On Australian Jews and multiculturalism
I mentioned in the previous post in this series that Orthodox Jews see assimilation as a scary monster. Here is an example: “Australia’s Jewish Community: a positive model of Australian Multiculturalism” by Colin Rubenstein.
This paper will argue that the Australian Jewish community serves as a positive model of Australian Multiculturalism in terms of the successful integration of a minority community into the broader fabric of Australia’s democratic society.
It will demonstrate how the Jewish community has, over several generations, evolved on the basis of a strong self-help ethos to maintain a balance between building and strengthening its own distinctive traditions, including religious observance, rituals and history, a linguistic heritage and a strong communal identity, while at the same time fully contributing to, and effectively participating in, all aspects of Australian national life.
The paper will also indicate that the Australian Jewish community complies with the basic prerequisites of Australian multiculturalism – while actively exercising their right to practice their individual culture, they do so while fully accepting their responsibilities to observe the rule of law, parliamentary democracy, and maintaining mutual respect for others.
As such, the Jewish community has embraced the core values of liberalism and democracy that characterises Australian society, including the respect it shows for the dominant culture of the majority, while being able to retain its own character and build on its distinctiveness.
It is also a community which largely exemplifies the key concept of Australian multiculturalism – integration – as opposed to the ineffective and culturally-insensitive concepts of assimilation and separatism. This paper will note some Jewish communal institutions, structures, attitudes and values all of which constitute a model other communities may find instructive as they seek to lay the foundations for more effective integration into multicultural Australia.
Please resist any temptation to comment on the state of Israel at this moment.
Jim Belshaw has already posted on this.
As it happened, the previous program on SBS was Faces Of America Episode 2 – Becoming American. This program is a useful balance to Immigration Nation because it provides a comparison to the US immigrant experience over the similar periods. Australia didn’t seem to bad after all!…
The second episode of Immigration Nation covers the emergence of the Australian mass migration program at the end of the Second World War. I found the first part very interesting indeed because it showed the way that PM Chifley and Immigration Minister Caldwell steered the program through in the face of uncertain public support. No matter the value of the program, I doubt that they would have got it through in today’s environment with its emphasis on transparency. Indeed, it probably wouldn’t have got started at all given that focus group outcomes would have been quite negative.
From this point the program started to lose me. Surprise was expressed at the fact that PM Menzies elected in 1949 kept the broader European migration tap open despite his support of Empire and his pro-Britishness. Then there was the obligatory reference to the first visit of the Queen to demonstrate the Britishness of Australia. I accept that this is a caricature, but so was the program at this point. Then there were the obligatory references to the multicultural future that lay in front of us all.
I accept that this is message TV. I also happen to agree with some of the messages. Yet after the very interesting historical material in the first part, the program fell away…
I agree with all this, except that I found the second half of the program better than Jim did.
One aspect that struck me looking at both the US and Australian programs was the difference between our respective citizenship oaths. Now I have never taken such an oath and neither have any of my ancestors, and the same may well be true for Jim. But given my definition of an Australian — anyone who is a citizen — it is worth seeing how the citizenship oath conceives that idea.
I hereby declare, on oath, that I absolutely and entirely renounce and abjure all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign prince, potentate, state, or sovereignty of whom or which I have heretofore been a subject or citizen; that I will support and defend the Constitution and laws of the United States of America against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I will bear arms on behalf of the United States when required by the law; that I will perform noncombatant service in the Armed Forces of the United States when required by the law; that I will perform work of national importance under civilian direction when required by the law; and that I take this obligation freely without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; so help me God.
Interesting that the 1860s version cited in Episode 2 of Faces of America specified under potentates “The Queen of Great Britain and Ireland”.
The Australian Oath:
Pledge of Commitment
Form of Pledge No. 1
From this time forward, under God, I pledge my loyalty to Australia and its people, whose democratic beliefs I share, whose rights and liberties I respect, and whose laws I will uphold and obey.
Form of Pledge No. 2
From this time forward, I pledge my loyalty to Australia and its people, whose democratic beliefs I share, whose rights and liberties I respect, and whose laws I will uphold and obey.
Nothing about renouncing, notice.
Look at earlier Australian oaths:
1948 Nationality and Citizenship Act(10)
Oath of Allegiance
I, A. B; swear by Almighty God that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to His Majesty King George the Sixth, his heirs and successors according to law, and that I will faithfully observe the laws of Australia and fulfil my duties as an Australian citizen.
1966 Amendment: Insertion of renunciation
In his Second Reading Speech on the 1966 Bill, the Minister for Immigration, the Hon. Hubert Opperman stated:
we have decided that the essential words of renunciation should now be incorporated as part of the oath of allegiance to the Queen. The change will simplify and shorten the naturalisation ceremony and enhance its dignity, and will also, I believe, eliminate the emotional disturbance felt by candidates due to their national and rightful love of their homelands.(11)
Oath of Allegiance
I, A. B., renouncing all other allegiance, swear by Almighty God that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth the Second, Her Heirs and Successors according to law.
Affirmation of Allegiance
I, A. B., renouncing all other allegiance, solemnly and sincerely promise and declare that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth the Second, Her Heirs and Successors according to law.
1973 Australian Citizenship Act: insertion of reference to Queen of Australia(12)
Oath of Allegiance
I, A. B., renouncing all other allegiance, swear by Almighty God that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Elizabeth the Second, Queen of Australia, Her heirs and successors according to law, and that I will faithfully observe the laws of Australia and fulfil my duties as an Australian citizen.
Affirmation of Allegiance
I, A. B., renouncing all other allegiance, solemnly and sincerely promise and declare that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Elizabeth the Second, Queen of Australia, Her heirs and successors according to law, and that I will faithfully observe the laws of Australia and fulfil my duties as an Australian citizen.
I find all that most revealing. Many a good citizen in those days would have sworn these oaths to the King/Queen with crossed fingers, I suspect.
Now a clue where this series goes next: