Archive for the ‘Dubai’ Category

Commentary: Inappropriate for U.S. State Department to send Muslim cleric to Arab countries

August 11, 2010 1 comment

By Shoshana Bryen

Shoshana Bryen

WASHINGTON, D.C. –The State Department has confirmed that Feisal Abdul Rauf – who wants to be the imam of a mosque at Ground Zero – is taking a State Department funded trip to the Middle East to foster “greater understanding” about Islam and Muslim communities in the United States.

“He is a distinguished Muslim cleric,” said State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley. “I think we are in the process of arranging for him to travel as part of this program, and it is to foster a greater understanding about the region around the world among Muslim-majority communities.” Rauf is reportedly going to Saudi Arabia, Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Bahrain and Qatar.
What a load of hooey.
We know a lot of rabbis, some ministers and a few priests. We would be appalled to have the government of the United States, which by law favors no religion, sending a rabbi to Israel – or the former Soviet Union or France or Argentina, where there are communities of Jews – to talk about how Jews live in the United States. Having a priest travel to the Vatican, Honduras, Ireland or the Philippines to describe the lives of American Catholics would be outrageous. Likewise, ministers to Sweden.
What business is it of the American government to send a Muslim to Muslim-majority countries to talk about Islam? How offensive is it to think that the American government is using American tax dollars to fly a non-government person around the world to promote the activities and lifestyle of a particular religion? Better to send a non-Muslim American government official to talk about American religious freedom, cultural diversity and the virtues of the secular, democratic state. 
To the speculation that Rauf will engage in fund raising for the proposed mosque at Ground Zero, Mr. Crowley said, “That would not be something he could do as part of our program,” he said. 
We’re so relieved. And we’re so sure he will do only as the American government desires.
But Debra Burlingame, a 9/11 family member told The New York Post, “‘We know he has a fund-raising association with Saudi Arabia,’ … noting that the Saudis have contributed money to underwrite programs by the American Society for Muslim Advancement, a not-for-profit that Abdul Rauf runs with his wife and that is one of the sponsors of the Ground Zero mosque. ‘He’s going to the well, and how can they say they do or don’t know what he’s doing?'”
To be entirely clear, JINSA believes Ground Zero is a battlefield cemetery – the site of a battle for the liberal democratic state. We oppose the building of a Muslim sectarian monument there because regardless of what its supporters say, it will be widely understood in the Muslim world as a battlefield monument in the name of Islam. 
Does the State Department really think Rauf (who said in English that the United States bears responsibility for 9-11) will tell the Saudis, Bahrainis and Qataris that he is building a monument to cultural understanding, interfaith relations and peace in New York because America is a good, safe and decent place for Muslims as long as they understand the secular, democratic nature of the United States? And that he doesn’t want their money because Americans will fund the mosque?
And how will the State Department know?

Bryen is senior director of security policy of the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs.  Her column is sponsored by Waxie Sanitary Supply in memory of Morris Wax, longtime JINSA supporter and national board member.

Jundullah movement terrorizing eastern Iran

July 16, 2010 1 comment

By Shoshana Bryen

Shoshana Bryen

WASHINGTON, D.C. –Thursday, July 15,  was designated “Revolutionary Guard Day” by the Iranian government. The same day, two bombs exploded in a mosque in the city of Zahedan, in southeastern Iran. According to Iranian reports, two suicide bombers entered the mosque and detonated themselves, killing 30 and injuring more than 100 people. The “People’s Resistance Movement of Iran” (PRMI or Jundallah) said the bombing was “retaliation.”
For what? In February, JINSA noted, “a Kyrgyzstan Airways commercial flight from Dubai bound for Bishkek was ordered by the Iranian government to land in Iran and a passenger, Abdolmalik Rigi, was taken off in handcuffs.” (JINSA Report #966) The lack of international interest in the forced landing and rendition of Rigi by Iran would have been mind-boggling except that it wasn’t done by Israel.
On June 20, Rigi was hanged in the Evin Prison in Teheran. IRNA, the Iranian news agency, said the execution was “carried out following a decision of the Tehran revolutionary tribunal” and quoted a court statement saying: “The head of the armed counter-revolutionary group in the east of the country…was responsible for armed robbery, assassination attempts, armed attacks on the army and police and on ordinary people, and murder.” His execution was called a “severe blow” to Jundullah.
Rigi’s brother Abdolhamid Rigi was executed one month earlier in Zahedan. The sentence was carried out in private, Iranian sources said, but with his family in attendance, presumably to ensure their future quiescence. The explosion in the mosque is an indication that at least some people were not cowed. The bombers, according to a Jundallah statement, were Mohammad and Abdolbaaset Rigi
It is unnecessary to know anything about the Jundallah organization to understand that the Iranian regime is secretly executing its enemies and is reaping the revenge. 

Bryen is senior director of security policy of the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs.  Her column is sponsored by Waxie Sanitary Supply in memory of Morris Wax, longtime JINSA supporter and national board member.

Irish government blocks EU data transfer to Israel after passport affair

July 15, 2010 Leave a comment

(WJC)–The European Commission’s proposal to recognize Israeli data protection standards as appropriate to transfer personal data of Europeans has been blocked by the Irish government. A spokesman for Irish Justice Minister Dermot Ahern said that Ireland could not support the move in the wake of the row of the faking of Irish and other EU passports in the killing of Hamas commander al-Mahbouh, in Dubai in January. In Europe, the hit is widely blamed on Israel’s Mossad.

The spokesman said the Irish government had the “gravest concern” that information supplied to Israel could be used to forge passports for use by intelligence agencies.

Dublin expelled an Israeli diplomat last month. Dubai police have accused Israeli secret service operatives to be behind the killing. However, separate investigations conducted by the Irish police did not find any additional evidence that links Israel to the forged passports of EU member states. Nonetheless, the Irish government maintains that Israel was responsible for them.


Preceding provided by World Jewish Congress.

Poland to extradite alleged Israeli Mossad agent to Germany

July 8, 2010 Leave a comment

(WJC)–A Polish court has ruled that an alleged Israeli Mossad agent can be extradited to Germany. Uri Brodsky is suspected of helping to forge a German passport used in connection with the murder of a Hamas operative in Dubai. Mr Brodsky, an Israeli citizen, was detained in Poland in June on an arrest warrant issued by Germany.
Mahmoud al-Mabhouh, one of the founders of Hamas’s military wing, was found dead in a Dubai hotel on 20 January. Dubai police have said they are 99% sure that members of the Israeli intelligence agency Mossad were involved, although Israel says there is no proof.
“The court has decided to hand over Uri Brodsky to German authorities for judicial procedures there,” Judge Tomasz Talkiewicz said, following the closed hearing at Warsaw regional court. “The court did not decide whether Brodsky committed the crime for which he is under investigation, the court only checked whether the extradition request fulfils the formal requirements and whether the suspect is correctly identified,” he added.
Mr Brodsky, who was arrested by border guards at Warsaw airport last month, has three days to appeal against the decision. However, his lawyers say no decision has yet been made. They argue it is a case of mistaken identity and he is not the man wanted in Germany. Mr Brodsky hid his face from reporters as he walked to the courtroom escorted by anti-terrorist police officers. He showed no reaction when the ruling was announced.
Forged passports from the UK, the Irish Republic, France, Australia, and Germany were used in the Dubai operation, leading to diplomatic rows between those countries and Israel. The UK and Australia have expelled Israeli diplomats over the forgeries. Dubai police have identified more than 30 suspects in the case.


Preceding provided by World Jewish Congress.

Alleged Mossad agent wanted in Germany arrested at Warsaw Airport

June 15, 2010 Leave a comment

(WJC)–An alleged Mossad agent who is wanted in Germany in connection with the assassination of a Hamas official in Dubai has been arrested in the Polish capital Warsaw. The arrest earlier this month of Uri Brodsky, and his possible extradition to Germany, could lead to a diplomatic row between Germany and Israel.

Germany wants Brodsky to face charges of falsifying documents to obtain a German passport, but according to news reports, Israel has pressed Poland not to extradite him. The German news magazine  ‘Der Spiegel’ reported on Monday that Brodsky – an Israeli citizen suspected of working for the Mossad in Germany – was taken into custody upon arrival at Warsaw’s airport on 04 June. He is suspected of having helped another Mossad agent to illegally obtain a German passport as part of the plot to assassinate senior Hamas leader Mahmoud al-Mabhouh in a Dubai hotel room in January, according to the German Federal Prosecutor’s Office.

Al-Mabhouh co-founded the military wing of Hamas and was allegedly in Dubai to conclude a weapons deal when he was killed. Dubai police investigations have pointed to the involvement of 33 people in the plot. They were placed on Interpol’s most wanted list, and Germany particularly sought Brodsky, according to media reports.

A prosecution spokesman in Poland was quoted by ‘ Haaretz’  as saying that Polish authorities will ask the court in Warsaw to meet the German request for Brodsky’s extradition. The Polish prosecutor noted that the extradition would be based on a European arrest warrant which leaves Poland little choice in the matter, consistent with its legal obligations as a member of the European Union. “The Polish court will rule in 30 days whether the incarcerated person, under the name of Brodsky, will be extradited to Germany or not,” the spokesman for the Warsaw District Court added, according to the Israeli newspaper.


Preceding provided by World Jewish Congress.

The Jews Down Under~Roundup of Australian Jewish news

May 30, 2010 Leave a comment

Garry Fabian

Compiled by Garry Fabian

Australia expels Israeli diplomat

CANBERRA, 26 May – Foreign Minister Stephen Smith announced on Monday his Government had evidence  that the Israeli Government forged Australian passports.

A three month investigation by Australian  intelligence organisations revealed “beyond
doubt”, according to Smith, the link between the  passport fraud and Israel. In response, the
Foreign Minister expelled a member of the Israeli  Embassy in Canberra effective this week, a decision he said was taken “with sorrow”.

An initial investigation launched in February and  led by the Australian Federal Police, was backed
up this month with a visit to Israel by the  director general of the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation.

Smith said there were three findings from the  investigation. First that there was no evidence the four Australians – Joshua Krycer, Joshua  Bruce, Nicole McCabe and Adam Korman – were anything other than innocent victims.  Second,  the forged passports were of such a high quality  that they pointed to the involvement of a  national intelligence agency. Third, that the  Australian investigation “left the Government in no doubt that Israel was responsible for the abuse and counterfeiting of these passports”.

He reiterated that Israel remained a friend of  Australia but said “time will tell” how long it  will take until the relationship between the two countries gets back on track.

Michael Danby MHR has released the following statement:
“I have previously & publicly (on Jon Faine’s 774  program) said I condemn the misuse of Australian passports by any other country. However, I do not  agree with the government’s decision to remove an  Israeli diplomat from Canberra. Neither France,  Germany or Ireland have asked for an Israeli  diplomat to be withdrawn as a result of the Dubai affair”

“This announcement comes at a time when Australia  is supporting just resumed Middle East peace negotiations”

“I accept that this decision has been made but  Australia has always been a good friend of Israel  and I have no doubt that this relationship will remain intact”, Mr Danby said.

Australian Governmenr reaction excessive – Jewish Leaders

CANBERRA, 27 May – Jewish community  representatives have expressed dismay at the Federal Government’s decision to expel a diplomat  from the Israeli embassy in the wake of the passport forgeries.

In a joint statement, Executive Council of  Australian Jewry president Robert Goot and Zionist Federation of Australia president Philip Chester described the expulsion order as “an overreaction”.

The organisations pointed out that Foreign Minister Stephen Smith’s statement to Parliament this week “does not disclose any specific =evidence in support of his conclusions about Israel’s involvement in the matter”.

“Little good can come from taking punitive action  in relation to this matter against Israel, which is the Middle East’s only stable democracy and  the only Middle Eastern country that can be  relied on to act resolutely against international terrorism.

Goot and Chester said they were confident the  longstanding friendship and cooperation between
Australia and Israel would endure, “and that  Australia’s strong bipartisan support for Israel,
and for a just and lasting peace between Israel and its neighbours, will remain steadfast”.

Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council (AIJAC)  executive director Dr Colin Rubenstein said the expulsion was “unhelpful”, as the Government had  gone far enough when it “made clear its  displeasure over the abuse of Australian passports in the strongest of possible terms”.

“While Australia followed a British precedent in  its overreaction, no similar step has been taken
by Ireland, France or Germany, all of whom also  allegedly had forged passports implicated in the
killing of senior Hamas terrorist Mahmoud al-Mabhouh.”

AIJAC national chairman Mark Leibler said claims by Dubai authorities over the incident “should not be accepted as necessarily unbiased and  neutral, given Dubai’s apparent past tolerance of [Mahmoud] al-Mabhouh’s open and dubious activity on behalf of Hamas on Dubai soil”.

Leibler predicted Australia and Israel would continue to remain close allies.

“Australia and Israel have a longstanding  friendship and common interests, with the threats  of a nuclear-armed Iran and anti-western  terrorism just two of the pressing world concerns  that both countries will continue to confront  together, despite today’s decision.”

Deputy PM in Election mode at Jewish Affairs luncheon

MELBOURNE,  25 May – Deputy Prime Minister Julia Gillard looked to be in election mode as she  addressed a lunch of community philanthropists,  senior business people and top members of the legal profession on Friday.

In a wide-ranging address and in question time  afterwards, Gillard spoke on a range of topics  from the ongoing economic crisis to climate  change, from Israel to Jewish schools. She spoke c andidly, but still managed to focus on the Rudd Government’s successes.

Despite being in election mode, she refused to speculate on a possible polling date but added “I’m looking forward to it, I like campaigning”.

She warned that Australia is not yet out of economic danger, referring to the ongoing crisis  in Europe, particularly Greece, which has  impacted this country. She also reminded guests  that the Rudd Government has worked hard to keep Australia from tumbling into recession.

“It hasn’t been easy,” she said. “And there have been legitimate criticisms of some of the stimulus we have rolled out.

But, she added, “We have managed to keep the country in a productive cycle.”

She confronted community concerns, including changes in Australia’s position on a small number  of votes in the United Nations relating to Israel, whether Australia aid to the Palestinian territories was remaining out of terrorists’  hands and assurances about the continuation of Jewish school funding.

The lunch was hosted by the Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council.

Reaping the benefits

MELBOURNE, 28 May – Pioneering, original and innovative were three of the words Mount Scopus Memorial College principal Rabbi James Kennard  used to describe the school’s new kitchen garden.

Officially opened last week, the Stephanie  Alexander style garden adjoins a five station kosher kitchen, enabling the students to plant and till the produce before cooking with it.

“The Mount Scopus community garden provides  students with the opportunity to grow, cook, eat and learn in the process,” Rabbi Kennard said.  “It is a community enterprise that has brought together students, teachers, parents,  grandparents and supporters, all growing in the garden together.”

Planned by a group of year 6 mathematics students  last year, the garden is designed in the shape of
a Magen David, with fresh, organic vegetables and  herbs growing in sections and a chicken coop off
to the side. Years 4 and 5 students spend  fortnightly lessons in the garden with a  qualified horticulturalist where they attend to  the vegetables before spending a double class in  the home style kitchen classroom with kitchen teacher Delia Baron.

“The kids are learning so much; culturally,  through science, maths, English. It’s coming into  every lesson,” Baron said at the opening. She  praised the foresight of Greg Hannon, head of  Smorgon Family Primary School, and Rabbi Kennard, saying that when approached with the program they “took it on with such gusto”.

Attendees at the opening, including Stephanie  Alexander herself, watched as a year 4 class  completed its kitchen lesson where students  prepared afternoon tea for the guests using produce from the garden.

The formalities concluded with college rabbi  Shamir Kaplan affixing a mezuzah to the kitchen door and a foundation tree planted by key  supporters. A deciduous tree, its leaves will be  composted to add to the garden.

Reform urged for Yeshivah

MELBOURNE, 28 May – The Yeshivah Centre this week said it is planning to remedy a set of problems
identified in a recent survey conducted among synagogue members.

Responses gathered from congregants revealed  dissatisfaction with services; a need for a  greater focus on youth minyans; greater efforts  at inclusiveness, particularly towards women; a  need for improved governance; and a demand for  renovations to the building. Also suggested was the removal of the controversial Yechi sign from the centre’s shul.

The one-off poll, conducted late last year, canvassed members of the centre to obtain a  snapshot of attitudes since the passing of Yeshivah’s leader, Rabbi Yitzchok Dovid Groner.

Although all 614 members received the survey, only 155 responded, with survey firm Platinum  Edge Consulting stating the centre has 371 members regularly attending the main Yeshivah shul.

More than half the respondents thought the minyan in the main synagogue, particularly on Shabbat, “requires considerable improvement”, with  two-thirds calling for improvements to youth  minyans. Less than 10 per cent of those surveyed  believed there was enough emphasis on the needs of the congregation’s youth.

A survey summary stated that “one of the most  contentious issues . is whether congregants feel a sense of community and belonging to the shul”.  Just over half of the respondents did not fully  agree that “their family feel[s] part of the community formed by this congregation”, with more than a fifth stating the shul “is not at all
warmly and openly welcoming to visitors and newcomers”.

There was strong demand for women to play a  greater role in the running of the shul, with  suggestions that women be admitted to the committee.

The survey found dissatisfaction with Yeshivah  shul’s governance, with a majority calling for the committee to be elected, not appointed. There was also concern about congregants not being kept in the loop on major developments.

Issues about the physical state of the building and its upkeep figured prominently, with a third of respondents identifying air conditioning and basic facilities needing a facelift.

Yeshivah Centre general manager Nechama Bendet said the centre commissioned the survey “to assist with the process of identifying the current and future needs of our shul community, particularly in light of transition issues” since Rabbi Groner’s death almost two years ago.

“Based on feedback from the survey, there will be particular focus on creating a greater sense of belonging for congregants, increasing pastoral care services, ensuring that the shul is meeting the needs of the youth and making women feel more connected. In addition, improvements to the shul environs and facilities will be undertaken.

“Shul life is an integral part of the Yeshivah Centre community, and we are committed to ensuring that we are providing quality programs and services to our shul community.

Renewed call for supreme kashrut authority

CANBERRA,  28 May -Shops, restaurants or products that define themselves as kosher without the blessing of a legally recognised kashrut authority could face prosecution if a proposal submitted to the Federal Government last week gets the green light from legislators.

The submission, put forward by the Organisation of Rabbis of Australasia (ORA) and the Executive Council of Australian Jewry (ECAJ), calls for one  body – namely ORA – to be given the legal right to endorse individual kashrut authorities, setting the guidelines they must adhere to.

Those not receiving an endorsement would not be able to operate as kashrut authorities within the
law, preventing them from bestowing hechshers (kosher licences).

And in what was described as a “monumental and historic”  achievement, the proposal received the backing of the country’s principal communal kashrut authorities, including Kosher Australia, Chabad Kashrut and Adass Kashrut in Victoria, the Kashrut Authority in New South Wales and the Kashrut Authority in Western Australia.

The submission was put forward in response to the Government’s Issues Consultation Paper on Food Labelling Law and Policy Review, which asked whether there was a need to establish agreed definitions of terms such as “halal”
and  “kosher” and, if so, whether the definitions should be included or referenced in the Food Standards Code.

Though the ORA and ECAJ submission recognises that, to date, the self-regulation of kashrut authorities has created “very few problems” and that the Jewish community feels it “has served it well”, it adds: “the rabbinic authorities in Australia have no capacity to prevent a producer from labelling or self-certifying a product as ‘kosher’.”

It also notes that “in a self-regulated environment, there is potential for confusion and even fraudulent conduct through the potential for rogue producers to use the word ‘kosher’ with impunity.”

To tackle that problem, the submission states: “The only viable means of regulation of kosher labelling would be to enshrine (by legislation or regulation) the present self-regulated system, that is, to give legislative or regulatory authority to the endorsement of the rabbinic or kosher authorities within Australia.

“Such legislation could provide that the word ‘kosher’ may only be used on a label if the product bears a form of endorsement that it has been certified as kosher by a recognised rabbinic or kosher authority in Australia. Such
recognition can be conferred by ORA as the designated body representing the religious Jewish leadership for this purpose.”

Insisting that individual kashrut authorities would retain their autonomy, Rabbi Meir Shlomo Klugwant, chair of the ORA kashrut subcommittee, said as an overarching, endorsing body, ORA would be responsible for laying down the guidelines and overriding principles that the authorities would have to abide by. Quite what those principles would be are yet to be hammered out, Rabbi Klugwant noting “There is much work to be done and these are early days.”

However, he added: “What is encouraging is that all parties at the table . were happy and prepared to consider the concept of a centralised national body to endorse kashrut authorities in Australia. This is monumental and historic in nature.” The sentiment was echoed by Benjamin Koppel, president of Adass, who said he was
“heartened by the united approach of the kashrut authorities and was pleased to be involved in the
discussions and deliberations. It was good to be able to sit around the table together and to work towards a common goal.”

Rabbi Moshe Gutnick, head of the NSW Kashrut Authority, added: “It was extremely gratifying to have all the kashrut agencies working together for the common good, and if these recommendations are accepted by the Government – this will be to the benefit of all kosher consumers”

Winning run hits brick wall

MELBOURNE,  27 May – AJAX has suffered its first defeat of the season in a heart-stopper against Beaumaris, losing 8.15 (63) to 9.11 (65).

After a last-minute winner last week, the Jackas couldn’t repeat the dose on the weekend, as Beaumaris was too strong from start to finish.  Ajax had few winners, with the Kalmus brothers, Ben and Josh, both impressing, while Jarrod White battled hard in the ruck.

Warren Steinberg was the other standout for the visitors, proving solid in defence. While the  side worked hard to keep its winning streak  intact, turnovers and poor kicking in front of goal was the difference between the sides.

Beaumaris won more contested possessions early, and dominated the clearances from the opening bounce. The side kicked the first three goals of the game within the opening five minutes, before Ash Kalb found space in the forward 50 to kick the Jackas’ first of the game. Beaumaris capitalised on an Ajax turnover to extend itslead to five goals, but David Fayman responded, slotting the last two goals of the term.

Coach Bernie Sheehy was pleased with his side’s forward pressure, but pleaded with his charges to hit their targets by hand.

As the wind picked up in the second quarter, the players started to lift their work rate and intensity. Ben Kalmus and Fayman, kicked the only two goals for the term, giving the Jackas the slenderest of leads at the main break, but it could have been further ahead if not for some wayward goal-kicking. In the shadows of half time, Jackas veteran Mark Segal went down with a hamstring injury.

With both sides applying intensive pressure, the third term was an arm wrestle, with just two goals kicked in 30 minutes of football. Ajax had the better of the quarter, but failed to take advantage of opportunities in the forward 50, and went to three-quarter-time with a slender two-point lead.

Coach Sheehy urged his players not to “waste what’s been a good effort”, adding the game was “there for the taking”.

After missing the third term with a leg injury, Jason Israelsohn was back on the ground for the final term, and quickly goaled to extend his side’s lead. But Beaumaris responded in emphatic fashion, taking the game on and slotting three  consecutive goals to wrest the lead. Josh Ludski kicked truly to give Ajax a sniff with only 30seconds on the clock, but it wasn’t to be, as Beaumaris claimed an upset victory.

The Reserves side won their second game in a row with a hard-fought victory over Beaumaris 12.9(81) to 11.7 (73), while the Under-19s suffered their second defeat in a row, losing a see-sawingaffair against Old Mentonians 12.5 (77) to 11.13 (79).

Israeli Arab journalist Khaled Abu Toameh on Australian speaking tour

MELBOURNE–During his recent trip to Australia, Israeli-Arab journalist and authority on Palestinian issues
Khaled Abu Toameh answers questions on a range of issues.

How do you feel as an Arab Muslim living in Israel?

You know, I always say that it’s very easy to solve the problem between Jews and Palestinians. Why? Because at the end of the day, there is going to be separation, in one form or another, from the Palestinians.

One day, they will be there and we will be here.  But what do we do with the 1.4 million Arabs living inside Israel. What’s their future? I’m  very worried about the serious deterioration that has happened with relations between Jews and Arabs inside Israel.

If I were a Jew living in Israel, I would be very worried about the deterioration of relations between Jews and Arabs inside the country. We, the Israeli Arabs, have been extremely loyal to the State of Israel ever since its establishment. We are the Arab who in 1948 did not challenge Israel’s right to exist. We accepted Israel. We welcomed Israel. We helped build Israel. Israel gave us passports, citizenship, okay. But although the overwhelming majority of us were  loyal to the State of Israel, sadly, the State of  Israel or the Israeli establishment were not equally loyal towards its Arab minority.

And what am I talking about. I’m talking about employment, services, infrastructure. We continue to suffer from what [former prime minister] Ehud  Olmert called a policy of systematic discrimination against the Arab minority.

Now, the good news is that Israel is not an apartheid state. But the bad news is that there is discrimination inside Israel. It’s not just against Arabs – it’s against Russians. It’s against Ethiopians. It’s against the elderly. It’s against the disabled. If this policy
continues and the Israeli establishment does not wake up and embark on an emergency plan to improve its relations with its Arab minority, the third intifada will be on the streets of Haifa and Akko, and the Negev and the Galilee.

[However, that said], if you ask me on a personal basis, and I think I represent mainstream Israeli Arabs, we would rather live in Israel under any circumstances. It’s much better than living as a first-class citizen in Cairo, Amman, Gaza or Ramallah.

Q.You say Israel is not an apartheid state. Can you elaborate?

If Israel were an apartheid state, an Arab would not be allowed to live in a Jewish neighbourhood.An Arab would not be able to go to a Jewish school, and so many other things. Or an Arab would not be able to go to the same restaurant as a Jew. You have to look at the apartheid system and study it and see what it was. Compare it toIsrael. Are there problems with discrimination?
Yes. But I wouldn’t call it apartheid.

Q. Do Israeli Arabs find Hatikvah alienating as the national anthem?

Maybe Hatikvah does not represent what I, as an Arab Muslim, feels – my aspirations and all that – but I have no problem with it. A Jew can sing whatever he wants, and a Muslim will sing whatever he wants. I don’t care about the colours of the flag. I don’t care about Hatikvah. I respect them. I’m not challenging them. I’m just saying, if you want to be a Jewish state and sing
whatever you want, do whatever you want, fine. But give me full rights in this Jewish state. You can be a Jewish state for all of your citizens.

So Israel is not trying to impose Hatikvah on me. That’s also good. It shouldn’t be imposing anything on anyone. If Israel wants to be a Jewish state, that’s also fine with us Israeli Arabs. We never thought that it was a problem until Israel raised it. It’s like, why are you chasing me, asking me to accept you as a Jewish state? You are a Jewish state anyway. You are the homeland for the Jews.

But why are you asking me to start saying “yes I accept” or “I don’t accept it”? What does it matter to you? Israel should not be begging or chasing anyone to recognise Israel or accept Israel as a Jewish state. Israel is a fact. It exists. Whether people accept Israel or not, that’s their problem. But Israel should have enough self-confidence and stop raising these issues. There’s no need for it.

Q. What is your opinion of Foreign Minister AvigdorLieberman’s proposal to make all Arabs swear oaths of loyalty to the State of Israel?

Why is he raising this? We are citizens of Israel. Who is he to come now and ask us to do this? By the way, this is a dangerous idea,because today you will demand it from the Arabs. Tomorrow you will demand it from the Russians. Then you will demand it from the Ethiopians. Israel is a state of law and order and should have more confidence in itself than this man.
This man’s message, unfortunately, is very negative, and he is also damaging relations between Jews and Arabs. If Mr Lieberman wants to incite and say these awful things, I say something like this: he who came last, should leave first.

If Mr Lieberman stands up and says “All citizens should be equal and loyal to the state of Israel”, I will say, “yes Mr Lieberman, thank you”. I will even serve in the army. But once you single out one group, that becomes too dangerous. This is not what Israel wants and fortunately, he does not represent the majority of Jews in Israel.

Q. What can you tell us about the recent arrests of two Israeli Arabs [on charges of espionage forHezbollah] and the response from the [Israeli-Arab] community?

These charges will be tested in court. But what is for sure is that the arrest itself and the allegations that are flying do not contribute to coexistence. They only widen the gap between Arabs and Jews. And if it turns out to be true that these guys are actually guilty of what they are accused of, it just shows that the radicalisation [of Israeli Arabs due to discrimination] is continuing.

Q. How well are your lectures received overseas, in particular at universities?

First of all, you should ask me how they arereceived by Palestinians [in the Palestinian areas]: very well. I go to Gaza, I’ve been at Palestinian universities in Gaza. I’ve been at Palestinian universities in the West Bank. I go back there every day. I talk, most people tell me what I’m saying makes sense, that these are reasonable things I am saying. So over there I have no problem.

Where do the problems start? As soon as I show my face at a university campus in Canada or in the US, or even here at Monash University, where people – most of them not even Palestinian, not even Arabs – stand up and say to me “how dare
you” [and then start throwing around words like] apartheid, war crimes, massacres, death to Israel and death to Zionism.

Their message is hatred and delegitimisation of Israel and demonisation of Jews. I ask [these protesters], “Who are you?” And they say, “We are the pro-Palestinian group”. I tell them, “Excuse me, what’s pro-Palestinian about you? That you are wearing your kaffiyeh? That doesn’t make you pro-Palestinian. You are just Jew-haters and Israel-haters. If you really cared about the
Palestinians, why don’t you come to Palestine and teach Palestinian children English, for example? Why don’t you come to Palestine and promote the rights of women under Hamas? Then I will call you pro-Palestinian.

“But sitting over here on a campus in America,and telling me that Israel is bad and to dismantle this Jewish State and to get rid of it,that does not really help me as an Arab Muslim living in Israel. Your message is no different than the message of Hamas. We have enoughincitement, thank you. If you have anything good to offer us, please come.”

I passed by some Lebanese girls who were organising Israel Apartheid Week in Canada. I stopped at their information table and I asked them, “Excuse me, which apartheid are you talking about?” They said, “Of course the Jewish State, and apartheid against the Palestinians.” And I asked them if they were from Lebanon. “What about the apartheid in Lebanon against the Palestinians, where in Lebanon there is a law that prevents Palestinians from working in morethan 60 professions? By law, it’s written in the law.”

Can you imagine if the Knesset met tonight and passed a law banning Arabs from working in one ­profession?

They said, “You know, you are right, but don’t tell these folks over here. Don’t bring the dirty laundry out, please.” I told them that washypocrisy. If they want to wage a campaignagainst apartheid, they need to go against all the apartheid they are talking about.

I don’t like these negative messages. They don’t bring us anything. The same goes for campaigns for divestment and boycotts. Again, I asked howit could help me? Boycott – negative. I told some folks who were calling for boycotts: “Instead of
wasting all this energy calling for boycotts of Israel, why don’t you come to that part of the world and bring Jewish and Palestinian professors together, for example? You guys are actually undermining the moderates over there who want
peace, through your messages of hatred.”

The battle today against Israel is not in the form of a suicide bomber and a rocket. We have answers to that. Israel has been able to deal with them. You can always strike back at a rocket. You can always fight against suicide bombers. Israel has succeeded at that. I’d be much more worried as a Jew at what’s happening on the university campuses. This is very serious, what we encounter over there.

Q. You are a Jerusalem Arab. Do Jerusalem Arabs want a divided Jerusalem?

I don’t think anyone wants Jerusalem to be divided. I don’t think Jerusalem can be divided. Jerusalem can perhaps be shared. But you cannot really divide Jerusalem. It’s not practical.

This transcript includes answers given by Khaled  Abu Toameh during a Q&A in Melbourne. His trip to Australia was sponsored by the Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council, the United Israel Appeal and the NSW Jewish Board of Deputies.


Fabian is Australia bureau chief of San Diego Jewish World

Australia expels Israeli diplomat over forgery of Australian passports

May 26, 2010 Leave a comment


(WJC)–Australia has ordered the expulsion of an Israeli diplomat after an investigation concluded that there was “no doubt” Israel forged four Australian passports used in the assassination of a senior Hamas leader. Stressing that the decision was taken “much more in sorrow than in anger,” Foreign Minister Stephen Smith said Monday that he had requested an unnamed diplomat to be withdrawn within one week. “These are not the actions of a friend,” he said. “No government can tolerate the abuse of its passports, especially by a foreign government.” Australia’s punitive reaction follows Britain’s action in March, expelling an Israeli security agent following an investigation that it said offered compelling evidence that Israel was behind the January 20 assassination of Mahmoud al-Mabhouh in a hotel in Dubai.

Some 33 members of an assassination team widely speculated to have been Mossad agents used forged passports from Britain, Ireland, Australia and Germany to enter and leave Dubai. Israel has neither confirmed nor denied that the Mossad intelligence service was behind the assassination. A spokesman for the Israeli Embassy in Canberra expressed “regret” at the decision, adding that it was not “reflective” of the relationship between the two countries. Michael Danby, a Jewish legislator in the Labor government, criticized the decision, but said bilateral relations between Canberra and Jerusalem – which date back to World War I – would remain intact.


Preceding provided by Worod Jewish Congress.

ADL urges boycott of ‘toxic’ Iranian bonds

May 5, 2010 Leave a comment
NEW YORK (Press Release)–The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) on Wednesday called on investors and banks not to buy or hold the “Pars Oil and Gas Company Participation Bonds” currently being offered by Bank Mellat of Iran.

“Buyers of these bonds are funding Iran’s nuclear weapons program, terrorism, and the repression of the Iranian people by putting money in the coffers of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps,” said Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director. “Every responsible investor and bank should avoid these truly ‘toxic bonds.’  Holders of them will become Iran’s unwitting partners in the proliferation of nuclear weapons and the promotion of terror.”

 According to documents for the one billion Euro offering, the bond sales will finance the development of gas fields for which the general contractor is Khatam ol-Anbia Construction Base, the principal engineering and construction company of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC).  Khatam ol-Anbia has been designated by the European Union and the U.S. Treasury Department as a nuclear and missile proliferator, and the UN Security Council has sanctioned the IRGC for proliferation.

According to Bank Mellat, “These Participation Bonds allow all interested parties to participate in the development of South Pars phases 15 to 18.”  Phases 15 and 16 were awarded in a no-bid contract to Khatam ol-Anbia in June 2006.

Bank Mellat has branches in Turkey and South Korea and its subsidiary, Persia International Bank, has offices in London and Dubai. Another subsidiary is located in Armenia.  

Preceding provided by the Anti-Defamation League

The Jews Down Under… Roundup of Australian Jewish News

April 19, 2010 Leave a comment


Garry Fabian

Compiled by Garry Fabian

The Zentai saga rolls on

PERTH 13 April – The Federal Court in Western Australia will next month begin hearing an appeal from Perth man Charles Zentai against his
extradition to Hungary to face war crimes charges.

The court has postponed the start of a judicial review into the case to April 27; it was supposed to begin last month. A review favourable to
Zentai is widely seen as his final opportunity to avoid extradition.

Earlier this month, lawyers representing Zentai and Home Affairs Minister Brendan O’Connor met inFederal Court over the defendant’s right to see a full version of the documents used by O’Connor in reaching his decision to green-light the extradition.

Zentai is accused of playing a role in the murder of Peter Balazs, a young Budapest Jew who was beaten to death in November 1944.

Zentai, who was arrested in 2005 on a Hungarian warrant, denies the charges.
Remembering Six Million

MELBOURNE, 12 April – Commemorations for Yom Hashoah, Holocaust remembrance day, were held around Australia on Sunday, April 11 and Monday, April 12.

In Melbourne, survivors from the “Buchenwald boys” lit memorial candles at a memorial at
Monash University’s Robert Blackwood Hall.

Sydney’s Jewish community hosted a number of functions, including a name reading ceremony at
the Sydney Jewish Museum in Darlinghurst. More than 300 people, including consul generals from
Germany, Austria, Poland, Lithuania, Costa Rica, Britain, Croatia and Romania, joined school
children, many of them from non-Jewish schools, at Sunday’s moving commemoration.

Moriah College hosted a Yom Hashoah event, with a keynote speech from Israel Embassy deputy Eli Yerushalmi, while Masada College had scheduled its own commemoration for Monday night.

Yom Hashoah memorials were also held in Perth, where Associate Professor Mark Baker was keynotespeaker, and in Canberra, where diplomats,politicians and representatives of various faiths
came together to remember the Holocaust.

Goodby to politics but not Jewish Community

SYDNEY, 12 April – After years of involvement, Malcolm Turnbull said his resignation as
Wentworth MP will not see him cut ties with the Jewish community.

Speaking the day after announcing he would not contest the next election, the former Liberal
leader called the local Jewish community “the heart and soul” of his electorate.

“I don’t intend to stop my association with the Jewish community just because I am out of
Parliament. I’ve loved my involvement at so many communal events and just having so many friends in the Jewish community.”

Using the new social medium Twitter, Turnbull announced on Tuesday he would not recontest the
inner-eastern Sydney seat come the next election.

The decision was made, he said, following his loss of the Liberal Party leadership to Tony
Abbott by one vote in December last year. The catalyst for that vote was the emissions trading
Bill, which Turnbull continues to strongly support, but which much of the Coalition opposes.

But he never had trouble keeping the Jewish community on his side ­ even those who weren’t
Liberal voters held Turnbull in high esteem because of his commitment to the community.

It was Chanukah parties that Turnbull highlighted as some of the best memories during his time in
office. “I really enjoyed Chanukah celebrations, whether it was the event at Double Bay that Yanky
Berger does, or the Russian ceremony,” he said, adding he once gave a memorised speech in
Russian, which “amused some of the older attendees”.

One organisation that Turnbull has had a strong involvement with for the past three years is
Sydney’s Montefiore Home, where he is the ambassador.

This week, Montefiore vice-president Gary Inberg said he hoped Turnbull’s role as the home’s
“ambassador, supporter and friend” would continue. “Our residents are always delighted to
see Malcolm and we have enjoyed hosting him at the home on numerous occasions. It is a pleasure
and an honour to be associated with him,” Inberg said.

Executive Council of Australian Jewry president Robert Goot also paid tribute to the politician.

“We regret, but understand, Mr Turnbull’s decision. He was a most effective advocate for a
variety of matters of concern for the Jewish community,” Goot said.

In terms of a successor, the Liberal Party has opened nominations for a new candidate to contest
the increasingly marginal seat.

A number of Jewish names have been suggested ­ including party bigwigs Richard Shields and
Julian Leeser, as well as former Turnbull staffer Anthony Orkin and current local councillor
Anthony Boskovitz. The vote is expected to be held within a month.

Turnbull weighed in on the speculation of his successor, but in a non-partisan way.

“People often assume, in a somewhat patronising way, that the Jewish community will always vote
for a Jewish candidate. I think there are a lot of people in the Jewish community who would make
great candidates for Parliament, but ultimately it is the quality of the candidate that matters,” he said

Push for closer diplomatic ties

CANBERRA, 13 April – Ronen Plot, director-general of Israel’s Ministry of Public Diplomacy and
Diaspora Affairs, was in Australia this week in what is seen as part of a larger effort to
cultivate a better relationship between the local community and the Jewish State.

The director-general, who also spent time liaising with Jewish community leaders in Hong
Kong and New Zealand as part of his regional sweep, said that his trip had a dual purpose: as
a fact-finding mission to learn more about Diaspora communities and develop a working
relationship with their leadership, while also looking for opportunities for new collaborative
projects in education and other spheres.

Speaking in Hebrew, Plot said that his visit was considered essential in order to carry out the mission of his department.

“You can’t have a situation where you have an office of Diaspora affairs and run it exclusively
from Israel,” Plot said. “It’s extremely important to meet and get to know people in the
Diaspora communities themselves.”

Dr Ron Weiser, past president of the Zionist Federation of Australia and current committee
member of the Board of Governors of the Jewish Agency, was one of the many communal officials
who met with Plot during his Pesach visit.

Dr Weiser said that Plot’s visit represents the beginning of a long-term process to change the
relationship between Jerusalem and the Diaspora. He recalled the words of former prime minister Ehud Olmert in a speech to the Jewish Agency Board of Governors. “[Olmert] said, for the past
60 years, Israel has been the project of the Jewish people. For the next 60 years, the Jewish
people will need to be the joint project of Israel and Jewish communities around the world.”

The current visit is the latest step in that process, Dr Weiser said.Plot dismissed speculation that his trip had any connection to recent allegations that Israel had forged Australian passports.

His visit, he said, was planned well in advance of the scandal and had very clear objectives far
removed from such controversies.

Plot added that, at any rate, there has been no proven link between Israel and the forgeries.

In related news, Plot could not confirm the accuracy of a report in The Jerusalem Post last
Thursday that PM Binyamin Netanyahu’s former bureau chief Ari Harow may accept the position of
deputy director-general of the Public Diplomacy and Diaspora Affairs Ministry.

Passport report in, but no action to date

CANBERRA, 15  April – Foreign Minister Stephen Smith has said he will not rush his response to
an Australian Federal Police (AFP) report into the alleged misuse of four Australian passports
in the assassination of Hamas terror chief Mahmoud al-Mabhouh .

The AFP investigation, which saw three officers travel to Israel, was completed recently, with
Smith receiving the findings last Friday. The Foreign Minister said he had looked at the
report, but was not ready to make any decisions.

“I haven’t yet had the opportunity of very carefully considering that, but it’s clear from a
preliminary assessment of that report that I need to get further advice and see further work and
have further discussion with other agencies,” he told Channel Nine.

He said he would be discussing the report with Australia’s two premier security agencies ­ the
Australian Security Intelligence Organisation and the Australian Secret Intelligence Service ­ before making any decisions.

“When that work has been done, and I’ve had the chance to fully consider, not just the AFP
report, but also that further work and advice from other agencies, then I’ll make the detail of
the government’s deliberations about this matter public.”

Responding to whether the Australian investigation was taking too long, Smith said he
wanted to be sure of the facts.

“I need further work done by our intelligence agencies and I’m going to get this right rather
than rush it in any way. It’s a very important issue. It has very significant ramifications for
use of passports and our relationships with a number of countries, and I’m not proposing to be
rushed. I want the exhaustive work to be done carefully and properly.”

The investigation was launched in late February after forged passports in the names of
Australian-born Israelis were discovered by Dubai police. Fingers were pointed at Israel’s Mossad
secret service, with Smith calling Israel’s Ambassador to Australia Yuval Rotem to Parliament
for an explanation and asking for his cooperation.

Last month, Britain expelled an Israeli diplomat after completing its own investigation into
forged passports in the names of British-born Israelis

Rabbis reach out to youth

MELBOURNE, 15 April – Local Orthodox rabbis are this week launching a range of programs in a bid
to relate better to younger Jews and to become more professional.

Tonight (Thursday), the Rabbinical Council of Victoria (RCV) will unveil a number of projects
at a gala reception in the presence of Victorian Government ministers, community dignitaries and young people.

Speaking in the lead-up to the event, RCV president Rabbi Yaakov Glasman said the rabbis
are hoping to offer their expertise to the community in different ways.

“The RCV hopes to work in collaboration with other communal organisations and believes the
Victorian rabbinate has a wealth of knowledge and experience to offer the Jewish, and indeed, wider community,” the North Eastern Jewish Centre rabbi said.

One way it hopes to do this is through the “Mashpia” or mentoring program, which will link rabbis with young Jews.

“The purpose of this initiative is to encourage young Jewish adults, particularly in their latter
formative teenage years, to feel comfortable thinking and speaking about matters relating to
spirituality and religion, which some may feel naturally inhibited to do because of societal norms and expectations,” he said.

Those older than school age will also be catered for, with Rabbi Glasman hinting at a program that
will help young adults entering the workforce find a place in their busy lives for religion.

Some of the community’s most prominent businessmen are being engaged to assist.

The other area the RCV is pushing into is professional development. “We want to be
professional, we don’t want rabbis to deal with crises en route,” the president said.

These initiatives are currently being sponsored by the Victorian Multicultural Commission, but
Rabbi Glasman said the community will also be called upon to assist.

“We want communal donors to recognise that investing in the rabbinate is worthwhile.”

Limmud Oz back for another year

MELBOURNE, 15 April – Planning for Limmud Oz, the festival of Jewish learning and culture, is
currently underway, with the conference returning to Melbourne for the Queen’s Birthday long weekend in June.

Held annually ­ this year over three days ­ Limmud Oz gives participants an opportunity to
engage with and learn topics of Jewish interest.

“It will take you another step further in your Jewish journey,” Limmud Oz committee member
Sylvia Urbach said. “It will have some appeal to all people regarding any aspect of Jewish life
and Jewish thought ever considered.”

A host of international presenters are already on board, including executive director of the Israel
Religious Action Centre and Women of the Wall participant Anat Hoffman, Israeli professor of
political studies Efraim Inbar and Dr Aaron Rosen, a research fellow in Jewish history and culture at Oxford University.

Diverse local speakers will also feature on a broad range of topics ­ including Adam Goodvach’s
analysis of Australia’s closest neighbour Indonesia, Victor Majzner talking about art and a
discussion with Lionel Sharpe, one of the community’s foremost genealogists.

“There is a wide array of Jewish topics and speakers from religious to secular in every way,
shape or form,” Urbach said. “What’s important is that it is non-denominational and inclusive, with
subjects and speakers relevant to all Jews.”

Artistic memlories of a bleak place
Detail from the Jewish Museum of Australia’s newest exhibition.

Detail from the Jewish Museum of Australia’s
newest exhibition. Photo: Peter Haskin

MELBOURNE’– Jewish Museum of Australia launched its latest exhibition, titled Theresienstadt:
Drawn From the Inside, last week in the presence of MPs including Victorian Arts Minister Peter Batchelor.

More than 20 years ago, Holocaust survivor Regina Schwarz donated a battered suitcase containing 142 watercolours and drawings created in the Nazi concentration camp at Theresienstadt by her husband Paul and fellow artist Leo Lowit.

The rare collection of artworks was exhibited at the Jewish Museum of Australia in 1990, but has
remained in the museum archives since then.

A year ago curator Mera Brooks started sorting through the collection to select 90 works for the museum’s latest exhibition.

Paul and Regina Schwarz and Leo and Jindriska Lowit arrived in Theresienstadt in December 1941,
among 6000 Jews who arrived at the camp by rail transport from Prague that month. Paul, Leo and Jindriska were killed in Auschwitz in October 1944. Regina survived Auschwitz and settled in
Melbourne after World War II where she died in 1987.

The Theresienstadt: Drawn From the Inside exhibition is at the Jewish Museum of Australia
from April 11 until March 13, 2011.
Nonagenarian still an active athlete
MELBOURNE, 19 April–90 years young and still as active as ever – Simon Shinberg, you are an inspiration! When ‘Friend of Maccabi’, Simon Shinberg called the office this week to RSVP to the upcoming Friends of Maccabi Luncheon, he told me that he was very much looking forward to hearing motivational Special Guest Speaker, Brian Rabinowitz, as Brian was Simon’s Spinning
instructor! I had to find out more…..

Simon Shinberg not only takes 45 minute Spinning classes 4 days a week, he also does a couple of
hours of gym 4 times a week too!

Simon has been involved in sport for as long as he can remember. He was a member of the first
AJAX Athletics Club, focussing on sprints, high jump and shotput. He represented Victoria at both
the 1937/38 Carnival in Melbourne and the 1938/39 Carnival in Sydney, where he won the High
Jump.  He also played soccer for Hakoah when he was 18 years old.

During the many years of running his successful clothing manufacturing business, Simon went for a
run at 6am every morning, keeping him energised for the remainder of the day.

And Simon has no plans to slow down now, saying that keeping active and his wonderful friends
both from Maccabi & other walks of life is what keeps him going each day. Simon Shinberg, you are an inspiration!

Agitating for change at Yeshivah

MELBOURNE, 19 April –  Yeshivah Centre members in Melbourne have called for more democracy in the 52-year-old organisation after accusations the facility’s dayan, Rabbi Zvi Hirsch Telsner, censored their newsletter.

The Pesach edition of the publication included three articles discussing the value of removing
or retaining the controversial “Yechi” sign on the wall of the main shul. But by the end of
Pesach, the two pieces calling for a vote on its presence had been deleted from electronic and paper copies. When asked for confirmation, Rabbi Telsner said he knew “nothing about it”.

However, in a letter to Rabbi Telsner, congregant David Werdiger claims that during a discussion
they had had, the dayan admitted that he had instructed their removal.

Werdiger said he objected to the censorship and would, after 40 years, stop praying at the main
Yeshivah shul. “It is sad and ironic that this has happened in our community, many of whose
founders lived under an oppressive regime in Soviet Russia where there was a standard method
for dealing with dissent,” Werdiger said.

The sign, according to an article by YeshivahGedolah head Rabbi Binyomin Cohen, implies that
the late Lubavitcher Rebbe is the messiah and that he never really passed away.

Despite the sign being up for some years, its presence came to the fore in January when Rabbi
Telsner excised a small group of people – the “Moshiach Men” – from the community.

A number of Yeshivah members called for the sign to be removed, claiming it was divisive and
promoted disharmony. Despite securing more than 100 signatures, Rabbi Telsner and the va’ad
ruchni, or committee, ignored the request.

Articles in the recent newsletter continued the debate about the Yechi sign. In the piece that
was retained, Rabbi Cohen argued in favour of leaving the sign because that is what the late
Yeshivah director, Rabbi Yitzchok Dovid Groner, wanted.

“There should be enough room for all of us, and no-one should feel that his emunah [faith] is
going to be somehow compromised by davvening [praying] together with another Jew who sees
things very differently,” Rabbi Cohen wrote.

Another congregant and one of the organisers of the petition, Yudi New, argued in the original
newsletter that the shul was alienating members of the Jewish community, against its own
philosophy. He called the sign a “slogan” and said there was no room for slogans in a place of
worship, adding its benefits had not been made clear.

On a more general note, New implored the centre’s leadership to welcome mature debate among
members. “Whatever course the leadership and community charters, we must concede that Yeshivah has become a shell of its former self.”

Another member, Pinchas Henenberg, also had his say before the newsletter was censored. “The
issue is not going to go away by itself – responding ‘no comment’ to the public and
instructing mispallelim [congregants] to ‘listen to your leaders and put aside your own thoughts
and concerns’ simply exacerbates the issue,” he wrote, before calling for a public members vote.

Fabian is Australia bureau chief for San Diego Jewish World

The Jews Down Under … Roundup of Australian Jewish News

April 11, 2010 Leave a comment

Garry Fabian

Compiled by Garry Fabian

Donors warned to consider donations

MELBOURNE, 7 April – Jewish people should  carefully examine the ideologies of humanitarian groups they donate to, an aid expert warned this  week, after it was revealed that an  Australian-funded soccer stadium in the West Bank  has been named after a leading terrorist.

Jewish Aid Australia (JAA) CEO Gary Samowitz said  donors need to be diligent when deciding where to give their charity.

“A lot of the time, they don’t know where their funding is going. They just give, and then they get a nasty surprise,” he said.

Samowitz was commenting after news emerged that Palestinian authorities are planning to name a  sporting complex in Jenin, which contains a  soccer field funded by World Vision Australia, the Abu Jihad Youth City.

Abu Jihad, also known as Khalil al-Wazir, was a commander of Fatah’s armed wing and plotted
several attacks on Israel in the 1970s and 1980s.

A World Vision Australia spokesperson has stated the aid group did not have anything to do with the naming of the complex.

“Subsequent to our work establishing the soccer field, the governor of Jenin and the ministry of
youth and sport have embraced it and determined they will build additional sports facilities on the site,” she told media.

Samowitz said that JAA does not work with WorldVision “because we don’t want Jewish funding
going towards a project like this, obviously”.

He said a lot of aid organisations “have quite a firm stance” on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

By contrast, JAA recently worked with Care Australia, distributing $140,000 in funds raised
by the Jewish community towards the Haiti earthquake appeal. “Care Australia are
non-political and non-religious .We’ve met with them and we’re assured they’re an organisation we can trust and they’re not anti-Israel.”

Community mourns Nehama Patkin

MELBOURNE, 7 April -The arts and education communities are in mourning following the deathof acclaimed pianist Nehama Patkin, aged 70, on the weekend.

Patkin died of complications related to an infection in her hip and was buried Sunday at the
Melbourne Chevra Kadisha cemetery in Lyndhurst.

Patkin’s parents, Benzion and Hemda, migrated to Australia from Palestine in 1929. Benzion was instrumental in the establishment of Mount Scopus Memorial College and Patkin was part of the school’s first enrolment of students in 1949.

At the age of four, Patkin began learning the piano, starting a lifelong passion for music.

After completing her studies at Mount Scopus, she attended the University of Melbourne and
graduated with a bachelor of music in 1959, followed eight years later by a masters degree.

She played piano in competitions and was trained in guitar, oboe, flute and dancing, with further study to teach creative movement dancing.

Patkin was involved in a Jewish theatre group, the Habima Players, and it was there that she met Peter Grodeck. They were married in 1959.

The renowned performer’s involvement in music continued to grow, becoming an accompanist for ballet schools. She was also one of the first presenters on the ABC TV series Playschool.

In 1970, she composed the musical score for The Australian Ballet Company’s  production Arena, which was performed around Australia.

Over the years, she played piano concertos with all the Australian symphony orchestras, as well as guest appearances with orchestras in Brazil, Hawaii and Germany. She was also awarded life membership of the Friends of the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra.

Patkin was a regular performer at community functions and was director of Victoria’s Israeli
Independence Day celebrations for eight years, as well as directing similar functions interstate.

A member of the board of governors of the Malcolm Sargent Cancer Fund for Children, she also
received a Churchill Fellowship in 2003, the Order of Australia (OAM) medal in 1998 for
service to the community, and was appointed an Australia Day ambassador in 2008.

Patkin was a lecturer at the Victorian College of the Arts and established the Young Musicians of Excellence to provide high quality orchestral music for children.

She leaves a partner Kenneth Madl, two sons, Anton and Damien Grodeck, and two grandchildren, Ben and Adam Grodeck.

When Ben graduated from Mount Scopus Memorial College in 2008, he created history in becoming the first third-generation graduate of the school. Mount Scopus Memorial College principal Rabbi James Kennard said: “The Mount Scopus community
fondly remembers Nehama Patkin as one of its first students.

“Her immense contribution to the fields of music and music education, her roles as teacher, mother and grandmother of our students and enthusiastic supporter of the college, make us proud to have counted Nehama as one of our graduates.”
Dream start for 2010 season for young footballers

SYDNEY, 8 April – Maccabi HaKoah’s Youth Development sides have immediately showed the
fruits of their pre-season labour, picking up four wins from five starts to kick-off their 2010
campaign in late March. The club travelled to Nowra, where they impressed against Southern
Region, a club that was in the Super League in 2009.

The under-13s set the tone, notching a 1-0 win despite a first half that would have delighted coach Barry Walker.

Only some brilliant goalkeeping kept out Jake Berkowitz, Zach Edelstein and Jordan Ozana.
Barely five minutes had elapsed in the second period when Mikey Herman slipped a seemingly
innocuous shot past the otherwise impeccable keeper, but the rest of the half was spend fighting superbly.

Dan Engelman and Simon Rouse led the way, while David Booth’s two crucial saves ensured a clean sheet.

The under-14s went down 1-2, but showed enough promise to please coach Nick Tredler. Anton
Loutas opened the scoring, single-handedly beating the defence on a run from midfield, before finding the net in spectacular fashion.

Hakoah found themselves on the back-foot in the second half, but despite the outstanding form of Max Nightingale in goals, Southern got the points.

The under-15s took to the field with the memory of their coach Iggy Grey still burning fondly.
After a good spell of early possession, Sam Wrublewski launched a drive at full throttle,
which flew into the top left corner.

Midfielders Robbie Ezekiel, Josh Orly, Ilan Kessler and Josh Shubitz soon took charge. With
10 minutes to go in the first half, Justin Malek stepped up and scored from 25 metres out.

The boys wavered under the relenting heat in the second period and Nowra took possession and had several concerted moves on goal. Engelman, Schwartz, Hamburger and Karpin maintained a solid defence to keep an impressive clean sheet in a 2-0 win.

The under-16s showed solid form to storm home after an early deficit to win 6-4. Maccabi took a commanding lead before the heat took its toll and both sides succumbed to late goals.

Rami Tal (2), Aydin Dervis (2), Jake Wakil and Jake Nightingale got on the board.

The under-18s ran riot, winning 12-1, with Daniel Toblib bagging four goals, Martin Baer 2, Jack
Watts 2, and Josh Grunfeld, Max Kanicevich, Steven Filler and Ollie Corey the other scorers.

Meanwhile, the State League senior side warmed up for the season with a 2-2 draw, while the
reserves won 1-0, thanks to Hayim Ayalon.

Real Estate Agent targeted over Israel support

MELBOURNE, 9 April – A local real estate agent was accused of “supporting 62 years of terror”
last week after erecting a sign backing Israel ahead of Yom Ha’atzmaut.

The slur was made in an anonymous letter sent to LJ Hooker Elsternwick.

The letter also called the agents “traitors” and included the threat, “take that board down or your business will suffer”.

Director of the family run company Alex Flamm, who together with his sons, Oren and Golan, are the faces of the agency, said the company has never been targeted like that before.

“[I feel] absolutely ropeable, angry and infuriated by the ignorance of the idiot that
sent it,” he said. “The person who sent the letter is voicing his patriotism the only way they know how and that is by threats, while at the same time accuse the Jewish people of having
achieved statehood by using “terror”.”

Flamm said he is not “paranoid” about anti-Semitism, rather, he is proud of his Jewish
heritage and disappointed about the “few morons” who “are capable of writing hate mail filled with their version of terrorism and threats under the guise of their patriotism”.

Flamm has reported the letter to the police and Community Security Group.

While the anonymous nature of the threat makes it difficult for the police to act on, Senior
Constable Deryn Boote from Caulfield Police Station has referred the matter to the Divisional
Intelligence Unit based at Moorabbin Police Station.

That unit was set up in recent years to gather information on anti-Semitic and Israel-related
offences in Victoria. The sign, which was situated on Glen Eira Road, was still visible
early this week, but Flamm said it would be removed to protect his business.

LJ Hooker is one of a handful of real estate agents who are active in supporting the local Jewish community and Israel.

Love is the perfect recipe for Cellulloid Soup

MELBOURNE, 9 April – Kosher Lovin’ is the catchy title of this year’s Celluloid Soup Film
Festival, which is seeking entries of short films that touch on aspects of love in the Jewish community.

The festival aims to bring the community together, fostering talent and creativity through
film, at the same time exploring the cultural and religious experiences of the Jewish community

This is the 12th year that Celluloid Soup has been held and it even boasts an Oscar winner
among its past entrants – 2008 Academy Award winner Eva Orner had an entry in the 1998 competition.

“The idea is to have fun and present an exciting festival of films,” said producer Adam Krongold,
who is guiding this year’s festival.

“All people have to do is make a film on the Jewish theme of Kosher Lovin’, make it with
passion and ensure that the result is no longer than seven minutes.”

Krongold said the aim of Celluloid Soup is to promote awareness of the Jewish community through the medium of film.

On the Celluloid Soup website there are some ideas – serious and tongue-in-cheek – on the
theme of Kosher Lovin’ including “Bubba, I’d love another piece of brisket”, Love thy neighbour, and Jewish relationships with the non-Jewish such as love of Kevin Bacon or just bacon.

Earlier this year Celluloid Soup held a workshop covering all facets of filmmaking to help
prospective entrants learn more about the processes involved.

The course was held over five Sundays in conjunction with audiovisual resource centre Open
Channel and the Jewish Museum of Australia, and was attended by 14 people.

“It’s the first time we had run a course as part of the festival. We provided all the equipment
and covered everything from idea generation to editing,” said Krongold. “We received a lot of
good feedback and plan to run the course again before the next festival. And two films that were made in the workshop will be entered into Celluloid Soup.”

Krongold said that anybody could be a filmmaker, thanks to the low cost of digital video cameras.

“Even if you have a mobile phone that can take video, you are a filmmaker. But with more
understanding and guidance you can make a better film,” he said.

“It is important to use the medium to tell a good story and to make it engaging. It’s like telling
a joke – you don’t have much time to engage the viewer. A good story is important along with good filmmaking technique.”

Krongold, 38, said he has been involved in filmmaking since he was 10 whe he borrowed his father’s Super 8mm camera to make a home movie.

“It’s fun to look at those old movies again, which are very grainy compared to today’s digital quality.”

In 2002, Krongold directed a short film titled Not Without my Sheitel, which was entered into Celluloid Soup.

“I helped write the script and directed it when the director pulled out. Wedidn’t win the competition, but it was great to see it on the big screen and appreciate the fact
that it was being seen by people,” he said.

In 2005 Krongold left his work in the financial sector to study drama at the Victorian College of the Arts.

“The course included editing and film production, which I found very enjoyable.”

He also been involved in the production of several short films, works on radio station 3RRRR
and appears on the community TV show, The Shtick.

In 2006 Krongold was host of the Celluloid Soup awards night, in 2008 he joined the committee and this year he took on the voluntary role of festival producer.

“It’s important for people to get involved with the festival. When Eva Orner won her 2008 Academy Award (for Best Documentary for Taxi to the Dark Side) she said it was very rewarding being creative and important to be involved in filmmaking.”

This year the Celluloid Soup finalists will be screened at a gala night at The Astor Theatre, St Kilda on October 21.

“The judging panel will pick the best films from the entries, so the bigger the pool the better the quality.”

While the festival takes place in Melbourne, Krongold encourages entrants from around Australia to send in their films.

As part of Celluloid Soup there will also be a series of lectures from people in the industry.
On May 6 there will be a production and film writing workshop with producer Daniel Scharf; on
July 8 Shaun Miller will discuss the legal issues involved in making films; and on August 12 a
panel discussion on “Jews and Film” will feature Michael Hirsch from Working Dog filmmakers,
Natalie Miller of Sharmill Films and Roadshow Films managing director Joel Perlman.

Understand Israel, Australian Opposition Leader urges

CANBERRA,  8 April – Australian Federal Opposition Leader Tony Abbott’s warning to Kevin Rudd not to follow Britain’s lead and expel an Israeli diplomat has driven a wedge between the
Government’s and Coalition’s positions on Israel.

Together with Opposition foreign affairs spokesperson Julie Bishop’s call for restraint
over January’s passport forgeries, Abbott’s comments last weekend indicate an emerging Middle East policy different to Rudd’s.

It also looks as though the Middle East could become a hot political issue in the run-up to
this year’s federal election, with Bishop describing any potential diplomatic expulsion as “a vote-grabbing exercise”.

“It would be highly inappropriate [for the government] to take any action in the absence of evidence,” Bishop said.

She predicted the Government may release details of the Australian Federal Police (AFP) inquiry into the forgeries to distract the electorate from the influx of asylum seekers.

“Regrettably, that is typical Kevin Rudd . he does seek to find distractions to divert from
government failures,” Bishop said.

Abbott entered the fray after Rudd last week said the Government had not yet decided how to respond to the allegations of faked Australian passports.

An AFP investigation into Israel’s possible involvement is underway.

While the Liberal leader said he does not condone the forgeries, he gave a sober assessment of
Israel’s vulnerability and said any Israeli involvement should be viewed in that context.

The forgeries, which included four Australian passports, were apparently used to eliminate key
Hamas terrorist Mahmoud al-Mabhouh in a Dubai hotel in January. Fingers have been pointed at Israeli spy agency Mossad over the assassination.

“We can never forget that Israel is a country under existential threat in a way Australians
find difficult to understand. It’s also the only pluralist democracy in the Middle East,” Abbott
told The Weekend Australian. “It strikes me that it would be an overreaction to expel an Israeli diplomat.”

Abbott has been a long-time advocate of shared values between Canberra and Jerusalem.

The Coalition leader’s bid to supersize his commitment to Israel over the passport
allegations has placed pressure on Rudd to preserve his government’s credentials on Israel,
while the Jewish State weathers a crisis with Washington over new housing in Jerusalem.

In a flurry of developments, the AFP investigation was announced after Foreign
Minister Stephen Smith slammed any Israeli involvement as “not the act of a friend”, and
Israeli Ambassador Yuval Rotem was publicly named and shamed. Australia then abstained from a United Nations vote on the Goldstone report that Canberra was expected to oppose, but denied the vote change was linked to the passport affair.

Now Israel supporters fear the eviction of an Israeli diplomat could signal a true cooling in
Australia’s relationship with Israel.

Abbott and Bishop’s rallying call followed the Prime Minister’s wait-and-see approach, which he
conveyed on ABC Radio last week. It is known that Rudd has received a British report that concludes it is “highly likely” Israel had misused Britons’ passports.

Meanwhile, former prime minister Malcolm Fraser has backed calls for an Israeli diplomat to be expelled from Australia.

In an interview on ABC Radio on Monday, Fraser said Israel’s conduct was “totally and absolutely unforgivable and that Australia’s disapproval should be registered by an action not less than that which the British took”.

“I think there’s been a long history, if you like, of double standards. People will not do, in
relation to Israel, what they would do if the same action was conducted by some other country.”

Zionist Council of Victoria president Dr Danny Lamm told ABC presenter Jon Faine that Fraser has “an unhealthy obsession” with Israel.

Executive Council of Australian Jewry president Robert Goot also responded, saying “Now is the time to support and not isolate or punish Israel for either its policy on construction in
Jerusalem or any unproved transgression regarding passports.”

Lights …but no action

MELBOURNE, 9 April – In what is becoming a comedy of errors, observant Jews who do not press thebuttons to activate pedestrian crossing on Shabbat and holidays, were again left stranded at some key intersections in Caulfield and surrounding suburbs over Pesach, after a VicRoads plan to switch traffic lights to automatic failed.

Jewish Community Council of Victoria (JCCV) executive director Geoffrey Zygier said he
received reports about lights staying on manual at a couple of corners and he personally noticed that the lights at the corner of Glenferrie and Malvern Roads, near the Chabad House of Malvern, were not on automatic.

The light failures triggered an apology from VicRoads, with Duncan Elliott, regional director
for the Metropolitan South East region, stating that some lights “were not automated during this week’s holy period. VicRoads apologises for this oversight and will ensure that all lights are
automated during all future Jewish holy periods”.

Around 18 months ago, after two Jewish pedestrians were approached by police for
crossing the street illegally during the 2008 high holy days, a flurry of activity resulted in
an action plan involving the Jewish Community Council of Victoria, police, VicRoads and City of Glen Eira, which was meant to solve the problem by automating lights on Shabbat and yom tovs.

But the plan fell flat at its first major test, Pesach last year, and some corners also stayed on
manual lights during last year’s high holy days.

Zygier said this week the problem intersections over Pesach this year were in VicRoads’ domain, but he suspects that the plan was snagged by “staff turnover” in the organisation.
However, it was learned that the irregularity of when Jewish holidays fall on the secular calendar makes fully automatic programming for yom tovs difficult. Zygier complained to VicRoads about the latest system failure.

“It will be a case of reminding VicRoads every time there is a Jewish holiday,” he said,
although he believes the system should work without prompts from the community.

In 2008, six crossings, at Kooyong and Balaclava, Kooyong and Glenhuntly, Hawthorn and Glenhuntly, Hawthorn and Balaclava, Malvern and Glenferrie and Glen Eira and Kooyong Roads, were added to 18 existing intersections where traffic lights are
automated on Shabbat and Jewish holidays.

Local talent at Israel’s celebrations

MELBOURNE, 9 April – Following its success last year, Victoria’s Yom Ha’atzmaut annual gala
concert will again focus on home-grown talent.

Traditional favourites, including singer Brett Kaye and the Central Shule choir, will join more
contemporary beats from DJ Benny B, the first DJ to take part in the show. A 20-piece orchestra will also feature, in addition to performers on the bongos and oud, a middle-Eastern string instrument.

“There will be something for everybody,” concert producer and executive director of the Zionist Council of Victoria, Ginette Searle said of the April 19 show. “We are looking forward to what will be a very jubilant and exciting night.”

Past musical director Adam Starr will return to the role once again, however he has been
conducting meetings and rehearsals over Skype from Jerusalem, having moved to Israel for the year.

He will return to Melbourne a week-and-a-half before the concert to continue rehearsing, this time on a face-to-face basis.

Sydney performer Natalie Gamsu with, what Searle called, her “amazingly, powerful voice” will
headline the concert, while Deborah Leiser-Moore will return as show director and Guy Dvir-Ovadia as audio-visual producer and choreographer.

With the audience always keen to get involved, Searle said there will be a sing-a-long segment
lead by visiting emissaries from Israel and musician Alana Bruce, who will encourage the audience to be a part of the show.

“This is how our community celebrates Israel and Yom Ha’atzmaut,” Searle said. “We always need to get behind and support Israel. This is how we celebrate the relationship between Australian Jews and Israel.”

The backdrop of the concert will feature video footage shot by Dvir-Ovadia on a recent trip to
Israel. Other video clips will include surprise tributes and messages from some of Israel’s most famous people.

It will be the last year the concert is held at the Art’s Centre’s Hamer Hall for a number of
years due to renovation plans. With tickets currently on sale, Searle said the booking system couldn’t be easier.

Flare-up over priest’s remarks

SYDNEY, 10 April – Jewish-Catholic relations in Australia will not be damaged by offensive
comments made by a high-ranking Catholic priest during Easter, according to interfaith relations expert Josie Lacey.

Father Raniero Cantalamessa, who it has been reported is the only person allowed to preach to
Pope Benedict XVI, quoted a letter from a “Jewish friend” at an Easter service.

In a speech that was reproduced in the official Vatican newspaper, the priest said the attacks
against the Church over allegations it had covered up child abuse were just like the “more
shameful aspects of anti-Semitism”.

He soon issued an apology, asking for forgiveness and distancing the Pope from the address, saying the Pontiff had not been informed of it before the service.

Sydney-based Lacey called on Father Cantalamessa to reveal his anonymous friend. “If you don’t have a name, it is an allegation, it is nothing,” she said of his statement.

The chair of the NSW Jewish Board of Deputies interfaith committee said relations between the
Catholic Church and Jewish community in Australia are strong, despite some concerns about this papal regime. “I think people have to realise, even the hierarchy in the Catholic Church have their own opinions, there are not universal, blanket opinions about anything.”

She agreed that every Easter, matters of contention between the two faith communities seem
to arise, and it was something that a Jewish delegation to World Youth Day had sought to rectify.

These sorts of offensive flare-ups are not expected to stop until the whole Catholic world
accepts the ruling from Vatican II in 1965 that Jews were not responsible for the crucifixion of
Jesus and calling for an end to anti-Semitism, Lacey said.

“Although the enlightened Catholics understand Vatican II, there are all these people who have
never heard of it from Third World countries, and I think it is still in their folklore.


Fabian is Australia bureau chief for San Diego Jewish World