IT IS ironic that Victoria's State Zionist Council has achieved that which the Australian Friends of Palestine could not (''Welcome mat pulled from Israeli academic'', The Age, 4/2).The AFP failed to win support for its proposed boycott of Israeli academics, artists and a female tennis player, but a few inflammatory remarks from the State Zionist Council has forced the cancellation of a visit by Israeli academic and former Knesset member, Naomi Chazan, hosted by the Union for Progressive Judaism.
This "victory" of being the first organisation to successfully impose a boycott of an Israeli academic - coming here to raise funds for Israel - ranks on par with its sister-organisation the Australia/ Israel and Jewish Affairs Council's May 2009 victory in preventing Jewish actor Miriam Margolyes providing free entertainment for elderly Jewish citizens because she had also performed in the critical play Seven Jewish Children.
The council says the reason for undermining Chazan's visit is that her New Israel Fund funded bodies that spoke to the UN's judge Richard Goldstone and his staff for its report on Israel. They clearly don't understand the dictum of not shooting the
David Langsam, Flemington
Now, it may not be good form to shoot the messenger but let's at least get our facts right.
Professor Chazan's visit has been postponed because of the controversy surrounding her position as President of the New Israel Fund. The Zionist Council of Victoria (formerly the State Zionist Council) was not responsible for her being invited in the first place. Jason Koutsoukis' Age article named her major promoter the Union for Progressive Judaism and, while the ZCV did withdraw its support for Chazan's visit, the reasons given for that were hardlyinflammatory remarks. The ZCV acted within its rights in wishing to disassociate itself from the visit of the person who headed a fund that was coming under strong scrutiny for funding groups that had against its interests by allegedly providing false information to the Goldstone Report and worse, for advocating the destruction of Israel as a Jewish State. Those who had donated to the NIF were entitled to an answer to questions that are being raised in Israel's Parliament - the Knesset.
In the meantime, the group that was bringing out Ms Chazan quite correctly felt that her visit at this time would affect it fundraising effort for Israeli causes. And I might add to that, "legitimate Israeli causes".
Langsam makes another blooper when he accused the Australia/ Israel and Jewish Affairs Council's May 2009 of "preventing Jewish actor Miriam Margolyes providing free entertainment for elderly Jewish citizens because she had also performed in the critical play Seven Jewish Children."
AIJAC did no such thing (see Set record straight). Ms. Margolyes' visit was cancelled by a Jewish social welfare organisation, Jewish Care, which did not wish to expose its elderly Jewish residents to Margoyles given her support for an openly anti-Semitic piece of gutter politics which sought to equate Israel's defence of her citizens with the activities of the Nazis.
However, it's much easier to attack organisations like ZCV and AIJAC than it is to attack a religious or communal social organisation. Either way, the community has seen through this sick piece of propaganda for what it is.
Own goal for Mr. Langsam.