New South Wales Jewish Board of Deputies

The New South Wales Jewish Board of Deputies is the umbrella organisation for almost every Jewish group within the State.

Contact details

CEO: Vic Alhadeff

Tel: 9360 1600


NSWJBD/Honest Reporting Israel Mission Day 6

December 2, 2013 by  

Day 6 of our Mission saw us off in the bus to Honest Reporting Headquarters – Jerusalem Israel, where Simon Plosker, Managing Editor, gave us a crash course in ‘Understanding Media Bias’.

From: Mission member Rachel Murphy

On the roof of Spoons

On the roof of Spoons

This NGO, started in 2000 seeded by Aish HaTorah but is today a wholly independent organisation and fully privately funded with no links to Aish. It issn apolitical NGO set up to counter the disproportionate amount of media attention this small country gets versus its neighbours.  Generally stories seem to be published on the following basis: “if it bleeds, it leads”. Palestinians, who have no freedom of the press themselves, have learnt quickly how to get coverage in the foreign press.  Stories of Israel’s humanitarian aid to Haiti, Philippines, Japan and other crisis centres, get far less coverage.

We then met Dr Harvey Belik, Director of Budo for Peace.

Very soon he was capably giving us an overview of “Israel’s Image Abroad – Humanitarian & Peace Work”, including the history of the region – particularly as it concerns Eritreans, Moslem and Christian refugees from Darfur & Sudan, and Ethiopian Jews. In many cases, persecution, kidnapping and torture seem to be the norm – to the Jihadi militias in Sudan and Sinai it’s a business. This was scary stuff.

Israel reaches out with humanitarian gestures to all victims of terror, as well as victims of natural disasters. Dr Belik recounted his personal experience as a doctor treating victims of the Haiti earthquake in field hospitals set up by the Israel Defence Force – real stories of crush injuries, fractures, infectious diseases, psychosocial trauma, and the methods used to treat them, including counselling and art therapy. Israel also set up a clinic and school there which are now permanent. We were moved and inspired by the selfless generosity and dedication displayed by this man, and so many other Israeli professionals who go to farflung corners of the world to help people in need – breaking down the barriers of hatred and the demonisation of Israel.

After lunch on the rooftop deck, we met with Nitsana Darshun-Leitner from Shurat Hadin (Israel Law Centre) whose very apt logo is “Bankrupting Terrorism, One Lawsuit at a Time”.

Australian ambassador to Israel Dave Sharma with Lynda Ben-Menashe

Australian ambassador to Israel Dave Sharma with Lynda Ben-Menashe

She opened dramatically reminding us that last week (while we were in Israel!) a 19-yr-old soldier sleeping on a bus was killed by a 16-yr-old Palestinian. Not long before that a baby in a crib was knifed to death and a two year old sustained head injuries from ‘stones’ thrown at a car.

The  Arab Bank is the biggest bank in the Arab world with US$30bn in assets, offering rewards to the families of suicide bombers – knowingly and intentionally. Shurat HaDin representing 50 families – victims of terror – has frozen $450M of assets in the US as a result of lawsuits against the Arab Bank. The lawsuit they filed for the families of the Sbarro Pizzeria massacre sent shock waves throughout the Arab world. No world bank funds terror any more as a result – and this causes the terrorists a lot of damage – they need the money to fund their activities, not least of which is paying the terrorists. As Nitsana said, “they are now learning there’s a price for Jewish blood”.

In a typically jampacked schedule, we then heard from Gerald Steinberg, President of NGO Monitor, on “NGO’s, Human Rights, and the Demonization of Israel”

NGO Monitor is apolitical, and monitors approximately 1500 NGO’s, many of which are actually funded by governments (ie, quasi NGO’s ) – some US$200m per year comes from governments hostile to Israel.  Oxfam receives $528M, Amnesty International $230M, Human Rights Watch $45M. Gerald Steinberg described the “halo effect” , eg, when Amnesty says “it” happened, it becomes truth – and gets reported on CNN, BBC, the New York Times.   For example, using the word “massacre” repeatedly to describe a conflict, results in UN condemnation, then progresses to urban myth. Once it gets to that stage, it’s almost impossible to counter.

Our last (formal) speaker for the day was Gil Hoffman, Political Editor of The Jerusalem Post, speaking directly from the Knesset on the political scene.

Trying to summarise the three A4 pages of notes I took on this subject has proven a nightmare. The first page of notes dealt almost entirely with Iran, the underlying message being that Israel has been betrayed by the world again but we do have a new ally from surprising quarters: Saudi Arabia. Netanyahu says it’s a bad deal. The rest we already know.

Gil Hoffman gave us an exhaustive summary of the positions of power in the Arab world and beyond … it doesn’t look much better than it ever did, but Israel sits quietly in the background while basically the Arab world is in turmoil. One thing is for sure: we have a better relationship now with Egypt than we have since the times of Moses!  The Moslem Brotherhood has done our job for us in destroying 100s of tunnels between Egypt and Gaza, thereby destroying 100s of millions of dollars in black market trade.

As always though, there will be more urgency for Israel to make concessions in the current peace talks. The question is, will we have to give up land and bring Iran closer to our borders? Israel has been taking a lot of steps in the past few months, to prevent war.

Gil closed with a summary of some of the social issues plaguing Israel back home. He really did cover an extraordinary number of issues in the hour allotted to him, and we left with a very full and detailed picture of life in a day at the Knesset!

After a short break to catch our breath, it was off to one of the most amazing dinners we’d had yet .. a night at Spoons in the artists quarter established by Moses Montefiore, just outside the walls of the Old City, where we were treated to a 5-course meal to tantalise the taste buds of the most diehard food critic.  Our guest was the Australian Ambassador to Israel, the very gracious David Sharma.  It was a venue, a meal, and an evening to remember for a long time to come!

Journos report back

November 27, 2013 by  

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The journalists who participated in the NSW Jewish Board of Deputies’ recent Journalists Mission to Israel will address a public meeting in Sydney next week.

NSWJBD290logoAIJAC logo 1 The journalists – from the Sydney Morning Herald, Sky News Business, SBS Television World News and Channel Ten News – participated in an intensive week-long study mission.

While in Israel they visited the Lebanese border, the Gazan border, West Bank settlements, the Australian Light Horse memorial in Beersheva and a Palestinian refugee camp, were briefed by a range of top-level experts across a broad range of areas and disciplines, and spent time at such iconic addresses as Yad Vashem, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre and Masada, among a range of other activities.

The public meeting will be held in The Saunders Hall, Central Synagogue, next Wednesday December 4 at 7.30pm.

The Board of Deputies Journalists Mission is supported by the JCA Haberman Kulawicz Wolanski Fund.

It was conducted in conjunction with AIJAC.

Inquiries: 9360 1600


NSWJBD/Honest Reporting Israel Mission Day 5

November 27, 2013 by  

The NSWJBD joint mission to Israel with Honest Reporting has a Canadian member. Alan Perlmutter from London, Canada files the report on Day 5…

I am Alan Perlmutter from London Canada, yes the other city at the fork of a Thames river.

Meeting the locals

Meeting the locals

I have always found Israel to reveal a surprise around every corner. This morning my wife Cathy and I went out for a walk and noticed several beautifully adorned men and women walking towards a spot in a public park. I struck up a conversation with one of the men and was quickly invited to an Eritrean wedding. This was a wonderful experience, typical of the rich diversity seen in every part of this country.

Later, we listened to three speakers explain politics from their (Arab) perspective. While these speakers all shared the view that Israeli democracy provided them with the opportunity to express their opinions which ranged from Israel being too accommodating to the Palestinians to needing to do much more in a deteriorating situation. I think the most interesting speaker was a Palestinian man who spent 10 years in prison for injuring 3 Israeli soldiers with a Molotov cocktail. He now fights for peacefully settling issues between the Palestinians and Israelis. He also made the interesting point that Israel should try and interact with the Palestinians to show them that Israelis are more reasonable than what they have been taught by their Palestinian schools and media.

Tomorrow we will visit the Golan.


NSWJBD/Honest Reporting Israel Mission Day 4

November 26, 2013 by  

Today was a day for true ‘honest reporting’…writes Diane  Shteinman

We were taken to see areas about which there is much confusing reporting, thus enabling us to understand the true situation base don facts on the ground.

Those areas were Hebron and Gush Etzion.

David Wilder explains the Cave of the Machpela

David Wilder explains the Cave of the Machpela

Our first ports of call were in Hebron led by the spokesman for the Jewish community, David Wilder. David is a longtime resident and activist who initially showed us the basic layout of Hebron and where the Israeli and Palestinian control of the area differentiated – Hebron was divided in 1997, with H1 Palestinian-only, now with an Arab population of 125,000. H2 is mixed, with today 15,000 Arabs and 850 Jews. Palestinians can move between the two areas freely but Jews are limited to H2.

Significantly, David showed us archaeological diggings from post-1967 but recently halted, which reveal evidence of the Jewish presence in the area 4,000, 3,000 and 2,000 years ago.

The next enlightening visit was to a historical museum in the Hadassah building showing photographic evidence of Jewish community activities in Hebron from the late 19th century, culminating in graphic images of the horrendous massacre of Jews in 1929.

New school stands next to ancient ruins

New school stands next to ancient ruins

The important visit to Ma’arat HaMachpela (the Cave/Tomb of the Patriarchs) was a first time for most of our group and proved to be absolutely riveting. David regaled us with stories of the initial purchase of the land by Avraham Avinu and the history of the construction and administration by Jews, Christians and Muslims over the centuries, up to the present day.

Following this we inspected parts of Gush Etzion, including Efrat, Betar and the beautiful Neve Daniel. Our guest speaker Ian Lawrence emphasized that these areas are part of the ‘consensus’ bloc which will stay part of Israel proper as part of any peace agreement.

A heart-warming project we visited at a crossroads inside Gush Etzion was a soldiers coffee and cake lounge called “Warm Corner”, established by a local widow whose husband was killed by terrorists who fired on his car, and staffed by volunteers. The place aims to express gratitude to the soldiers for the largely misunderstood service to the local people.

Our touring for the day culminated in lunch at the Gavna restaurant, with its spectacular views of the Gush and the Judean Hills beyond.

We returned to Jerusalem for Shabbat and an incredibly warm and moving experience at the Kotel, surrounded by praying, singing and dancing Jews from all corners of the earth and a beautiful family-style meal in the Old City. Echoes of ‘Shabbat Shalom’ were heard from everyone we met.

Inter-community Seder

March 21, 2013 by  

Over one hundred future leaders from a broad cross-section of  faith, ethnic and political communities came together at a unique Passover dinner in Sydney on Wednesday night.

Organised by the NSW Jewish Board of Deputies, the objective was to foster understanding and bridge-building, and judging by the fact that guests stayed to mingle for an hour after the proceedings were over, it certainly seemed to achieve that goal.

Leah Briers, Guy Gilead, Paulette Lo and Jasbinder Minhas

Leah Briers, Guy Gilead, Paulette Lo and Jasbinder Minhas   Photo: Giselle Haber

The event followed in the wake of numerous outreach Passover dinners held by the Board of Deputies, including with the interfaith, education, trade union, NGO and academic sectors.
Bruce Notley-Smith MP, representing Minister for Citizenship and Communities Victor Dominello MP, gave the opening address.

NSWJBD_Seder_200313_004Groups represented  included the Chinese Australian Forum, the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of Australia, the Catholic Archdiocese of Sydney, the Sikh Council of Australia, the Buddhist Council of NSW,  the Australian Baha’i Community, the Hindu Council of Australia, the Baha’i community, the Australian Hellenic Council (NSW), the Council of Indian Australians, the Muslim Women’s Association, NSW Young Liberals, NSW Young Labor, the Youth Action Policy Association, the Sydney Alliance, Young UN Women, the Australian National Committee for UN Women, the Council of International Students Australia, various university students’ associations, NSW Young Lawyers and councillors from Woollahra, Willoughby, Warringah, Hunters Hill, Camden and Wollondilly Shire councils.

“The event built on the vital bridge-building work which the Board of Deputies does on behalf of the community,” chief executive officer Vic Alhadeff said. “Passover is the festival of freedom, and it was a rousing celebration of the freedom which we enjoy as Australians who respect diversity and the dignity of difference.”

The event was led by Board education officer Sarah Greenbaum and held at the University of NSW.

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