Open letter to Akiva Eldar

January 24, 2012 by Danny Rod
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Akiva Eldar wrote an article in headlined “Israel is shaming Australian Jews. Danny Rod writes him an open letter….

Dear Akiva Eldar,

It is you who are shaming Australian Jews.

I was outraged to have read your piece in Haaretz on the 23rd of January because you openly slap in the face the thousands of ordinary Australian Jews, who every day seek to support Israel and prevent anti-semitism in Australia.

Danny Rodd

These people are not the so called lobbyists but everyday people, youth movement members, Jewish Communal leaders and University Campus leaders. You are not here to witness the hate and the vitriol that we experience each and every day on campus and you are not there when ridiculed for your belief in the right of a Jewish State to exist. These things happen each day and as a past Chairperson of the Australasian Union of Jewish Students in NSW I saw it with my own eyes. I saw and still see the passion in the Young Adult Community’s eyes when celebrating Yom Haatzmaut and the dedication of so many young university students to attend our events just to show their support for Israel.

I see ordinary working men and women, who give up their spare time volunteering to ensure that there are events which promote Israel in our community and provide an outlet to express our love even if we are not in Israel physically.

Your article demonstrated no understanding of our community and shows a great deal of ignorance. Our community is not as affluent as you might think and it is up to organisations that do amazing work such as Jewish Care and Jewish House which provide amazing services to those less fortunate in our community. The ties that bind our community together are strong and the passion and love we show for Israel is unbreakable.

In case you were wondering, Middle Eastern Affairs does feature prominently in the Australian news cycle. You may have heard of the Marrickville BDS campaign and related horrific campaigns by the NSW Greens last year and the public outcry that it received. The so called ‘spineless lobbyists’ were not the ones who were able to effect the changes in the policy of both Marrickville Council and the NSW Greens but rather grassroots campaigning and mainstream media coverage which showed the hypocrisy that BDS promotes. This was by both Jews and Non-Jews, both seeking to show that they supported peace in the Middle East.

The assertion that Middle Eastern affairs is on the bottom rung of priorities for Australian politicians is simply wrong. We are privileged to have strong bi-partisan support from both of Australia’s political parties on Israel and when issues arise that are of concern to our community, they are the first to help out and lend a hand to the community – not because of lobbyists but a shared belief that Israel and Australia share the same values. You are forgetting that Kevin Rudd, when Prime Minister was prepared to take Iran to the International Criminal Court for it’s actions against Israel or the fact Israel has been the subject of numerous parliamentary motions all of which passed with bi-partisan support for Israel.

Despite your ridiculous article, I am proud to say that Israel is not something we are ashamed of. In face of attacks on our Synagogues and large often anti-Semitic protests on campus we still believe in Israel. We believe that although Israel is not the perfect place we envision it to be, we fight to make it that way. To the thousands of volunteers who work each day to promote Israel and Zionism in Australia, I thank you. Your work is very much under appreciated and thanks is often unspoken but no less valuable. To the politicians on both sides of parliament, thank you for your support – I’m sure a ridiculous article such as this does not put a damper on our appreciation of your support.



Danny Rod


Danny Rod is a Board Member of the Zionist Council of NSW and Law and International Studies Student at the University of Technology, Sydney.


13 Responses to “Open letter to Akiva Eldar”
  1. Robert says:

    Speaks for itself
    “Pro-Palestinian hackers apologize for bringing down Haaretz’s Hebrew website
    Twitter user who had taken responsibility for the attack says, ‘we are sorry, we didn’t know that haaretz is a good newspaper.’

    By Sefi Krupsky
    The pro-Palestinian hackers that took responsibility for briPro-Palestinian hackers apologize for bringing down Haaretz’s Hebrew website
    Twitter user who had taken responsibility for the attack says, ‘we are sorry, we didn’t know that haaretz is a good newspaper.’

    By Sefi Krupsky

    The pro-Palestinian hackers that took responsibility for bringing down Haaretz’s Hebrew website posted an apology on their Twitter account on Friday.

    “@haaretzprint we are sorry , we didn’t know that haaretz is a good newspaper,we sorry about this , and be sure no one will attack u again,” @AnonPS posted.nging down Haaretz’s Hebrew website posted an apology on their Twitter account on Friday.

    “@haaretzprint we are sorry , we didn’t know that haaretz is a good newspaper,we sorry about this , and be sure no one will attack u again,” @AnonPS posted.

    • Shirlee Finn says:

      Thanks Robert

      That says it all as far as the NIF Australia is concerned..

      From their web site

      “Akiva Eldar has an excellent article in today’s Ha’aretz about Australian Jewry and Israel. “

  2. Otto Waldmann says:

    Australia Day or not, I reckon we should show Akiva that we are a compassionate lot. To be fair, Akiva must have spent in Double Bay at least $25.00 on a salmon and caviar sandwich, $12.00 on a moccacino, $15.00 on a plain croissant and all that as takeway and eaten on a bus -stop bench. The shlemil HAD to recover his overheads. Ha Haretz were, obviously, the only mob willing to print his stale exploits and the poor sod wouldn’t have got more than $30.00 for his piece, starved of any value as it was. So the peripathetic common variety neurotic yngele is already $14.50 out of pocket, not to mention journalistically $0.10 short of a buck anyway.

    Mike Goldberg, on the same hand, is the proud exhibit of everything NIF can offer as a display of the de riguer all over the place rants on anything just to fill in spaces in lieu of reason. From having a trotzkist spat at the “rich” of our society who , when coupled with “Jew” gained insurectional status, to deciding on personal investigative bile-based technique that EEVERYBODY matches profiles concocted in alchemies of prejudice, we are regaled with what defines NIF best, an ideological makeshift designed and determined to destabilise everything decent Jews are striving for !!!

  3. john says:

    Mike Goldberg’s reply has some merit in calling for a positive inclusive attitude for the broad range of ideas and ideals within our Jewish community.

    However his response to Danny Rod was too personal and bitter.

    Danny Rod spoke from personal experience.
    He had stood on the front line in the streets, and at the pointy end of nasty, pulsating jew hatred exposing itself overtly.
    Danny Rod stood tall, held his ground and then gave back.
    This is what the best within our jewish community are doing and will continue to do despite blow ins and backchatters who make noise from the gallery or sidelines.
    Desigations and titles on plastic badges mean nothing.
    It is the time given when it is not easy to give, the sweat of physical and sometimes unpleasant work that no one else wants to touch….that is true giving to the community.And this selfless volunteering is for our own self respect , as it is defending and standing for Israel, a miracle of modern times despite its imperfections.
    So let us tell Haaretz to be less loose in its holiday reporting, and embrace all our Israel loving organizations.
    Our strength has always been in unity.

  4. Mike Goldberg says:

    This reply doesn’t recognise at all that there is a swath of Jews in Australia, mostly young, who, while perhaps they may not use the word ‘ashamed’ to describe their relationship or thoughts with Israel, are very confused, disappointed and concerned for its future.

    Danny, your rely does not get any respect from me because you made the same mistake as Eldar. While he paints Jewish Australians ne colour, instead of assessing the situation and re-orienting it, accepting that different opinions exist not just to Eldar, but your own as well, you paint all Jews the opposite colour. Neither of you seem concerned about the middle ground – where the battle is being fought.

    You also make the same mistake Eldar wearing blinkers and limiting your scope. Eldar speaks about an encounter in a Double Bay deli, and you talk about a Yom Ha’atzmaut piss-up that is similarly unrepresentative. You both would do well to open your eyes the wider community. 

    Firstly, we are rich. There is no denying it. Yes, we have people who struggle, who live below the poverty line, who,cannot make ends meet. But by and large we are comfortable. Very comfortable. How is your house in Vaucluse? How is your new car? How was your private education? What about your friends? Let’s not kid ourselves. We have a wonderful welfare system which, while it can always be, and should be improved, works well. 

    Secondly, I’m on campus now, I’m involved in AUJS. I know the drill. The more conversations you had with students while on campus Danny, and the less time you no doubt spent in communal board rooms, you would have heard the increasing disenchantment and disillusion with Israel. You would see it translated in the engagement of GenY-ers on campus and at your AUJS events. Without needing to hear from you I know the answer — numbers were low in your presidency. It’s it personal, it’s endemic. AUJS cannot provide. The community cannot provide. Israel does not provide. The bad news on TV and in newspapers — a stalled peace process, recalcitrant and racist leadership in Israel and the Territories all terrorise our minds. They make all people, but particularly the young, run away.

    Eldar was right in a number of things. For one, Israel hardly matters in mainstream Australian politics. You, the ECAJ complaint, all of it is symptomatic of a wider fascinaction. It is the same disease Loewenstein and Australians for Palestine share. Again, it is your blinkers. Articles like this feed your ego, but do not contribute to any meaningful, wider discourse.

    Yes, we did have a discussion with BDS, but that was an exception. Israel rained fire on Gaza in 200 and barely anyone noticed. Israel was attacked in 2006 in Lebanon, and before that was bombarded with suicide bombers. There are articles here and there, but it is the exception, not the rule. Your reference to Kevin Rudd is smoke and mirrors – it doesn’t address the point of Australian attitudes to Israel at all.  In fact, as far is Rudd is concerned, policy towards Israel is really only useful on two levels now – if he can solve the current diplomatic impasse and work his way into a plush UN job, or into a plush seat on the UN security council. The average Australian – citizen, politician, or political junkie – couldn’t care less. They care 1000x more about the economy, the carbon tax, asylum seekers, or healthcare. Israel is the bottom rung whether you, I, Peter Wertheim or anyone else likes it.

    In fact, your legitimacy — mostly in your own eyes — relies on it, which is why you are so threatened by it. One misstep and your house of cards will come crashing down. Quick. Pen another JWire article. Pen another letter to the AJN. Perhaps you or Otto will have two letters this week, instead of your usual one? Your self-esteem is tied entirely to how you influence others on an issue few care about,  yet you are obsessed with. 

    Elder was pointing to NIF as a part solution to these problems. The numbers are irrelevant. If it engages even one Jew in Australia who would not otherwise interact and fund Israeli society then it would be a success. The same can be said of other groups. The reality, though, if Eldar’s figures are correct, is that NIF in Australia is doing much more than that. They have found those who are disillusioned and disappointed. They have engaged them. They are soliciting funds to help organisations and individuals in Israel who are struggling for air, trying to keep their head above water in dire situations where they are being ignored. Women in bad relationships who are being battered by their husbands, the environment which suffers daily as a result of Israeli industry and government neglect, Negev towns which have bad schools because the periphery in Israel is so underfunded, Arabs whose rights are directly or indirectly impinged upon, These are projects no one else in Australia is funding, and few around the world consider as an option philanthropically. 

    How much did UIA raise last year? JNF? JCA? The ECAJ? These are worthy causes – my understanding is that NIF would not disagree, and I don’t think Eldar would either. But so is NIF, and so are the opinions, and the marginalised minority of Australian Jews currently supporting it that he was giving a shout out to. Undermining them, silencing them, minimising them only serves to reduce the number of engaged Jewish Australians, which is the underhand, implied tone and intention of your article. Don’t do it again. 

    You should respect the other opinions, you should embrace them and include them, not push them off to the wide as you have done in considering and composing this article. Next time, before you jump up and down, I encourage you to open your mind, take off your blinkers, and think. You want to be a leader in this community — doing so will show your strengths, and serve you well. Good luck. 

    • Uri Tzvi says:

      My problem with Elder’s article was his blatant generalisation of Australian Jewry. His poor journalism stipulated that because one ‘young woman’ from NIF believes that Israel’s actions are something to be ashamed of, it means that ALL Australian Jewry are dissatisfied with the Israeli Government and hold her opinion.

      Australian Jewry still is generally pro-Israel. Many organisations presented by Danny represent the opinion of a majority of Australia’s Jewry. There are diverse opinions on Israel and Australia’s relationship with Israel throughout the country, after all, in a room of 20 Jews, there contains 30 opinions! We critically think about Israel’s perceptions and actions constantly as it is a country that is a direct link to our heritage. NIF Australia presents an alternative to the Australian mainstream thought but it is a small minority. While NIF do a lot of good for minorities, they also manage to invest in organizations that go against the state and its institutions.

      My major problem with the article is that it presents that all Australian Jews agree with his views in an article that is presented to Israelis and the rest of the world.

      Israel isn’t perfect and has many problems that it needs to address, but the rhetoric that Elder presents disregard the broad scope of issues and responsible journalism. Mike, I’d like to respect Elder’s opinion, but he has shaped the article to assume that his opinion is the same as all Australian Jewry, which is why people like Danny, myself and other members of the Jewish community are writing responses.

    • Peter says:


      I have the pleasure to work with some 20 or so Jewish organisations in Sydney and I think it would be a good idea if you actually checked information before stating catagorically that this community is rich. I have no idea on your income, you may have an idea of what that is, but in working with the schools, AUJS, the youth movements, BJE etc I can tell you there are many many Jews who have trouble making ends meet. That does not mean buying their next car or booking their next holiday that means putting a meal on their table.

      We should be very proud as a community that we help those people. The work of the JCA and its constituant bodies is the envy of the Jewish world and the other community groups in Australia.

      Get off you leftish high horse and get down and help. Article like the Haaretz one and your comments above make it harder for the funds to be raised to help these people.

  5. Jason says:

    Dear Danny,
    I agree with you. Akiva is not correct. Israel is not shaming Australian Jews.
    Israel is actually shaming Jews globally.
    I moved here 5 1/2 years ago … and when I see the behaviour of Israel and Israelis I too am ashamed of what Israel has become. Israel and it’s people need a a huge slap on the face to bring them back to their senses. The way Israel treats the Palestinians and disregards world opinion is shameful. The bigoted attitudes and general behaviour here are pre-victorian colonial. Israel has become an oppressor. And no matter how many nice little technical gadgets it develops – that cannot be forgiven. Israel and Israelis must change. if they do not they will find the world completely abandons them – even the US. And when that happens all hell will break lose in the mid East. For the sake of it’s own survival Israel must change.


  6. Liat Nagar says:

    Such an excellent letter, Danny Rod.

  7. Shirlee says:

    Excellent item Danny..thank you

    Please can I suggest that others do what I have just done and write to Haaretz and lodge a complaint.

    I have sent a link to Danny Rod’s excellent article

  8. phillip says:

    Says it all for me!

  9. david says:

    Well said Danny.

    Perhaps the headline of the Ha’aretz article should have read “Akiva Eldar is shaming Israeli Jews”. How can anyone take seriously anything Eldar writes after this tripe (if they ever did before)?

    No research to support his conclusions – just two people he happened to talk to – and Australian Jews get this serve!! No attempt to get a comment from one of the Jewish communal leaders.

    Even worse – Ha’aretz prints this rubbish. Is the editor on reserve duty or gone missing in action?

    I do not think I have ever read such an irresponsible, poorly researched piece of journalism in a supposedly major newspaper before.

    Eldar should fall on his sword or be dismissed. If this does not happen the editor of Ha’aretz needs to explain why.

  10. Prof. E Jaffe says:

    good for Danny Rod

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