Australian Jews savage Zuckerberg’s ‘assault on truth’

The Australian
July 20, 2018

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg. Picture: AFP

Australian Jewish leaders have lambasted Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg for allowing Holocaust denial to be a protected form of speech on Facebook.

Zuckerberg defended the rights of Facebook users to publish Holocaust denial posts, saying he didn’t “think that they’re intentionally getting it wrong”.

Anti-Defamation Commission chairman Dvir Abramovich denounced Mr Zuckerberg’s remarks — made to website Recode — as “profoundly disappointing and troubling”. “The agents of this vicious and ­deliberate assault on the truth should not be provided with a welcome mat and platform on the world’s most popular social networking website to preach hate, to gain legitimacy for their sickening lies and to attract new members to their cause,” Dr Abramovich said.

“By allowing these despicable pages to stay, Facebook is contributing to the social accept­ability of racism and is enabling the flourishing of a long, and bone-chilling campaign of dehumanisation and incitement that has led to the extermination of millions.

“I have no doubt that Holocaust deniers are smiling, empowered by the knowledge that they can continue to exploit this new technology to demonise Jews, to label survivors as hoaxers, and to keep inflicting grief and suffering on the victims. The Nazis would have found much to like in the way Facebook has allowed hatred to invade its reputable space.”

NSW Jewish Board of Deputies chief executive Vic Alhadeff said: “The Holocaust was the most thoroughly documented genocide in history, documented by the perpetrators themselves. There have been thousands of trials in which the magnitude of Nazis war crimes was placed on the public record. For anyone to suggest Holocaust denial is not pernicious or malicious is simply mind-boggling. Facebook has a responsibility to uphold community standards, which means not giving a platform to those who spread lies and bigotry.”

Sydney Jewish Museum chief executive Norman Seligman said: “Holocaust denial is not another version of fake news: it’s hate speech and anti-Semitism.”

Facebook is struggling to clamp down on misinformation and fake news after Russian-backed groups spread propaganda on the platform.


NSW Premier to address Board of Deputies AGM – August 21

The Premier has a longstanding, supportive relationship with the Jewish community since being elected to the seat of Willoughby in 2003. Before being voted in as Premier after Mike Baird retired in January 2017, she held senior parliamentary positions including Treasurer, Minister for Industrial Relations and Minister for Transport.

Premier Gladys Berejiklian raising a toast at Israel Independence Day celebrations 2018.

“Our work in the political sector has been highlighted in recent months by the passage of legislation outlawing incitement to violence – a cause on which we had been working for over a decade,” said Board of Deputies CEO Vic Alhadeff said. “It is fitting that the Premier will address the AGM as it highlights our strong co-operation with the State Government and the work which we do to benefit the community and all of NSW.”

The AGM will be an opportunity for the community to focus on work which the Board has done in a range of sectors, including media, intercultural, education and NGO.

It will also mark the culmination of Jeremy Spinak’s four-year presidency; if executive positions are contested, elections for the new leadership team will be held.

The AGM will take place at 7:30pm on August 21 at the Sydney Jewish Museum Education Centre in Darlinghurst.


Nelson Mandela: propelled from a village to a place in history

The Australian
July 19, 2018
Vic Alhadeff

Nelson Mandela congratulates Springbok skipper Francois Pienaar. Picture: AFP

I returned to South Africa a week before the 1994 elections — the first time in that country’s troubled history every adult would have the right to vote. Irrespective of race.

I was driven from what was still called Jan Smuts Airport in Johannesburg to The Sowetan — a newspaper for black readers — where a Zulu tradition called Ukweshwama, designed to symbolically drain away the evils of the past, was about to take place.

A bull was tethered to a pole in a courtyard, a fiercesome dagger resting nearby. Black and white management and staff jostled in anticipation. Then, after chants and prayers, a dignitary lifted the animal’s head and with a flourish, ceremoniously slit its throat. Men positioned a large bowl to capture the outpouring blood and the rapt crowd burst into Nkosi Sikelel’ iAfrica — the Xhosa-Zulu hymn which now comprises the first half of South Africa’s national anthem.

One of Nelson Mandela’s signature characteristics was an ability to combine and respect traditional and modern cultures and values. As evidenced by the Ukweshwama ritual, which marked the culmination of the hated Apartheid system while heralding a democratic election.

And as Mandela brilliantly personified when, in an act which was in equal measure symbolic, strategic, political and essential, he donned the No 6 jersey of Springbok captain Francois Pienaar at the 1995 World Cup final against the All Blacks at Johannesburg’s Ellis Park Stadium and presented him with the Webb Ellis Cup. Through that ingenious master-stroke, he sent a powerful message to the country’s 35 million blacks — who detested the Springboks because of the regime they represented — that rugby was an intrinsic facet of the Afrikaans tradition and therefore needed to be accepted and respected. Equally, he sent a powerful message to the country’s 5 million whites that he, their newly elected black president, was willing to embrace their hallowed sport. The crowd of 63,000 erupted, enraptured, understanding the power of what they had witnessed.

Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela would have turned 100 yesterday. I served as chief sub-editor of The Cape Times. Mandela was incarcerated on Robben Island at the time — but he was the unspoken presence in the editorial room.

A key instrument in the government’s strategy of subjugating the black population while keeping the ruling white sector uninformed about the revolutionary movement fermenting beneath the surface was a draconian system of censorship. Mandela and other anti-Apartheid activists were not merely imprisoned, they were also banned, which meant it was forbidden for media to quote them or report anti-Apartheid activities. The deeper issue was that South Africans never heard from Mandela or his colleagues, could not read — legitimately, at least — of their grievances and aspirations, and never saw their photographs.

Generations of South Africans therefore had no idea what the leaders of the majority looked like, sounded like, thought, felt or dreamed — whether that related to the right to vote or live with their families. Unless one of the handful of progressive politicians spoke out under the protection of parliamentary privilege, those who were banned were effectively confined to a non-existence. Furthermore, if their names were mentioned, it was invariably by a government politician in a pejorative context in which they would be condemned.

Yet Mandela was there. ­Silenced. Casting a giant shadow. And as one of the nation’s anti-Apartheid newspapers, we were acutely aware that in our midst was a colossus whose time had to come. And when it did, it would change South Africa forever. Mandela exemplified the African notion of Ubuntu, which in Xhosa culture means “I am because we are”, one’s humanity is determined by how one interacts with others, a person is a person through other people.

His four-hour closing address at the Rivonia Trial in 1963-64 — which saw him receive a life sentence — is one of the great speeches of all time. After recounting tales he heard as a child from tribal elders and recalling the deals of the African National Congress and the indignities suffered by his people, he discarded his notes and turned to Justice Quartus de Wet. “During my lifetime,” he said, “I have dedicated myself to this struggle of the African people. I have fought against white domination and against black domination. I have cherished the ideal of a democratic, free society in which all persons live together in harmony with equal opportunities. It is an ideal which I hope to live for and to achieve. But if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.”

The same qualities of leadership, character and conviction which propelled him from a timeless riverside village to a place in history for all time.


Former PM John Howard addresses Shabbat Dinner

FORMER prime minister John Howard was keynote speaker at a unique Liberal Party Shabbat dinner hosted by the NSW Jewish Board of Deputies last Friday night.

A key plank of the JBD’s outreach work, the organisation regularly invites key sectors of civil society to attend a Shabbat service, followed by dinner in an adjoining hall.

Attended by 120 people, the Liberal Party event was held at Kehillat Masada Synagogue in St Ives, with Rabbi Gad Krebs officiating at the Shabbat service.

The guests comprised a sizeable contingent of federal, state and local government politicians, including Jason Falinski MP, Paul Fletcher MP, Julian Leeser MP, Alister Henskens SC MP, Jonathan O’Dea MP, Scott Farlow MLC and Natalie Ward MLC, as well as Hornsby Mayor and NSW Liberal Party president Phillip Ruddock, Kuringai Mayor Jennifer Anderson, a dozen councillors from Bayside, Ryde, Northern Beachesl, Sutherland Shire, The Hills Shire, Waverley and Woollahra, and NSW Liberal Friends of Israel president Yosi Tal.

Reflecting on his unswerving support of the Australian Jewish community and Israel, Howard recalled his multiple visits to Israel as Opposition Leader and then as Prime Minister, praising it as the only democracy in the Middle East. Covering a wide range of issues with his customary forensic approach, he interspersed anecdotes of his encounters with Jewish humour – such as having been dubbed a “goyishe kop” after making a mistake as a young solicitor by his boss, Myer Rosenblum – with his avowed admiration for the contribution of Jews to Australian civil society across a range of fields. He challenged guests to strive for freedom and liberty, particularly freedom of religion.

Presiding over the dinner, Board of Deputies CEO Vic Alhadeff said that “in the final four years of the government led by John Howard, Australia became one of a handful of nations willing to put principle ahead of politics and stand up for Israel in the sea of jaundice and anti-Israel hostility casually referred to at the United Nations. There have been over 400 anti-Israel resolutions in the UN General Assembly since Israel was established,” he said, “more than against all the other members of the UN combined. Between 2003 and 2007 – the final Howard years – there were 36 resolutions condemning Israel at the General Assembly. In resolution after resolution, while about 164 nations typically voted to condemn Israel, just five courageously stood with it – typically, the US, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Palau and Australia.

“Four years ago, John Howard was awarded the George S Wise Medal – Tel Aviv University’s highest honour – in recognition of his unwavering advocacy of Israel, his abiding friendship with the Australian Jewish community and his condemnation of international terrorism”.

The mantle that the Howard government adopted in the international arena has been picked up by Malcolm Turnbull’s government, Alhadeff said, citing two examples. “Last month the UN Human Rights Council passed a resolution condemning Israel in regard to the recent crisis at the Gaza border. In the 815-word resolution, the word Hamas did not appear once. Twenty-nine nations voted in favour, 14 abstained, just two voted against – the US and Australia. This was followed days later by a similar resolution at the General Assembly, where again Australia was one of a handful of nations to oppose it. Once again, putting principle ahead of politics.”

Alhadeff cited as a local example of the friendship of the Liberal Party “the momentous event which occurred on Macquarie Street three weeks ago when the Crimes Amendment (Publicly Threatening and Inciting Violence) Bill 2018 became law. For 15 years the Board of Deputies has been lobbying state governments of various hues to plug a gap in the law – a gap which meant that one could, with immunity, publicly incite violence or even death to fellow Australians. It was this state government, led by Premier Gladys Berejiklian and Attorney-General Mark Speakman, which listened to the people and made it happen, and the bill proscribing incitement to violence against others based on a range of categories including race, religion and sexual orientation passed unanimously through both Houses of Parliament.

“It was a great day for the people of NSW, a great day for this country, and we look forward to every government in this country emulating the fine example and benchmark set by this NSW government. That it was on this party’s watch that the law changed is a credit to the NSW Liberal Party and the governing coalition, and current and future generations will be indebted to you for that.”

Alhadeff also commended a motion which was passed days later by the NSW Young Liberals to congratulate the government on the legislation.

Jewish House signs National Redress Scheme

The NSW Jewish Board of Deputies congratulates Jewish House on becoming the first Jewish organisation to join the National Redress Scheme, which is designed to acknowledge and support people who have experienced institutional child sexual abuse and to provide them with access to counselling, payment and an apology. JewishCare Victoria is also in the process of joining the scheme, and we encourage other Jewish organisations to follow suit.

Two years ago, Board of Deputies Social Justice Committee chair Emeritus Professor Bettina Cass established a task force to co-ordinate the community’s response to this issue.  Jewish House CEO Rabbi Mendel Kastel is a member of the Task Force. Professor Cass is also chairing an ECAJ national working group, which is co-ordinating information and advice for Jewish institutions across Australia about polices and procedure for child protection and understanding the process of opting in to the National Redress Scheme.

The National Redress Scheme began on July 1, 2018. For more information visit or call the National Redress Scheme on 1800 737 377.

Isaac Herzog lunch at the UIA

Veteran Michael Danby ready to call it a day

The Australian
12:00AM July 5, 2018
By Greg Sheridan

A Labor lion has decided to roar no more, at least in parliament.

Michael Danby, one of Bill Shorten’s strongest supporters in the federal Labor caucus, has ­decided to retire from politics at the next election. Mr Danby, 63, has held the marginal seat of Melbourne Ports since 1998.

The Victorian Labor Party factional heavyweights have decided to re-endorse all sitting members and the party’s administrative committee is expected to ratify that decision next week.

Mr Danby was assured of preselection but has decided to ­announce his retirement early to give the Labor Party plenty of time to select a replacement.

Mr Danby supports a full democratic process of Labor Party preselection to choose his ­replacement in Melbourne Ports.

“Seven terms and 20 years is enough,” he said.

“This is the right time to trans­ition to a new career in Australia or international affairs. I am looking forward to this next chapter in my life.”

Mr Danby was one of the earliest and strongest Labor backers of Mr Shorten’s leadership aspirations. He said: “Bill Shorten and I have been friends since he was 20 and we share many core values.

“I believe Bill can take the party to victory and I look forward to seeing that play out.”

Given Mr Danby’s strong personal vote, and his electorate’s high average income, Melbourne Ports will be a difficult seat for Labor to hold at the next election unless the party sweeps to government on a big swing.

Although Mr Danby was ­briefly parliamentary secretary for the arts under Julia Gillard, he has been most influential as a backbencher.

Along with Mark Dreyfus and Josh Frydenberg, he is one of three Jewish members of the federal parliament, and has been a strong supporter of Israel.

Last year he was criticised on many ABC programs for using $4500 from his electorate communication allowance to buy ads in The Jewish News to criticise the ABC’s coverage of Israel.

However, apart from his energetic work for his electorate, Mr Danby’s main contribution has been on international human rights issues and national security.

As a member of the treaties committee he played an important role in Labor’s decision last year to oppose ratifying an extradition treaty with Beijing. With Senate crossbench opposition and roiling dissent within the Liberal Party, the treaty ultimately failed. He has on several occasions arranged the Canberra leg of visits to Australia by the Dalai Lama, as well as the Chinese ­Uighur leader, Rebiya Kadeer.

Many observers believe his most influential period in public life came when he chaired the joint parliamentary committee on foreign affairs, defence and trade.

In 2009 he convened a major international conference in Melbourne on North Korean human rights. He also widely promoted Han Dong Fan, a Hong Kong-based activist who supports independent trade unionists in China.

Some observers believe Mr Danby may have been the Australian MP the Beijing government liked least.

Fashion’s photographer’s post sparks Jewish outrage

July 4, 2018
The Australian
By Rachel Baxendale

An award-winning fashion photographer who posted a caricature of a hook-nosed Jewish man on his Facebook page with the caption, “Imagine being so disgusting there have to be laws to try to stop normal people from hating you”, says he didn’t realise the post was anti-Semitic.

Brisbane-based haute couture designer and photographer Richard de Chazal added: “Give back Palestine.”

The image and caption were circulated after the NSW parliament last month unanimously passed legislation outlawing incitement to violence on the basis of race or religious affiliation.

De Chazal yesterday updated his post, saying he had been alerted that it was anti-Semitic.

“I did not know that — I thought it was a post referring to Israel seeking to make it illegal to criticise their actions and human rights violations re Palestine,” he wrote. “Anti-Semitism, just as all discrimination, racism and ¬hatred, is wrong.”
NSW Jewish Board of Deputies chief executive Vic Alhadeff said the cartoon was offensive.

“If the writer is referring to the legislation outlawing incitement to violence which the NSW parliament recently passed, no law can stop people hating you, but the law can and should stop people inciting violence against you,” Mr Alhadeff said.

“However, if he is referring to Israel, as he now claims, it also makes his post absurd, given that Israel is a robust democracy where freedom of the press and an independent judiciary are hallmarks of its open society. And, yes, the picture and text are indeed anti-Semitic.”

Executive Council of Australian Jewry chief executive Peter Wertheim said of de Chazal: “His posted comment has ¬deployed a classical racist stereotype of a Jew, commonly used in neo-Nazi literature, in order to attack Israel’s legitimacy as a state.”

De Chazal did not respond to a request for comment.

The photographer hit the headlines last year when he sued a Gold Coast cosmetic surgeon for using topless photographs he took of former Miss Universe Australia Rachael Finch in ¬advertising without permission.

De Chazal’s Facebook page features posts supporting progressive causes, such as ending live sheep exports, closing Australia’s offshore detention centres, and condemning US President ¬Donald Trump.

The new NSW hate speech laws make it a crime to “publicly threaten or incite violence” on the grounds of race, religious ¬affiliation, sexual orientation, gender identity or intersex or HIV/AIDS status.

Could you be the next NSWJBD intern?

The NSW Jewish Board of Deputies is the roof body of the Jewish community in NSW and represents the community to the media, government, NGO, interfaith and Education sectors.

We are currently receiving applications for the second semester 2018 voluntary PUBLIC AFFAIRS INTERNSHIP.

This is an opportunity to gain experience in a professional office within the Jewish community’s premier public affairs organisation.

We are looking for a university-aged person with an interest in politics, communal affairs, media, Israel and Jewish issues.

What is required: 9am – 5pm one day per week from August 6 – November 30 (17 Weeks).

Tasks may include:
Assisting with events
Database entry and programming
Speech writing
Input into political strategy

What you will gain*:
An understanding of the Australian political landscape at a local, state and federal level.
Skills in research, writing and speaking.
Access to exclusive events.
Knowledge of the Jewish community’s interconnections and systems.

Please email resume and cover letter by COB Wednesday July 18 to:
William Nemesh
Jewish Community Relationship Manager
NSW Jewish Board of Deputies
Enquiries 9360 1600

*In some instances, the internship may be credited towards your study.


Tamara Smith accused of trivialising Holocaust with US-Nazi Facebook meme

Tamara Smith accused of trivialising Holocaust with US-Nazi Facebook meme


June 29, 2018 12:00am

A GREENS MP has been ­accused of trivialising the Holocaust by spreading an “appalling” meme comparing the US to Nazi Germany.

Tamara Smith has been told to go back to her history books after posting a bizarre and offensive picture juxtaposing the US under Donald Trump and Adolf Hitler’s evil regime.

A meme on the official Facebook page of Greens MP Tamara Smith.

The meme, which purports to show the children of illegal immigrants being detained by US authorities while their parents’ cases are processed, compares the youngsters to concentration camp victims huddling ­behind barbed wire in a Nazi death camp.

The Ballina MP was forced into an embarrassing backdown yesterday and deleted the image after she was questioned by The Daily Telegraph — but did not apologise.

The image had been on Ms Smith’s official Greens MP Facebook page for five days.

NSW Jewish Board of Deputies chief executive Vic Alhadeff condemned the post.

Greens member for Ballina Tamara Smith. Picture: Glenn Hunt

“Whatever concerns one might have for the plight of child refugees in the US, the analogy that Tamara Smith draws with what occurred in Nazi Germany is beyond outrageous,” he said.

“The vast majority of the people whom Nazi Germany placed behind barbed wire were destined to be murdered.

“Comparing that to today’s child refugee crisis shows an appalling lack of judgment (and) an egregious lack of understanding of what the Holocaust was.”

Locals were also offended by the meme, with one questioning the legitimacy of the photo purporting to show America.

Ms Smith snapped back in a Facebook comment: “It’s a metaphor!”

Members of the public comment on the meme.

And the MP was slammed by voters for doing nothing in her electorate.

“Another thoughtless meme … the bottom pic looks like well fed and dressed kids on ice (in) a Ballina lockup what are you going to do something as the local member to fix this local problem … instead of reposting butterflies and volcanoes erupting and blaming it on global warming,” one local wrote.

Ms Smith told The Daily Telegraph “there was no ­intention to offend Holocaust victims” as the post was “dir­ected at the atrocious and ­appalling behaviour of the Trump administration and its detention of children”.

NSW Labor’s Walt Secord, a patron of the Labor Israel Action Committee, said the post was “sickening and rep­ulsive”.

“Using the death of six million Jewish people … is one of the most repugnant and vile posts by a NSW parliamentarian I’ve seen in years,” Mr Secord said.