Friday, March 24, 2006

The issue of individuals' ethnicity in day-to-day Australian life.

I have a long-held concern at the propensity by the Jewish community's only newspaper, the Australian Jewish News to highlight Jewish Australians' achievements, or their aspirations to achieve,- whether their ethnicity has anything to do with their work or not.

If the non-Jewish media would do that we would be screaming blue murder! Being proud of our co-religionists' achievements is one thing, but too often there is a rush to highlight their Jewishness in the AJN even before they reach their goals. We don't like the general press and media to refer to them as "the Jewish Professor, or "the Jewish doctor", or "the Jewish candidate" for this or that Party's preselection or election. So why label them in our Press?

I wonder if ethnic professionals or candidates for politics really like to be identified as "ethnics" in Australia,- or just as Australians?

We are very proud of our sole Jewish Parliamentarian Michael Danby MP, who is recognised for his unwavering support for Israel and our Jewish Community in Parliament and in the Press. He is someone deserving of public praise in the AJN. But when others try to gain pre-selection in seats where there is no "Jewish vote", what possible good is done for these individuals to be so openly identified as Jewish! If anti-Semites want to make capital out of it by calling them names, they could be labelled racists. But if our community lays claims to them, could not that become a negative for some people when religion and ethnicity should not be an issue at all?

Anyone standing for election or for pre-selection to a political Party, is not representing the Jewish community,- he/she is representing themselves. But by being written up in the Australian Jewish News the person could be seen as an endorsed representative of our ethnic community, which may not be the case at all!

But we don't only have high-achievers.There are some Jewish people of whom we are less than proud and even if their less salubrious activities hit the general press, they don't make it into our Jewish newspaper for obvious reasons. We don't like to idenify them as belonging to our community in Australia.

There are also some Jews involved in politics, the academia, the media and probably in other public affairs, who are quite antagonistic to the organised Jewish community and its representative leadership. These too are individuals representing themselves who happen to also be Jewish,- should we give them prominence through exposure in our Jewish News? The Letters-to-the-ed. pages are sufficient for that in my opinion, so that at least one can debate and rebutt them as appropriate for the information of everyone.

I feel that the AJN could concentrate its communal news-gathering more on the issues of the day,- issues of special concern to our community here and abroad, rather than honing in on the ethnicity of those who are trying to do their best at work in the general community, just like all Australians do. Once they have achieved prominence, as proud Jews they may also like to be identified as belonging to our tiny Jewish community within the wider multicultural society of Australia.

But until they have achieved their objectives, I don't see the point of stressing anyone's ethnicity, whether Jewish or belonging to some other religion, race or people.


No comments: