Thursday, February 04, 2010

Melbourne Cancels Fund-raising Speech for New Israel Fund

The Melbourne Jewish Community has canceled a speaking appearance of Naomi Chazan, the director of the controversial New Israel Fund, due to the support of the anti-Israel Goldstone report, by NIF-funded organizations.

The JPOST has the scoop:
In light of allegations contained in a report by the Zionist student organization Im Tirtzu, which accused the New Israel Fund of direct responsibility for the UN’s Goldstone Report on the IDF’s Gaza offensive last winter, The Jerusalem Post has learned that an invitation for NIF chairwoman Prof. Naomi Chazan to speak at a synagogue and Jewish community center in Melbourne, Australia, this month has been canceled.

According to a former member of the Melbourne Jewish community now living in Israel, Chazan had been invited to speak as part of a United Israel Appeal fund-raiser at Temple Beth Israel and the Beth Weizmann Community Center in Melbourne next weekend, but the allegations raised by the Im Tirtzu report had “sparked an enormous backlash” among community members there and the invitation had been rescinded.

While the NIF and its supporters have criticized Im Tirtzu’s report as “slanderous” and “an attack on freedom of speech in Israel,” it appeared on Tuesday that the uproar the report has generated in Israel had not yet subsided, and might in fact be spreading abroad.

“People were shocked when they learned about [the report],” the Melbourne Jewish community member, who asked to remain unnamed, told the Post. “From what I understand, there was a huge public upheaval with regards to Chazan’s visit after the report was made public.”

The invitation to bring Chazan to Melbourne had been extended by the Union of Progressive Judaism – the Australian equivalent of the Reform Movement – which is one of 51 organizations that belong to the Zionist Council of Victoria.

According to ZCV President Dr. Danny Lamm, news of the report, and the Hebrew copy of it found on Im Tirtzu’s Web site, had generated angry responses throughout the Melbourne Jewish community and the decision was made to withdraw Chazan’s invite.

The activities of the NIF are anathema to Zionist groups such as ours, and frankly, we’re just not interested in having anything to with it,” Dr. Lamm told the Post by telephone from Melbourne on Tuesday.

It’s not new to me, or many of us, that the NIF has supported groups that have damaged Israel and will continue to do damage to Israel, but others were surprised by this,” he added.

Lamm made it clear that the Zionist Council of Victoria represented all branches of Jewish political and religious affiliation, “from Likud to Meretz” and that they would “never bar anybody from the left just as they wouldn’t bar anyone from the right.

But the sort of stuff the NIF supports is so far removed from the community here,” Lamm added, saying “it was decided that Chazan’s public appearances be canceled.”
Kudos the the Jews Down Under!

And why does the NIF call the Im Tritzu report slanderous? They have yet to deny any of the allegations, and just repeatedly use the smokescreen mantra; "its slander by the fascist Im Tirtzu organization."

When you criticize the IDF, its "civil rights". If you criticize the NIF, you're a fascist.

NIF: Thanks for clearing that up!

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balufeb4 said...

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Lurker said...

It's worth noting, btw, that the organization which had invited Chazan -- and then disinvited her, in the wake of the revelations from Im Tirtzu -- was "the Union of Progressive Judaism – the Australian equivalent of the Reform Movement". This movement is a major stronghold of (moderate) left-wing Jews -- and yet even they were sufficiently appalled by what they found out about the disturbing activities of the NIF, that they felt compelled to retract their invitation. As Dr. Lamm of the ZCV said, "the sort of stuff the NIF supports is so far removed from the community here [that] it was decided that Chazan's public appearances be canceled."

Kol hakavod to Im Tirtzu and NGO Monitor for publicizing the facts for all to see. As Justice Louis Brandeis once wrote, "Sunlight is the best disinfectant". And kol hakavod to the Jewish community in Melbourne for taking a principled moral stand.

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