Lesli Berger elected President of NSW Jewish Board of Deputies
2018 Annual General Meeting
August 21, Sydney Jewish Museum Education Centre
Deputies I have been Chair of the Public Affairs Committee for the last 3 years and Vice President the last two years, since that time under Jeremy Spinak’s extraordinary leadership we have persuaded the NSW Government to introduce effective criminal racial vilification laws, a law our community has wanted to reform for over 15 years.
Deputies, we have also significantly improved our position with the NSW Labor party. It is no longer the case that Bob Carr and Shaoquett Moselmanne can simply have their way with the NSW Labor conference and push their anti-Israel motions.
I stand before you because I have always been a passionate Jew and a Jew who is very passionate about his community. I don’t pretend to be religious, but I am ethical in my conduct and have a very strong moral centre.
I have strong political, media and business experience. I promise you to be a strong but fair President.
I promise you we will renew our focus on engagement with our Deputies and members of our community and to that end we will always have a microphone available at our Plenums and we will constitute a Working Party to focus on improving our engagement.
My passion for the Jewish Community and my love for the State of Israel came about as a direct result of my family and in particular my late grandfather Michael Berger who was a Holocaust survivor and an ardent Zionist. He loved Israel despite its flaws as every good democracy is flawed and I share that passion as I know you do.
One of the lessons I learned from Michael is that forgiveness is critical. He never hated the Germans for what they did to him and his family, a life lesson I have learned because I choose not to hate anyone, even when I have felt wronged.
Deputies, as a community we face enormous political and security challenges.
We face constant security threats that our community must be appropriately protected against.
According to Ambassador Dore Gold, world Jewry faces the ugly headwinds of the rise of anti-semitism. What is happening in Europe and the British Labor Party all too easily could happen here and we must remain vigilant.
Just last week, we had a Muslim member of Parliament deny entry to our CEO Vic Alhadeff to a multi-cultural event and so far that member has received no sanction from his party.
We also heard Senator Anning’s vile speech where he referred to the “final solution” in relation to Muslim immigration, reminding our community of the horrors of the holocaust, a fate we would not wish on anyone. To their great credit, both the Prime Minister and Leader of the Opposition condemned these vile comments.
The challenge for us as a community is how can we best address the ongoing political and security challenges we face in the context of the rise of extremism whether it be from the far left or the far right.
Our purpose is to stop ANTI-SEMITISM, strengthen our SECURITY and strengthen our ties with ISRAEL.
The first question: What are the main political challenges we face?
- The need to maintain bi-partisan support for the State of Israel. Too often criticism of Israel is used as a pretext to delegitimise the world’s only Jewish state.
- The constant need to monitor politicians, community leaders and educators to ensure they do not inappropriately reference the Holocaust or even worse make anti-Semitic statements;
- The need to manage our relationship with the NSW Greens and ensure that their extreme elements are marginalised.
- The need to ensure that the anti-Semitic Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Policy receives no public support and that we shame all those who support this policy;
- The need to ensure our community has adequate burial space;
- The need to ensure our community receives appropriate security funding particularly for the CSG (The community security group). The NSW Government has not yet committed the funds our community so desperately needs.
Everyone in our community must play their part.
The second question: What can you do to help?
- Donate to the JCA, every donation counts;
- Encourage every member of our community to become an active member of the NSW Jewish Board of Deputies, unity and stability are key;
- Follow the JBD’s Facebook page, like our posts and share them with your friends;
- Tell people you are Jewish – to know a Jewish person is to like a Jewish person
- If you are politically minded, join your political party of choice;
The third question, what can I as President do to help strengthen our community? We will focus on 3 key areas:
(i) We will continue to professionalise the operations of the Board and use the resources of our community efficiently and judiciously;
(ii) We will improve our use of data and become the professional campaign headquarters of our community which has a grass roots focus;
(iii) We will strengthen our social media capacity;
(iv) For those who wish to delegitimize Israel, we will normalise Israel;
(v) For those who hate our community, we will humanise our community
2. Coalition Building:
(i) We will continue to build coalitions with other like-minded communities and groups;
3. Our community:
(i) We will strengthen our engagement with members of our community, Deputies and our Constituent organisations; and critically
(ii) We will mentor and develop the next generation of leaders of our community.
Deputies, I know you share my sentiments in wishing Jeremy Spinak and his family good health and happiness and every success in his treatment.
All of this work has begun under the capable leadership of Jeremy Spinak and Deputies, with your help, I promise to continue Jeremy’s extraordinary legacy and I am honoured and privileged to serve our community to the best of my ability.
Dear communal member,
The 73rd Annual General Meeting of the NSW Jewish Board of Deputies took place on Tuesday, 21 August 2018.
At the AGM, the following Executive was elected:
President – Lesli Berger
Immediate Past President – Jeremy Spinak
Vice Presidents – Yaron Finkelstein, Isabelle Shapiro OAM
Hon. Secretary – Melissa McCurdie
Hon. Treasurer – Sam Zweig
War Memorial Representative
Dr George Foster
Shoah Remembrance – Daniel Hochberg
Education – Sandy Hollis
Public Affairs – David Ossip
Community Relations – Gael Kennedy
Social Justice – Liam O’Callaghan
Please note the changes and alter your records accordingly.
If we can be of assistance in any way please contact our CEO, Vic Alhadeff email@example.com or telephone 9360 1600.
LABOR MP Shaoquett Moselmane has been accused of excluding key figures of Australia’s Jewish media from multiple events that were billed as celebrations of multiculturalism.
It is the second serious allegation this week against Mr Moselmane of excluding the Jewish community from multicultural events.
It comes as the government targeted Mr Moselmane in parliament with Treasurer Dominic Perrottet dramatically accusing Labor of holding “anti-Semitic views”.
“(The media have been) accurately representing anti-Semitic views they have on that side,” he said.
Both J-Wire and the Australian Jewish News told The Daily Telegraph they could not recall being invited to the Multicultural and indigenous Media awards which Mr Moselmane established in 2012 and ran until 2016.
The events were held at NSW Parliament House. Australian Jewish News CEO Joshua Levi accused Mr Moselmane of not sharing values of multiculturalism.
“We didn’t even receive an invitation from Moselmane … seemingly he has a problem with the Jewish community. Luke Foley is a friend of the Jewish community, but if he really cares about that relationship it’s about time he take real action against someone that doesn’t seem to share his values of multiculturalism.”
Labor leader Luke Foley declined to address the latest allegation with a spokesman saying the media awards were not an official Labor event and were started by Mr Moselmane as a “private individual”. The complaints about the media awards come days after Mr Moselmane was accused of “excluding” Jewish Board of Deputies chief executive Vic Alhadeff from a Labor event.
“Mr Moselmane’s hostility to Jewish Australians is pretty clear now.
“It’s a pattern of behaviour that should rule him out of leading a Labor multicultural organisation,” Mr Alhadeff said.
Mr Perrottet raised the Jewish community’s concerns in parliament, saying Labor held “anti-Semitic views”. The issue erupted in parliament with Labor’s only Jewish MP Ron Hoenig saying Mr Perrottet’s comment was “deeply offensive”.
“I am the only Jewish member of the Labor Party, most of whose family was exterminated in the final solution. I take exception to suggestion that I would join an anti-Semitic party in any circumstance … neither I nor the Jewish community regard the Labor Party as anti-Semitic. And I find the Treasurer’s comments to be deeply offensive,” Mr Hoenig said.
Mr Moselmane did not respond to request for comment.
August 14, 2018
By Andrew Clennell, National Political Editor
The first Muslim MP in the NSW parliament has sparked a row overnight, refusing entry to a respected Jewish leader to a Labor party multicultural launch.
Approximately 300 women of many ages from over 20 cultural backgrounds came together for a night of singing, dancing, eating and laughing at the 2018 Women of Diversity Dinner (WDD) held at the Emporium Function Centre.
NSW Jewish Board of Deputies Community Relations & Policy Manager Lynda Ben-Menashe said, “the WDD is the city’s premier multicultural event for women, giving them the opportunity to celebrate their own cultures, embrace others’ and just have fun. Our message is simple – whether you were born in Australia, or arrived recently, we all want this home of ours to be a harmonious and peaceful place for our families. The WDD is an avenue to express this sentiment.”
The WDD organising committee was thrilled to have the host of SBS Living Black, Karla Grant, emcee the event – which was held during national NAIDOC month. Guests were treated to songs in French, Arabic, Hebrew and Hindi by multilingual performer Dahlia Dior and had fun learning Bollywood dance moves from classically-trained Indian dancers, sisters Varsha and Megha Krishnappa. Another highlight of the evening was the traditional dress Afghan fashion parade.
“The annual Women of Diversity Dinner was a joyful event that brought together women of many different backgrounds. Everyone involved had a fun time, the hall was filled with laughter, singing and dancing with the singer Dahlia Dior’s Hindi number welcoming new Indian arrivals setting the scene for an inspirational and colourful fashion parade by women from the Afghani community followed by traditional South Indian dancing. To our surprise, we even had a swift Bollywood dance lesson, which was the icing on the cake, making most of us jingle and mingle even further”, said Zubeda Raihman, President, Muslim Women’s National Network of Australia, Inc.
The WDD is organised by a partnership of organisations including the Ethnic Communities’ Council of NSW, Afghan Women on the Move, Australian South Sea Islanders (ASSI) – Port Jackson, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Muslim Women’s National Network, NSW Jewish Board of Deputies, SAHELI, Settlement Services International, Uniting Church, and individual women.
July 20, 2018
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.
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.
“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.
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