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