Public rebuke? Judge for yourself

July 13, 2014 by Henry Benjamin
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The Sydney Morning Herald has reported that NSW Premier Mike Baird had publicly rebuked Vic Alhadeff, CEO of  The New South Wales Jewish Board of Deputies and Chair of the NSW Community Relations Commission over a statement made to Jewish community relating to the Israel/Gaza situation. But enquiries by J-Wire reveal that the Premier did not speak publicly other than through a statement to the Herald attributed to a spokesman.

Vic Alhadeff

Vic Alhadeff

The report states that “the dispute has laid bare the deep fissures between Sydney’s Arabic and Jewish Communities and rasies questions over Mr Alhadeff’s dual roles which require him to support the Jewish cause and promote unity”.

The following is the full statement issued by the Premier’s spokesman.

“Few people have done more to promote inter-faith engagement and understanding between the Jewish and Muslim communities in NSW than Mr Alhadeff. He has done an excellent job since his appointment as CRC Chair.

“The Premier expects Mr Alhadeff to use his position to bring together multicultural communities and promote community harmony.

“While Mr Alhadeff was not writing in his capacity as CRC Chair, his statements may be considered inconsistent with these objectives.

“He has acknowledged the need to focus on issues in NSW and avoid using inappropriate language regarding overseas conflicts.”

The Premier made no direct statement himself,  J-Wire was advised by the Premier’s office.

The full statement released tothe  NSW Jewish community by the NSW Jewish Board of Deputies and signed by Vic Alhadeff.

“Dear Community members

Over the past three weeks, the Hamas terror organisation has escalated its attack on Israeli civilians, launching more than 200 rockets at towns on Israel’s southern border, putting millions of lives at risk. Families have been forced into shelters, children kept from summer camp and schools closed. Normal daily activities have been impacted.

Israel called on Hamas repeatedly to stop its tactics and it responded with more rocket attacks. Yesterday, terrorists in Gaza launched 146 rockets at Israel. Israel launched an operation of self defence in response. The sole objective is to defend Israel’s citizens and neutralize the threat. Israel has made it clear that it is not interested in further escalation, but will do whatever is needed to defend its citizens. All options are on the table.

Hamas is a terror organisation motivated by an extreme ideology, including a charter that calls for the murder of all Jews. Hamas leadership celebrated the recent kidnapping and murder of three Israeli teenagers and called for more kidnappings. Hamas is responsible for 80 suicide bombers that have killed nearly 1,000 Israeli civilians. It is regarded as a terrorist organisation by the United States, European Union, Canada, Britain, Australia, Japan and Egypt.

In Gaza, Hamas is violating international law and engaging in war crimes as its militants launch rockets indiscriminately at civilians from civilian areas, and hide within civilian infrastructures including mosques, schools and hospitals. It intentionally puts innocent Palestinians at risk to protect its operatives.

Israel is operating with care to avoid civilian casualties. It is focused on targeting Hamas and other terror organisations, their operatives and infrastructure. Israel gives repeated warnings to civilians to vacate areas it is about to target, and uses pinpoint technologies to hit the targeted infrastructure.

The Iron Dome missile defence system is deployed in the south and has stopped most of the rockets fired at Israel’s populated areas.

As Operation Protective Edge progresses, we will continue to keep you informed and encourage you to follow our social media outlets for up-to-the-minute information.”

In response to questions from the Herald, not fully reported,  Alhadeff said: ““I stand on my track record in terms of sowing harmony, not disharmony in New South Wales, including frequently speaking out to condemn racism against the Muslim community.

“I have worked tirelessly with leaders across the Muslim and Arab communities on a range of issues, just this week convening meetings with the Iraqi Australian Shia and Sunni communities.

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Despite occasionally differing views on issues, surely we all share a determination to live peacefully and harmoniously together in a tolerant and inclusive NSW. The role of the CRC Chair is to fight racism, promote multiculturalism and ensure community harmony. This is what I have done passionately and will continue to do.”

Following the murder of a of a Palestinian youth, Alhadeff tweeted that it was “despicable”.

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