the dangers of some wires overhead…
from the SMH today:
TEMPERS flared as Ku-ring-gai Council voted last night to reject a plan by its Orthodox Jewish community to erect a symbolic spiritual boundary within its borders.
Some members of the Jewish community in the area had been planning for more than five years to erect the eruv, an enclosed area that allows Orthodox Jews to push and carry objects such as prams out of doors on the Sabbath.
But despite their claims the 36 poles and adjoining wires needed were similar to those in other suburbs and cities across the world which had little impact on residents, a majority of councillors said the residents they represented were opposed to it.
”This is not New York, it’s not Bondi, this is St Ives and Ku-ring-gai,” said Councillor Cheryl Szatow, who seconded the motion to reject the proposal.
The meeting literally heated up as the airconditioning broke and more than 100 people crammed into the council chambers. Most were adorned with bright yellow hats indicating their support for the structure.
Residents opposed to the eruv said it would be visual pollution, entailed the cutting of tree canopies and brought an unwanted incursion of religious beliefs into public life.
Elizabeth Gipps, 81, a Jewish Holocaust survivor who has lived in Ku-ring-gai for more than 50 years, said erecting an eruv would create a ”ghetto”, which most Jewish people would want to escape.
”If it is an inconvenience for a minority of Orthodox Jews … they should accept it and don’t make a problem,” she said.
But David Guth, a long-time resident and the chairman of the Northern Eruv group, said it would not have an impact on the wider community but would make the lives of mothers and the disabled much easier.
The group would seek to have the decision overturned in the land and environment court.
The chief executive of the Jewish Board of Deputies, Vic Alhadeff, said: ”The test of a democracy is how it accommodates difference and celebrates diversity. It is deeply regrettable that the council has not recognised this.”
There is so much that’s interesting here. And by interesting, I obviously mean rather terrible and offensive. To start with, the line from a councillor, ”This is not New York, it’s not Bondi, this is St Ives and Ku-ring-gai.” Wow! Here we see New York and Bondi being used as not so subtle code for neighbourhoods/cities which are overrun by Jews. So I guess having Jewish things in areas which this woman has decided already have lots of Jews is ok. But having Jewish structures in other areas are not permissible. Because that would mean, god forbid!, that more Jews would come, I guess. Also, I’m not really familiar with Sydney geography, but my understanding is that there are many Jews who live in both St Ives and Ku-ring-gai. So it’s not just a disavowal of the possiblity of more Jews coming (an external threat) but a disavowal of the presence of Jews there already (an internal threat). It is, in short the modern western threat of the Jew – a threat to society from both within and without who needs to be disavowed and discriminated against.
And then there is the quote from the “Holocaust survivor” (why do they always find a Holocaust survivor to say these offensive things? Because, of course, they’re seen to hold more authenticity as the voice of Jewish experiences of antisemitism), which reminded me of that fantastic clip on the Daily Show from earlier this year where Jason Jones (I think it was, or maybe John Oliver) goes to talk to a Jewish community in upstate New York who are protesting against the introduction of an eruv – I’d post the clip, but unfortunately we can no longer get the Daily Show online in Australia, so those readers overseas should go looking for it.
So there has been a return (if there was ever really a movement away) to antisemitic discrimination, to an effort to remove the Jew, in some visible way, from the community in the West. Sigh. This is, of course, tied to the many many other ways in which the dominant christian white society goes to lots of effort to make public spaces hegemonically white, christian and middle-class.