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The Jews Down Under~Roundup of Australian Jewish News

Garry Fabian

Compiled by Garry Fabian

Pre-school web site full of anti-Israel propaganda

MELBOURNE, 17 June – Jewish community leaders have  expressed concern about the ABC using its website  aimed at pre-school children to peddle virulent anti-Israel propaganda.

The ABC’s website ABC for Kids online is
<http://twitter.com/abcforkids>described as “the  pre-school web site for children’s television  programming broadcast on ABC1 and ABC2” on its Twitter account.

Despite that, the site contains a vitriolic  diatribe against Israel that ought not have been published anywhere, let alone aimed at children.

The author – a member of an extreme left-wing  anti-Israel group – tells the kids about the  Israeli efforts to maintain its weapons-smuggling blockade of Gaza:

“. putting the attack in context more fully reveals its moral obscenity .”

Charming. And it gets worse.

The ABC for Kids site falsely claims that Israel  has a conscious policy to keep the Palestinians  on the verge of starvation: “. It’s like an appointment with a dietician. The Palestinians will get a lot thinner, but won’t die .”

“.. All it would take was ‘Just one telephone  call from the Israeli defence ministry’. This  phone call still hasn’t come, and Palestinian
babies continue to suffer, as the world continues  to watch in silence, and as Western media continues to pass over this issue ..”

The article concludes:

“Perhaps now you can understand the sheer moral  depravity of Israel’s attack on the flotilla. The  Israel government has murdered at least 9 people  trying to fight for the right of Palestinians to  the basic necessities of life. And yet, there are  still those willing to defend such barbarism.  Have they no shame? At long last, have they no sense of decency?”

Of course there is no serious question about the  access of Gazans to food and the “necessities of  life.” Its residents enjoy longer life-spans than the people of Malaysia.

The article was originally published on the  Unleashed website, the vehicle of Jonathan Green, a former left-wing email newsletter editor and  Age journalist but has been populated over to the website ABC for Kids.

Australian Senate debate on Gaza flotilla incident

CANBERRA, 16 June  Following are exceprts from a speech by Senator Scott Ryan –

Several weeks ago we were informed that Israel had allegedly outrageously intervened to stop a so-called peace flotilla, with commandos launching themselves at a peaceful armada seeking nothing more than to take humanitarian aid to
Gaza. Excuse me if I was a little cynical when I first heard the news, for despite days of a highly orchestrated media campaign to vilify Israel and her defence forces, the truth subsequently came out. These were not peace activists; they were agents of provocation, radicals seeking a violent confrontation as they broke the legal maritime blockade of Gaza. I did not realise that peace activists were so well
armed, in this case, with knives, chains, firearms, molotov cocktails and pepper spray. By viciously attacking the soldiers, they quickly betrayed their true agenda with their anti-Semitic cries, as they did by their refusal to cooperate with the UN, Israeli or Egyptian  authorities, who could have facilitated the entry of the humanitarian materials to Gaza.

This was no peace flotilla; it was part of an orchestrated campaign to vilify the state of Israel for doing nothing more than would be expected of us in this place: to protect her own citizens.

The blockade of Gaza is well founded in law, but it is also well founded in the entirely
legitimate need for a state and government to take reasonable action to protect its
citizens­ for Gaza under Hamas cannot be treated as if it or they were a reasonable neighbour, and in no way can it be considered a partner for peace. This blockade has been undertaken to prevent terrorist attacks on Israeli civilians, no matter their race or creed. For some reason, certain people, NGO’s and so called human rights
organisations expect Israel to tolerate a much higher level of violence than in Manhattan, Melbourne or Manchester.

To those who do not understand what Hamas does to the innocent civilians of Israel, I urge you to go to Sderot. Look at the remains of the rockets that have been fired from Gaza into that neighbourhood by Hamas­, intentionally fired from
amongst civilians in Gaza so as to make detection and prevention more difficult. Visit the children’s playgrounds in Sderot that are made from reinforced concrete. Bomb shelters are painted as coloured snakes in lieu of a playground, as children need to be within seconds of safety as the sirens blare ‘code red’ as another rocket is launched. Speak to the mothers of the children to whom the word ‘red’ provokes
fear because of these sirens and amongst whom mental illness­ particularly anxiety, stress and depression-related disorders ­are at un- precedented levels. Go and look at the schools which have concrete slabs above their roofs in an attempt to limit the carnage caused by terrorists firing rockets from only a kilometre away, to
whom a school is nothing more than a target. This is the situation for Israeli towns along the border with Gaza.

 And why is it that we do not hear of the brutal rule of Hamas and what its clear and stated agenda is? It cannot be through innocence; it can only be through ignorance. Hamas does not seek to hide its agenda, at least on its home turf. The truth is that Israel had allowed elections in Gaza. The corrupt Palestinian Authority lost to
the terrorist organisation Hamas. The electoral attitude of Hamas can be best summed up as ‘One man, one vote, once,’ for elections are not regular. And pity those who might attempt to compete with them anyway, as thuggery and
violence rule, rather than the ballot box.

Despite a lack of coverage of the reality of Hamas, we should be in no doubt as to what it is. It is a terrorist organisation, dedicated to the use of violence against innocent civilians to achieve its objective. In this case its objective is nothing less than the elimination of the Jewish state and of Jews in their homeland. Across Israel, Hamas has killed thousands, Jewish and Muslim alike. Shrapnel from terrorists does not discriminate. For this reason, Israel blockades the rogue state that is Gaza ­but so does Egypt. Contrary to the perception created by
some reports, this blockade does not prohibit the entry of food and medicines. It merely ensures that the materials going into Gaza are not diverted into the tools of violence and terror.

So what was the real agenda of this alleged peace flotilla? It was part of the campaign to delegitimise Israel in the West. It was intentionally aimed at weak- ening the historic friendship between many nations of the West and the only liberal democratic state in the Middle East. Over the past decade, a campaign of vili-
fication against Israel has been undertaken by elements of the left in the West. Using NGOs, an occasionally ignorant media and a lack of understanding in the West of the existential threat faced by Israel, they have joined with other groups, including violent Islamic groups in the Middle East who seek to destroy Israel. The
incidence of academic boycotts and the use of terms such as ‘apartheid’ are all an attempt to achieve through factual manipulation what the enemies of Israel have not been able to achieve through other means. It could not be achieved by
three wars and it could not be achieved by an unprecedented terror campaign against civilians, so now these organisations seek to weaken Israel by demonising and delegitimising it, weakening its alliance with other nations to diplomatically
cripple and hopefully destroy it. This was merely the latest media stunt in that campaign.

For those who doubt the intensity of the hatred of Israel and its people, have a look at what is on some of the television stations in its neighbourhood. I have seen a dramatic serialisation of that historic slur The Protocols of the Elders of Zion being broadcast on television as if it were a mini-series we would see on our own TV screens, and the portrayal of a Disney-like children’s character being killed by
Jews on a children’s program. And, of course, there is the constant denial of the reality of the Holocaust.

These are just some of the examples of horrific anti- Semitism fed to millions of people via their TV screens, endorsed or tolerated by Israel’s Arab neighbour states. And while Hamas is of immediate interest with its control of
Gaza, it is far from the only offender in creating and furthering racial hatred. The
Palestinian Authority has maps on its walls that do not recognise the state of Israel. I have seen them. The schoolbooks the Palestinian Authority distributes to schools contain no reference to Israel or the three wars that were started against it. They have even named and funded a soccer tournament after a prominent suicide
bomber. Israel and its citizens, including Muslim Arabs, do not live in the same world we do; theylive in a world where their neighbours seek their violent destruction. No government is perfect. No state is perfect. But that does not mean one abandons those simply in need of security. In this case, it is the people of Israelwho have that need­–the need for no more than what we expect in Australia.

A group called ‘Australians for Palestine’ has been running a campaign entitled ‘Time to hold Israel Accountable’. Israel is accountable to its people via elections, courts and the rule of law, while Hamas, the Palestinian Authority and Israel’s other neighbours are not. Israel has a right to protect itself, and the campaign to
undermine this must be opposed. More importantly, it must be exposed. The lies and misrepresentation of facts and the application of double standards in considering Israel’s legitimate right of self-defence cannot go unanswered.

Jewish community members on honour list

CANBERRA, 17 June – Eighteen Australian Jews had a right royal reason to celebrate this week after being named among almost 500 Australians to be
honoured on the Queen’s birthday.

 From service to medicine, business, the arts and the Jewish community, the honours ranged from Australia’s highest civic honour, the Companion
of the Order (AC), awarded to Australian Competition and Consumer Commission chairman Graham Samuel to Officer of the Order (AO) awarded to Chief Judge of the County Court of Victoria Justice Michael Rozenes.

Among the Jewish recipients of the Member of the Order (AM), was inaugural president of the Council of Orthodox Synagogues and founder of
kosher Meals on Wheels, Dr Saul Weiner, who received the honour for his pioneering work in the field of anti venoms. The 86-year-old  said
he’s just pleased he’s been able to give something back to the country that gave him a home.

“I was very elated about receiving such an honour from the Queen,” he said. “But I was just happy that I managed to do something in my active life to pay back the Australian people for giving me refuge in this country.”

Also receiving an AM was former NSW Board of Deputies president David Knoll who, having embarked on his communal involvement while still a student, has dedicated three decades of his life to Australian Jewry.

“I am very please and quite honoured,” he said. Knoll received the honour in recognition of his service to Australian Jewry through a range of peak, religious and educational organisations, and for the promotion of interfaith relations.

Similarly, Dr Ron Weiser received an AM for his service to the community through leadership roles with the Zionist Federation of Australia and the promotion and development of Australia-Israeli relations.

“It gave me a great buzz and I’m honoured to receive the award because the things I did just seemed like something anyone would do in the role,” Weiser said, insisting that his honour belongs as much to those he worked with as to himself.

Justice Linda Dessau, Dr Gene Sherman and Dr Alex Wodak rounded out the Jewish member of the order recipients.

A further 10 Jews were awarded a Medal of the Order (OAM), among them, Jonah
“John”  Goldman  who “felt humbled and more than surprised” to have received the award.

Currently vice president of the Brisbane Hebrew Congregation, the grandfather of four has been a volunteer with the Brisbane Chevra Kadisha since 1974, and has also served as director of the Maccabi National Carnival Committee, treasurer of
the B’nai B’rith Youth Association and as a committee member of the Jewish National Fund and the United Israel Appeal.

Despite his contributions to various Jewish organisations, the modest 64-year-old says he doesn’t feel worthy of the honour, which he received for his ongoing service to the community.

“It’s easy to accept the award, but somebody hasgone to trouble to nominate me. They’ve done a lot of work, so they deserve it,” Goldman said in an interview.

After decades of community involvement and philanthropic contributions, Sydney community stalwart Barry Smorgon was also recognised with an OAM. The Maccabi Australia chairman and board member was honoured for his service to the
community, particularly through the Jewish sporting organisation, and to the business arena in general.

“It’s a lovely honour. You don’t do volunteer work to be recognised but it is very gratifying to be honoured,” he said.

Similarly, Pauline Rockman was recognised for service to the community, particularly through Melbourne’s Jewish Holocaust Centre where she is
president. She described the honour as “humbling”.

“I feel proud to be an Australian, proud to be a Jew and proud to be a woman,” she said. “It’s a wonderful sense of recognition. I have done the work because I’ve been passionate about it, never for the recognition.”

Other OAM recipients were Dr Onn Ben-David, Sandra Benjamin, Michael Cohen, Noel Levin,  Jerome “Jock” Levy, Dr Harry Mond and Ivan Visontay.

A 1000 rally for Israel

SYDNEY 17 June – Despite opposition to proposals for a pro-Israel rally, more than 1000 people came together in Bondi, Sydney, on Monday afternoon to express their support for the Jewish State and voice their hopes for peace.

Calls for a public display of solidarity came on the wake of weeks of hostile coverage in the media, following the Gaza flotilla crisis, which saw nine people killed when Israeli commandos were attacked as they boarded the Mavi Marmara.

Press reports were widely perceived as  failing to explain the legitimacy of Israel’s actions or the true intent of some of the so-called “peace activists”, as anti-Israel demonstrations were staged both in Australia and around the globe.

Some community bodies felt that a pro-Israel rally was not the best way to counter the hostile feelings that had been expressed in the media and on the streets.

But former Zionist Federation of Australia president Ron Weiser said this week that he believed rallies, like the one at Barracluff Park, are certainly beneficial for Jews in the Diaspora and for Israel.

“I live in Sydney so I don’t know all the local communities around Australia but I think everyone should take encouragement from the great response we had at the rally and the media coverage we received,” Weiser said.

“It’s probably too late now, but people should give rallies a consideration quickly in the future because I think it is good for everyone.

“The community wanted it [the rally] to say they stood up for Israel. People in Israel need to know we support them and it’s a method of getting our point across to the public.”

Though the rally was staged by the NSW State Zionist Council in response to the Gaza flotilla crisis, its focus was primarily on calling for peace in the Middle East and explaining the truth about the situation in Gaza.

“Hamas is denying its own people their rights,” Weiser said. “Gilad Shalit, who has been held captive for nearly four years but denied all access to the Red Cross, is the real humanitarian crisis in Gaza.”

Twenty-five year old Michael Wolfowitz from Coogee, who was among the crowds at the rallysaid: “I was very impressed with the turnout. People said they were a bit worried about how many people would come but it was amazing to have more than 1000 people. There was singing and dancing and it was a real family atmosphere, which was great.”

Zionist Council of Victoria (ZCV) acting president Sam Salcman said the decision not to hold a rally in Melbourne was not taken lightly.

“It was considered by our advocacy group and by the office bearers and they voted by a large majority not to run a rally because we have to realise that times have changed and it was our opinion that we would not meet our goals through a rally,” he said.

“We see a rally as a powerful tool and and if the circumstances change then a rally is always an option.

“The fact that the rally exceeded expectations in Sydney is very admirable, it’s just horses for courses and we have decided not to rally in Melbourne.”


Jewish Radio hits the airwaves

MELBOURNE, 18 June – More than 70 volunteers are behind Lion FM- Australia’s first Jewish radio station – which started test broadcasts this week. Lion FM, or Melbourne Jewish radio station can be found on 96.1 MHz. The community station  has taken three years and $100,000 in donations to get going.

Next week a rabbi will place a mezuzah on equipment near the stations aerial, atop of a Melbourne skyscraper. The station is recording shows at a temporary
studio, but is negotiating for a permanent studio.

Daily programs being developed include talkback, such as a breakfast show, the Daily Bagel and a drive show, The Long Schlepp Home.  Regular slots will range from straight Jewish topics, such as an advice program called Ask the Rabbi and a
kosher food show, to more secular such as Interfaith dialogue, Dreamtime Nation (Aboriginal topics) and a Reel Shpiel (films). State president Micahel Lipshutz said Lion FM was “the most exciting development with in the Jewish community for decades”.

“Its a huge step forward for the community, and it’s going to  be a big boon for the community”.

Lipshutz said the station would enable the wider community “to see the Jewish community’s point of view on various items’ including politics. It would help to bring together the disparate Jewish community.”We are not pushing region, We are a
radio station that’s going to be a broad church” he said.

Fabian is Australia bureau chief for San Diego Jewish World

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