I have a Jewish friend. Aviva Sheb’a is a member of the Kiama/Jamberoo RSL Sub Branch of which I am secretary. Aviva served our country in the entertainment unit during the war in South Vietnam. She is a proud Australian. But now she is also a frightened Australian. As are her family and Jewish friends.
Aviva’s family originated in Poland. Her grandparents migrated to Britain around the turn of the 20th century. Her parents were both born in the East End of London. Her father, Morris Marsh, served during the Second World War, I gather, mostly in the Royal Artillery, gaining the rank of Sergeant. He was at the liberation of Bergen-Belsen and his testimony can be viewed below. Her mother, Birdie, worked in the War Office.
The family migrated to Australia in 1951, settling in Melbourne, where Aviva was born. Her whole life has been devoted to song and dance. From her website:
Fresh out of dance school in 1968, Aviva was the resident Flamenco dancer at Rafael’s Spanish Restaurant (Melbourne). In 1970 she turned 18 while entertaining the troops in Vietnam, then Thailand and Singapore. This launched her international career spanning over five decades.
In recent years, Aviva has learned the art and science of being an older woman. Learning to adapt her life and performances to accommodate her acquired disabilities has enriched her life. She is become a far greater performer because of, not in spite of, her disabilities and maturity.
As I said, Aviva has been feeling very bruised since the appalling events of October 7, and the disgraceful and deranged reaction of many supposed Australians. But fortunately for her, an empathetic Greens councillor from Wollongong, Cath Blakey, with whom she has an acquaintance, sensed that she might be in need of support and reached out to her:
Hi Aviva, not sure if you’ve seen this already or not, of if you’re interested or not, but a close friend of mine is participating tonight and is very welcoming. A supportive discussion space for Jewish people who want to understand the Palestinian struggle in the context of Judaism and Jewishness.
Aviva (below in her prime) says, “Her message was so unexpected, I was taken by surprise. I responded with gratitude.” Then she opened the UTS link given her by Cr Blakey. Here is what she found (emphasis added):
Tzedek Collective Jewish support space
A supportive discussion space for Jewish people* who want to understand the Palestinian struggle in the context of Judaism and Jewishness. Please read through all of the following before registration.
This event is for you if:
– You want a safe Jewish space to talk about Palestine, and receive and find support without judgement
– You are angry, upset, concerned, or confused about issues such as the ongoing occupation and genocide in Gaza, and dehumanising language about Palestinian people in media and the Jewish community
– You want to know more about what Palestinian liberation means
– You believe that “never again” applies to everyone, not just Jewish people
– You aren’t sure how to talk about Palestine with your friends and family
– You’re conscious of (or willing to discover) biases you still hold and want to work through without causing harm to Palestinian people
It is NOT for you if:
– You are an uncritical supporter of the Israeli government
– You want to debate
– You want to berate people for not thinking exactly as you do.
We will be assuming good faith and setting community agreements in session, but will not hesitate to remove participants if necessary. To facilitate open discussion and protect confidentiality, this event will not be recorded.
Aviva was gobsmacked. Needless to say, she declined this generous and welcoming invitation to be re-educated. Most, if not all, elected Greens, including Cr Blakey, are contemptible. And most of the rest are, at best, useful idiots. But you already knew that.
Recently, I visited the Jewish Museum in Sydney as a guest of my niece, Erin, who works there. I had expected it to be sombre and depressing. Instead, I found it bright and uplifting. It does not deal only with the Diaspora and Holocaust, but also presents the story of Jews in Australia. Their contribution to this country dates back to the First Fleet, which contained quite a number of Jewish convicts, many of whom later became successful business people and community leaders. As have their descendants ever since.
But what struck me most, as an ex-military man, was the entrance, which is dominated by a plinth bearing the name John Monash, behind which is a beautiful black marble wall of remembrance bearing the names of all those Jews who served Australia in two World Wars. There were 3,000 of them and 177 lost their lives.
What comparable contribution can these blow-ins from Bankstown possibly claim?
If you have not been to the Museum, I urge you to go. I defy you not to be moved but, more importantly, you will give great encouragement to some fellow Australians who are feeling very hurt and vulnerable right now.
On Saturday we will commemorate the 105th anniversary of the end of World War One. When we say, ‘lest we forget’, let’s not forget to also, at the same time, think ‘never again’.