Amnesty International has lost its moral way with regard to Israel

By Alex Ryvchin

31 January, 2019

Amnesty International has unveiled a new campaign to pressure digital tourism companies such as, Expedia, Airbnb and TripAdvisor to delist properties held by Israelis living in the West Bank, and calling on governments to pass legislation that would result in the total boycott of those living in Israeli settlements.

It is just the latest attack in a long war waged by Amnesty and other once-respectable human rights organisations intent on turning public opinion against Israel and bringing about its economic and political isolation.

The origins of this lie in an infamous non-governmental organisations forum of the UN World Conference against Racism held in Durban, South Africa, in September 2001. The conference lives long in the memory for the appalling racism that marred an event convened for the very purpose of combating such conduct. Posters displayed Jewish caricatures and Nazi icons, and participants circulated copies of the anti-Semitic fabrication, Protocols of the Elders of Zion. US congressman Tom Lantos called it “the most sickening display of hate for Jews since the Nazi period”. The UN’s human rights commissioner, Mary Robinson, told the BBC “there was a horrible anti-Semitism present”.

Against this backdrop, the conference of more than 1500 representatives of international NGOs adopted a resolution that defined Israel as a “racist, apartheid state”, and called for the launch of a “global solidarity campaign” targeting governments, UN agencies and civil society to achieve the “complete and total isolation of Israel”.

This co-ordinated attack on Israel’s very existence and legitimacy, including through various forms of boycott, divest and sanctions campaigns on campus, and among trade unions, government and civil society, became the vehicle through which new generations of thought leaders would be exposed to the characterisation of the Jewish state as a uniquely wicked, unjust project that had to be unwound for the good of humanity. Amnesty was a key player in Durban and in the adoption of the resolution, and has been at the forefront of the campaign ever since.

In 2002, following an Israeli military operation in the West Bank city of Jenin in response to the Passover massacre in Netanya, in which a Palestinian suicide bomber murdered 30 civilians during a celebratory feast, Amnesty accused Israel of carrying out war crimes and massacres of Palestinian civilians. The allegations, promptly reported by the BBC and other news outlets, placed the Palestinian civilian death toll at more than 500. But 52 Palestinians died, the majority of them combatants, along with 23 Israeli soldiers, in fierce urban combat.

False allegations of a massacre made by Amnesty lubricated the machinery of the political campaign against Israel, leading to street protests, campus hearings, reams of condemnations and anti-Israel resolutions across civil society and government.

In 2015, Amnesty was forced into a humiliating admission that it had lobbied the Australian government to accept murderous Lindt Cafe terrorist Man Haron Monis as a genuine refugee.

Last April, Amnesty’s secretary-general called Israel’s democratically elected government “rogue”. In 2010, the head of its Finnish branch called Israel a “scum state”. Its British campaign manager has likened Israel to Islamic State and been condemned for his attacks on Jewish parliamentarians.

Perhaps as revealing as Amnesty’s fixation on Jews living on the “wrong” side of a long-defunct armistice line has been its relative silence on the disturbing trend of rising anti-Semitism. In April 2015, Amnesty UK rejected an initiative to “campaign against anti-semitism in the UK”, as well as “lobby the UK government to tackle the rise in anti-Semitic attacks in Britain” and “monitor anti-Semitism closely”. It was the only proposed resolution at the annual general meeting that was not adopted.

The skewed morality revealed by Amnesty’s obsession with Israel reflects a broader decline in the non-governmental sector. Whereas groups such as Amnesty and Human Rights Watch once led the struggle against Soviet tyranny and actively defended the rights of political prisoners, today they serve an increasingly narrow political agenda, one aligned with anti-Western, anti-capitalist forces. Amnesty’s apparent contempt for Israel, its ho-hum attitude to anti-Semitism, and its inordinate condemnations of democracies all stem from this malaise.

Of course, the settlements are a point of conflict between Israelis and Palestinians. Indeed, the parties identified settlements as a final status issue in the historic Oslo Accords signed between the Palestine Liberation Organisation and Israel in 1993. It was agreed that the questions of which settlements will be annexed to Israel and which will be dismantled or transferred to Palestinian sovereignty are to be resolved in direct negotiations in the context of a final peace agreement. But the pursuit of peace is not aided by Amnesty’s political manoeuvres and attempts to isolate Israel, which perpetuate conflict by other means.

Alex Ryvchin is the author of The Anti-Israel Agenda — Inside the Political War on the Jewish State (Gefen Publishing), and co-chief executive of the Executive Council of Australian Jewry.

16-year-old Jewish Terror Suspect Charged Over Killing of Palestinian Woman

Bar Peleg 

Jan 24, 2019 10:33 AM

‘The suspect held the rock with the aim of harming Arabs. He forcefully and directly hit Aisha Mohammed Rabi’s head, all in front of her family’.

Jewish minor’s DNA found on rock that killed 47-year-old Aisha Mohammed Rabi.

The 16-year-old Jewish minor suspected in the October murder of a Palestinian woman in the West Bank was formally charged with manslaughter on Thursday. The charges come one day after a court was told that the DNA the Jewish minor was found on the rock that hit her car and caused her death.

According to the indictment, the suspect and other yeshiva students stood on a hill nearby Route 60 in the central West Bank on October 12. The suspect “held a rock weighing close to two kilograms, with the intention of using it to harm Arab car passengers, based out of an ideological motive of racism and hostility toward Arabs everywhere.”

The suspect threw the rock when he noticed a vehicle with Palestinian license plate, according to the indictment. Rabi, her husband and their nine-year-old daughter were driving at a speed of close to 100 kilometers-per-hour. “As the car approached in high speed, the suspect threw the rock forcefully and direcrlty at the windshield, with the aim of harming the car’s passengers and with disregard for the possibility of causing their death.”

The rock smashed the windshield, and according to the indictment “directly and forcefully struck Rabi’s head, all in front of her family.”

No additional indictments in the case are expected, according to sources close to the investigation.

The teen was arrested in late December on suspicion of a racially motivated murder of 47-year-old Aisha Mohammed Rabi.

A gag order imposed on the case prevents the publication of the suspect’s name and age, as well as those of four other suspects arrested in early January and released almost a week later, all Israeli settlers.

Last week, prosecutors had announced that the state intended to indict the teen within five days, but when that period ended, both sides informed the court that the teen had changed his mind and wished to give his own version of events.

“The prosecutor’s office, together with the Israel Police, has operated in the fairest manner and despite the fact that the minor refrained from giving his version of events throughout all of his interrogations, allowed him to have another interrogation…,” the judge wrote.

Drought in focus for new Australia-Israel cooperation on water management

By  Tom McIlroy

Australian Financial Review

21 January, 2019

Israel’s former state water commissioner says better management of supply and changes in storage methods should be key to preparedness for more regular and longer lasting droughts in Australia.

Completing a visit to NSW and Queensland organised by leading businessman and ANZ chairman David Gonski and the Jewish National Fund of Australia, Shimon Tal said Israel’s success in developing so-called “new water” technology could be hard to replicate in Australian agriculture, but improved efficiency in water transport, reservoir management and ground water use could take pressure off communities and businesses in future drought events.

A founding director of the Zuckerberg Institute for Water Research, Mr Tal was accompanied on the visit to Australia by the director of the Blaustein Institute for Desert Research, Noam Weisbrod, and Ben-Gurion University of the Negev professor Eilon Adar.

Members of the Israeli delegation toured NSW and Queensland, meeting with experts, policy makers and business representatives

The delegation met with experts, government officials and businesses, part of efforts to promote cooperation between the two countries.

“In Israel, we also think in terms of advanced water management, the water sector, but it is not a cut and paste thing,” Mr Tal said.

“You cannot copy management principles from one place to another without considering the existing conditions in each place, including geographical, climate, cultural, social aspects of water management.

“We have to prepare ourselves for the future. In Australia, you should emphasise much more efficient ways to use the water resources. We have seen efficiency is a very important issue in sustainable water management, including in irrigation, efficiency in using the ground water resources and in storage and the like.”

Team effort

The visit, coordinated by the Embassy of Israel in Canberra and representatives of the NSW and Queensland state governments, comes as the two states and communities across eastern Australia struggle with entrenched drought conditions and the need for reliable water supply.

It included discussions on cooperation for improved management of water shortages and technological innovation for reuse, purification, conservation and management.

The Morrison government has established a $5 billion fund for drought relief, providing assistance to primary producers, community organisations and rural communities.

Storms in NSW before Christmas were ineffective for significant pasture and crop production, while more than 58 per cent of Queensland is currently classified as drought affected.

Mr Tal said international cooperation on water and drought responses should increase, including economic development which could lead to job creation.

Israel reuses more than 90 per cent of the sewerage effluent and has built desalination plants to double the use of natural water.

“In Israel we have to learn from what is happening here in Australia and maybe rethink what we are already doing ourselves. Cooperation between government officials and between scientists and the academic world should be much stronger between our two countries,” he said.

Israel’s former state water commissioner and founding director of the Zuckerberg Institute for Water Research Shimon Tal in Australia.

On Monday, Labor announced plans for top scientists to prepare a report on the causes of the mass fish kill in the Darling River at Menindee.

The group, led by the Australian Academy of Science, will report before Parliament resumes.

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten has sought advice on any possible “step change” to water inflows due to climate change.

Agriculture Minister David Littleproud last week asked the Murray-Darling Basin Authority to convene an emergency meeting of state and federal water managers and environmental water holders, but the NSW government insists drought remains a key factor in the fish kill.

Jewish guests confronted by Germany’s new generation of neo-Nazis

By: Vic Alhadeff

19 January 2019

The cry was as jarring and intrusive as it was unexpected. Huddled against a bracing Frankfurt morning, the delegation of Jewish leaders from centres as diverse as Novosibirsk, Siberia, and Santiago, Chile, was listening to an outdoor briefing about the turbulent history which lay behind a sign that simply said “Judenmarkt”.

Just metres away was an elongated grey wall, its surface punctuated by tiny metal boxes – simulated coffins? – each bearing biographical details of one of the 11,500 Jews of Frankfurt who were murdered in the Holocaust. Suddenly, a cream-coloured Mercedes taxi raced towards us; as it passed, the driver lowered his window and yelled “Alles luege!” – which translates, unfortunately, to “All lies!”

Vic Alhadeff, centre, with Dr Felix Klein, appointed by the German government to devise a strategy to combat antisemitism.

The irony that the invective occurred during the final presentation on the final day of a week-long government program titled “Jewish Life in Germany” was not lost on the international visitors, while visibly rattling our guide’s composure. A commendable initiative of the German Foreign Ministry, the comprehensive schedule of briefings, site visits and participation in Holocaust memorial ceremonies immersed us in the fraught situation in which the German Government and the nation’s 250,000 Jews currently find themselves.

Headlining the most disturbing aspect of the evolving landscape is the eruption onto the political scene of an extremist party with neo-Nazi elements, the Alternative for Deutschland (AfD). From a standing start, it burst into prominence in September 2017 and now occupies an alarming 92 seats in the Bundestag (federal parliament), making it one of the country’s largest opposition parties, while fielding MPs in all 16 of the nation’s state parliaments.

Exploiting widespread anger at the 2015 influx of over one million Syrian refugees, its principal platform is opposition to Muslim immigration. In this context it bizarrely presents itself as a safe harbour for German Jews, attempting to launch a Jewish group at a recent meeting in Wiesbaden. The good news was that only 19 Jews showed up, while 400 Jews staged a counter-demonstration and affirmed that they would have nothing to do with the AfD – consistent with the policy of the country’s peak Jewish organisation.

While the rise in antisemitic incidents is attributed in part to the left, to Islamists and to refugees, over 90 per cent are perpetrated by far-right extremists – all of which has motivated Germany’s Foreign Ministry to establish a position dedicated to combating anti-semitism and liaising with German Jewry. The appointee is Dr Felix Klein, who is building a department to devise a strategy to combat antisemitism and promote Jewish life in Germany. At the same time, 300 municipalities across the country are engaged in programs against hate.

While German Jews are spread across 103 communities throughout the country, creating logistical challenges, there are many positive events on the national Jewish calendar. They include: Jewrovision, a music festival for Jewish youth, bringing together 1000 Jewish teenagers; Kipa Day, when the mayors of Frankfurt, Berlin, Munich and Cologne invite males to wear a kipa as a mark of solidarity with Jewish citizens; a project to educate Syrian refugees about the Holocaust and antisemitism; the import of Arab-speaking Israelis in an effort to build bridges to the refugees; and a recent conference by Jewish youth on the future of Germany’s Jewish community with the upbeat theme “Because I want to live here”.

Meanwhile, Berlin leads the way in acknowledging the Holocaust. Apart from the iconic landmarks such as the massive Holocaust memorial just 200 metres from the Brandenburg Gate, 6000 Stolpersteiner (Stumbling Blocks) – metal plates inlaid into pavements across the city at sites from where Jews were deported and murdered, their personal details engraved. And chillingly, while on a pre-dawn run, I came across a bus-stop outside a hotel featuring billboards bearing information about Holocaust mastermind Adolf Eichmann – because the hotel is located on the site of Eichmann’s headquarters, from where he directed killing operations.

So the situation is complex. German Jews – who include an estimated 30,000 Israelis – are overwhelmingly positive, while profoundly concerned at the emergence of the AfD. At the same time, 3600 British Jews have applied for German citizenship in the event that Jeremy Corbyn becomes that country’s prime minister.

Yet there are Germans – a growing phenomenon among younger demographics – who are angry with the Jews because of the Holocaust, who in fact resent the Jews for the Holocaust. There are 1600 years of Jewish history in Germany, they point out; why this obsession with just 12 of those years – 1933-45, when the Nazis were in power? How succeeding generations of Germans tackle and respond to that most vital of questions will hold a key to the future of the country’s Jewish community.

Vic Alhadeff is chief executive of the NSW Jewish Board of Deputies. He travelled to Germany as a guest of the German Foreign Ministry.

Murder of Israeli student: police obtain CCTV footage in hunt for Aiia Maasarwe killer

By: Mark Schliebs

The Australian

18 January 2019

Aiia Maasarwe was murdered on her way home. Picture: Instagram.

Detectives now have CCTV footage from the tram Aiia Maasarwe travelled on before she was killed outside a shopping centre in Melbourne’s north, Victoria’s public transport chief has confirmed.

This came as Prime Minister Scott Morrison described the killing of the 21-year-old Israeli student as “the most despicable of crimes.

Public Transport Victoria Jeroen Weimar told 3AW this morning that footage had been provided to detectives hunting Ms Maasarwe’s killer, who attacked her when she was on her way home from a night at a comedy club early on Wednesday morning.

There was certainly footage … on that particular tram Aiia was travelling on,” Mr Weimar said. “That’s been provided to Victoria Police.

“What’s on that footage and what other images they’ve obtained from that, obviously I can’t comment on that. But I can confirm that CCTV files and images have been provided from the tram and from the other trams that Victoria Police are working on.”

He said “about a third of trams are fitted with CCTV” across Melbourne.

PM speaks out on ‘despicable’ crime

In Fiji, Mr Morrison sent his condolences to Ms Maasarwe’s family.

“On behalf of myself and Jenny and my family to her family, (we) just pray you can find whatever comfort you can in the worst of all circumstances,” he said.

He said Ms Maasarwe’s murder was the “most despicable of crimes” and Australians must remain vigilant as Victoria Police continue the hunt for her killer.

“Every woman in Australia, every person in Australia, should be able to travel home safely,” the Prime Minister said in Fiji today.

“I can’t begin to think what I could say to her family. I know what I’m thinking about her attacker.”

“I know the police will do their job and they’ll deal with it. But the rest of the country has to wake up today and deal with the most despicable of crimes.”

Mr Morrison said stopping violence against women was a “top priority” for the government.

“We must be forever vigilant and that’s why I’m so sickened by the attack,” he said.

People leave floral tributes near where Aiia Maasarwe’s body was found Picture: AAP

“We have put in $350m for programs to address domestic violence across Australia. There will be a fourth action plan that will be announced in between now and the next election.

“It’s a top priority order issue for our government and should be … (we must) redouble our efforts on every occasion. It’s just so shocking. I’m speechless.”

Melburnians will attend a vigil at the Victorian parliament later tonight as they cope with yet another horrific random murder of a young woman in the city.

Ms Maasarwe’s body was found on Wednesday morning about 50m from the 86 tram stop, where she got off after a night out and started the 1km walk to her lodgings near La Trobe University in Bundoora.

Police are investigating whether she was followed, much like ­Eurydice Dixon, a young Melbourne comedian who performed in a city comedy club and was followed home and killed.

Ms Maasarwe was speaking to her sister in Israel when she was attacked, with her sibling hearing her cry out and drop the phone.

‘This is not the Melbourne I grew up in’

Bill Shorten wants to reassure international students and their families that Melbourne was safe, and that Victoria Police would catch and punish the killer of Aiia Maasarwe.

The Opposition Leader has joined Scott Morrison in voicing his shock over the murder of Ms Maasarwe, with the Prime Minister calling it the “most despicable of crimes.” He has also called out a Victorian senator who tweeted out gruesome details of her death.

“I’ve got teenage children who, you know, use public transport in Melbourne. This is not the Australia or the Melbourne that I grew up in. It is shocking,” Mr Shorten said.

“I want to say to parents whose young people come to Australia, this is shocking but this is not Australia. So, my feelings for the grief of this family, just very strong.

“I want to reassure them that our police are amongst the best in the world. They will successfully catch, and our legal system will punish, the wrongdoer.”

Mr Shorten criticised Justice Party senator Derryn Hinch, who published information from police sources about the murder that they have not wanted to reveal officially.

“I do think that people who are in positions of power and influence shouldn’t put out information automatically when the police have got a different strategy to catch and convict the wrongdoers,” he said.

“I don’t want to give what Senator Hinch has done any more oxygen than that”

Senator Hinch took to Twitter this morning to defend his tweet: “To all the do-gooder Tweeters attacking me for telling the gruesome truth about the Bundoora rape/ murder. This brute is still out there. My tweet was for the memory of Jill Meagher and Eurydice Dixon.”

Official statement of the Embassy of Israel concerning the death of Israeli citizen, Aiia Maasarwe

Symbols of hate show far-right on the march

By Mark Schliebs
The Australian
January 7, 2019

Right: QLD Senator Fraser Anning. Left: Far Right protesters at St Kilda rally

Jewish leaders say an increase in neo-Nazi imagery being posted in public locations has coincided with Australia’s far-right groups broadening their focus from anti-Islam protests to target other ­minorities.

Members of the crowd at a far-right rally at Melbourne’s St Kilda Beach on Saturday were seen giving Nazi salutes and a helmet bearing the SS logo was photographed, days after a sticker bearing the image of a swastika was put on the front gate of a Jewish aged-care home.

A swastika was also spray-painted on to a children’s playground in nearby Caulfield — which has a strong Jewish community — on the day of the rally, shocking the chairman of the Anti-Defamation Commission.

“Imagine how traumatised and upset a Holocaust survivor, taking their grandchild to this playground, would be when confronted with this evil symbol of genocide,” Dvir Abramovich told The Australian.

Targeting what they claimed was an issue with violence by African youth and migration, the protest organised by far-right figures Blair Cottrell and Neil Erikson ­attracted an estimated 100 supporters — including Queensland senator Fraser Anning.

The protest was dubbed “Reclaim St Kilda” — similar to the “Reclaim Australia” anti-Islam rallies of recent years embraced by Mr Cottrell, Mr Erikson and the United Patriots Front group linked to both men.

That alt-right group went on to campaign against same-sex marriage before turning its sights on African youth in Melbourne.

Three people were arrested at Saturday’s rally, which saw an estimated 200 counter-protesters come to the beach. There were some scuffles but no serious violence took place.

One person was arrested for possessing drugs, another for breaching bail and a third for ­carrying weapons, described as large fishing sinkers.

Nyuol Chol, the secretary of the South Sudanese Community Association, said alt-right protesters would still have held a rally aimed at another group of people if no one had migrated to Australia from the east African country.

“The people who were protesting, if there were no South Sudanese, they would be against the rest of the other Australians because they don’t have anything else to do,” Mr Chol said.

“Everyone has the right to ­protest but you have to do it in the right way.

“Australia is a multicultural ­society. If you go out there to protest, you can protest, but it’s not good to do it in a violent way or a racial way … because it divides the nation,” Mr Chol added.

Dr Abramovich said the alt-right often sought to “mainstream” views held by white supremacists or neo-Nazis.

“They’re trying to camouflage or mask their real agenda, which is divisive and trafficking in fear through demonising and targeting specific minority groups,” he said.

“It’s Muslims, and then it can be Sudanese, and then it can be other groups.

“It may not begin with the Jews, but it will end with the Jews. So we have to denounce and we have to call out this kind of bigoted agenda, no matter who they’re targeting.”

The graffiti at the playground followed a sticker bearing a swastika being placed on the front gate of the Emmy Monash aged-care home and at the entrance of a nearby apartment building.

“We’re obviously seeing the white supremacists and the neo-Nazis running a blitz or a campaign of intimidation,” Dr Abramovich said. “That’s what ­really concerns us.”

Australia and Israel Jewish Affairs Council chairman Mark Leibler said the messages at the rally were “appalling” and police should take a close look at some of the protesters.

“The behaviour of these people is absolutely appalling,” Mr Leibler said. “They’re inciting, in effect, to violence.

“This is something that needs to be looked into by the police. And I must say, seeing alongside them one Senator Anning, I find it totally appalling and a complete disgrace.”

A Victoria Police spokeswoman said: “Victoria Police is continuing to investigate the anti-social behaviour which occurred at yesterday’s rally in St Kilda.

“As part of this review, police will look into whether anyone ­engaged in any criminal acts.”

Mr Chol welcomed the statements from Scott Morrison and Bill Shorten criticising the protests, but said more should be done.

“They need to do more in the future because they need to be proactive in discouraging things like that from happening,” he said.

“It’s OK to protest, but don’t do it in the wrong (way).”

AIJAC’s Jeremy Jones said Senator Anning, following on from his maiden Senate speech where he referred to a “final solution”, had taken it to the “next level to go and grace a group of these lousy thugs — it’s not one of these accidental things”.

He also said there had been a rise in the number of anti-Semitic posters appearing in public, but not in terms of violence against members of the Jewish community.

“In terms of reports of encounters with anti-Semitic material, there’s definitely been an increase in each of the last couple of years,” he said.

Priest sorry for ‘offensive’ Holocaust remarks

By Rick Morton
Social Affairs Reporter
The Australian
January 5, 2019

Father Rod Bower has apologized: “I acknowledge that my attempt to explore this issue was clumsy and I am sorry for the offence caused.”

After speaking with Jewish leaders, Anglican priest Rod Bower has apologised for “offensive” ­remarks in which he suggested offshore processing of asylum-seekers was the first step on the way to the Holocaust.

The Gosford Anglican Church rector erected a sign at the end of last year with the message “Manus is how the Holocaust started”, which drew ire from moderate and conser­vative Jewish groups. After discussions with community leaders, including NSW Jewish Board of Deputies chief executive Vic Alhadeff, Father Bower said in a statement: “Several days ago, I attempted to ­explore something of the sociological phenomenon of ‘otherising’ and dehumanisation I have observed in the way Australia has dealt with asylum-seekers.

“In so doing, I mentioned the Holocaust and some sections of the Jewish community found this deeply offensive. I acknowledge my attempt to explore this issue was clumsy and I am sorry for the offence caused.”

Mr Alhadeff said he was pleased at the outcome.

Outspoken priest Rod Bower raises ire of Jewish groups

By Rick Morton
Social Affairs Reporter
The Australian
January 2, 2019

Activist priest and Senate hopeful Rod Bower has been rebuked by Jewish groups for the “offensive” and “irresponsible” comparison of the processing of asylum-seekers on Manus Island and Nauru to the Holocaust.

Anglican Priest Rob Bower

The Rector of the Gosford Anglican Church used his now ­famous parish sign to offer support to another priest, Catholic Father Bob Maguire, who said pictures of refugees on the islands “reminded” him of Nazi concentration camps.

Father Bower, who announced plans to run for the Senate last ­October, erected his own sign which read: “Manus is how the Holocaust started.”

He added online: “What we have done on Manus does not necessarily lead to the Holocaust but it is a necessary step on the path to that particular hell.”

NSW Jewish Board of Deputies chief executive Vic Alhadeff told The Australian the equivalence between the two was ­“deeply hurtful”.

“Comparing the situation on Manus Island to the murder of six million Jews is historically inaccurate and undermines the enormity of the Holocaust,” he said.

“Irrespective of one’s position on the detention of asylum-seekers, such analogies are both ­grossly inappropriate and highly irresponsible, as well as being deeply hurtful to Holocaust survivors and the families of the victims.”

The Australian Jewish Association also condemned the sign’s wording, tweeting late on Monday: “Grossly offensive to memory of the Holocaust.”

“The Holocaust was a systematic attempt on an industrial scale to exterminate an entire people,” it said.

“Whatever your views on offshore detention, it is nothing of the sort and to try to link one with the other is outrageous.”

After he was criticised online, Father Maguire said: “I was referring to two Twitter photos … one barbed wire Auschwitz, one barbed wire Manus … one REMINDED me of the other … no more implied, no less.”

While Father Maguire later clarified his comments, Father Bower appeared to double down.

“The Australian (Jewish ­Association) is to Judaism what the Australian Christian Lobby is to Christianity,” he tweeted yesterday.

In response to another comment about the AJA, the popular social media priest then accused “some members of the Jewish community” of “supporting neo-Nazis”.

He said he came to the thoughts behind the sign after meeting Holocaust survivor Inge Woolf in New Zealand early last year.

“After having told her that I was deeply concerned about Australia’s treatment of refugees she pointed to the photos of the Holocaust and said ‘you are right to be concerned because this can happen so easily’,” he wrote. “Her chilling comment will remain with me for the rest of my life.”

Father Bower could not be reached for comment yesterday.

Faiths combine forces over Baha’i human rights in Iran

On December 20, 2018 a Baha’i prisoner was released from prison in Iran after 10 years.

Afif Naeimi, centre, with supporters in Tehran after his release.
Photo: Baha’i World News Service

Afif Naeimi and six colleagues once comprised an informal leadership group of the Baha’i community – Iran’s largest and most persecuted religious minority. They were arrested on May 14, 2008 and after several months of solitary confinement and interrogation, they were jailed for 10 years.

With Australia’s Baha’i community leading the way, Australian Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu and Sikh leaders repeatedly came together to pray for the seven and call for their release, as did Australian MPs, journalists and artists.
The first prisoner was released in October 2017 and the last on December 20, 2018.

But the persecution of Baha’is in Iran continues with over 80 currently in prison. They are prevented from attending university or working in the public sector, while a fatwa by Iran’s Supreme Leader says Baha’is are unclean and advises Muslims to avoid dealing with them.

The NSW Jewish Board of Deputies stands with the Baha’i community in demanding that Iran respect the human rights of its Baha’i community and permit them to practise their faith in safety.