Archive for April 5, 2010

The Jews Down Under

April 5, 2010 Leave a comment

Compiled by Garry Fabian

Golf Club denies discrimination

MELBOURNE, 30 March – A prestigious Melbourne golf  club has denied accusations of anti-Semitism after a Jewish golfer’s application was turned down.

Kingston Heath Golf Club, the course where Tiger Woods won the 2009 Australian Open, said rumours  it recently rejected membership based on the applicants’ faith were unfounded.

Gregg Chapple, Kingston Heath’s general manager  said the Jewish golfer in question – a man known  to be a champion golfer – was turned down because  his application did not have enough referees. He  had two but the membership committee expects up  to five – it was, in Chapple’s words, “thin on the ground.”

The membership proposer took a message from the committee that if the applicant wanted more
referees he was invited to play golf the  following week with club members. The committee
also recommended he get referees from  Metropolitan Golf Club, where he is already a member.

Chapple said the applicant then raised the matter of his faith, which the proposer denied had come into the committee’s calculations.

The general manager called it a “quantum leap” for anyone to assume the applicant was knocked back because of his faith.

“Application forms do not have anywhere a question that contains their faith.”

The applicant was also invited to speak with  Steve Zamel, a Jewish Kingston Heath member, and
also a committee member with the Maccabi Golf Club.

“The proposer is miffed that the interpretation  was anything other than that [the referee issue]
. He was shocked when he raised it,” Chapple said.

While he could not list the club’s Jewish  members, the general manager said Kingston
Heath’s president knows of Jewish club members  and “we have a Smorgon on the waiting list and a   Smorgon who has applied for membership”.

It is not the first time one of Victoria’s famous  “sand belt” golf clubs has been accused of anti-Semitism.

Speaking to radio station 3AW this week, former  Victorian Liberal politician and Melbourne
Football Club champion Brian Dixon said he too  knew of a Jewish applicant who was knocked back  from the club. He said that rejection led him to cancel his own membership.

Chapple said the scenario Dixon was referring to  happened three decades ago and club members had informed him the application was problematic for other reasons. However, the general manager admitted the club does not appear particularly multicultural.

“If you walk in here, it looks pretty white, Anglo-Saxon,” he said.

He blamed this on the nature of the 100-year-old  club, which is slow to reflect the changing make up of Australian society.

“It’ll take time, but this place, in another 100  years, will be completely different,” he said.
“These clubs take a bit longer to catch up.”

No miracle of oil for cooking contestants

MELBOURNE, 31 March – What’s  the difference  between $100,000 and $0? According to the Jewish runners-up in TV cooking competition My Kitchen  Rules, it’s two millilitres of olive oil.

Earlier this week, over 1.5 million viewers tuned  in to the Channel 7 show’s grand final to watch
Victoria’s Clint Yudelman and Noah Rose take on Queensland’s Veronica and Shadi Abraham in a three-course cook off.

But ultimately the amateur chefs from Melbourne  lost out, failing to impress the professional
judges with their carpaccio of tuna, roasted duck  breast and tart of hazelnut and raspberry.

“I think it came down to our entree and the carpaccio,”  mused Yudelman, 24, on Tuesday. “I
think we had about two millilitres too little of olive oil or lemon juice dressing, so I think the
difference between $100,000 and zero dollars was just a few millilitres of olive oil. There’s no prize for coming second.”

The final itself was actually filmed last December, but the pair have had to keep the
result a secret, which hasn’t helped them get over the disappointment.

“It’s been burning from the inside,” said the former Mount Scopus Memorial College student, who
confessed to being “heartbroken” when he found out they’d lost.

Not that it was all bad.

While accepting that “the best team on the night won . we didn’t produce the dishes to the best of
our ability,” former Bialik College student Rose added: “It was an absolutely fantastic experience, we loved every minute of it.”

And despite the setback, Yudleman, a qualified vet, admitted: “We fast tracked our knowledge and experience in the kitchen dramatically. It was like doing an apprenticeship under Pete [Evans] and Manu [Feildel].”

So have the lessons they learnt from those two chefs inspired the pair, to change careers and turn professional?

“Down the track maybe,” said property development student Rose. “But in the immediate future we’re not going to open a restaurant or cafe because we don’t have enough experience and we have a particular taste and we want to expand that and evolve.”

There’s no let up in the demand for their culinary expertise, though. When  Pesach was just
around the corner, Rose was told he had to cook fish for 40 people for first night seder.

Forget Pete Evans and Manu Feildel judging you. A room full of hungry Jews. Now that really is pressure.

Students Shabbat message of moderation

MELBOURNE,  30 March – Pro-Israel students staged a mock Shabbat dinner in public last Friday to counter a rally urging the Australian Government to cut ties with the Jewish State.

Around 300 anti-Israel protestors had gathered at the State Library of Victoria following a panel
discussion organised by Students for Palestine focussing on “apartheid Israel”.

Speakers at the Palestinian event included Damien Ridgewell, the secretary of Swinburne University’s student union, and Tasmin Sammak, a representative of the  Federation of Muslim Students and Youth.

While the protestors assembled to march on Federation Square, members of the Australasian
Union of Jewish Students (AUJS), held their Friday night dinner on the library lawns.

About 35 students set up a picnic rug, replete with snacks of challah and dips and invited
protesters and onlookers to “chat over Shabbat dinner”.

“It worked very well,” AUJS chairman Liam Getreu said of the tactic, which garnered support from Young Liberals and members of Student Unity – a right aligned student faction.

People – ranging from university students to passing tourists – stopped for a bite to eat and
to ask what the fuss was about.

“We told them we are here to provide a moderate point of view,” Getreu said. “If they want to
have a discussion, they can sit down, eat dinner and talk about it.”

He said the quiet stunt, with Israeli and Australian flags as a backdrop, provided a
contrast to the noisy anti-Israel rally.

“They [the protesters] kept referring to us in the speeches, they were saying things like ‘the
Zionists over there’,” the chairman said. “It meant we were getting attention . it showed the
wider community there was another point of view.”

Meanwhile, Getreu admitted life for Jewish students is confronting at the moment – with more
anti-Israel posters and campaigns than usual appearing on Australian campuses.

To deal with the matters, a group of Jewish academics have been meeting informally to
strategise on how to deal with the vitriol.

“Academics are very important . They’re on the ground and can give us insight,” the Deakin University student said.

According to Getreu,  since the Gaza war at the beginning of 2008, anti-Israel students have
decided that “tantrums do work” and, as a result, have been vocally building their profile.

Principal reflects on his first year

SYDNEY, 1 April – Afrer a year on the job, Moriah College’s first non-Jewish principal, Kim
Fillingham, is pleased he joined the “Moriah family”.

“People always told me about the Moriah familybefore I arrived here, and it sounded like a bit
of rhetoric, but it’s actually a reality,”Fillingham said. “There is a very strong sense of
belonging here and I think that largely comesfrom the fact that a lot of parents are graduates
and people actually want to be here.”

He arrived at the school after a period ofdisruption following Dr Leon Bernstein’s short
tenure as principal of Australia’s largest Jewish school.

With a background in the public education system,Fillingham has worked at schools throughout NSWwhere, he explained, both children and teachers arrived “by coincidence”.

“At my previous positions, the teachers were often allocated to the school and the students
attended based on their address, not because of a choice. Here, though, everyone wants to be at Moriah.

“The parents are committed, the teachers have made a decision to be here and it creates a very
powerful work environment. Moving to Moriah is the best decision I have ever made.”

This year has been a learning curve for the father of two, with the educator getting to know
more about Judaism and the South African community as well.

“One of the joys of the job is learning every day about the Jewish community, its culture and
traditions. I’ve also been learning a lot of new words, and while some of them have some Yiddish
in them, most are South African.”

His biggest challenge, he said, has been teaching the community about his new role, which also
includes the position of chief executive officer.

“With the structural changes, people are still learning and understanding the new model because
the people in this chair before me have been in charge of the day-to-day operation of the high school, but that isn’t my job.

“My role encompasses educational leadership and management, but also the business leadership and management of the school.”

As for the future, Fillingham said it includes further changes to Moriah’s middle and primary schools.

“We’ve created some positions in the middle school . They are known as teaching and learning
coordinators, or TLC, which is nice because it’s about tender loving care for the middle-school
kids. The next task is to change the way we approach the curriculum in the primary school to
integrate Jewish and secular studies.”

Despite the hard work, the principal said he still finds time for some fun and his family,
including his husky-golden retriever cross Duke.

Fabian is Australia bureau chief for San Diego Jewish World


Obama facing diplomatic reverses all over the world

April 5, 2010 Leave a comment
By Ira Sharkansky

Ira Sharkansky

JERUSALEM–The news was not good when Barack Obama opened his newspapers upon returning to work from his Easter holiday (assuming that the American president had a holiday, beyond a family photo-op at church).

From Afghanistan:

There are no good options on the horizon, many analysts say, for reining in Mr. Karzai or for penalizing him, without potentially damaging Western interests. . . .Many fear the relationship is only likely to become worse, as Mr. Karzai draws closer to allies like Iran and China, whose interests are often at odds with those of the West, and sounds sympathetic enough to the Taliban that he could spur their efforts, helping their recruitment and further destabilizing the country.

From Iraq:

The Iraqi capital echoed with explosions . . . as insurgents sought to exploit political uncertainties created by painstakingly slow talks on forming a new government, with three suicide car bombings at diplomatic targets killing dozens of people and other scattered attacks disrupting areas across Baghdad. It was the third day in a row of violent attacks . . .The furious drumbeat of attacks, at a delicate moment, was taken as a concerted attempt by insurgents to retake the initiative after years of retreat and to undermine confidence in Iraq’s security forces as the American-led forces proceed with their withdrawal of all combat troops from the country before September.

From this part of the Middle East, Palestinians continue to talk about a unilateral declaration of independence while the Israeli government (without whom such a declaration is likely to be meaningless) continues its extended holiday without responding to American demands for concessions.

Beyond the details that may be sufficiently depressing for official Washington lies the possibility that we are seeing signs of the limits to American power. Perhaps Obama’s preference for engagement is not enough. Or there may be nothing that is enough when three focal points of American foreign policy initiatives are beyond the capacity of the United States to obtain what its president wants.

Afghanistan is a prize that no one should desire. Its ostensible leader (it is doubtful that anyone can claim to be a national leader in that sizable place forever confounded by ethnic, tribal, and local divisions) may simply want to be left alone to select those who may help him navigate the problems of staying in office, without holier than thou Americans bothering him about corruption, opium, or sticking to their targets for defeating their enemies. Who better than the leaders of Iran and China to provide him with options, each of which has a border with Afghanistan, and is tangling with the United States?

Iraq is a different problem, but no less complicated by ethnic and religious divisions, as well as sharing borders with, Syria, Iran, and Turkey. Not only can the Iranians aid their fellow Shi’ites but they can also cause problems for the United States while they are at it. Syrians and Turks can continue to tweak the tail of the American eagle with bits of assistance and bits of nuisance, depending on circumstances.

In none of this are there issues of great power defeat or victory, but the scoring of points.

Not the stuff of serious players?

Think again.

Start with the recent Obama victory in health care. It looks to me that the united Republican opposition had more to do with political points than actually shaping policy on an important issue. If policy had been primary, surely they could have contributed some of their votes to a deal on features important to them.

Or maybe the Democrats were scoring points, and taking advantage of an opportunity to keep the Republicans in a corner, away from the policy goodies?

The points to be won in Afghanistan and Iraq have to do with frustrating the proclaimed goals of the current American president. The Chinese and Iranians do not expect to take over the United States, Afghanistan, or Iraq, but to remind the White House of its place while they continue to do what is important for them.

Palestinian assertions are the weakest and most pathetic of those considered here. While there are many in Palestine and elsewhere who would applaud a unilateral declaration of independence as a way of scoring points against Israel, they would be well to remember Rhodesia’s UDI (unilateral declaration of independence), supported at the time by little more than South Africa and right wing English speakers in several other places. Palestine has been down this road before. What claimed to be the legislative body of the Palestine Liberation Organization declared the independence of Palestine in 1988, at a time with the organization was isolated in a small patch of Algiers. The issue surfaced again with speculation that Yasser Arafat was maneuvering toward such a declaration in 2000. That was at the beginning of the second intifada. At one of its later events Arafat’s successors had to clear some of the rubble in the courtyard of their headquarters building in order to make room for his grave.

For some years now one or another formulation of a Palestinian ruling body has enjoyed diplomatic recognition in many countries, perhaps 100 or more, but it is not close to control over what may be described as even a limited version of what they claim as their own.

Points here, points there. It’s a tough game these international politics. No victories that last for long. Always another nuisance, or worse, to spoil one’s conception of the good life.

Is there any solution other than whimsical acceptance?

Some issues are worth fighting for, but they must be chosen with care. It is better to pursue points or frustrate an adversary than to send in the troops whose eventual removal is likely to be problematic. But on occasion it is appropriate to use force.

One question for us powerless, but curious folks is: Is it appropriate for Israel to do what damage it can to the nuclear facilities of a government whose leader says time and again that Israel must be destroyed?

Someone with more authority than me will have to answer that, one way or the other, sooner or later.

Given the failure of engagement and sanctions, continued threats from Tehran, and the problems likely to be associated with an Israeli attack, it is not wise to wager too much on what course will be chosen. Or on the outcomes of whatever is chosen.

Sharkansky is professor emeritus of political science at Hebrew University