Mayor of Mosman Condemns Israeli Actions in declining a synagogue invitation

January 16, 2017 by Sophie Deutsch
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Peter Abelson, the Mayor of Mosman on Sydney’s lower North Shore, expressed his opposition towards Israel’s actions in the West Bank as his reason for refusing to attend the Law Service at the Great Synagogue.Dr Abelson received a personal invitation to the annual event, held at the beginning of the new legal year, but wrote the following to Dr Benjamin Elton, Rabbi of the Great Synagogue.


“Thank you for your invitation to the Great Synagogue Law Service for 2017. I will not be attending…. I should express my deep personal concern about the gross and illegal occupation of the West Bank which creates intense international division and bitterness and, unresolved, will cause endless terrorism around the globe, including here.”

Dr Abelson’s remarks and decision to abstain from the event because of his political views have been met with considerable criticism and concern.

“The mayor is boycotting Australian Jews because he disagrees with policies of the Israeli government”, NSW Jewish Board of Deputies CEO Vic Alhadeff told J-Wire. “Why is he wading into foreign policy and why is he holding Australian Jews responsible for policies of the government of Israel? He has a responsibility to represent his Jewish constituents; it is inappropriate for him to shun them by refusing to attend a Jewish community event.”

Dr Abelson stated, “there are large numbers of people, Jews around the world, who respect Jews and Jewishness, who are critical of the occupation of the West Bank. To say someone who is critical of the West Bank is anti-Jewish is just nonsense”.

The International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance provides a definition of antisemitism. In one part, the Alliance notes that the term is defined as “holding Jews collectively responsible for actions of the state of Israel.”

Dr Elton stated, “[Dr Abelson] is entitled to criticise the State of Israel. He might not well be antisemitic, but what is antisemitic is when you hold Jews around the world accountable for the actions of the Israeli government… Boycotting a shule because you object to the current policies of the State of Israel is totally unreasonable.”


22 Responses to “Mayor of Mosman Condemns Israeli Actions in declining a synagogue invitation”
  1. Leon Poddebsky says:

    This gentleman of exceptional virtue might consider making at least gestures in the matter of the illegal Indonesian occupation of West Papua.
    Who knows, he might recruit another gentleman of similar virtue, a recently retired Australian Foreign Minister, who also hates illegality.
    After all, Indonesia is a close neighbour of Australia, whereas Israel is a tiny country situated many thousands of kilometres from Australia.

  2. Leon Poddebsky says:

    In 2013 the Court of Appeal of Versailles, France, ruled on a case that the PLO brought against Israel.
    The Court declared that Israel’s presence in Judea and Samaria is legal.
    It refuted all of the Arab arguments and awarded costs to Israel.

    The mantra of “illegal settlements” is politics, not law. It is used by politicians as an attempt to batter Israel into submission and to encourage aggressors to go in for the kill.

  3. Roger Ellison says:

    Send Mayor Abelson this judgement which confirms that Israel’s occupation of the West Bank is legal:

  4. David Faktor says:

    I wonder if Dr Abelson boycotts all events he’s invited to by the Islamic community on account of the atrocities committed by the Syrian regime, or say the Australian Chinese community on account of China’s human rights track-record. Maybe indeed, as an Australian politician, he should boycott himself on the basis of our (UN condemned) policies towards asylum seekers.

  5. Stephen Perry says:

    A headline for this story could read: ‘Mayor of a Sydney council snubs his constituents citing criticism of a foreign government’s policy disputes’. Although a bit wordy it highlights just how inappropriate the Mayor’s action is. It tells you more about the Mayor than it does about the foreign country, the local diaspora in Australia and how mainstream antisemitism has become. What other group of people in Australia are held accountable for another countries policies and disputes?

    Antisemitism being mainstream does not make it acceptable. We expect more of our community leaders in particular. When a local Mayor feels sufficiently smug to dismiss his constituents citing partisan and ignorant comments about another nation as a reason, he reveals both a surprising lack of leadership / commitment to combating antisemitism, at the very least.

  6. Lynne Newington says:

    It’s a terrible thing not to know who your true friends are……even amongst your own more than obvious in the latest newsletter from Israeli loyal statesman Isi Leibler.

  7. Jan Poddebsky says:

    I don’t know if the mayor of Mosman reads this column but since Rabbi Elton and Mr Alhadeff did not respond as suggested by Leon, we should write to the mayor and educate him about historical facts. He might have an epiphany like Bob Carr and change his view, or realise that his current view is based on something other than fact. Either outcome is an education.

  8. Stab Black says:

    I’m amazed that such an obvious numbskull was invited in the first place.
    As my late grandmother would have said ” he can gay cacken offen yam.”

    • Jan Poddebsky says:

      Hi Stab Black,
      Isn’t Yiddish wonderful! I hadn’t heard that evocative expression before. Thank you

  9. Adrian Jackson says:

    Didn’t the ABC TV comedy nshow “The Chaser” do a skit in Mossman in the shopping strip a few years ago with a proposed Mosque to be built and the reaction was mostly negative with comments like “we are not racist but ….”. I assume Mosman is mostly a wealthy Christian area.

  10. Roy Sims says:

    What a stupid response from an elected Mayor representing such a diverse community such as Mosman.
    He may change his mind when he reads the history lesson provided by Leon Poddebsky … but I doubt it because overt bias will always get in the way of reason.
    The hard truth is that International terrorism and the Middle East situation vis a vis Israel has absolutely NOTHING to do with land or settlements, it has EVERYTHING to do with Islamic hatred and their associated policy to exterminate all Jews from wherever they exist. And all that in spite of the clear International mandates cited by Leon Poddebsky.

  11. Robert Weil says:

    Even putting his overt anti-Semitism aside, his notion that the so-called “occupation” is the cause of “endless terrorism around the globe” is a good indicator that he is a total cretin.

  12. Leon Poddebsky says:

    And it needs to be added that at least this mayor is frank about his predisposition, unlike some of our “good friends” who are more skilful at hiding their true selves.

  13. Leon Poddebsky says:

    Also, Mr Alhadeff and Rabbi Elton, why would you or any Jew want such a person at a Jewish community event, particularly a synagogue?

  14. Leon Poddebsky says:

    Mr Alhadeff and Rabbi Elton’s response should have been to point out to this person that Judea and Samaria are an integral part of the Jewish National Home, and were recognised as such in secular international law in 1922 in the Act of Law known as the Mandate for Palestine. UN Security Council Resolution 242 endorsed that ruling by clear implication.
    Mr Alhadeff and Rabbi Elton should have pointed out to this person that in the 1947-49 War of Arab Aggression the Arab princedom of Transjordan (now called Jordan) ethnically cleansed all the Jews out of Judea and Samaria, including the old part of Jerusalem.
    Mr Alhadeff and Rabbi Elton should have pointed out to this person that Jordan’s illegal occupation between 1948-1967 does not diminish Israel’s national territorial rights nor impart any collective territorial rights to the Arabs who call themselves ‘Palestinians.”
    Mr Alhadeff and Rabbi Elton should have pointed out to this person that the Arabs who live in Judea and Samaria and the rest of Eretz Yisrael enjoy more civil rights than any Arab in any Arab state.
    Instead, Mr Alhadeff and Rabbi Elton chose to respond in an entirely inappropriate apologetic manner that will merely reinforce the kind of atavistic predisposition of people like this mayor.
    None of the above facts would have influenced the mayor’s animus, but my suggested response would at least have demonstrated some Jewish dignity.

    • Henry Herzog says:

      I’m with you Leon. There are too many self-hating, apologists lefties representing the Jewish community. Why don’t you put your hand up to represent us Jews. You could even get the World to change the name of the west bank to samaria and judea. If anyone can convince the world it’s you.

    • Lioudmila Levina says:

      Leon I am with you by 300%. Their reaction is appeasement and nothing else.

    • Eleonora Mostert says:

      Well said Leon, Vic Alhadeff should be fired from his position on NSW BoD. He has never stood up for Israel of the facts. Alhadeff has no dignity but is an outright coward and doesn’t stand up for the facts or truth. Get rid of him please.Who the hell are “Palestinians” and where the hell is “Westbank” or “Palestine”

      • Iain Moray says:

        The Mosman Mayor by his gross overreach from local affairs has provided another good reason for council amalgamation ie to rid us of pompous blowhards who dont recognize their responsibility to treat all constituents equally and fairly.

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