JCCV questions rabbis

Rabbi Meir Shlomo Kluwgant. Photo: AJN file

RABBINICAL Council of Victoria (RCV) past president Rabbi Meir Shlomo Kluwgant’s attendance at a counterterrorism conference has been criticised by the community’s roof body.

Rabbi Kluwgant was one of a number of ethnic and religious representatives to meet with federal Attorney-General Robert McClelland last week to discuss ways to tackle violent extremism as part of the Government’s counterterrorism policies. However, Jewish Community Council of Victoria (JCCV) president John Searle has criticised the rabbi’s attendance.

“I don’t think that in any way falls in the domain of what they should be doing,” Searle said of the RCV’s representation at the meeting.
Over many years, Jewish community organisations, including the JCCV, the B’nai B’rith Anti-Defamation Commission and the Community Security Group, have made submissions and worked closely with federal security agencies on counterterrorism issues.

Searle said the RCV – a union of 43 Orthodox rabbis, which is not affiliated with the JCCV – did not have the experience with counterterrorism or political extremism required to discuss it at the top level.

“On what basis do they go to the Attorney-General?” he asked. “With no facts, no figures and no community input. We’ve been dealing with these issues for years.”

Searle said the JCCV had been invited to the conference with the Attorney-General, but was unable to send a representative.

He added, “One might have thought at the very least they’d tell us they were going.”

But RCV president Rabbi Yaakov Glasman defended the RCV’s attendance. “The JCCV has not communicated its concern to us in relation to this matter,” he said. “The RCV, together with religious leaders from numerous other faith groups, was invited by the Attorney-General to contribute to this important discussion from a religious perspective and we did so.

“If the JCCV could not attend, then that is a matter for them.”

Rabbi Kluwgant, who is also a chaplain with Victoria Police, said all leaders of ethnic and religious communities should support the Government in combating violent extremism.

“It is crucial that religious and lay leaders take an active role to discourage and condemn acts of extremist violence,” he said.

NAOMI LEVIN