The State Zionist Council of Victoria (SZCV) is the roof body for 51 organisations that spans a broad range of political, religious, cultural and age groups within the Jewish community of Victoria. It encourages discussion and debate among its member organisations as well as the Victorian community in general and the Jewish community in particular.
The constitution of the SZCV calls upon the organisation to foster the aims of the Jerusalem program, the central platform of the World Zionist Organisation’s charter. Paragraph 3 of the Jerusalem Program states that the object of the Zionist Movement is:
Strengthening Israel as a Jewish, Zionist and democratic state and shaping it as an exemplary society with a unique moral and spiritual character, marked by mutual respect for the multi-faceted Jewish people …
The SZCV promotes this aim to ensure that we as supporters of Israel pursue the same goal.
As a roof body of 51 organisations who have a common commitment to the right of the Jewish people to a homeland in the state of Israel, but which view so many of the related issues in diverse ways, our representative role requires careful consideration of issues and the views of our affiliates to ensure that our statements as a council reflect the majority view of our community.
The breadth of our representation and the diversity of the organisations which comprise the council are its very richness and strength. Our affiliates include political organisations from the “left” and “right”, religious organisations spanning the orthodox, conservative and progressive streams, cultural, youth and fundraising groups.
Each of the groups holds their own philosophy and raison d’etre, but unite under the SZC umbrella in their commitment to the centrality of the State of Israel to Jewish life, and the right of the Jewish state to exist in security and peace.
Whilst the Council itself presents a “majority view”, its affiliate organisations, their members and other individuals in the community are free to, and expected to, express their own views on issues relating to Israel. Indeed, the SZCV encourages and facilitates such broad expression of views and opinion.
It is malignly false that we require an “allegiance to Israeli government policy”, that we prescribe to our affiliates or community what their views should be or how to express them, or that we in any way stifle views or thought.
Our constitution charges us with the responsibility to represent the community on issues relating to Israel. We take this charter most seriously, and in such representation, consider the views across the spectrum of perspectives of the Zionist movement.
Our role is to present the issues facing Israel, including the government’s policies, provide reliable information to educate the community, and allow for discussion on issues which may be contentious. For example, during the withdrawal from Gaza in 2005, we conducted a formal debate in which both sides of the issue were presented and discussed. Such activities educate and open people’s minds to other ideas, fostering vigorous discussion and healthy interest.
A core activity of our organisation is to present speakers, both local and international visitors, to our community. We make a specific point to ensure that these speakers reflect the very diversity of our constituency, and we invite community members to hear, learn and challenge the presenters.
To date this year, we have hosted a progressive, human rights activist Rabbi, an academic analysing Israel’s prospects for peace, a controversial author and a visiting professor who spoke on the Hadassah hospital and its response to mass terror casualties.
Far from muffling, we provide platforms for a range of voices - both from experts in various fields, and indeed from our own members. The State Zionist Council of Victoria will continue to ensure that while different voices are expressed, our unifying message of Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish homeland in peace and security will be clearly heard.