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AIJAC angered and disappointed at “cowardly” and “discriminatory” actions of the 2024 Frontline Mental Health Conference

Mar 4, 2024 | AIJAC

Israeli trauma expert Dr Moshe Farchi (Image: Twitter/X)
Israeli trauma expert Dr Moshe Farchi (Image: Twitter/X)

The Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council (AIJAC) today expressed its anger and disappointment at the news that the 2024 Frontline Mental Health Conference, scheduled to take place on the Gold Coast on March 4 and 5, decided to rescind the participation of renowned Israeli expert Dr Moshe Farchi at the last minute after coming under pressure from pro-Palestinian activists.

AIJAC Executive Director Dr Colin Rubenstein said, “The management of the Frontline Mental Health Conference aided and abetted the discriminatory intent of a small number of pro-Palestinian activists determined to target any and all Israelis for exclusion – even if they never say so in so many words. In caving into the demands of the activists while citing a ‘duty of care’ to conference attendees, the Frontline Mental Health Conference administration gave these activists exactly what they wanted. It was especially egregious and indefensible that this decision was taken after Dr Farchi had already travelled to Australia to attend the conference.

“Apparently, a tiny number of activists can now gain a heckler’s veto over who Australians can listen to or interact with merely by threatening to demonstrate. Allowing them this power of veto, as Frontline Mental Health Conference did, is not only frankly cowardly and un-Australian, but effectively amounts to participating in gross discrimination on the basis of nationality or ethnicity.”

He continued, “The biggest losers in this whole sorry affair were Australian frontline aid and emergency workers, who lost the ability to gain from Dr Farchi’s unique and invaluable expertise in acute trauma and emergency mental health intervention. Forged in Israel’s unique circumstances, this is expertise and experience they are not likely to have access to from any other source.

“Australia stands to lose a great deal more if the cowardly stance – and de facto act of discrimination – by the administrators of the Frontline Mental Health Conference is not subject to strong pushback by our political and community leaders,” Dr Rubenstein concluded.

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