Lebanese, Arabs in Sydney Force Top Official to Resign over pro-Israel Remarks

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The Lebanese expat community in Sydney has played a role in forcing a top state government official to resign after he made controversial public comments in support of Israel's deadly assault on the Gaza Strip.

“The Lebanese and Arab expat communities in Sydney have managed to push Vic Alhadeff, a high-ranking government official, to resign, after he voiced support for Israel,” Lebanon's National News Agency reported.

Alhadeff, the chair of the New South Wales Community Relations Commission (CRC), had sent an email defending Israel's military offensive in Gaza, which has so far killed around 1,065 Palestinians and wounded at least 6,000 others.

The email sparked calls from Muslim and Arab groups that he be sacked, according to Guardian Australia.

Mike Baird, the premier of the New South Wales state, resisted those calls, leaving Alhadeff to decide whether he should step down.

"It is with considerable regret that I have decided to resign from my position as chair of the NSW Community Relations Commission," Alhadeff said in a statement on Sunday.

"I have chosen to do so in the interests of the CRC and its important work in fostering social harmony within our society."

The email, which was sent in Alhadeff's capacity as CEO of the NSW Jewish Board of Deputies, claimed Israel was operating with "care to avoid civilian casualties."

"Israel has made it clear that it is not interested in further escalation, but will do whatever is needed to defend its citizens," Alhadeff said in the email.

The email also included a "frequently asked questions" fact sheet from Israel's Ministry of Foreign Affairs about its offensive in Gaza.

Alhadeff now concedes the email "issued under my name inadvertently caused offense to some."

"This is greatly regretted," he said. "While this was unintended, and despite the backing of numerous community leaders who acknowledged my record of goodwill, the reaction from some has become a distraction to the work of the CRC and the role of the chair."

Baird's decision to back Alhadeff angered community groups, who pledged to boycott future government events.

That started with a Ramadan event hosted by Baird last week, which was shunned by groups including the Lebanese Muslim Association and the Australian Arabic Council.

In a joint statement to the NSW citizenship minister, Victor Dominello, representatives from a number of Arabic community groups said they had “grave concerns” and did not believe Alhadeff “is capable of exercising sound judgment on community relations.”

“We call on you as the minister responsible for his appointment to ask for Mr. Alhadeff’s resignation and to replace him with someone who is willing to set his or her own views to one side, so far as public statements are concerned, to ensure that the CRC and its role remain acceptable to the whole NSW community,” they said.

Writing in Guardian Australia, the former Victorian multicultural affairs commissioner Joseph Wakim said: "What message does his statement send to half a million Australian citizens of Arab ancestry, many with relatives cowering under beds in Gaza?"

According to its website, the government-affiliated New South Wales Community Relations Commission seeks to promote “multiculturalism, Australian citizenship, cultural diversity, community unity and harmony.”

Y.R.

Comments 17
Thumb chrisrushlau 27 July 2014, 18:40

Lebanese know better than even Israeli non-Jews that imperialism always acts through local proxies: traitors. Quislings.

Missing ArabDemocrat.com 27 July 2014, 19:40

What happened in Australia reflects good governance. An official made a statement offending certain people. These people protested and called for a boycott. That official, seeing a negative impact on the work of his department, resigned. One may disagree with his first action, it is difficult to disagree with the reaction of the Lebanese and Arab community and one must laud the resignation.

Default-user-icon arab invasion (Guest) 27 July 2014, 21:03

as always the arabs makes the most noise and are appeased out of fear....

Thumb nickjames 27 July 2014, 21:23

It's fine if Arabs protested, but it shouldn't be of any concern to the Lebanese. And who cares what he said, that is free speech. He didn't make any disparaging remarks, that's a violation of what would be his First Amendment rights in America (I guess they don't have any in Australia). "Oh this guy doesn't support Palestinians, he should resign." Really? Is that how these people still think?

Thumb nickjames 27 July 2014, 22:09

If what they're doing in Gaza is inhuman, why don't you guys shoot rockets at Israel? Oh that's right, you're helping a mass murderer who uses chemical weapons on his own people. "That was the terrorists" you say. No, it wasn't. Rebels don't have the access to chemical weapons, nor would they know how to use them. So shut the hell up with your inhuman aggression over Gaza.

Thumb nickjames 27 July 2014, 23:00

What about your above post? I answered it. See here you are deviating again. I stated a fact, that Assad is killing his own people with the assistance of your sectarian militia. And then you see come on you idiot Zionist. You're stupid Southern, you need to go to school. You need to take English Composition and learn the basics of arguing. Do that for me, please.

Missing bigjohn 27 July 2014, 23:01

Southern, I already replied to this idiot on the gaza article, he does not deserve a response by any Lebanese whether he is M8, M14, or an independent leftist like myself. He is a Zionist or a zionist paid collaborator.

Thumb nickjames 27 July 2014, 23:08

And no you didn't reply to me on the Gaza article. You have ADD (which I asked on the Gaza article).

Thumb nickjames 28 July 2014, 00:19

Hey sectarian, is it Monday or Tuesday you're celebrating Eid? Just wondering.

Thumb nickjames 27 July 2014, 22:59

Southern, speaking of "sectarian hates", isn't Hezbollah fighting in a war to fight the takfiri? It isn't the Lebanese Christians spewing their sectarian hates in other countries you ignorant Al-Manar mouthpiece. And yes when you don't respond to direct questions (like in the article about the US blacklisting Hezbollah), it means I did humiliate you. You're just a radical who defends a radical sectarian militias, and you deny it by calling other people sectarians.

Missing bigjohn 27 July 2014, 23:02

nickjames...gemael is now smart enough not to defend the Israeli enemy...

Thumb nickjames 27 July 2014, 23:07

What is that supposed to mean? He doesn't defend the Israeli enemy, as Lebanon is "in a state of war" with them as all of you say. All he said was that we should focus on the presidency and nothing else.

Default-user-icon Basem (Guest) 27 July 2014, 23:40

He was fired because he says the truth ? Chi bi arref wlo.....

Thumb kanaandian 28 July 2014, 10:58

aussies need to wake up and start reading middle eastern news...
or maybe one day aussies will be the ones fleeing australia like others have been forced to flee the middle east.

Default-user-icon UmmaGumma (Guest) 28 July 2014, 12:05

Naharnet: Please maintain accuracy of the Fact; True Journalism dictates to call a Spade a Spade.
The title should read: Muslims in Sydney Force Top Official to Resign over pro-Israel Remarks.
In fact Christian Lebanese supported Alhadeff's comments.

Thumb lozalucy 28 July 2014, 15:22

sad and disheartening, that such a distinguished leader had to leave his post, by stating the facts. This makes me question Australian Democracy and especially the political culture in NSW. Interestingly enough, that it was mainly expat communities that were offended, i.e. they are here temporarily on job postings, they are not even real Australians. I wouldn't be surprised if Mr Alhadeff received much more than calls for resignation... This Resignation should be the BIGGEST concern to the Australian Community, as anyone who doesn't support Israel is effectively supporting Hamas (i.e. Terrorist Organisation), therefore here we are more concerned with upsetting our sensitive Hamas Supporters instead of Condemning Terrorism and aligning Australian Media to start reporting the truth and not merely a pro-Palestinian Propaganda. I hope that Mr Alhadeff will be replaced with an equally if not more outspoken leader, who wouldn't be pushed to resign so easily.

Default-user-icon M. Yamout (Guest) 28 July 2014, 16:16

Ok the guy was an angel. Oh, he was full of good intention. But you see, he just thought, or believed that Israelis are being careful so no harm happens to the civilians. Well, if being careful caused a 1000 citizen killed I wonder what would be the damage if the Israeli army wasn't careful. Now he resigned that is good for him and everyone else. At least he was brave enough to do so. In our neck of the woods, we never resign regardless how many mistakes we make.
As for the reader who switched the channel and started talking about the Syrian regime, all is good but one thing: if Assad is gone are we looking for a better off situation? would we like to see fundamentalists in power? Do we need ISIS and other brutal factions as a replacement? I wonder about some of us who still talks as if it's really the People vs. the regime. Wake up… it started like that for a few weeks, then it was hell on everyone… and still is.