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Candidates uninvited – The Australian Jewish News



JEWISH community leaders have reiterated their dismay at Goldstein independent candidate Zoe Daniel’s refusal to remove her name from a public letter urging pro-Palestinian advocacy journalism in Australia, after a major shule in the electorate – incensed by her stance – withdrew Yom Ha’atzmaut invitations to candidates.

Blake Street Hebrew Congregation cancelled visits by Daniel and by Goldstein Liberal MP Tim Wilson to its celebration after the former ABC journalist refused to withdraw her signature from “Do Better on Palestine”. The public letter last year called for the right of journalists “to publicly and openly express personal solidarity with the Palestinian cause” and to avoid “the ‘both siderism’ that equates the victims of a military occupation with its instigators”.

Last month, Daniel told The AJN she would have framed the letter “very differently” but it would be a “cheat’s way out” to remove her signature. She added that she supports Israel and opposes BDS.

Blake Street president Andrew Davis said the shule’s event “has developed an unintended political aspect” and that “celebrating Israel was the sole focus and not the Australian election”.

Zionist Federation of Australia president Jeremy Leibler told The AJN, “If Zoe Daniel is serious about engaging with the Jewish community, she needs to formally withdraw her signature from that letter.”

While not commenting on the withdrawal of the invitations, Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council executive director Colin Rubenstein reiterated his strong urging for Daniel to withdraw her signature from the letter.

Contacted by The AJN this week, Daniel stated, “While I very much looked forward to celebrating this important day with the congregants … and did not seek to politicise the event, I understand and respect their decision. I have greatly enjoyed my many interactions – both formal and informal – with members of the Jewish community during this campaign, and look forward to meeting with the congregants of Blake Street Hebrew Congregation after the election.”

Wilson reflected, “I was disappointed Blake Street cancelled our participation, but it is understandable that with Ms Daniel’s ignorant and divisive framing of Israel as a ‘apartheid regime’ [in the ‘Do Better’ letter], some members felt uncomfortable with her participation. My focus will remain in supporting our Jewish community, including on Israel’s Independence Day.”

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