New leadership for New Israel Fund Australia

April 1, 2014 by J-Wire Staff
Read on for article

NIF Australia has elected Irving Wallach as its new president with Mandi Katz as vice-president. 

Irving Wallach

Irving Wallach

Former president, Robin Margo, retired by rotation and joins Assoc Prof Mark Baker, Justice Stephen Rothman, Ronald Sackville and Robyne Schwarz on its Advisory Council.  Former vice-president, Ric Benjamin, remains on the board as Honorary Treasurer.  Sydney solicitor Steven Lewis, a deputy of the NSW Jewish Board of Deputies and former active AUJS member, has joined the board as a new director.

Wallach, a Sydney barrister, is a deputy and former executive member of the NSW Jewish Board of Deputies, a former Secretary-General of the World Union of Jewish Students, a former head of Betar Australia, and former chair of the Zionist Youth Council of NSW. His wife, Ronni Kahn, the founder and CEO of OzHarvest, became first co- patron of NIF Australia with Ambassador Martin Indyk.

Katz, a Melbourne-based risk and governance specialist in the financial services sector, is secretary of her shul, Shira Chadasha, the co-chair of this year’s Limmud Oz in Melbourne, and a former chairperson of AUJS Victoria.

Both were founding board members of NIF Australia.

Wallach said: “I am honoured to accept the position. Over the last three years, under Robin’s stewardship, NIF Australia has become a communal home for Australian Jews who support human rights and liberal values and want a meaningful, active connection with Israel.  It has added a clear community voice on issues such as religious pluralism, civil marriage, protection of minorities, social and economic justice, equal opportunity for women, and supporting Israelis working for a more open and just society.

NIF Australia has just completed an extensive consultation with Australian Jews about Israel as a Jewish democratic state and we will be working hard in the year ahead on new strategies to promote our and NIF’s objectives.”


5 Responses to “New leadership for New Israel Fund Australia”
  1. Robin Margo says:

    Mr Hamilton should not be so ready to rely on NGO Monitor, which is not politically neutral and whose funding is less than fully transparent.
    All NIF’s grantees are registered by the Israeli government under Israeli law and comply with NIF’s funding guidelines – see
    To suggest that Israel’s government-registered national human and civil rights organisations are delegitimising Israel is sheer nonsense; they are part of the very life-blood of Israeli democracy. The Israeli courts hear them with respect and many of the achievements in integrating minorities and fighting racism that Mr Hamilton refers to have resulted from their work.

  2. The NIF is one of the biggest funders of Israeli NGOs that seek to delegitimise Israel and engage in anti-Israel political activity. 22% of their funding goes to political activity, all on the far left of the Israeli political spectrum. See:

    I’m sure Australian NIF supporters are well intentioned but holding Israel to a higher human rights standard than Australia or the EU itself meets is unfair and falls within the Sharansky definition of anti-semitism.

    Groups the NIF funds engage in dubious behaviour. See

    Israel actually puts Australia to shame in true integration of minorities and eliminating racism.

  3. Robin Margo says:

    NIF has been helping Israelis build their civil society and strengthen their democracy for more than 35 years. It makes grants only to NFPs registered by the Israeli government and works across the whole range of Israeli society – women, Mizrachim, Ethiopians, Bedouin, Russians, all streams of Judaism including Orthodox communities – not only Arab or Palestinian Israelis. But since Mr Tal is particularly fixated on people of Arab ethnicity, it should be noted that, at least since the report of the government-appointed Or Commission, successive Israeli Governments, of different political complexions, have accepted that there has been historical discrimination against Arab Israelis in many areas and that both elementary justice and Israel’s long-term self-interest require that that be rectified. Progress is being made in that regard but there is general recognition also that there is much more still to be done.
    Mr Tal, however, criticises NIF for contributing to that objective of the Israeli government and refers to the worse situation of Arabs in some other countries and places, as if Israel would ever set its own standards by reference to such places.
    People who like to think for themselves should read NIF Australia’s recent submission to Jerusalem about Israel as the Jewish democratic state at and the briefing paper at the link referred to in footnote 2 of that submission.

  4. Otto Waldmann says:

    Sorry to disagree with you, Yossi.
    So far in Australia NIF have been doing a fantastic job in keeping genuine Zionists alert each time NIF had reared its head and also provided that rare sense of satisfaction among us, seeing how pathetically tiny and irrelevant NIF is. Quite an achievement…….

  5. Yosi Tal says:

    Wouldnt it be ideal that all the Australian Jews involved in NIF also start a movement in helping the Arab world become more democratic.Thats where its actually desperately needed.Why dont they reach out to their Arab brothers and sisters and show them the way.I mean they are real experts.They are very good at giving advice to their brothers and sisters in Israel,the Flower of Democracy and beacon of light of human rights in the Middle East.If these well meaning Jews really want to make a difference then they need to do the work where its really needed.Then we may get a better Middle East for all its races and citizens.A great place to start would be Syria or maybe the PA or Gaza.Good luck.

Speak Your Mind

Comments received without a full name will not be considered
Email addresses are NEVER published! All comments are moderated. J-Wire will publish considered comments by people who provide a real name and email address. Comments that are abusive, rude, defamatory or which contain offensive language will not be published

    Rules on posting comments