Co-founder of Breaking the Silence speaks at Australians for Palestine event

September 12, 2012 by Ron Weiser
Read on for article

Australians for Palestine promoted a function in Melbourne on the 28th of August…writes Dr Ron Weiser.
They produced a very nice flyer for the event.
NIF Australia has been desperately trying to separate themselves from the people presenting at forums under the Australians for Palestine banner.
They say that although the co founder of BtS is no longer a spokesperson for BtS, we should ignore the publicity of those who host him. They say that he has made that clear.
Well, except to his hosts apparently, or to anyone interested in attending the actual event.
So now the issue deepens, because another NIF funded organisation is also being used in the Australians for Palestine promotion of a second function – Sheik Jarrah Solidarity.
For the Melbourne function, the cofounder of BtS is described precisely as that, without qualification.
The Australians for Palestine promotion was headed – “Israeli peace activists speak out” and featured the 2 Israelis which also included the following descriptions on the promotional leaflet:
“Sahar Vardi – is involved in the Sheikh Jarrah Solidarity Movement
Micha Kurz – a co-founder of Breaking the Silence”
Both of these organisations received significant funds from the New Israel Fund.
Both of these organisations are political organisations who have an agenda of opposing the policies of the democratically elected government of Israel.
That is their right of course, but just because they cannot attract the support of the Israeli electorate, it does not mean that their activists or cofounders will “sensitise Israelis to the ways in which the occupation is having an effect on Israel’s values” as claimed last week by NIF Australia, by being promoted by Australians for Palestine.
Remember when NIF Australia hosted journalist David Landau in November last year?
As then reported in J-Wire, at an NIF function, Landau announced that he had witnessed something about which he had “been silent about it until today. He did not go into detail but said he witnessed “an act of bestiality” perpetrated by family men.”
David Landau did not report this alleged act to the authorities when he claimed to have witnessed it years ago, nor since, nor apparently would he report it now.
It appears as if he just selected his Australian appearance under the banner of NIF to make this exclusive allegation to an Australian audience that obviously had no way of assessing its accuracy, or if G-d forbid true which is rather unlikely, of dealing with the alleged criminals.
The basic problem with NIF’s reasoning is its failure to recognise, or perhaps it is purposeful, the main complaint against them.
They like to smugly say that we should not shoot the messenger.
That they are the moral voice.
The problem is not in who is the messenger at all – the problem is the message.
The message is twisted.
The message is unproven.

And they are not willing to have the messages investigated to either correct any errors that may have occurred, or as is more likely, to have the mostly anonymous allegations disproven by a proper and reliable investigation.
In reality there is no message, there are allegations which need to still be proven.
This is not a debate about whether one should be washing “dirty linen” in public or not, it is about whether the “dirty linen” actually exists.
It is about holding a political position that has little currency within the body politic and trying to progress an unpopular political agenda by attempting to claim the moral high ground.
We are all concerned about protecting and strengthening Israel’s democracy and equality, it is just that most of us think we should go about it in a proper and moral way.

Ron Weiser is the Immediate Past President of the Zionist Federation of Australia and Hon Life President of the Zionist Council of NSW.

Comments

15 Responses to “Co-founder of Breaking the Silence speaks at Australians for Palestine event”
  1. Otto Waldmann says:

    Ron

    I read with interest and plesure your strong rebuttal of any manifestation that aims at the Jewish State and the Jewish community at large. All these public manifestations of enmity against us must be addressed. But how and WHEN is it most efficient !!!

    a. AFTER the event, sure necessary because we know what happened what was said etc.
    b. BEFORE the event, also very important and your job DOES in fact aim at preventing such manifestations

    c. DURING the event !!!! Not always possible, but most surely the MOST effective and shall not go into why. I shall go into WHY were YOU and ANY other communal leader – say some 100 hundred in NSW alone – have been visbly and audibly COMPLETELY absent from public events where you COULD paricipate ! Examples galore: SBS ” insight”, ABS Qanda for instance.
    Next Monday ABC Qanda is hosting perhaps one of the most vicious Israeli anti Israel author/speakers, Illan Pappe and , alongside him, there will be another Jew we know who will be representin NIF, which is not even part of the NSW JBD and, by all accounts not at all far from Pappe’s ideology.
    But, more importantly WHY ARENT YOU THERE or ANYBODY ELSE fro among the nearly 100 leaders !!!
    I know why – and dont give me the Rosh Hashana reason -. It is because all you fantastic post factum leaders are busy being trained in how to defend Isrel. Yes, tell us about all the trainig programmes here, in Israel, USA, Norway etc., where all our precious communal leaders have been galavanting for decades, being dined, wined and coached into……………………..WHAT !!!!
    C’mon Ron, tell us why we cannot find one solitary soul this Monday evening to go to Harriss St., Ultimo ! ’cause you are so good at talkin’ !

  2. Harold says:

    Ron Weiser’s final comments bear consideration:

    “It is about holding a political position that has little currency within the body politic and trying to progress an unpopular political agenda by attempting to claim the moral high ground.
    We are all concerned about protecting and strengthening Israel’s democracy and equality, it is just that most of us think we should go about it in a proper and moral way.”

    Perhaps Mr Weiser himself needs to define “a proper and moral way”. It seems from my reading of most of his articles that “a proper and moral way” means undermining, denigrating and suppressing any point of view that in his opinion shows that Israel, in common with every other country, has failings. People with liberal and democratic inclinations generally see exposure of those failings as the best way of keeping government’s honest and encouraging positive change.

    I think David is spot on in his understanding of Mr Weiser’s attitude when he echo’s criticism of any “organizations that engage in political activities in Israel designed to undermine the policies of the Government of Israel”.

    Of course, the logical extension of of that position is to criticise any Israeli political opposition party, because they surely are “organizations that engage in political activities in Israel designed to undermine the policies of the Government of Israel”.

    The parochial drivel that emanates from some sections of the local Jewish community does more to undermine Israel’s standing in the wider community than visits by people such as Micha Kurz and Sahar Vardi, who are active in Israel and have real life stories to tell.

    Micha and Sahar were brought to Australia by the Australian Jewish Democratic Society. The stories they told were from first hand experience. And the groups they spoke to benefitted from having a better understanding of the problems faced by Israel and Palestinians living in the neighbourhoods of Jerusalem. Similarly, the stories exposed by Breaking the Silence are part of the reality of Israel today. Denigrating and belittling those stories does not alter the brutalising effect the interaction between Israeli soldiers and ordinary Palestinians has on Israeli society.

    Attitudes to NIF Australia, such as Ron Weiser’s, don’t reflect badly on NIF, but they do reflect badly on the leadership of Australia’s Zionist organisations who seem to be concentrating their attacks on people in the local Jewish community, for which they have no mandate, rather than on Israel advocacy.

    Disclosure: I am on the executive of the Australian Jewish Democratic Society. I have no formal connection to NIF Australia, although I have donated money to them and receive their notices.

    Harold Zwier

    • david says:

      Harold

      If you are going to quote me – then do so in full:

      This is what I said:

      “NIF however needs to take a good look at itself , end its funding of, and distance itself completely from, organizations that engage in political activities in Israel designed to undermine the policies of the Government of Israel rather than genuinely devoting their efforts to ending the state of discrimination between Jews and the existing non- Jewish communities in Israel.”

      NIF represents that it is a humanitarian organization seeking to end discrimination in Israel – a laudable objective.

      But NIF distributes a lot of its funds to NGO’s who pursue political objectives under the guise of being humanitarian organizations. These NGO’s have been exposed and one of their principal financial supporters is NIF.

      If NIF wants to be part of these politically motivated groups then NIF should be upfront and honest with its members and the community and quit creating the impression that it is solely concerned in ending discrimination in Israel.

      The way it spreads its money indicates a far different picture.

    • Paul Winter says:

      To start with a “proper and moral way” to respond to Ron’s article is firstly to address it and secondly to not criticise it on the basis of some previous unspecified trend.

      It is perfectly true that Israel has faults and the best way to rectify those in a democracy is to expose them, but refusing to provide details of alleged offences, BtS is doing absolutely nothing to assist in improving Israeli democracy. Much more to the point, BtS refuses to provide details because doing so would expose the criticisms as the fabrications that they most certainly are with some faint chance, that they are based on some very much twisted event.

      Quoting David is fine, but it should be made in context. David was criticising foreign funded Israeli NGO which act undemocratically on behalf of governments that seek to undermine Israel’s sovereignity. He did not refer to the Israeli opposition parties; twisting his message is improper.

      The parochial drivel from the community is far superior to the self-proclaimed liberal high ground of Israel bashers like BtS. The righteous posturing to self-styled supersensitive so-called intellectuals designed to make them a light on the hill, on even a cursory examination exposes their position as a guttering taper on a dung pile. One does not need to be within the ranks of the robot far left to feel compassion for others. Also, a bit of the extreme compassion for the enemies of Jews should be tempered by a sense of justice.

      Bringing out BtS at AJDS cost idenitifies it as an ally of a group that is outside the Jewish mainstream, outside the democratic process and allied with the enemies of the group it pretends to represent and be a part of. That NIF funds a group like BtS clearly identifies it as part of the opposition to Jewish self-determination. And its pretense of working toward making the Jewish state true to its founding principles is just so much cant.

    • Shirlee says:

      Sorry don’t agree with you on most points

      One thing I will say is that if and I say if advisedly, if these soldiers have an issue with the IDF, why don’t they raise them with the IDF? Why go abroad to sprout which is not necessarily the truth, in order to bring harm to Israel.

    • Ron says:

      Mr Zwier tries to dodge the actual crux of the matter by hoping that he can mount some smokescreen over his right to his opinion.

      That is not the issue.

      The issue is that by making mostly unfounded and anonymous allegations to an Australian audience but not being willing to actually present those allegations to the IDF and Israel’s courts, Israel is smeared without the ability for the allegations to be proven or disproved.

      If acts against Israeli policy are perpetrated by individuals in the IDF, they should be punished accordingly, as they are on the very rare occasions such acts occur.

      The proper and moral way is to have the allegations proven or disproven.

      Not to bring such allegations to Australia to be cohosted and/or promoted by such groups as the Australians for Palestine and to have his guests promote BDS.

      And I have yet to hear NIF distance themselves from Mr Zwier’s actions or attitudes.

      Like BtS, they seem to want to have it both ways.

      The allegations by NIF’s earlier guest as noted above, falling into the familiar pattern.

      Ron Weiser

      • Harold Zwier says:

        Ron,

        The most shameful aspect of your constant criticism of the NIF is that you colour the Zionist Federation, of which you represent part of the leadership, as having a particular political flavour, quite intolerant of broadly based human rights principles. But the Zionist Federation is supposed to be a roof body for the broad range of zionist organisations – with many political flavours from Meretz to Israel Beitenu. It seems to me that NIF Australia is well within the tent. Not by any means within cooee of your political position, but clearly part of the broader political spectrum of the zionist movement.

        The problem is that when your own political inclinations intrude into a leadership position that is supposed to be politically inclusive, you diminish the standing of the roof body. My impression is that younger people in our community are completely turned off by the imposition of a narrow political agenda on what is supposed to be a broad church. That’s not good for the community.

        Shana tova,
        Harold Zwier

        • Otto Waldmann says:

          Harold

          platitudes governed by self-satisfying enthusiasm can only take you as far as public ridicule !

          I criticize above Ron for not being in the thick of public dialectics, as NIF has been so “astute” as planting an otherwise completely insignifican communal wannabe next Monday on Qanda, but your imaginary relevance of NIF in the genuine Zionist quarters is simply pathological.

          A solid rebuttal by the mainstream Jewish community of NIF does not seem to impress you at all !!
          I never thought that I would enjoy watching the blind stumbling across obstacles and various other trappings, marching with laughable confidence through the shifting sands of delusion.

          But then, again, you are not funny at all, ridiculous most definitely, funny – no way ………..

  3. Justin says:

    I guess we will now have Mandy saying that although Ms Vardi says she is a Sheik Jarrah Solidarity activist, NIF only support the people in SJS who do not support BDS, seeing as Ms Vardi is a vocal supporter of BDS and produced a video in Melbourne to that effect.

    Or perhaps Mandy will say that whilst NIF support SJS, they do not actually agree with most of what they stand for.

    Or does Mandy support BDS as Ms Vardi does too, but is just too scared to say so. Liam, an NIF board member, came out supporting partial BDS and he has since been absent from the public eye.

    Did he say something out of school that NIF wish to hide and that is why they muzzled him?

    Or………………

    Come on Mandy, we are waiting with great anticipation to hear how you continue to rationalise supporting people who wish to bring harm to Israel, and go all over the world doing so.

    You claim to be the only people supporting truth and justice, but the truth really is that you hide behind these slogans and support those opposed to truth and morality.

    I am with Ron, we want to improve Israel, but without destroying her in the process.

    Justin

    • Shirlee says:

      Justin, I’m with you,Ron and I think the majority of Jewish people too..

      I, with a couple of other people, have been having our say on the NIF Facebook page, where Liam Getreu is alive and kicking.

      I am furious with their attitude towards Israel. No other country is dissected the way Israel is.

      After thousands of years we have our country back, though I get the feeling that these ‘loony lefties’ would be happy to see her demise.

  4. Paul Winter says:

    One must wonder how Israelis can be “sensitised” by allegations that are so lacking in detail that they are impossible to investigate. Such allegations belong in the same category as the Jew hating claim that Jews use the blood of non-Jewish children to make matza. The interesting aspect of the claim by NIF and its unqualified acceptance of BtS’s claims is that NIF’s president and one of its board members are both barristers; claims such as those made by BtS would not even get to a court in any country other than ones where people are tried for witch-craft.

    It is possible that some soldiers in the IDF behave badly. But the way that the charges are made, all IDF members and all Israel are accused. That the BtS emissaries address the meetings of Israel’s enemies demonstrates that their accusations are politically based and that they have no Jewish support. NIF’s funding of BtS displays whose side it is on.

    What frustrates me no end is that our professional Jews refuse to take a stand against NIFAust, AJDS, IJVP(Aust) which I see as the enemy within. Whether from hostility to Israel or a genuine belief that they are acting in the best interests of the Jewish state, their undemocratic actions undermine Israel and Jewish communities everywhere. If such people supported a civilised society – in fact a Jewish one or even one which abides by the Noahide rules – which has due process is one of its foundations, they would never support unsubstantiated, univestigatable, unprosecutable vilifications.

  5. Lynne Newington says:

    Well, now that Bishop Pat Power has retired, he won’t be waving any more flags, publicly anyway.

  6. david says:

    Ron

    It even gets more sordid when you consider these descriptions of the same speakers advertising a function in Balmain on 16 August:

    “Micha Kurz is 31 years old. He was a former soldier turned peace activist. He helped co-found – Breaking the Silence – a group of former Israeli soldiers that collects hundreds of testimonies describing the realities of controlling the Palestinian civilian population under military rule. He now works on Grass roots Jerusalem and organisation that seeks to identify Palestinian and Jewish groups working for peace.

    Sahar Vardi is 23 years old. She is a conscientious objector and has spent time in prison on multiple occasions by taking a stand against serving in the Israeli armed forces, whilst it continues to occupy Palestinian lands. Sahar, like Micha, has worked with the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions and has guided hundreds of international NGO, religious and government missions to Jerusalem. In 2010 she launched a Human Rights and non-violence education program at universities across Israel and this year became Israeli Program Director for the American Friends Service Committee.

    Sahar and Micha co-host a weekly radio program in Jerusalem discussing current affairs and community action in Jerusalem.”

    Funny that Sacha’s association with the Shekh Jarrah Solidarity Movement was omitted.

    Was their association in a weekly radio program mentioned for the Melbourne meeting?

    There are so many of these organizations springing up like mushrooms – well funded by European Governments, Churches, the European Union and private foundations and organizations like the New Israel Fund (NIF).

    These foreign donors (excluding NIF) are blatantly attempting to influence the course of political events by intervening in the internal affairs of a sovereign nation. That is their prerogative.

    NIF however needs to take a good look at itself , end its funding of, and distance itself completely from, organizations that engage in political activities in Israel designed to undermine the policies of the Government of Israel rather than genuinely devoting their efforts to ending the state of discrimination between Jews and the existing non- Jewish communities in Israel.

    When NIF does that – it will be entitled to be taken seriously in spreading its message and undertaking its fund raising efforts among the Jewish communities in Australia.

  7. michael says:

    One thing we can be sure of, that is if Australians for Palestine along with the many other Palestinian Lobby groups including AJDS , Loewenstein, and Rabbi Keren Blacks ‘s progressives are hosting and promoting these Israeli activists they will not be complimentary to Israel.
    We need more Israel bashers coming down under ..

    Michael Burd

  8. Peter says:

    So now we will probably hear NIF say “no no”, neither SJS nor BtS ever appeared in functions supported by the Australians for Palestine.

    They will probably say that NIF supports SJS and BtS, but not what they stand for when their activists visit Australia.

    It seems pretty clear that NIF do not really know or understand what these organisations stand for at all.

    One day NIF will understand that their naivete is being used by others and that they are being used as pawns to harm Israel in any way possible.

    Ron Weiser is 100% correct, the “dirty linen” is an anonymous allegation that does not exist.

    NIF operate from the assumption that these things have already been proven.

    When will NIF insist on due process?

    When will NIF insist on allegations being investigated before accusations are made?

    When will finally insist on proper democratic rules rather than the the kangaroo court lynchings methods they employ to date?

    Come on NIF – follow proper civil procedures before you trash Israel’s image.

    Peter

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