THE Zionist Federation of Australia (ZFA) has stepped in following the Jewish Community Council of Victoria’s (JCCV’s) withdrawal as co-host of the annual Yom Ha’atzmaut cocktail reception with Victoria’s political leaders.
The event – which brings together the Premier, Opposition Leader and MPs from various parties – has seen the JCCV in a hosting role for many years. But its exit this year left a funding gap which has now been filled by ZFA.
JCCV president Daniel Aghion told The AJN the roof body could no longer justify its half-share of the $16,000 net running cost.
“It’s a straight funding question; it is no reflection on the function, it is no reflection on Zionism Victoria [ZV],” said Aghion. “We think we can use the money better in other ways.
“We said to Zionism Victoria that if we’re in a financial position to assist in the future, we may well do so.”
Asked about any perceptions that the JCCV should play a part in an event where parliamentarians join the community in celebrating Israel, Aghion said, “I’ve always been of a view that Zionism Victoria does matters pertaining to Israel, and we do matters pertaining to the local community.
“I don’t think there’s any question as to the Jewish community’s and the JCCV’s consequent support of Israel,” he added.
ZV president Yossi Goldfarb expressed disappointment that the JCCV “has turned its back on this premier opportunity for political engagement”.
“For a roof body, that would have been a great opportunity to go to press our state’s political leaders for a bit of ear time,” he said.
“I think there’s always been – for decades – unity in the community in terms of support for Israel. Daniel [Aghion] represents a community in which, according to Monash University, about 70 per cent would declare themselves as Zionists, so I think it’s a curious decision not to represent a majority of the community.”
Goldfarb said Premier Daniel Andrews has confirmed his attendance at the event, the Opposition would be there, as would most of Victoria’s MPs.
“I’m sure it will be a great night,” said Goldfarb, “together with the ZFA, we’ll represent the community’s strong and enduring connection with the State of Israel.”
ZFA president Jeremy Leibler said his organisation “is delighted” to co-host.
“Victoria is one of the strongest and proudest Zionist communities anywhere in the world,” he said, “and any Jewish organisation that seeks to credibly represent the Victorian Jewish community would do anything necessary to support this event.”
The event will be held at a CBD location on May 11.
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