OPEN LETTER TO PRIME MINISTER BENJAMIN NETANYAHU FROM JEREMY LEIBLER, PRESIDENT OF THE ZIONIST FEDERATION OF AUSTRALIA
Dear Prime Minister,
I write this letter with a heavy heart.
As the President of the Zionist Federation of Australia, an elected representative roof body of the Australian Jewish community, I am proud of the unshakeable bond between the Australian Jewish community and the State of Israel. This bond is further reflected in the strong friendship between the Australian Government and the State of Israel which the Australian Jewish Community has worked so hard to nurture over so many decades.
We are proud of the fact that Australian governments of all political persuasions have demonstrated moral leadership and defended and supported Israel on the international stage. Indeed, we were delighted to recently congratulate Prime Minister Scott Morrison for rightfully rejecting the politicisation of the International Criminal Court which seeks to investigate Israel for imagined war crimes yet ignore the intentional attacks on Israeli civilians by terrorist groups in Gaza and the West Bank.
When we met just a few months ago in Jerusalem together with former Prime Minister, the Hon John Howard AC and other high profile former Australian political leaders, you assured me that your government would do everything in its power to facilitate the extradition of Malka Leifer to Australia to face justice for the very serious crimes she is accused of committing.
You correctly pointed out that the matter is before the Israeli judicial system which, like the Australian judicial system, is independent of the Government.
Recent reports that you intend to recommend to Cabinet that Yaakov Litzman be appointed as Health Minister are a slap in the face to the Australian Jewish Community, the Australian people, the community of Australian olim in Israel and most shockingly to the survivors of Malka Leifer’s alleged abuse. As you know, the Israeli police has recommended that Litzman be indicted for bribery, fraud, witness tampering and breach of trust.
I vividly recall your words on your successful visit to Australia, the first for a sitting Israeli prime minister when you said that “Israel has no better friend than Australia and Australia has no better friend than Israel”.
Prime Minister, friendship must go both ways. The Australian Jewish Community is regarded as one of the strongest and most Zionist communities in the world. Israel is at the centre of our schools, synagogues, community centres and youth movements. Our aliya rate is amongst the highest in the western world and our community of olim living in Israel amongst the strongest supporters of the Zionist cause in Israel. Neither the Jewish community nor the Australian people, nor the community of Australian olim deserve to be treated this way.
Yaakov Litzman is entitled to the presumption of innocence. However, promoting him to Health Minister when such serious allegations have been made and are being investigated sends a terrible message to the Australian people and most importantly to the survivors of Malka Leifer’s alleged abuse.
On behalf of the Australian Jewish Community, I implore you to reconsider this appointment until the investigation into Yaakov Litzman has concluded.