Yom Hashoah 2019 – Eastern Suburbs commemoration

Eurovision’s message of hope defies BDS stridency

By Vic Alhadeff
The Weekend Australian
April 27, 2019

Who knew that when Israel won the right to host Eurovision 2019 it would ignite controversy in Australia? Tel Aviv will host this year’s pop music extravaganza after Netta Barzilai won last year’s contest with Toy, a quirky salute to the #MeToo movement.

To be held on May 14, the contest will attract thousands of tourists, with Tel Aviv establishing a 2000-person tent city to accommodate those who stay on for its celebrated LGBT Pride Parade.

It will be the third such protest in recent weeks, some elements of the campaign bordering on harassment of Australia’s entrant, Kate Miller-Heidke — tagging her in Facebook posts, creating garish memes featuring her image, publicising her Facebook and Twitter URLs and promoting online petitions.

Another protest occurred on the Gold Coast when Miller-Heidke won the right to represent this country from 700 entrants at a Eurovision: Australia Decides festival.

BDS Australia has a “fundamental problem with Eurovision going ahead in the midst of the catastrophe in Gaza”, it said, issuing a leaflet with an unauthorised SBS logo.

SBS responded unambiguously. “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 stated.

“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.”

The heat and dust will doubtless escalate as the contest draws near.

Protesting ­voices abroad include 23,000 Icelanders petitioning their country’s broadcaster to boycott the event; Irish members of the European Parliament, Portuguese artists and Sweden’s Left Party urging a boycott; and London’s Guardian publishing a letter carrying 141 signatures. English protesters picketed a concert by Barzilai while French protesters disrupted her appearance on French TV by jumping on stage, but they were quickly removed by security.

Addressing a rally at Circular Quay in Sydney, BDS Australia speaker Nadia Zeaiter said Euro­vision would be held in Tel Aviv “on occupied Palestinian land” — a view held by terrorist groups and other extremists.

Then there are the principled voices, most notably Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who has deplored BDS as “the new form of anti-Semitism in the world”. Anti-Semitism has manifested itself not just in targeting individuals but in targeting Israel, he says, citing students who “feel unwelcome in some of our campuses because of BDS-related intimidation … I condemn the BDS movement. Holocaust deniers still exist. Anti-Semitism is still far too present. Of the entire community of nations, it is Israel whose right to exist is most widely and wrongly questioned.”

Madonna has announced that she will perform at Eurovision in Tel Aviv, and Australian singer-songwriter Nick Cave, who recently performed there, emphas­ises that while he supports the Palestinian cause, a cultural boycott of Israel is “cowardly and shameful” — a position underscored by the ranking of 162 nations by the Washington, DC-based Cato Institute’s 2018 Human Freedom Index.

The index placed Israel 49th and Turkey, Ukraine, Russia and Azerbaijan, which have all hosted Eurovision, 107th, 118th, 119th and 130th, respectively, taking into account 79 indicators of personal and economic freedoms such as security, movement, religion, identity, relationships, assembly and civil society.

Eurovision was first held in 1956 to unite war-ravaged Europe, and Australia and Israel are the only non-European nations to compete in it today.

This year’s theme is Dare to Dream. Is it unrealistic to dream that the unity aspired to in 1956 will extend to all nations one day? That the rank hypocrisy in singling out the only Jewish state for boycott while ignoring some of the most egregious human rights abusers — which also participate in Eurovision — will one day be rendered obsolete?

In the meantime, SBS and Miller-Heidke are to be applauded for their principled stand. Eurovision is about music and inclusivity; keep politics out of it.

Swastikas and racist graffiti in Bondi prompts funds for more CCTV

Anton Rose, Wentworth Courier

April 23, 2019 10:42am

The coalition has committed to $143,000 worth of funding for more CCTV cameras along the Bondi Beach promenade if elected on May 18 after a spate of racist graffiti that has drawn outrage from prominent members of the eastern suburbs community.

The news comes less than a week after disturbing remarks “white power”, “we hate n—–” and swastikas painted on the iconic sea wall were removed by Waverley Council.

Last week, both Wentworth Liberal candidate Dave Sharma and his independent rival Kerryn Phelps called for more surveillance in the area after the murals were defaced for a second time this year.

Police are investigating the incident. Picture: Supplied

The funding will allow Waverley Council to install more cameras under the federal government’s community development grants program and it is understood council will install more cameras as soon as it receives the funds.

Liberal Waverley councillor Leon Goltsman was alerted to the find by a jogger early last Wednesday morning and plans to bring a motion to council to increase CCTV in the area.

Cr Goltsman claimed it would take about “$100,000 to $250,000” to address the issue but said the government’s announcement was “a good start”.

Waverley mayor John Wakefield did not wish to be drawn on whether more cameras were needed when asked by The Wentworth Courier last week.

The graffiti was removed within an hour by council workers.

Several swastikas and racial epithets were graffitied over public artwork on the Bondi Beach boardwalk for the second time. Picture: Facebook

The vandalism comes after a similar incident in February where the same murals were defaced with swastikas.

Chief executive of the NSW Board of Deputies Vic Alhadeff said the graffiti was “alarming”.

“There has been an alarming spike in anti-semitic incidents across Sydney in recent weeks, including a despicable spate of Nazi swastikas on Bondi beachfront,” he said.

“This funding commitment will help ensure the security and wellbeing of the Bondi community and is greatly appreciated.

Mr Sharma says the announcement would beef up security on the promenade.

“What has happened here recently is part of growing anti-semitism worldwide and the coalition has acted fast in committing to improve security on the Bondi promenade with enhanced CCTV,” Mr Sharma said.

“Recent acts of anti-Semitic vandalism have no place in our country. Their hatred and intolerance is intended to divide us. These enhanced security measures should act as a deterrent and allow law enforcement agencies to prosecute fully these crimes of hateful bigotry.”

His comments come after political sparring partner Kerryn Phelps also claimed more surveillance was needed last week.

“I am calling for CCTV to be installed so that we can monitor what happens on the foreshore to try to ensure that this doesn’t happen again,” Dr Phelps said.

Dr Phelps’ office has been contacted for further comment on the announcement.

‘Give Peace a Chance’ – Report Back

Deputies’ Drinks

Deputies gathered at the home of Kirsty and Lesli Berger to strengthen the connections between constituent organisations.

Think before you break Godwins Law

By Vic Alhadeff

The Australian
March 30 2019

In 1990, US lawyer Mike Godwin embarked on an ambitious project. He had become frustrated at gratuitous Nazi comparisons being tossed around in public debate, trivialising Hitler and the Holocaust and offending survivors of the genocide.

The comparisons had got out of hand, he felt, whether the topic was border control, gun control or some other government measure. “It made you wonder,” he wrote, “how debates had ever occurred without that handy rhetorical hammer.” So he decided to track the analogies by creating a meme that would motivate those indulging in the unwarranted references to understand how inappropriate they were and desist.

The result: Godwin’s law, which states that the longer an online discussion continues, the greater the likelihood someone will draw a comparison with the Nazis or Hitler. And when that happens, the person making the analogy has effectively forfeited the argument.

Two recent instances relate to offshore detention. In a staggering twist of logic, Paul Bauert of the Australian Medical Association suggested asylum-seekers on Nauru and Manus Island were worse off than Jews in Auschwitz because those about to be murdered “found some sense of relief in knowing what was happening”, whereas asylum-seekers were unaware of what their future held. “The main reason for the impairment of mental health — as Viktor Frankl, the psychiatrist from Auschwitz, described very well in his book Man’s Search for Meaning — the main problem that these people have is … lack of certainty,” Bauert told Sky News. “Even those who finally knew they were about to be condemned to the gas chamber at least found some sense of relief in knowing what was happening.”

Withdrawing the statement, he acknowledged he had failed to grasp the complexities of Frankl’s writings. Indeed, apart from the appalling lack of empathy for people about to be murdered, his remarks were profoundly ignorant, given the Nazis went to inordinate lengths to conceal their intentions, telling the Jews they needed showers after spending days being transported in cattle cars and assuring them they would be reunited with their families.

Then came Anglican rector Rod Bower, who placed a sign outside his Gosford church on the NSW central coast saying “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.”

Human rights barrister Julian Burnside (Greens candidate against Josh Frydenberg) has twice linked offshore detention to the Nazis. Last year Burnside retweeted an image of Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton’s face superimposed on an SS officer, and this year he tweeted an extract of a comment by Nazi criminal Hermann Goering and predicted that Scott Morrison would quietly instruct the navy to “let a couple of asylum-seeker boats through before the election” and “terrify the nation that we are under attack”.

His supporting evidence? A 1946 comment by Goering: “… easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism, exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country.”

Queensland senator Fraser Anning used the phrase “final solution” in regard to the immigration issue, insisting he was unaware it was Nazi shorthand for their plan to annihilate the Jewish people; Greens MP Tamara Smith drew a parallel between US treatment of asylum-seekers and the Nazis; Hornsby Labor candidate Katie Gompertz compared US President Donald Trump to Hitler; and former prime minister Tony Abbott labelled Opposition Leader Bill Shorten the “Dr Goebbels of economic policy” after accusing Labor of causing “a holocaust of job losses”. (Joseph Goebbels was Hitler’s propaganda minister.) After opposition legal affairs spokesman Mark Dreyfus and other MPs were ejected by the Speaker during the ensuing uproar, Leader of the House Christopher Pyne said Dreyfus used “exactly the same description” to criticise Abbott in a 2011 article in which he said there was a “Goebbellian cynicism” in Abbott describing his carbon tax campaign as a truth campaign.

The list goes on, cheapening public debate, undermining the gravity of what the Nazis were about, doing a disservice to us all.

Although deliberately framed as if it were a law of nature or mathematics, the purpose of Godwin’s law “has always been rhetorical and pedagogical: I wanted folks who glibly compared someone else to Hitler to think a bit harder about the Holocaust”, Godwin wrote.

His noble aim is sadly faltering.

Vic Alhadeff is chief executive of the NSW Jewish Board of Deputies.

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