A letter to Zoe Daniels

April 20, 2022 by Henry Benjamin
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A failure to respond to his direct letter to the Independent candidate for Goldstein former ABC journalist Zoe Daniels has prompted Rabbi James Kennard to write n open letter to her on Facebook.

Rabbi James Kennard

In the meantime, the Blake Street Synagogue has withdrawn an invitation to her to attend its Yom Ha’azmaut celebration. Incumbent member Tim Wilson has also been uninvited.

Zoe Daniels has not removed her signature from the ”do better on Palestine” letter which was serious;y anti-Israel.

Rabbi Kennard’s letter:

To Zoe Daniel, Independent Candidate for Goldstein:
Dear Ms Daniel,
I have read your policy entitled “Jewish community” and am still unclear on where you stand regarding the “do better on Palestine” letter.
You say that you did not write the letter, and that if you had you would have framed it very differently. But you do not say if you now agree or disagree with the letter.
You said that you signed it because of a concern for the safety of journalists. Yet that issue relates to only one paragraph of the letter. Did you or did you not agree with the other ten paragraphs, which, amongst other falsehoods and distortions, accuse Israel of maintaining an apartheid regime; lay all the responsibility for the conflict on Israel and none on the Palestinians or the Arabs; and demand that journalists treat for Israeli victims of terror as “instigators”?
Your signature still appears under the letter in the “do better on Palestine” website. Therefore your signing is not an act in the past, which can be dismissed as “what’s done is done” but is an ever-present endorsement of what is stated there.
Your campaign rightly places great emphasis on integrity and transparency. Yet sadly, at present, your response to this issue seems like that of a typical politician – dissembling and deliberately ambiguous.
I respect your integrity and hence look forward to direct answers to three very straightforward questions;
1. Do you agree with the contents of the letter?
2. If not, why did you sign it? Should a person of integrity sign letters with which they do not agree?
3. If you have changed your mind since signing (and the ability to learn, reflect and re-consider is a mark of wisdom), why is your signature continuing to endorse the letter and all its contents? Is it an example of integrity to say different things to different audiences?

Zoe Daniels

Since these are very important issues for a number of voters in Goldstein, I hope you will answer directly, unambiguously, and speedily.
I have written to you, and to your campaign, privately, and received no response. I am therefore hoping that this public request for answers will be more fruitful.
With best wishes
Rabbi James Kennard

In the meantime, Andrew Davis, president of the Blaske Street Synagogue, told J-Wire: “Like many communal organisations here and around the world Blake Street Hebrew Congregation have organised an event to celebrate Israel’s Independence Day – A special kiddush and speaker. Unfortunately, the event that has been organised has developed an unintended political aspect. BSHC’s committee felt it important that celebrating Israel was the sole focus and not the Australian election. Understanding BSHC’s predicament the politicians who were to attend were understanding and have accepted our cancellation of their attendance.”

The letter in question

Open letter from Australian journalists, media workers, writers and commentators.

May 14, 2021.

In the past fortnight, the world has been appalled at Israeli settler organisations threatening Palestinians in occupied East Jerusalem with forced expulsions and assaulting worshippers in the Al-Aqsa mosque compound, the third holiest site in Islam. As Israeli vigilante mobs attack Palestinians, the Netanyahu government has unleashed a new, brutal war against the besieged population of Gaza.

We note that, seventy-three years after the Nakba, the 1948 forced expulsion by Israel of 750,000 Palestinians, both Human Rights Watch (HRW) and the Israeli human rights NGO B’Tselem have declared that Israel maintains an apartheid regime against Palestinians. HRW is calling for targeted sanctions against complicit, Israeli individuals.

We also note the important statement by the International Federation of Journalists about Israel deliberately targeting the media, including by destroying the Al-Jawhara tower in Gaza (known by the IDF to be housing 13 media institutions and NGOs).

We recognise a growing dissatisfaction, both in this country and elsewhere, with the media’s treatment of Palestine.

As journalists, reporters and other media workers, we know that the media can do better. Many of us are seeking change but lack sufficient power in our organisations to push back against the status quo.

We believe that the coverage of Palestine must be improved, that it should no longer prioritise the same discredited spokespeople and tired narratives, and that new voices are urgently needed.

To that end, we call on editors and publishers to:

  • Consciously and deliberately make space for Palestinian perspectives, prioritising the voices of those most affected by the violence;
  • Avoid the ‘both siderism’ that equates the victims of a military occupation with its instigators;
  • Reject frameworks that rely on passive formulations and weasel words (clashes, etc) to obscure the reality of a violence disproportionately endured by Palestinians;
  • Respect the rights of journalists and media workers to publicly and openly express personal solidarity with the Palestinian cause without penalty in their professional lives.


5 Responses to “A letter to Zoe Daniels”
  1. Henry Herzog says:

    Michael Burd yet again demonstrates his inability to reason. Israel and climate change, what have the 2 got to do with each other, other than used together to define absurdity.
    And what makes Burd an expert on climate change other than believing the hard right political conspiracy theorists with no scientific understanding of nature.
    Yet another example of fools using prejudiced ignorance as reason.

  2. scott altman says:

    Firstly Its actually Zoe Daniel not Daniels. Some of the letter writers may want to check their spelling and grammar before they publish!

  3. Susan N Whitelaw says:

    Hi. Concern about the actions of the Israeli government are just that, concerns. This does not mean Zoe Daniel is anti-Israel or anti-semitic. If I express concerns about the current Australian federal government does that mean I am anti-Australian? No.
    I am definitely concerned about how the current Australian federal government treats its citizens and refugees. And the current Australian federal government has considered watering down legislation addressing racially hostile comments, verbal harrassment and racism. Zoe Daniel’s own policies say she will want to uphold and maintain anti-racist legislation in this country.

  4. michael Burd says:

    Excellent Letter Rabbi , it beggars belief how a Synagogue in Caulfield that isn’t even considered ‘Progressive’ invites this ‘Woman’ as a guest speaker knowing her background and how a prominent Jewish Family associated with MSC is funding this ‘Woman ‘ and how so many mainly young Jews will be voting for her , the Jewish community is certainly split between those that support Israel [ real ] and those obsessed with Climate Change .

  5. michael Burd says:

    To Blake Street Synagogue.
    I am aware that after you had naively or perhaps politically offered a platform to a hard core anti -Israel so called Politician and then justified it in your own minds by saying we also invited Liberal TIm Wilson to show balance and now only after one of your wiser long standing members brought it to your attention inviting some one that does not respect Jews was not such a smart idea .However by now uninviting both Daniels and Wilson you have really screwed up . Tim is a long standing one of very few Politicians that respects Israel and Jews I know him and told by some one close he is very upset at Blake street Synagogues ignorance, you should not have uninvited Tim Wilson we jews have very few friends we may have just lost one .

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