News and Events

The Ceasefire Has Come

An Israeli soldier walks at a staging ground near the border with the Gaza Strip, in southern Israel, May 20, 2021. (AP Photo/Maya Alleruzzo)

An Israeli soldier walks at a staging ground near the border with the Gaza Strip, in southern Israel, May 20, 2021. (AP Photo/Maya Alleruzzo)

As was noted in the Weekend Australian, “the ceasefire has come. The internationally designated terrorist group, Hamas, has stopped firing rockets and mortar shells at civilian targets in Israel. And the Israeli air force has stopped conducting raids on Hamas installations in the Gaza Strip that inevitably have killed civilians”. The death toll was bad enough, but there remains a “shocking toll of distress, trauma, injury, crippled and endangered infrastructure”.

While the moral responsibility for this latest conflict rests with the terrorist group Hamas, which was responsible for starting this particular engagement aimed at killing as many Israeli civilians as possible, most believe Israel had the right to defend itself.

Greg Sheridan claimed that the outcome for Hamas is that “given that it is indifferent to the cost endured by its own people, that it achieved a lot of its objectives. In significant ways it damaged Israel, enhanced its own position and critically, served the interests of the power to which it is loyal, Iran“.

For the Progressive Jewish community this may be hard to accept. Many people thought that Israel could have performed a lot better in relation to the issues which are said to have triggered the attack by Hamas and that the political mess in Israel did little to help the situation and left the country without proper stable leadership. Others believe that these issues were trivial in justifying such a loss of life.

Sadly for some in the Diaspora, they may be questioning their support for Zionism and Israel as the home for the Jewish people. For others, there is a belief that the sooner a two state solution is negotiated the better and finally for others there is a belief in the right of Israel to its ancient land and the annexation and/or purchase of Palestinian occupied property.

Where ever this sad state of affairs takes us, I believe we should be supporting policies which recognise the complexity of dealing both with a terrorist organisation in Gaza and the implications of the involvement of Iran. A simple black and white blame game will not suffice. Support for Zionism and Israel does not mean you cannot be critical, particularly of the government of Israel or the electoral system which has trouble delivering clear electoral outcomes and stable government.

For Progressive Jews I simply quote Rabbi Dick Hirsch, who recently spoke at the Connections conference over the weekend. In his book “For the Sake of Zion”, he wrote; “We are here and we are insiders, not outsiders. We need Israel and Israel needs us. Our presence strengthens Israel and it strengthens the Reform/Progressive Movement in the Diaspora”.

ARZA President, Helen Shardey

Helen Shardey
ARZA Australia President
UPJ Vice President

2021-05-26T18:01:17+10:00May 26th, 2021|News|

We Stand With Israel

Rockets seen fired from the Gaza strip, into Israel on May 12, 2021. Photo by Edi Israel/Flash90

Rockets seen fired from the Gaza strip, into Israel on May 12, 2021. Photo by Edi Israel/Flash90

ARZA Australia strongly supports the statements by the Zionist Federation of Australia in expressing its deep concern in relation to the rocket attacks on Israeli civilians and the unrest in Jerusalem. ARZA Australia also supports the ZFA position that Israel has the right and duty to protect its citizens.

ARZA also agrees with ZFA President Jeremy Leibler that “Each of the hundreds of Palestinian rockets fired from Gaza and aimed at Israeli civilians is a war crime” and that “Throwing paving stones at worshippers in the Western Wall plaza from the Temple Mount is indefensible”, as was the pre-emptive storing of stones and stun grenades in al-Aqsa Mosque – a clear desecration of a holy place.

Jeremy Leibler recognised the complexities surrounding the Sheikh Jarrah issue but also stated that the incitement by Hamas and the PA to violent attacks on Israeli citizens is completely unacceptable and should be called out for what it is – terrorism.

We, ARZA Australia, are at one with the ZFA in standing with Israel as it attempts to protect its citizens.

ARZA President, Helen Shardey

ARZA Australia President, Helen Shardey

2021-05-13T19:15:23+10:00May 13th, 2021|News|

Politics and Chaos

Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid and Yamina leader Naftali Bennett arrive at the President’s Residence this week (composite photo. photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)

Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid and Yamina leader Naftali Bennett arrive at the President’s Residence this week (composite photo. photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)

Just one week ago after Bibi failed to form a coalition to govern Israel, President Rivlin asked Yair Lapid to endeavour to form a coalition Unity government, presumably with the support of Naftali Bennett. Since then, Israel has deteriorated into chaos.

Israelis must have thought there was just a chance that a 5th election could be avoided and those with more moderate views hoped and prayed that it may be so.

But tensions have been gathering leading up to Yom Yerushalayim, with the threat of violence if religious youth conducted an Israeli Flag March through East Jerusalem and the Temple Mount. The subsequent cancelling of the march has not stopped the violence, Palestinian rockets from Gaza are raining down on Israeli cities and Israeli Muslims are desecrating synagogues in cities like Lod.

Sadly the political outcome of the Arab protests and violence seems to be that the Arab parties have been unable to control the anger of young Palestinians and have pulled back from negotiating a Unity Government with the anti-Bibi block. In the meantime Bibi himself seems unwilling to find a solution. There is conjecture that the chaos suits his political ambitions.

All this came during the tragedy at Mount Meron with loss of life and fears that with proper planning it could have been avoided. But will there be an investigation or will fear of offending the Ultra-Orthodox stand in the way?

As we always endeavour to be optimistic and look for light out of the darkness, I bring you a beautiful medley of Israeli music and songs about Jerusalem.

Hakol Yachasi Ensemble Jerusalem | ORNIR Productions

ARZA President, Helen Shardey

ARZA Australia President, Helen Shardey

2021-05-12T18:18:38+10:00May 12th, 2021|News|
Go to Top