Chazan to speak in Marrickville

June 1, 2011 Agencies
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Professor Naomi Chazan, a three-time Knesset member and former Deputy Speaker of Israel’s parliament, will speak in Marrickville – the scene of a recent bitter battle over whether to boycott Israel – during her visit to Australia this month.

Naomi Chazan

The Greens-dominated Marrickville Council, in inner west Sydney, unsuccessfully attempted earlier this year to adopt the Boycott, Sanctions and Divestment (BDS) campaign against Israel. The proposal was abandoned in April following pressure from politicians, the media and residents who opposed their local council becoming embroiled in foreign policy.

Professor Chazan, a veteran Israeli human rights champion, is the president of the New Israel Fund and will deliver a speech titled “The Other Israel, BDS & the Quest for a Two-State Solution” on June 13 from 6pm-7.30pm at the Addison Road Community Centre in the heart of Marrickville.

In her speech, she will explain why the BDS campaign is inflammatory and counter-productive and offer a reasoned explanation of what needs to happen to enable Israelis and Palestinians to live peacefully side by side.

Robin Margo, the chair of the NIF branch in Australia, said: “NIF opposes BDS, which became synonymous with Marrickville earlier this year. NIF is a progressive organisation, committed to social justice, and wants to engage with Australians open to hearing about a side of Israel that rarely makes the news.”

An unabashed advocate of an Israel rooted in liberal, democratic and humanist values, Professor Chazan’s visit comes at a time when domestic critics of Israeli government policies are regularly condemned as hopelessly misguided, anti-Zionist or even treasonous – charges she herself, a proud patriot, has faced in the recent past.

“Both in Israel and overseas, many conflate legitimate criticism of particular policies with a denial of Israel’s right to exist in security and peace – a right that I have spent my entire life and career upholding,” Professor Chazan said.

The New Israel Fund (NIF) has provided in excess of $US200m to more than 800 NGOs in Israel over the last three decades and is widely credited for the role it has played in building Israeli civil society, promoting rights for women, the disabled, the GLBT community and minority groups, including Israeli Arabs, Druze and Bedouin, and in furthering religious pluralism and equality and democracy for all Israelis.

Organisations funded by the NIF have made many significant contributions in helping Israel, the only democracy in the Middle East, become a fairer and more just and inclusive society.

As the Israeli newspaper Ha’aretz put it: “In effect, there is hardly any significant socially-oriented organisation today in Israel that does not owe its existence to the New Israel Fund.”

During her visit here, Professor Chazan will officially launch the Australian chapter of NIF. Indeed, the advent of NIF in Australia was spurred by the last-minute cancellation of a visit here by Professor Chazan in February 2010 following a controversial campaign waged against her and NIF by Im Tirzu, a right-wing Israeli organisation led by figures previously active in the extreme settler movement. Im Tirzu’s “reports” about NIF have since been widely discredited, and its original funder, an ultra-conservative evangelical American pastor, has cut all ties with the group.

The launch of NIF in Australia has renewed debate within the Jewish community about legitimate ways of supporting Israel.

“Attempts by some in Australia and overseas to denigrate NIF have failed to dent the enthusiasm we are seeing for the establishment of NIF in this country”, said Mr Margo.

“These attacks are ill-conceived, based on selective or demonstrably incorrect facts, and ignore important context and other relevant facts.”

NIF also has branches in America, Canada, Switzerland and the United Kingdom. NIF Australia has been in development for more than a year.

Professor Chazan is also scheduled to speak at the Sydney Opera House on June 19 and at The Wheeler Centre in Melbourne on June 14 and the University of Melbourne on June 16.

Professor Chazan will speak on Monday, June 13 in the Addison Art Gallery at the Addison Road Community Centre, 142 Addison Road, Marrickville, from 6-7.30pm



5 Responses to “Chazan to speak in Marrickville”
  1. Otto Waldmann says:

    Symptomatic of the well known strategies employed by NIF, of deceit, misrepresentation, the above implied notion that Im Tirzu would be ideologically associated with a christian evangelical church ( obviously referrence to John Hagee Ministries ) is a lamentable attempt at deflecting justified criticism of NIF that its activities in the past decade have been ostensively of support for policies of deligimatisation of Israel. The said evangelical church was NOT a FOUNDING member of Im Tirzu,but a xstian Zionist early suporter of Im Tirzu,one that has left Im Tirzu already !!! The BDS and Goldstone Report, on the other hand, have been on the ideological agenda of NIF, other unrelated NGO beneficiaries notwithstanding.
    The comparative argument that only some 10 percent of NIF has been known to support activities hostile to Israel, while the bulk ballance cannot be criticised, is as valid as my retort that in the towns of Nagyvarad and Kolozsvar where my Granparents, uncles and cousins lived, some over one hundred in number, only some 5 percent of the local non Jewish population took part in the rounding up and packing my family and thousands more Jews in cattle trains. Morality and the lack of it are not expressed in percentages, but absolute specificity of transgressions.
    For the sake of balancing opinions, expressing known realities, I hope this comment will see the light of “publishing”.

  2. As an olah chadsha, living in Zichron Yaakov, in Israel, I cannot reinforce enough how damaging it is to us, as Israeli citizens, when our own people (Jews & Israelis’), speak out against us.

    We live in an extremely complex, chaotic and misunderstood Middle Eastern world over here, one that contradicts all the most basic and fundamental Westen values. No matter how imperfect we are, we are 63 years young and still very much in the “learning zone”, we live, very single day of our lives, under incredible pressure, adversity and severe geopolitical constraints!

    We really deserve a “fair go” by Naomi Chazan, and the organisation she represents, especially one that truely & honestly represents the the thoughts and feelings of the wide range of citizens of this amazing country and not an inherently self righteous, dishonest and divisive one!

    I hope that Robin Margo has the fortitude, stamina and integrity to ensure this happens.

  3. david singer says:

    Robin Margo is only partly right when he states “NIF opposes BDS” .

    NIF’s opposition to BDS does not extend beyond the 1967 lines. It supports boycotting goods products and services emanating from the West Bank,

    In so doing NIF is encouraging discrimination against 500000 Israelis for living where they are – many for up to 40 years with the approval of successive Governments of all political persuasions – as against the 5.7 million Israelis who live in Israel.

    Ms Chazan is obviously comfortable to see her fellow citizens suffer in the West Bank whilst she remains untouched by the BDS campaign

    Shame on her and on those in Australia who would support NIF while it maintains such a policy.

  4. Michael Burd says:

    There must be two Naomi Chazan’s, the Naomi CHazan I am aware of heads a highly controversial Fund under investigation by the Israeli government for funding Pro- Palestinian/Arab organizations and groups.
    Some of these very same Palestinian/Arab organizations funded by Chazan’s NIF even promote the destruction of Israel as part of their charter and many other certainly not fans of Israel or Ziinists.

    Perhaps for rthe sake of Fair and balanced reporting you ask someone that is not a supporter of Chazan and her far left wing organization to offer an alternative viewpoint.
    Maybe Prof Steinberg or Isi Leibler for instance there are other opinions out there that are not left wing and appear to dominate this web site.

    Michael Burd

  5. Otto Waldmann says:

    The above presentation contains a number of highly misleading statements.
    The main thrust of discrediting Im Tirzu is only consistent with the known policies sponsored by NIF in discrediting Israel propper, through the well known support NIF has been giving to NGOs involved in BDS and in the Goldstone Report.
    The above statement that Im Tirzu was established by an “original funder” an evangelical American ministry, referring, of course to John Hagee Ministries, is intended to convey the notion that Im Tirzu carries the profile of a christian agenda, through its original, establishment, structure. This is completly FALSE, misleading, meant to attribute a genuine Zionist organisation a completely different, non Jewish profile.Truth is that John Hagee Ministries, a xtian Zionist religious organisation DID support Im Tirzu at the time of its commencement, but the John Hagee Ministries WERE NOT FOUNDERS of Im Tirzu, only political friends, supporters in the same manner as many other non Jewish religious organisations in the US show strong support for Israel and, as such, they are often addressed and thanked by Israeli Prime Ministers during their visits to US. That DOES not make Israel a non Jewish State, G-d forbid. Also, in regard to the statement that Im Tirzu is “widely discredited”, such a damaging , again, false statement is not at all substantiated.It is greatly gratuitous and offensive.
    Im Tirzu have been instrumental in disclosing the TRUE policies of NIF, through the publication of the TRUE amounts of funds NIF have given to all the NGOs involved in the BDS and the Goldstone Report.
    If NIF is so dedicated to fighting the BDS, which in FACT they have contributed at the most important, inception stages of its highly damaging actions against Israel, where was the same NIF in the active days of ACTUAL struggle against the Marrickvile Council ???!! Answer: NOWHERE at all !!! Same goes for the immediate past president of the NSW Jewish Board of Deputies. Where was HE when so many other leaders of the community took an active and visible stand against the BDS in Marrickville and elsewhere !!!Attempting to take credit after the successful anti BDS facts, for which NIF is highly culpable, is as disingenious as the whole current campaign by NIF and NIFA of white washing their MAJOR role in creating MAJOR problems to Israel and Jewish sincere concerns in general !!!
    All “positive” contributions to Israel in NIF’s books are nullified by their proven anti Israel policies.

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