Setting the record straight

An article by Dr David Adler of the Australian Jewish Association makes allegations against the NSW Jewish Board of Deputies; we wish to set the record straight so that community members can better appreciate what has occurred and why.
The mandate of the Board of Deputies is simple yet complex – the security of the community. Every program, every project, every activity that we undertake is premised on that mantra. If it does not fall within that framework, we don’t do it.
Dr Adler notes correctly that the Board of Deputies played a critical role in the campaign to have the State Government outlaw incitement to racist violence last June, but goes on to say that our “conduct in trying to close down AJA-organised events is cowardly, hypocritical and at odds with the principles it espoused during the debate” about the importance of debate. No, it is not – for the simple reason that the concern which we respectfully expressed to Maroubra Synagogue about hosting an event on Islam, antisemitism and Israel was about one issue – timing.
As we made clear to the president and the rabbi of the synagogue, we agreed that the topic was valid and important to discuss – but hosting a public event on this issue four days after the Christchurch massacre, when much of the global community was engulfed in shock at 50 people being massacred while at prayer, was very unfortunate timing, could reflect adversely on our community and should therefore be deferred. It was not about stifling “respectful discussion and debate”, as Dr Adler would have it; it was about Derech Eretz – which means being sensitive to, and aware of, the heightened sensibilities in the place in which we live at that particular time.
Dr Adler asks if the Board of Deputies sought “to close down the promotion by the New Israel Fund of a spokesman from Breaking the Silence, which routinely trashes the reputation of the IDF and damages Israel? AJA suspects not.” Again, AJA is not apprised of what did occur. We met with the leadership of the NIF at the time of the visit of the Breaking the Silence spokesman and strongly conveyed our concerns that inviting a spokesman from that organisation to Sydney and putting him in front of media would do nothing to advance peace, would do nothing to advance a two-state solution and would serve only to give succour to those who seek to undermine and destroy Israel.
So, rather than apologise, which Dr Adler would have us do, we take our mandate of the safety, well-being and security of the community seriously. Which means we will continue to act accordingly if we believe that activities which are being undertaken anywhere in the community may jeopardise it.
Lesli Berger, president; Vic Alhadeff, chief executive officer
NSW Jewish Board of Deputies

Arabic media reports on Jewish crowdfunding for Christchurch

Below is an article which will be published in this weekend’s edition of Al Anwar – a major Sydney Arabic newspaper.  Similar articles appear in the Wentworth Courier and on the front page of the Australian Jewish News.  We have been informed that there will be additional coverage in other Arabic and Muslim newspapers.

Motions passed at March plenum

Two motions were passed at the Board of Deputies’ March plenum – on the Christchurch massacre and the Sydney Beth Din.


The NSW Jewish Board of Deputies plenum:
1. Expresses its horror and revulsion at the massacre of 50 innocent people, and the injuring and traumatising of many others, while they were at prayer at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand on 15 March 2019.
2. Condemns utterly this wanton act of terrorism and mass murder and the ideology of racial supremacism associated with it.
3. Sends its heartfelt condolences and deepest sympathies to the victims, their families, all people of the Muslim faith in New Zealand, Australia & elsewhere, and the citizens and government of New Zealand.
4. Joins with other faith communities and people of goodwill in both our countries, in uniting for mutual respect and understanding and peace between us all, whatever our ethnic, religious and political beliefs and differences.
5. Commends the Prime Minister of New Zealand for her exemplary leadership in these terrible circumstances, for her government’s prompt action on gun control, social media and the monitoring of extremists of all ideological or religious backgrounds;
6. Commends the Prime Minister of New Zealand for her ground-breaking initiative for a national leader, of declaring that the perpetrator should not be named by her, her government or by implication by others in future, so that he cannot gain the notoriety and celebrity he craves;
7. Resolves to follow the lead of the Prime Minister of New Zealand in this regard, and to remember and refer only to the victims by name, not the person who took their lives.
Passed unanimously.


The NSW Jewish Board of Deputies (the Board) notes the judgments recently delivered by the Supreme Court of NSW and the Court of Appeal of NSW concerning the Sydney Beth Din (SBD)*. These judgments arose as a result of an alleged commercial dispute between two corporations, the principals of which are observant Jews. The findings of misconduct against the SBD are of particular concern to the NSW Jewish Board of Deputies, whose constitution charges it with the responsibility to “ensure and safeguard the religious, political, economic, civil and cultural rights, status and interests of Jews resident in New South Wales.”
The Board:

1. Expresses its deep concern about the defects in the ownership structure, governance, mechanisms of accountability and dispute-resolution processes of the SBD which were the subject of detailed findings by Justice Sackar in the Supreme Court proceedings, which findings were not disturbed by the Court of Appeal and included the following:

• The SBD is a private partnership. “As at 1 January 2015, the ASIC records indicate only Rabbi Gutnick and Rabbi Ulman are the partners of the Sydney Beth Din”;
• The SBD “is an organisation that wishes, indeed demands, the respect and reverence from its parishioners and adherents, and yet appears to be a law unto itself”.
• The conduct of the rabbis of the SBD “displays either arrogant disregard of their own procedures and rules of natural justice, substantial ineptitude, or inexperience dealing with commercial disputes”.
• That conduct was “entirely inappropriate for a religious body, or any body, which prides itself on adhering to the principles of natural justice.”

2. Notes further that Justice Sackar refused to accept certain critical aspects of the evidence given by one of the SBD rabbis, and that the majority of judges in the NSW Court of Appeal proceedings, consisting of the Chief Justice of NSW and the President of the NSW Court of Appeal, considered that when that rabbi’s evidence is read in its entirety “it discloses an obstinate refusal to understand the role of the Beth Din and its relationship to the civil law”.

3. Affirms the public statement made by the NSW Jewish Board of Deputies in relation to these judgments on 30 December 2018 and endorses the public statement and call for reform of the SBD made by the Executive Council of Australian Jewry on 31 December 2018.

4. Notes that Justice Sackar further found that in the context of the alleged commercial dispute:

 Three senior rabbis who acted as judges of the SBD and a fourth rabbi who acted as its Registrar had threatened one of the principals with religious sanctions (not being counted in a minyan, not being called to the Torah during services, not being offered any honour in the synagogue) unless the person submitted to the jurisdiction of the Beth Din;

 The threat impeded the relevant corporation’s unconstrained access to the civil courts and thus had a real tendency to interfere with the administration of justice generally;

 The issuing of the threat therefore amounted to a criminal contempt of court, although the contempt was found not to be “contumacious”.

5. Notes that on appeal to the NSW Court of Appeal, the Chief Justice of NSW and the President of the NSW Court of Appeal largely agreed with the decision at first instance of Justice Sackar, but reduced what they described as the “manifestly excessive” amount of the fines and cost orders imposed on the rabbis by Justice Sackar. The third appeal judge, Justice McColl, delivered a minority dissenting judgment in which Her Honour considered that the conduct was in essence a threat of religious sanctions by a religious body for a religious transgression and therefore did not amount to illegitimate pressure in the circumstances.

6. Notes that the rabbis of the SBD have commenced proceedings seeking special leave to appeal the NSW Court of Appeal decision to the High Court of Australia.

7. Calls on the SBD, and the lay leadership of the Sydney orthodox community, regardless of the outcome of the special leave application or of any appeal to the High Court concerning the issue of criminal contempt, to enact meaningful reform of the SBD as a matter of urgency to remedy its defects as highlighted in the judgments of Justice Sackar and the majority of the Court of Appeal.

8. Resolves to review the matter as soon as the special leave application and any appeal to the High Court has been decided, or if necessary sooner, subject to the agreement of the plenum, set up an ad hoc committee, including members of the
lay leadership and congregational rabbis of the Sydney orthodox community who have accepted in principle.
Passed unanimously.

*Live Group Pty Ltd & Anor v Rabbi Ulman and Ors [2018] NSWSC 393 (29 March 2018) and Live Group Pty Ltd and Anor v Rabbi Ulman and Ors [2017] NSWSC 1759 (14 December 2017), as upheld by the NSW Court of Appeal in Ulman v Live Group Pty Ltd [2018] NSWCA 338 (20 December 2018).

Coogee election forum at March plenum

Crowdfunding campaign for Christchurch

The NSW Jewish Board of Deputies has launched a crowdfunding campaign for the Muslim community of Christchurch, making an initial donation of $1800. Almost $61,000 has been raised to date, with a target of $108,000.

To make a contribution go to:

STATEMENT: “The NSW Jewish Board of Deputies stands in solidarity with the Muslim communities of Christchurch, New Zealand and Sydney in condemning this act of wanton slaughter. The massacre occurred at a time when people were at their most vulnerable – at prayer in a house of worship – and all humanity is profoundly the poorer today. We remember the attacks on the mosque in Quebec, on the synagogue in Pittsburgh, on the church in Charleston. An attack on one faith is an attack on us all. We extend our heartfelt condolences to the families of the victims of this terrible massacre, as well as to our Muslim friends and colleagues, and pray for an end to racism, bigotry and terrorism.”
Lesli Berger, PresidentVic Alhadeff, Chief Executive Officer


Listen to Vic Alhadeff on ABC News Radio yesterday
Lesli Berger on JWire 

Coogee Election Forum

One of the riskiest seats for the Liberal Party in the upcoming NSW Election will be in the spotlight at the NSW Jewish Board of Deputies’ March plenum.

Coogee is held by the Liberal Party by a margin of just 2.9% and is among six seats the Coalition is at risk of losing, potentially leading to a minority government according to News Corp NSW Political Editor Andrew Clennell. NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian told The Australian “It’s going to be really tight. It will come down to a handful of votes in a handful of seats. Anyone telling you otherwise isn’t telling the truth”.

The sitting member for Coogee is Liberal member Bruce Notley-Smith MP, the current Chair of the NSW Parliamentary Friends of Israel. His challenger from the Labor Party is Dr Marjorie O’Neill, who holds a PhD in Management and Economics and sits on Waverley Council.

Board of Deputies CEO Vic Alhadeff said, “the Coogee electorate encompasses a number of our major institutions including the Emanuel School, Moriah College and the Montefiore (Randwick) as well as a large percentage of our community generally. The election forum will be an opportunity for the community to hear directly from the candidates”.

The Coogee electorate covers the suburbs: Bronte, Bondi Junction, Clovelly, Coogee, Randwick, Queens Park, South Bondi, South Coogee, Tamarama, Waverley.

Details: Coogee Countdown Election Forum, 7:30pm Tuesday March 19, Sydney Jewish Museum Education Centre.

All welcome. No charge.


Thursday March 7

The NSW Government has today announced $250,000 to support NSW and Israel’s leading medical researchers to develop a new treatment for type 1 diabetes that has the potential to end the need for insulin injections.

Minister for Trade and Industry, Niall Blair said this project could transform the lives of those living with diabetes.

“In NSW alone, there are an estimated 39,000 people with Type 1 diabetes and more than 21 million world-wide, so the potential impact of this treatment is enormous. This could mean another global success for NSW’s medical technology industry,” Mr Blair said.

“People with type 1 diabetes must constantly monitor blood glucose levels, which can be easily impacted by changes to exercise and diet. Getting blood sugar levels wrong can lead to long term damage to major organs.”

“The new technology could remove the need for daily monitoring of blood sugar levels and create skilled jobs in NSW as the technology is rolled out globally.”

The Australian Foundation for Diabetes Research and Sydney Cell Therapy Foundation will work with Israel biotech company Kadimastem on the project.
Australian Foundation for Diabetes Research Director Professor Bernard Tuch said the diabetes project would develop a new implantable cell therapy to replace the need for insulin injections.

“We’ve developed a device which when seeded with insulin-producing cells and implanted in rodents has been shown to reverse diabetes without the need for toxic anti-rejection drugs,” Professor Tuch said.

“Our Israel partner Kadimastem has the ability to create insulin-producing cells from human embryonic stem cells which can sense blood glucose levels and respond by secreting insulin to regulate glucose levels in diabetic recipients.
“We will work together to develop a device containing insulin-producing cells that can be implanted into people with type 1 diabetes and regulate their glucose levels for at least five years, ending the need for insulin injections.”

Diabetes NSW & ACT Chief Operating Officer Trish Egan said the project held great promise. “Although diabetes is complex, this collaboration is particularly exciting as it is well advanced and promises to fundamentally change the way people with type 1 manage the condition,” Ms Egan said.

Type 1 diabetes sufferer, Elana Bowman has been treating her condition for 25 years, which requires her to have up to seven insulin injections a day.
“Generally I have two long-acting and three short-acting insulin injections and any correction doses if needed, so I can have up to seven injections each day,” Ms
Bowman said. “I have had to take on part-time work to give me flexibility to see doctors and pharmacies to help me maintain my health. I welcome any project that could make my life and millions of other lives that little bit easier.”

MEDIA: Evie Madden | Minister Blair | 0409 682 163


Greens and the stain of bigotry

The Australian
February 13, 2019
Janet Albrechtsen

Last week, a British Labour MP lament­ed that her political party, founded on fine-sounding ­prin­ciples of fairness and equality, was imbued with “the oldest hatred — that directed towards Jews”.

Luciana Berger, the 37-year-old MP for Liverpool Wavertree, describ­ed one of the most astonishing events she has taken part in since she was elected nearly nine years ago. It was a demonstration last year at Parliament Square organis­ed by the Jewish community to say “enough is enough” to anti-Semitism in the Labour Party.

Instead of that being a watershed for her party, Berger wrote in The Timeslast week: “I am sick of being tainted by the stain of Labou­r anti-Semitism.”

Next time there is an election in Australia, remember that the Greens have no one even faintly comparable to Berger within their ranks. Theirs is a party of bigotry at the organisational level, yet no Greens MP is brave or honest enough to expose the hypocrisy. On the one hand, Greens spout sweet-sounding words about moral­ity, compassion and tolerance; on the other hand, the party endorses bigotry.

There are a few good people in the party. Last year, NSW Greens upper house MPs Cate Faehrmann and Justin Field said the party had fallen victim­ to “extreme­-Left ideology”. NSW Greens lower house MP Jamie Parker engages with the Jewish community too.

But even the good people have allowed the NSW party to fall into a habit of bigotry. History warns us that silence emboldens bigots, and that bigotry is a necessary pre­cursor to the sort of political ­fascism responsible for monstrous crimes against humanity.

We can disagree over Israeli politics and policies, the future of the Middle East peace process, settleme­nts, refugees and much more. We can condemn the action­s of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu too. It’s a free country. We get to speak our mind and choose who to associate with. But when a political party treats the members of a religious group as ­person­ae non gratae, refusin­g to meet them or speak with them, that is bigotry.

If the Liberal Party of Australia refused point blank to engage with credible Muslim groups, we would banish its members as ­bigots.

If the ALP continually ­rebuffed efforts to engage with Christian groups, we would out its members as bigots.

If the Nationals rejected overtures, over many years, to meet with a community on the basis of its members’ religio­n, race, sex or sexuality, we would vote them into political irreleva­nce as extremists.

Yet the Greens have a history of out-and-out organisational bigot­ry towards the Jewish community in NSW. A few turn up to mark Hanukkah in NSW parliament. But none of them have attended special events arranged by the Jewish community to build tolerance and respect.

Last Friday in Allawah, in ­Sydney’s south, Jewish leaders arrange­d a regular Shabbat dinner for different community groups, one of many dinners where people meet, eat and talk to other people from different walks of life.

There was a Shabbat dinner for Liberal Party leaders and member­s last year and another a few months earlier that included members of the LGBTI community. There was a dinner the year befor­e for Labor politicians, member­s of Young Labor and union leaders. Another one includ­ed many members from the Chinese community and other civic groups. Yet another dinner involved people and groups who help settle new immigrants.

You get the picture. You would be hard-pressed to find more genuinely inclusive events. These are non-political. Yet still the Greens have, for years, refused to be part of these dinners.

At last Friday’s dinner, guests included Labor and Liberal politic­ians, state and federal, councillors, leaders from the local Anglican church, a leader of the Sikh community, the chairman of Advance Diversity Services, a leader from the Korean community and the president of a local Rotary Club too. But no Greens politician.

In his closing remarks, Vic Alha­deff, who leads the NSW Jewis­h Board of Deputies and started these dinners, glanced around the room at the broad array of people, thanking them for laying down their arms to be there and on “the degree of stillness which we have collectively ­achieved in removing ourselves from our frenetic, hectic lives”.

The purpose of the dinners is simple yet important, “engaging as Australians … and using the opportunity to explore our commonalities, beliefs and shared values”.

Not to command agreement or to proselytise. To speak to one another­ as respectful human being­s. Many Jews might be drawn to genuinely green policies about the environment. Yet the Greens’ extremism towards Jews precludes engagement. That is not tolerance. That is anti-Semitism.

It is hypocrisy of the highest order, given that the Greens read­ily condemn the bigotry of others. Last year, the party’s federal leader Richard Di Natale slammed ­senator Fraser Anning for using the language of the Nazis when he referred to a “final solution to the (Muslim) immigration problem”. Di Natale said such language was “vile, racist, bigoted and has no place in our society”. Agreed.

The bigotry of the Greens has no place in Australia either. Sadly, the NSW Young Greens have learned the oldest hatred from their party organisation. A few years ago, they refused to attend a conference held at NSW Parliament House by the Australasian Union of Jewish Students. Labor and Liberal students attended.

There are plenty of reasons not to attend a bolshie student conference, but refusing to speak to or be near Australian Jewish students is anti-Semitism. As the AUJS said at the time, the ­boycott, under the cloak of the Palestin­ian problem, reduces all Australian Jewish students to one political issue 12,000km away. Not all Jews share the same views on any issue.

In recent months, neo-Nazi cowards hiding behind the Antipodean Resistance label have posted vile, bigoted and racist posters around Sydney and Melbourne. near schools, synagogues and other buildings.

They are the likely beasts who painted Nazi swastikas on a promenade wall at Sydney’s Bondi Beach at the weekend. Their active recruitment of more bigots is a moral monstrosity.

But let’s not kid ourselves. The organisational bigotry within the Greens is a slyer form of anti-Semiti­sm.

On Holocaust Remembrance Day in April 2017, the NSW Young Greens posted a Venn diagra­m on Facebook stating that Liberals and Labor love “locking people in concentration camps”.

They’ve learned from their Greens elders to engage in abhorrent Holocaust minimisation, likening offshore processing to determine refugee status to concentration camps where millions of Jews were murdered.

If Di Natale and other Greens are appalled by bigotry and vile, racist behaviour, if they genuinely believe in tolerance and respect for people of different faiths, they need to flush out the anti-Semit­ism in their party.

Until then, the next time a Greens politician brags about their progressive credentials, remember the organisational bigotry by the Greens towards Australian Jews.

Right now, a vote for the Greens — primary or ­preference — is a vote for bigotry.


by Danielle Le Messurier
The Daily Telegraph
February 12, 2019

An Australian Medical Association doctor has been condemned for comparing the treatment of asylum seekers living in offshore processing centres to the Holocaust.

Dr Paul Bauert, the paediatrics representative on the AMA Federal Council, was condemned on Monday over “appalling” comments suggesting people living in detention are worse off than those killed in Nazi gas chambers during World War II.

AMA paediatric representative Dr Paul Bauert. Picture: AAP

In an interview with Sky News, Dr Bauert said offshore processing in places like Nauru has a “lack of certainty” which can cause “severe mental health damage”.

“Even those that finally knew they were about to be condemned at the gas chamber at least found some sense of relief in knowing what was happening,” he said.

NSW Jewish Board of Deputies chief executive Vic Alhadeff slammed Dr Bauert for demonstrating a “gross lack of empathy” for Holocaust victims, survivors and their families.

“The extraordinary ignorance and callousness in the statement that the millions of Jews who were gassed found relief in knowing they were about to be murdered is outrageous and appalling,” he said.

“Whatever his position on offshore detention, drawing a disingenuous comparison between Nauru and the Holocaust is offensive and inaccurate.”

Dr Bauert works as a GP in the Northern Territory but has been involved in assessing children on Nauru who need medical evacuations. He later apologised on social media, saying the words that he used were “intended to reflect the writings of an eminent Jewish psychiatrist who survived Auschwitz”.

Dr Bauert added “Auschwitz was a humanitarian disgrace”, trying to distance himself from his earlier claim.



Standing up to the Eurovision boycott brigade

The Australian Jewish News
7th February 2019
Vic Alhadeff

WHO knew that when Israel won the right to host Eurovision 2019, it would ignite controversy in Australia?

Israel will host this year’s extravaganza after Netta Barzilai won the 2018 contest with Toy – a salute to the #MeToo movement, punctuated by clucks and trills.

To be held in May, the contest is expected to attract 10,000 tourists, with Tel Aviv establishing a 2,000-person “tent city” and many visitors staying on for the city’s Pride Parade.

Australia’s entrant will be decided on the Gold Coast this weekend, with 700 songs submitted and the winner to be selected by the public and a jury.

Numerous Australian artists have joined the campaign, while BDS Australia staged a protest outside SBS, pontificating that it has a “fundamental problem with Eurovision going ahead in the midst of the catastrophe in Gaza”.

It issued a leaflet carrying the SBS logo and launched a petition stating “Eurovision should not be used to ‘artwash’ the Israeli government’s apartheid policies. Eurovision’s reputation will be forever tarnished by its association with the Israeli government. Just like the campaign to end apartheid in South Africa in the 1980s, international solidarity is vital.”

To its credit, SBS responded quickly and definitively. “SBS respects the right for people to express their views and we acknowledge the concerns raised by those opposed to the contest being held in Israel,” it said.

“SBS has been proudly broadcasting Eurovision for 35 years and we will continue to do so because of the spirit of the event in bringing people and cultures together in a celebration of diversity and inclusion through music.” It threatened to sue the protesters for appropriating its logo.

The heat and dust will escalate in coming weeks. Protesting voices abroad include 23,000 Icelanders petitioning their broadcaster to boycott the event; Irish members of the European Parliament, Portuguese artists and Sweden’s Left Party urging a boycott; London’s Guardian publishing a letter with 141 signatures; English protesters picketing a Netta Barzilai concert; and French protesters disrupting her appearance on French TV during “Destination Eurovision”, which selects France’s contestant.

Protesters jumped on stage but were removed by security within 30 seconds. BDS France claimed credit for the stunt with the hashtags #DestinationApartheid and #BoycottEurovision2019.

Then there are the principled voices, notably Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who blasted BDS during a historic apology for Canada’s refusal to admit Jews fleeing the Holocaust, infamously sending the MS St Louis, carrying 907 German Jews, back to Europe, where over 250 perished.

“Of all the Allied countries, Canada would admit the fewest number of Jews … far fewer than the UK and significantly fewer per capita than the US,” Trudeau said. “Of those it let in, 7000 were labelled prisoners of war and unjustly imprisoned alongside Nazis. As far as Jews were concerned, even none was too many.

“Hitler tested the world’s resolve … as country after country proved indifferent to the plight of Jewish refugees. He watched as we … denied them entry. He challenged the courage of our leaders and the empathy of those who elected them. With every pogrom he tested our humanity. Hitler’s test is one the Canadian government failed miserably.

“Antisemitism has manifested itself not just in targeting individuals, but Israel,” he added, citing students who “feel unwelcome in some of our campuses because of BDS-related intimidation … I condemn the BDS movement. It is impossible to ignore the injustices still facing Jews. Seventeen per cent of hate crimes in Canada target Jewish people, far higher per capita than any other group. Holocaust deniers still exist. Antisemitism is still far too present. Jewish institutions are vandalised. Out of the entire community of nations, it is Israel whose right to exist is most widely and wrongly questioned.

“It is my hope that by issuing this long-overdue apology, we shine a light on this painful chapter of our history. It is our hope that this apology will cement Canada’s commitment to stand with the Jewish community here and around the world in the fight against antisemitism. More than 70 years ago, Canada turned its back on them. Today Canadians pledged, now and forever, never again.”

First held in 1956 to unite war-ravaged Europe, Israel and Australia are the only non-European nations in Eurovision. This year’s theme is Dare to Dream. Is it unrealistic to dream that the unity aspired to in 1956 will one day extend to all nations? That the hypocrisy in singling out the world’s only Jewish state for boycott while ignoring some of the most egregious human rights abusers – who also participate in Eurovision – will one day be rendered obsolete?

In the meantime, SBS is to be applauded for its principled stand. Eurovision is about music; keep politics out of it.

VIC ALHADEFF is CEO of the NSW Jewish Board of Deputies