Jewish group rejects
campaign against Ashrawi
The largest progressive Jewish organisation in the country,
Australian Jewish Democratic Society, has distanced itself from the
campaign being conducted by some Jewish community spokespeople against
Dr Hanan Ashrawi, who is to receive the 2003 Sydney Peace Prize next
The AJDS has written to NSW Premier Bob Carr informing him of
position. While not necessarily endorsing Dr Ashrawi's selection, the
group made it clear that it strongly opposed what it regarded as an
unfair and unbalanced attack against her.
Many AJDS members regard Dr Ashrawi as a worthy candidate for
prize. She addressed a meeting in Melbourne last time she was in
Australia. As AJDS executive member Steve Brook put it “I found her an
inspiration for peace. I wish there were more people like her in
positions of authority on both sides of the Middle East conflict. She
is a convincing advocate of a two-state solution to the conflict
between Israelis and Palestinians."
Another executive member, Harold Zwier, had a somewhat
opinion. "I am yet to be convinced that Hanan Ashrawi merits the award,
but the campaign of vilification against her reflects badly on our
community. We would do much better by seeking to engage with her,
rather than rejecting her," he said.
Mr Brook added: “The leadership of the Jewish community is
the impression that there are no acceptable Palestinians. It’s not
necessary to agree with everything Dr Ashrawi says in order to
recognise that it is precisely people like her, who actively espouse a
two-state solution, that provide the best prospects for dialogue and
Further information: Steve Brook (03) 9525 6815, Renate Kamener (03)
Letter to NSW Premier Bob Carr
Dear Mr Carr,
The Australian Jewish Democratic Society supports your
decision to present the 2003 Sydney Peace Prize to Dr Hanan Ashrawi.
As supporters of Israel, while critical of policies of the
Israeli government, we believe that negotiations towards the
establishment of a Palestinian state alongside Israel is the only way
forward in resolving the conflict.
Members of our organisation hold a range of opinions on
Ashrawi is a suitable candidate for the peace prize, but as a strong
and articulate advocate for the Palestinian cause, Dr Ashrawi makes
clear that she also favours negotiation towards a two-state solution to
end the conflict.
We therefore strongly disagree with the current campaign by
the Australian Jewish community, who are demonising Dr Ashrawi in an
attempt to destroy her credibility.
One of Israel's more farsighted leaders, former president Ezer
Weitzman, once observed that one has to make peace with enemies, not
with friends. We may not always agree with Dr Ashrawi, but we regard
dialogue with her and people like her as essential for any future peace
between Palestinians and Israelis. In our opinion, your role in
presenting the prize can only further that process.
Renate Kamener and Steve Brook
for the executive,
Australian Jewish Democratic Society
Created on October 23, 2003