After the Australian Jewish News decided on March 11 to pull a paid advertisement for the upcoming lecture tour by Professor Jeff Halper of the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions, the Emanuel Synagogue, which had agreed to have Halper speak to a class of 12 people, suddenly withdrew its invitation.
"It is regrettable that once again the power brokers of the Jewish community are seeking to block open discussion about Israel", said Vivienne Porzsolt from Jews Against the Occupation (JAO), one of the groups supporting Halper's Australian tour.
Halper has been active in the movement to halt illegal house demolitions in the Palestinian Occupied Territories. Porzsolt said: "The Jewish community is entitled to know about the widespread demolition of Palestinian homes by the Israeli army, an ongoing feature of the Israeli occupation of Palestine. Australian Jews are entitled to know of the efforts by Israelis, such as Jeff Halper, to protect these homes."
Porzsolt said that JAO would continue to challenge "the noxious culture of silence, fear and suppression prevalent in the organised Jewish community in relation to Israel". The group is now organising an alternate venue "so that members of the Jewish community can hear for themselves from Jeff Halper about his work".
[For a full list of meetings being addressed by Halper, see the calendar on page 23. Halper will also be speaking at the Sydney "End the Occupations" rally on March 21 at 2pm, at Town Hall. Visit http://www.stopwarcoalition.org . To get in touch with Jews Against the Occupation, email firstname.lastname@example.org .]