St Ives Eruv: Politicians Enter the Fray

July 5, 2010 by Henry Benjamin
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The local backlash against the planned Eruv in St Ives manifested itself in a barrage of hate mail and comments published by the media and now withdrawn. Locals politicians have shed their thoughts….

The New South Wales Jewish Board of Deputies CEO, Vic Alhadeff, has questioned Channel 9 for comments posted on “A Current Affairs” web site and the North Shore Times for comments published on theirs, resulting in the withdrawal of offensive material.

Alhadeff told J-Wire: “Both apologised and immediately took steps to remove the comments. The quick responses were appreciated, but the incident draws attention once again to the need for all media to implement effective monitoring systems of what is posted on their sites. Some of the remarks clearly violated the State’s race vilification laws, and it is unacceptable for media to carry such slurs until such as time as the offensiveness is drawn to their attention.”

In the meantime, local politicians have reacted to the content of the published comments.

Jonathan O’Dea, State Liberal Member for Davidson, said:  “While rational debate and discussion based on the facts should be welcome, prejudice or discrimination based on racial or religious grounds should play no role in the debate. I condemn some of the inflammatory comments that have been made, generally by anonymous persons in online blogs.

Jonathan O'Dea

Tolerance and respect for the rights of others are important values in our society.

The development applications associated with the Eruv should be properly assessed and decided by Ku-ring-gai Council on environmental and planning grounds.

I have confidence that the Ku-ring-gai Council will professionally assess the applications and I do not intend to interfere with the decision of Council.”

Meanwhile, Federal Member Paul Fletcher had this to say: “The emergence of anti-semitic comments in relation to the Northern Eruv proposal in St Ives is very disturbing”, said Paul Fletcher, Federal Liberal Member for Bradfield.

St Ives falls within the federal electorate of Bradfield.

Mr Fletcher said he had looked at ‘A Current Affair’s’ website and was shocked to see some of the foolish and offensive comments posted there – generally of course without the full name and address of the person posting the comment.

“The possible construction of the Northern Eruv is to be considered by Ku-ring-gai Council as a planning matter,” Mr Fletcher said.

Paul Fletcher

“Council should make this decision on the merits of the planning issues involved.

“It must consider the visual amenity of the new construction proposed.

“As I understand it from public statements, some 85% of the Eruv will comprise existing facilities such as electricity and telecommunications cables.  Council will need to consider the impact of the new elements.

“Council should also consider the public amenity which the development would offer.

“As I understand it, Orthodox Jews would be able to carry out certain activities on the Sabbath within the bounds of the Eruv which would otherwise be prohibited under their faith – such as pushing young children in strollers.

“Whenever a council considers a development, it must weigh up a range of factors – and that is what Ku-ring-gai Council must do here.

“There is no place in this decision making process for offensive anti-semitic sentiment.”

Today, leaflets are being delivered door to door through a letter box drop in the area in which the Eruv is planned

Wednesday is the last day for submissions by the public regarding the erection of the 6 meter high poles.

Meanwhile Eruv organiser David Guth told J-Wire: “We planned the Eruv for the benefit of our community and did not expect this reaction. It was not our intention to create a situation like this. We have tried to use all available existing facilities for the Eruv but we have to add 27 poles in eleven properties. We brought in a world-renowned expert and have consulted with all the rabbis in the area and with Rabbi Moshe Gutnick. We have had the best advice.

J-Wire publishes the contents of the circular:

….and here is what the St Ives Progress Association has to say…

The Eruv’s plans have already been submitted to Kur-ing-gai Council. The Wednesday cut-off time relates to public submissions.

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