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AIJAC response to Kazak

By Colin Rubenstein - posted Tuesday, 5 March 2013

The Australia/Israel and Jewish Affairs Council (AIJAC) was concerned and disappointed to see insulting, defamatory and untrue comments about our organisation by Ali Kazak in dealing with Geert Wilders and the "Q Society".

Mr. Kazak's claim that AIJAC invites individuals who are "racist" and who "advocated anti-Arab and anti-Muslim propaganda" is both false and well beyond the pale of the normal give and take of public debate.

The values of AIJAC are plain to see for anyone who has followed our activities over the years. We support multiculturalism and interfaith cooperation with the Muslim community. Furthermore, we advocate for constructive steps towards peaceful coexistence between Israel and its Arab neighbours, and a just peace between Israelis and Palestinians.


Contrary to Mr. Kazak's implication, we have never hosted someone who says things about Islam of the sort that Mr. Wilders does, nor would we ever do so.

While a number of the many speakers we have hosted have discussed the disturbing rise of Islamism as a political ideology, this is something profoundly different from harboring "anti-Muslim" views. Osama bin Laden said he was acting in the name of Islam. We have never believed this to be true. Some of our speakers have certainly criticised the extremist political ideology which animates an Osama bin Laden, or an Ayman al-Zawahiri or an Abu Bakr Bashir. However, neither they nor AIJAC have ever argued that these violent extremists represent Islam as a religion. 

If Mr. Kazak believes critical scrutiny of the ideology of terrorist extremists like those named above makes one "anti-Muslim", then perhaps he is the one who shares the ugly and unsophisticated belief of Geert Wilders that the Muslim religion as a whole is responsible for the crimes of these extremists. We certainly do not - we believe that if extreme and violent Islamism is the problem, efforts by mainstream Muslims to counter this abuse and distortion of their religion is the most important remedy for this problem over the long run.
Likewise, our speakers are not "anti-Arab". In fact, we have hosted Muslim and Arab speakers and have had significant Muslim and Arab Australian personalities participate in our events.

Mr. Kazak has the right to express disagreement with the views of AIJAC's guests or anyone else, but he should not be given license and a platform to crudely and baselessly misrepresent and defame our organisation or our guests as "racist" - especially not through this respected website.

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This article is a reply to Ali Kazak's article published in On Line Opinion on 27 February 2013. 

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About the Author

Colin Rubenstein, a former lecturer in Middle East politics at Monash University in Melbourne, is executive director of Australia/Israel jewish Affairs Council (AIJAC).

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