation’s disinterest in their own community.

There is an entire generation of people who are patronisingly encouraged to be a part of the solution, to be involved, to get their ideas out there, but who are not provided the freedom, resources or support to bring their ideas to fruition. As a result, an apathetic demographic is created, unable to effect the change they see as vital to bring the JC into the future, and thus disinterested in the traditional modes of community involvement. Then the AJN runs an op-ed which criticises this disenfranchised Jewish group, and there is less and less imperative to get involved as their point is reinforced with the communal condemnation of young people as non-contributing community members.

So for the young guy in the bar,  it doesn’t matter what he was proposing. It could have been the next best thing, but without institutionalised encouragement of this entrepreneurial spirit, he would be forced to rely on free media like facebook and blogging, or the generosity of parents, family and friends to get his idea off the ground.

This trend, which sees the increasing bureaucratisation of advocacy in Australia, means that the longer this goes unchecked, the more we have to lose. Already, there is a clear shift away from traditional JC organisations to more grassroots, accesible media, dedicated to and by the sub-culture it represents. There is no good reason why the same voices are given airtime no matter the issue. I for one would like to see a young person talking about young people’s issues – because some how a 60 year old man talking about teen binge drinking just doesn’t ring true. So why are suitable spokespeople so desperately lacking – and why aren’t we doing more to involve those who will eventually be asked to take the reigns?

On the other hand, there is no one effective central body (and therefore no central message), but neither is there a move to delegate particulars to other organisations in an effort to improve dissemination (which without that central message is a moot point). There is no reason for the superfluous, overcompensating bodies that exist, largely side by side and overlapping in purpose, with little or no collaboration: ECAJ, JCCV, ADC, AIJAC, SZC, JBD, ZFA, ZCV, ZYC, AUJS …

Finally, this kind of reshuffle would not only represent more of the community, permit a variety of people to become effective communicaters and ensure the continuation of the communal representative bodies in the inclusion of women, students, young professionals, mothers etc.

It may not be the perfect answer, but I do know that the state of the union is far from perfect, and “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it” just ain’t the fix any more.