By Alex Fein
Daniel Pipes is no ordinary academic. He has an affinity for people who wish Muslims serious harm. The anti-hate organisation, The Southern Poverty Law Centre, recently reported on Pipe's 'rabidly anti-Muslim views' and his brilliant idea of supporting parties and people with neo-Nazi links.
So when the Australia Israel Jewish Affairs Committee (AIJAC), a private, right wing, Israel lobby group invited him to come to Australia to speak earlier this year, that was bad enough. But to add insult to injury, they somehow convinced the Jewish Community Council of Victoria to host a speaking engagement featuring Pipes as well.
The JCCV shouldn't be some right winger's private hobby horse. It's supposed to be the peak body representing all Victorian Jews - though it fails dismally. And one of its key tasks is maintaining good relations with other faith groups.
(Read my letter to Jennifer Huppert here)
The Islamic Council of Victoria (ICV) behaved impeccably during the Pipes debacle. They contacted the JCCV privately at first to express shock and dismay at their choice to endorse Pipes. But JCCV President, Jennifer Huppert, was uninterested.
Her Vice President, Anton Herman, meanwhile, holds a suite of very odd beliefs about Israel and the organised community, which should worry all right thinking people.
For those of us who remember Nina Bassat's Presidency with some nostalgia, and even John Searle's self serving time at the helm before that, it is truly shocking to see just how comfortable Huppert seems with the degradation and destruction of JCCV capacity.
Huppert is very pleased with herself for having cajoled some AUJS kids onto the JCCV. She calls it 'generational change'; when in reality, there is little to distinguish this new generation from what has come before.
And the real test for whether there is indeed any 'generational change' at the JCCV is the composition of the JCCV's affiliates and their delegates. You would be hard pressed to find anyone under age 60 among them.
It's one thing to get an AUJS kid onto the JCCV board, and it's another thing to be able to keep him there.
Indeed, sources close to the JCCV tell Galus that young Daniel Nash's brief JCCV career came to an end after he objected to the JCCV's demand that he provide them with a CV before becoming JCCV treasurer.
Apparently, he objected strenuously to this vetting process because he had been treasurer of AUJS, he'll have you know!
This led to Jennifer Huppert's plaintive cry at last JCCV plenum: the JCCV needs a treasurer!
I mean, who wouldn't want to volunteer in such a vibrant, thriving organisation?
So under Huppert's watch, the JCCV has managed to lose the single best asset the JCCV had - Executive Director, David Marlow.
(Read David Marlow's farewell email here)
Huppert's obstinacy regarding strategic planning means that the JCCV has no money to pay a top professional like Marlow, who had expertly navigated the JCCV's interfaith operations, amongst other things.
With Marlow gone and Huppert's grand 'fuck you' to the Muslim community (which was reported on by the Chloe Patton for ABC), there emerged an interfaith vacuum - Huppert's frantic efforts to fill it with minority-of-minority communities notwithstanding.
Yaron Gottlieb and I were lucky enough to have developed relationships with some of the people at the ICV and stood firmly behind them during the Pipes outrage and we were rewarded with an invitation to the historic First Nations Iftar Dinner.
Apart from witnessing how much good can come from faith groups behaving decently, we also had the opportunity to start building alternative pathways for Jewish engagement with the Muslim community, as well as with politicians from various parties.
For nearly a decade, many Australian Jews have been complaining about the abominably unrepresentative 'representation' we suffer via our peak bodies.
Like their federal colleagues at The Executive Council of Australian Jewry (ECAJ), it would seem the current JCCV has never met a Trump or Bibi decision it didn't like; yet it fails to tackle any of the pressing problems affecting ordinary Jews. All they're really good at is cultivating relations with the two major political parties, and pissing off people who should be our friends.
The only claim the JCCV has, is to incumbency. It has no other mandate. It has no constituency. Most Victorian Jews have no idea what it is or who its people are. The JCCV represents no one but itself.