“Bullying” leaders

June 18, 2013 Agencies
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Australian Zionist leaders have been accused of bullying, blackmail and “carpet bombing” progressive voices on Israel.
haaretzIn an explosive article published in Haaretz on Tuesday  http://www.haaretz.com/jewish-world/jewish-world-features/brouhaha-over-israel-boiling-down-under.premium-1.530300 damning allegations contained in a series of leaked emails reveals how poisonous the debate on Israel has become here.

Peter Slezak  photo: Henry Benjamin

Peter Slezak photo: Henry Benjamin

The furore was triggered by the admission of controversial Israel critic Dr Peter Slezak at last weekend’s Limmud-Oz conference, but its roots date back to the founding of the New Israel Fund here in 2011, if not before, according to the article by Haaretz’s Australia correspondent Dan Goldberg.

The report quotes Michala Lander, a co-chair of Limmud, who wrote in an email to Yair Miller, president of the NSW Jewish Board of Deputies: “After this event, I have no interest in being involved with a community that practices such bullying tactics [and] blackmail.”
Dr Mark Baker, the director of the Center for the Study of Jewish Civilisation at Monash University, was quoted as saying:  “I don’t recall a time when our community has been so divided.

“[They are] attacking Jews who are mainstream, whose very core is support and love for Israel, and trying to marginalize them and turn them into enemies of Israel, enemies of the Jewish community,” Baker said.

“The politics of power is trying to silence and to bully those voices into belonging to this so-called one tent, which is actually a right-wing tent.”

But Philip Chester, president of the Zionist Federation of Australia, denied the allegations as “not just completely false but defamatory.”
“Spreading falsehoods and making these very personal, nasty allegations is an attempt by some to undermine or delegitimize a viewpoint they don’t agree with but that very many in our community do,” Chester told Haaretz.

The article also cited critics accusing former president of the Zionist Federation of Australia Ron Weiser of being the “thought police” of the community, and State Zionist Council of NSW president Richard Balkin of “carpet bombing” dissenters.


4 Responses to ““Bullying” leaders”
  1. Otto Waldmann says:

    A bit confusing.
    First the main protagonists in the NSW Jewish community are anything BUT on the right of the spectrum.
    Ron Weiser is a reliable Zionist voice but no longer in the actual leadership.
    NSWJBD has been known to have supported quite openly NIF and you’ll be hard pressed to find a Chabadnik among them…….. what a laugh. Just remember the David Landau episode and the “explanations” given by the Board’s President in affording this inveterate anti Zionist a platform !!!
    One of the lessons learnt from the changes in the Limud policies has been that certain preponents of vile attacks against Israel within our community, should not have been given a chance to turn a Jewish festival into an ANTI Israel fest.
    It looks like this vociferous minute segment inside our fold , bent in many ways, but mostly on demonising our only Jewish Land, keep on harping failed notions unperturbed by the reception they receive from a disgusted Jewish majority.

  2. Peter says:

    Go Jenny!

    I too admire people who stand up for positions they hold.

    Ironically the article referred to written by Dan Goldberg about the cloak and dagger stuff seems to have been done by the people supporting Slezak’s appearance.

    And not the other way round as the story wants to imply.

    Good on Mark Baker for standing up for his point of view – but who are these unnamed leaders who supposedly are too scared to speak up?

    The real bullies are the people who refuse to be publically named or to publically stand beghind their position but want to create the impression that they have the support that they really do not.

    And Gs is so wrong to assume that all of the people mentioned hold the same views, a little better understanding of the situation is called for.


  3. Gs says:

    Thanks Dan Goldberg for this important piece.
    I know many young Jewish leaders who have been turned off the Jewish community because of these bullies.

    Ron, Phillip, Sam, Danny, John, Yair etc… Are all fantastic leaders who are devoted to our community. However, they all hail from the right wing religious Zionist camp and they actively demonise those they disagree with.

    We need more Michalas leading our community!!!!

  4. Jenny Hillman says:

    Having attended many lectures by Ron Weiser, I can attest that he always presents all sides of the arguments for and against viewpoints on any questions regarding Israel matters and I credit him with my growth in knowledge and attachment to Zionism. He has certain red lines regarding BDS and is willing to stand publicly for them. Public leaders making their stand are not thought police.

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