Why were we not asked?

August 13, 2023 by J-Wire Newsdesk
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Ameinu Australia, Meretz Australia, Habonim Dror Australia and Hashomer Hatzair Australia have written to the president of the Zionist Federation of Australia, pointing out they were not consulted about ZFA’s statement on the recent change of the Albanese government’s position on Israel.

All three organisations are constituent members of the ZFA.

Jeremy Leibler

ZFA President Jeremy Leibler issued a statement jointly with the president of The Executive Council of Australian Jewry, Jillian Segal stating “Describing East Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza as ‘occupied Palestinian territories’ effectively denies any Jewish claim to the West Bank and Jerusalem. The most important Jewish holy sites of the Temple Mount and the Western Wall are in East Jerusalem, and there has been an unbroken Jewish presence in the West Bank for thousands of years. Israelis and Palestinians have agreed to negotiate the division of the West Bank between them. Describing the territories as ‘Palestinian’ not only pre-empts the outcome of negotiations but is counterproductive.

Palestinians and Israelis agreed in 1993 that the settlements and the division of the West Bank and Gaza would be subject to final status negotiations. The Foreign Minister has previously stated that Australia should not pre-empt the outcome of final status issues. It is regrettable that the government has now done that.

Palestinian terrorism against Israeli targets has risen dramatically, and Palestinian leadership has refused to enter into negotiations with Israel in the last two years. Instead of attempting to pre-empt the outcome of negotiations in favour of a party that refuses to negotiate, the Australian Government should be urging the Palestinians to return to the negotiating table.

It is concerning that just as Arab states are moving closer to Israel and normalising relations, this announcement moves Australia in the opposite direction. The announcement will be used by Israeli and Palestinian hardliners to bolster support within their respective constituencies and put a peace agreement further out of reach.

The Labor leadership ought to push back against factions within Labor, and instead work to re-establish a sensible, centrist and sustainable bipartisan position on the Israeli–Palestinian conflict. The Israeli–Palestinian conflict must not become a political football”.

In their letter, the organisations stated: “Presented as being on behalf of the ‘Jewish community’, without discussion with the ZFA’s progressive constituent base, severely undermines the organisation’s claim to be representative of the full spectrum of views in the Jewish-Zionist community.”

In their letter to Jeremy Leibler, the three organisations state that if they had been asked for their input they would have said that the territories captured in the Six-Day War in 1967 are illegally occupied.

They wrote: “Criticising the Australian government for upholding its obligations under international law is politically naive and morally wrong.”

They added: “As progressive Jews who treasure and celebrate the connection we have to ancient Jewish sites (including those not within Israel’s recognised, sovereign borders), we categorically reject any notion that those connections automatically create legal claims which override international law or the Palestinian people’s right to self-determination.”

They pointed out that Jewish terrorism had ‘a dramatic rise’ since Itamar Ben-Gvir became Minister of National Security and accused the ECAJ/ZFA statement of “criticising the Australian government for re-joining the global consensus and turning the issue into one of factional politics highlights a broader, worrying trend towards anti-Labor partisanship from inside the Zionist Federation and the Jewish community’s leadership more broadly.

They requested the issue be discussed at the upcoming national ZFA conference.

ECAJ co-CEO Peter Wertheim told J-Wire they had consulted their major constituent organisations before issuing the statement and that he had only received positive feedback from anyone who read the statement.

Jeremy Leibler told J-Wire: “The Zionist Federation of Australia is an elected representative roof body of the Jewish community. We have regular meetings and consult with affiliate organisations. While the Jewish community is diverse, on many issues there is a clear consensus position, including in relation to the recent joint statement issued by the ZFA and ECAJ – the two national elected representative bodies of the Jewish community. The statement has been endorsed by other representative organisations, including Zionism Victoria, the State Zionist Council of NSW and the Jewish Communal Council of Victoria. Indeed, three other progressive Jewish groups and ZFA affiliates (Union for Progressive Judaism, Assembly of Rabbis and Cantors and ARZA – the Voice of Progressive Judaism in Victoria) have also endorsed the ZFA/ECAJ Statement.

The ZFA values its warm and open dialogue with the Albanese Government. Indeed, we are delighted to have the Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister, Richard Marles deliver a keynote address at our upcoming plenary conference in Sydney. Separately, there will be an opportunity for all affiliates to raise any issues, including the joint ZFA/ECAJ Statement”.


3 Responses to “Why were we not asked?”
  1. Robert Weil says:

    Perhaps Ameinu and there fellow uber-left acolytes might consider leaving the ZFA and instead becoming members of Hamas or Islamic Jihad where their views on Israel would find more commonality.

  2. Liat Kirby says:

    Goodness, what to do with all that! That these three organisations complaining are naive to an extreme is evident. Rejoining global consesus, international law, the former avidly pro-Palestinian rhetoric, and the latter? which international law is that?

  3. Michael Burd says:

    Former ZFA head ,Danny Lamm must be shaking his head on the disaster the ZFA has become under new leadership , what a Mess! He needs to Go !

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