Goldstone report scandal causes cancellation of UIA speaker

February 3, 2010 by Henry Benjamin
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Professor Naomi Chazan has cancelled her speaking tour of Australia on behalf of the United Israel Appeal Progressive Trust following assertations that the New Israel Fund had provided funds to organisations which had provided the vast majority of content for the Goldstone Report.The Executive Director of the Union for Progressive Judaism, Steve Denenberg, told J-Wire: “She had always maintained that if anything was to happen which would divert the focus of the purpose of her visit we would mutually cancel.”

Naomi Chazan

Chazan was due to speak at Melbourne’s Temple Beth Israel this week end and at Sydney’s Emanuel Synagogue the following week on behalf of the United Israel Appeal’s Progressive Trust which provided funds donated to Israel for refugees and immigration. She is a former deputy speaker of the Knesset and a well-known human rights activist.

Denenberg added: “We had discussed Naomi’s visit with UIA leaders. and everything was in order.”

All was in order until Irm Tirtzu, a Zionist youth organisation not represented in Australia, made assertions that the New Israel Fund, of which Professor Chazan in chairperson, provided Goldstone with most of the material used in his report. The  Irm Tirzu report asserts that 16 Israeli NGOs received US$7 million from the NIF and provided 92% of the information used by the South African judge. His report dealt with Operation Cast Lead, the Israeli incursion into Gaza last winter.

Steve Denenberg

The Zionist Council of Victoria had been invited to co-share a function with Chazan in Melbourne but president Dr Danny Lamm withdrew when he learned of the Irm Tirtzu report. He told J-Wire: “Contrary to newspaper reports, I did not cancel her visit. But why does anyone have to give  a voice to those who criticise Israel? Let them find their own audience.” Chazan had been scheduled to talk on “Achieving a Truly Democratic Israel: A Political and Social Update and a Vision for the Future.”

Denenberg on the other hand said: “As soon it had become obvious that the focus of her visit would be diverted from the original purpose of raising funds for Israel, we had no choice but to mutually cancel the visit. As a Progressive Jew, she is aware that freedom of religion in Israel is a sensitive issue. If the focus had switched to the Goldstone Report then the whole raison d’etre for her visit would have been undermined.”

Denenberg told J-Wire that Chazan was disappointed about the cancellation. He said: “We will simply have to canvas our members directly for UIA as there is no time in which to find a replacement.”

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