14 January 2010


Aleph has kindly given me permission to reproduce their letter to the Jewish Community Council of Victoria. In my earlier blog I reproduced an article from MCV in which this issue was discussed. However at that stage I did not have this background information and now it will help to make the issue of child abuse in the Jewish communities much clearer.

Of course it all ties in with homophobia which Jewish communities perpetrate no less than other communities around the world. Jews used to like to think of themselves as more tolerant than other communities but events have shown in recent years that they can be just as intolerant as the next man, woman or child in the street!

Attention: Geoffrey Zygier - Excecutive Director JCCV / John Searle - President JCCV
January 8 2010

Dear Messrs Zygier and Searle,

Over recent months it has been brought to the attention of the JCCV numerous times
that any intolerance and oppression of same-sex attracted youth, whether due to
religious reasons or otherwise, has been directly linked to serious mental health issues
such as depression, anxiety, self-harm and suicide.

In October 2009 the JCCV released a statement during Mental Health Week
acknowledging the critically high rate of suicide in same-sex attracted people caused by
intolerance of their sexuality.

Back in April 2008 the JCCV, under the presidency of Anton Block, called for a swift
response to allegations of sexual abuse in the Melbourne Jewish Community, as reported
in the Australian Jewish News.

It may not have been impressed clearly enough upon the JCCV as to the gravity of the
nature of the abuse that same-sex attracted youth experience directly as a result of
religious intolerance of their sexuality. By forcing a person into a state of depression or
contemplation of suicide because they are told homosexuality is sinful, unacceptable,
abnormal and contrary to religious beliefs constitutes psychological abuse. When this
occurs in a child it becomes psychological child abuse. People who perpetrate this abuse
are child abusers.

The community does not tolerate sexual child abuse. The community does not tolerate
physical child abuse. The community continues to tolerate psychological child abuse.
People who are aware of perpetrators of sexual or physical abusers of children are
obligated to take action to prevent this harm. The community is obligated to stamp it
out. People who do not take action against this harm are complicit in the ongoing
perpetration of the abuse.

The situation is the same when it comes to psychological child abuse. People who are
aware of the abuse are obligated to prevent the harm against the children and the
community is obligated to stamp it out. Currently the community remains silent on this
abuse perpetrated by intolerance of homosexuality. This is completely unacceptable.
The JCCV has a solid track record of taking swift action when it becomes aware of
damaging or harmful situations in the community. It has responded to sexual abuse
claims, under-age drinking, anti-semitism, fundamentalist extremism etc. To date the
JCCV has remained consistently silent on the matter of psychological child abuse
perpetrated by intolerance of homosexuality. There is no excuse for this.

The JCCV lists amongst it's goals:
• Facilitation of harmony and positive relationships between the various
elements of the Victorian Jewish community and between our community
and the larger community
• A positive perception of Jews in Victorian society
• A thriving local Jewish community
• A safer local Jewish community

The JCCV needs to achieve its goals and fails to do so by not speaking out against this
terrible abuse. It fails it's members and it fails its community.

The JCCV has been aware of the extreme risks of intolerance of homosexuality since at
least October 2009. It has not made a single statement specifically speaking out against
the abhorrent practice of intolerance of homosexuality and lack of unconditional
acceptance of same-sex attracted youth since then. It is now long overdue for a
statement from the JCCV speaking out strongly against this specific psychological
abuse. The entire Jewish community would benefit greatly by having a statement issued
before another week goes by.

The President of the JCCV John Searle and other community leaders will become
complicit in this ongoing psychological child abuse if they don't acknowledge the harm
and speak out immediately.

Michael Barnett.
Aleph Melbourne.

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90 years old, political gay activist, hosting two web sites, one personal: http://www.red-jos.net one shared with my partner, 94-year-old Ken Lovett: http://www.josken.net and also this blog. The blog now has an alphabetical index: http://www.red-jos.net/alpha3.htm