Blog: Isi Leibler loves multiculturalism. Except he also really hates it.
Isi Leiber on Australia: “There is a need to sit together and establish a way in which Australians can recapture that spirit of multiculturalism which I think we are all proud being part and parcel of.”
Isi Leibler on Israel: “Multiculturalism has no place in Israel.”
Isi Leiber is an internationally known Jewish leader and former chairman of the board of directors of the World Jewish Congress and the former leader of the Executive Council of Australian Jewry. He was major proponent of multiculturalism, open borders, and cultural Marxism in Australia. He moved to Israel in 1999 and still advocates multiculturalism for Australia while advocating nationalism and homogeneity in Israel at the same time.
In 2012 he wrote this article explicitly praising the decline of Australia homogeneity. He gloats that Australia is no longer “exclusively white and primarily of British origin.” Leiber praises the downfall of the “racist exclusionary” White Australia Policy.
However, Leiber is now living in Israel and showing shocking hypocrisy. He writes article for the Jerusalem Post about the horrors of multiculturalism in Israel. He recently wrote in the Jerusalem Post that “this is a country which was set up and created as a Jewish country for the Jews.” Leiber has also stated “multiculturalism has no place in Israel.”
Isi’s wife Naomi is the president of Emunah, a Jewish women’s organization. She says that “assimilation and intermarriage” are the “greatest threats to world Jewry.”
Australia’s Foreign Minister, Bob Carr, who will be visiting Israel this week, has a longstanding warm relationship with the Jewish community.
Carr boasts a distinguished political career, having served uninterruptedly for a record 10 years as premier of Australia’s most populous state, New South Wales, retiring in 2005. He was recently appointed foreign minister by Prime Minister Julia Gillard in March 2012.
Carr’s links with the Australian Jewish community date back many years. He was one of the founding members of Labor Friends of Israel and was also renowned for his support for the campaign for Soviet Jewry.
He is an admirer of left-wing Israeli writer Amos Oz and has on occasion been critical of various Israeli government policies, its settlement program in particular.
In 2003, he created a stir when he presented the Sydney Peace Prize to Hanan Ashrawi, the acerbic Palestinian critic of Israel. But notwithstanding this, Carr has been and unquestionably remains a genuine friend of Israel and the Jewish people and the government of Israel will undoubtedly treat him accordingly.
Australia’s positive relationship with Israel dates back to when Australian troops served in Palestine in the course of the two World Wars. To this day, veteran Israelis recount vignettes of the warm and uninhibited relationships with the Australians in stark contrast to the cold and frequently hostile British attitudes displayed throughout the mandatory period.
Since 1948, when Labor Party leader Dr. H. V. Evatt served as UN president, until today – with the solitary exception of prime minister Gough Whitlam, whose hostility against Israel during the Yom Kippur War is considered an aberration – successive governments on both sides of the political spectrum have consistently displayed friendship to Israel.
Australian governments also supported broader Jewish concerns. In 1962, Australia became the first country at the UN to raise the issue of Soviet state-sponsored anti-Semitism and called for the right of Jews to emigrate, with successive governments making significant global contributions towards ameliorating the plight of Soviet Jews.
The Australian Embassy in Moscow was regarded as a haven for refuseniks who they invited to receptions despite the tensions this created with the Soviet authorities.
The Australian government made major contributions to the global campaign to rescind the UN resolution bracketing Zionism with racism and also acted as intermediaries for Jewish leaders who sought to promote diplomatic relations between Israel and Asian countries.
Following the previous Liberal (conservative) government headed by John Howard, who emerged as Israel’s greatest champion amongst world statesmen, concerns that the new Labor government would distance itself from Israel proved to be totally unfounded.
In fact, aside from the small Green factions, Israel today enjoys genuine bipartisan support throughout the entire Australian parliament.
Until the late 1940s, Australia’s population was exclusively white and primarily of British origin. It was regarded as a backward colonial outpost notorious for its racist exclusionary White Australia Policy. Initially, there was considerable anti-Semitic based populist opposition to the entry of prewar Jewish refugees and postwar survivors.
Why should a country so geographically distant from the Middle East with a relatively small Jewish community (approximately 120,000), have adopted such a warm relationship with Jews and Israel? One of the principal factors was is that in the late 1940s, Australia underwent radical change. It scrapped the White Australia policy, rescinded its restrictive immigration policy and recruited migrants, initially from Europe but then extended to Asia, transforming itself into one the most open-minded multicultural countries in the world.
The genesis of the Jewish community dates back to the end of the 18th century when Jews were amongst the first convicts deported from England to Australia. It was a declining and rapidly assimilating community until the Second World War when it was reinvigorated by Jews fleeing Nazi persecution and survivors from the camps. Indeed, Australia’s Jewish community absorbed more Holocaust survivors proportionately than any other Jewish community, aside from Israel.
Jewish cultural and religious life developed dramatically. The immigrants created an extraordinary network of Jewish day schools ranging from Chabad to Reform and even Yiddishist, which catered for the majority of Jewish youngsters.
The “Lucky Country” was a special boon for Jewish immigrants, most of whom were penniless and shattered Holocaust survivors.
They worked hard and many prospered, with a notable number becoming the leading commercial and industrial giants in the nation.
Whilst a poor Jewish underclass still remains, on the equivalent of a Forbes rich list, Jewish former refugees comprise an extraordinarily high proportion of Australia’s most successful and wealthy businessmen. It is notable that in their public business profiles, many refer proudly to their Jewish and Zionist ties.
Since the 1980s, the Jewish community has been augmented by Russians and large numbers of South Africans, the latter financially independent and rapidly assuming important communal leadership roles.
Jews have also been appointed to prominent roles in public life. Gen. Sir John Monash was Australia’s military commander during World War I. Sir Isaac Isaacs and Sir Zelman Cowan – the latter an active Zionist – served as governors general.
Until the 1960s, most Jews were inclined to support the Labor Party because the conservatives were then perceived as aloof, hostile and even anti-Semitic. Today, they divide their support between both parties.
The large proportion of Holocaust survivors encouraged a strong communal Zionist orientation.
The leadership invested enormous efforts towards promoting the case for Israel at the political level, not hesitating to protest and confront governments they considered were displaying bias or double standards against Israel in conforming to global politically correct approaches.
Despite the geographical distance, the Australia- Israel Chamber of Commerce is undoubtedly the most popular and efficient Chamber in the country. This all-encompassing Jewish passion for Israel was the critical factor leading to the current bipartisan pro- Israel orientation of the mainstream political parties.
Jewish leaders were equally aggressive in fighting against anti-Semitism and all forms of discrimination. To the pride of the community, some assumed key roles in the broader area of human rights. For example, my brother Mark Leibler, a long-standing Zionist and Jewish leader, was last year appointed as co-chairman of the prestigious “Panel on Constitutional Recognition of Aboriginal Peoples.”
Needless to say, Australian Jewry today is confronted with similar challenges to other Diaspora communities. Assimilation and intermarriage whilst relatively low (25 percent), is growing. In addition, the cost of Jewish education is now prohibitive for all but the affluent and the vast majority of children in schools are subsidized by independent fundraising.
But Australian Jewry remains one of the strongest and probably most Zionist Jewish communities in the world. This is reflected in aliya statistics. There must be close to 15,000 Australian expatriates now living in Israel (10% of the entire community). They strengthen the ties with the Jewish state.
If Australian Jews represented the norm, the long-term survival prospects for Diaspora Jews would be much better than is the case.
Israel’s standing on the international arena would be much better if, in addition to Canada and the US, there were a few other governments displaying the same even-handedness as Australia.
Australia’s biggest-selling daily newspaper
September 27, 2000:
Multiculturalism not for Israel – Leibler
By John Masanauskas
Melbourne – Jewish leader Isi Leibler, a staunch defender of Australian multiculturalism, says the policy has no place in Israel.
“This is a country which was set up and created as a Jewish country for the Jews,” he told a Jerusalem newspaper.
Mr. Leibler has previously said that multiculturalism in Australia was something that “we are all proud being part and parcel of.”
The founder of Jetset Travel moved to Israel two years ago as chairman of the World Jewish Congress. He recently published an essay arguing that Zionism, or Jewish nationalism, was under threat in Israel by “post-Zionists”.
“A post-Zionist is someone who actually looks positively towards the end of the Jewish people in ethnocentric terms, as a national group, and no longer sees the Jewish people as one united people,” he told the Jerusalem Post.
Mr. Leibler said post-Zionists were pushing a universalist agenda in schools aimed at eliminating Jewish nationalism and creating a multicultural state.
But Mr. Leibler, 65, has the opposite view of multiculturalism in Australia.
During the Pauline Hanson debate in 1993, he warned that multiculturalism was under threat by extremists.
“There is a need to sit together and establish a way in which Australians can recapture that spirit of multiculturalism which I think we are all proud being part and parcel of, and which is really under threat,” Mr. Leibler said.
Sensitive to the despicable behavior by much of the world which denied haven to European Jews on the eve of the Holocaust, I react instinctively with compassion when I hear about the plight of refugees. I am personally sensitive to this issue, fortunate as an infant to have been provided with a haven in Australia on the very eve of World War II. Most of my family in Belgium was murdered by the Nazis during the Holocaust.
But despite this, I am astonished at what I consider to be the dangerous and irrational gut response from bleeding- heart rabbis, Jewish leaders and organizations blindly calling on governments to absorb en masse the so-called “Syrian refugees” and trivializing the Holocaust by comparing them to the Jews of Nazi Europe.
The principal reason to deplore this approach is that the overwhelming majority originate from Muslim countries other than Syria, and an estimated 70 percent are men of military age. Thus it is evident that the majority of this “refugee” population is not traditional families seeking sanctuary, but men seeking economic enhancement. Furthermore, over 95% of these “refugees” are Sunnis, whom IS claims to represent and, unlike the Jews during the Holocaust, do not face genocide.
Major European countries already harboring a substantial Muslim fundamentalist population will be further weakened by the new “refugees” who, whether Shi’ite or Sunni, all share a common contempt for democracy, Western values, Christianity and above all are pathologically anti-Semitic. It would also be delusional to imagine that these migrants will be more effectively integrated than their predecessors who seek to create parallel societies within their host countries. In the absence of adequate screening, the “refugees” will undoubtedly continue to include jihadis, especially taking account of the Islamic State (IS) boasts that it has embedded thousands of fighters in the exodus.
They will augment and strengthen the swelling Muslim enclaves – 50 million already living in Europe – which seek to impose Sharia law. Bernard Lewis, the renowned Islamic scholar, has predicted that unless drastic steps are taken to stem this movement, the high birth rates of the migrant population will irreversibly transform the entire demography of the region and bring about a Muslim majority by the end of the century.
Setting aside the broad threat to Western civilization in Europe, it will be the Jews who will initially bear the brunt of Islamic fundamentalist hatred.
It is therefore utterly ironic that at a time when Jewish institutions and schools in Europe require military protection and many Jews are leaving the continent because of escalating anti-Semitism, we find Jews worldwide at the vanguard promoting a migration movement comprising primarily the bitterest anti-Semitic elements.
Even more incredible is the almost universal inclination by Jewish leaders to make analogies between the status of the current Middle East refugees and Jews during the Holocaust.
Former British chief rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks was one of the first to make this analogy and his lead was taken up by a broad plethora of other American and global Jewish leaders and organizations ranging from the Washington Holocaust Museum to the Anti-Defamation League to the American Jewish Committee, as well as Reform, Conservative and Orthodox rabbinical groups. They all conveyed a central message: Jews, above all other groups, must support the entry of refugees because of the pain Jews underwent when anti-Semites denied them haven from the Nazis.
One of the most shocking recent remarks came from British Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis, a highly regarded and dedicated Jewish leader. The London Jewish Chronicle reports that Mirvis, together with four other United Synagogue rabbis, visited a refugee camp on the Macedonian border. The chief rabbi and his colleagues were warned not to inflame the prevailing hostility against Jews and to “dress down” when they entered the camp and put on baseball caps to hide their kippot. Yet Mirvis was apparently so moved by the plight of the inmates that he felt obliged to draw comparisons to “what as Jewish people we have seen before. …I’ve been thinking about bunkers in Auschwitz where there was a very different end.” Ironically, Sweden’s Deputy Prime Minister Asa Romson, after making a similar statement, apologized, stating that “it was wrong to make the comparison with Auschwitz.”
While reaching out and providing assistance to refugee families in distress is highly commendable, to make such analogies between these “refugees” and Jews facing Nazi genocide is abominable and trivializes the Holocaust.
Jews who obtained refuge from the Nazis integrated into their host societies and never sought to impose their Jewish values – in stark contrast to the tensions created in Europe over recent decades by Islamic immigrants seeking to impose Sharia law on their host societies.
In fact, the Jewish refugees and immigrants from Nazi persecution were all highly committed advocates for strengthening democracy and made major contributions to the economic and cultural enrichments of the countries that provided them haven.
Nor can one point to a single example of a second-generation Jew transformed into a terrorist by extremist rabbis as has been the case with many second-generation Muslims indoctrinated in European countries by extremist mullahs into becoming jihadis. The idea of Jews engaging in terrorism in Western countries is simply inconceivable.
Until the 1950s, Australia was a far cry from the country of today. It was racist, bigoted ,anti-Semitic and notorious for its White Australia policy. However by absorbing migrants from all corners of the world, Australia evolved into a unique multicultural society, open-minded, liberal and tolerant. Yet, today, determined not to follow the disastrous example of Europe which provided free rein to minorities opposing the central tenets of democracy and freedom, many Australians realize that multiculturalism can only succeed if the participants share a commitment to the open society. Today, despite growing anti-Semitism, the standing of the Jews is similar to the US and the influence of Muslim migrants is limited.
Australian Jews are proud that since the birth of Israel, with only one exception, consecutive Australian governments have remained strongly supportive. The links go back to Australian soldiers who served in Palestine in both world wars and developed warm relations with Jews in the Yishuv in 1940-41.
Australia has also been highly supportive of major Jewish global endeavors such as the struggle to free Soviet Jewry. As far back as 1962, it became the first country to raise the issue of Soviet anti-Semitism and the refusal to grant Jews the right to make aliya at the UN. Former refuseniks will recall that the Australian embassy in Moscow was highly forthcoming in extending whatever help and support possible and even held receptions for them. In my visits to the Soviet Union, successive Australian prime ministers, despite incurring the rage of the Soviet authorities, instructed the Moscow embassy to provide me with transportation and support in meeting refuseniks.
The government also played a major role in the struggle to rescind the UN resolution bracketing Zionism with racism and assisted Australian Jewish leaders in their efforts to help pave the way for diplomatic relations between Israel and both India and China.
MUCH OF the credit for this can be attributed to a united Jewish leadership which was never reticent in raising its voice to confront governments displaying bias against the Jewish state or conforming to the anti-Israeli stance of the international community. There was also a longstanding tradition by the Jewish community to facilitate visits to Israel for a wide cross-section of parliamentarians. Likewise, the Australia-Israel Chamber of Commerce emerged as possibly the most effective and successful of all the chambers of commerce.
The Australia-Israel relationship was strengthened during the 11 years of the Howard government. Over the past year, just prior to the overthrow of prime minister Rudd by his own party, there were concerns that the policy had tilted against Israel because the government was canvassing support for election to the UN Security Council. Following a meeting with the national Jewish leadership, the situation appeared to have been resolved but was never tested because shortly afterward, Gillard displaced Rudd.
It would seem that today bipartisan support for Israel will be maintained. However, there are concerns. Gillard is regarded as being evenhanded and friendly, but the Labor Party was obliged to forge an alliance with the Greens whose attitude toward Israel is highly antagonistic. However, most of her new cabinet is pro-Israel, as is the powerful opposition.
Of course, all is not rosy. The younger generation, like its global counterparts, lacks the passion of its forbears who lived during the Holocaust and witnessed the struggle to establish the State of Israel. The cost of day school education has risen considerably, with many parents unwilling to match the sacrifices of their parents to ensure a Jewish education for their children. The level of intermarriage, while low compared to the US and most European countries, is growing.
There is also a discernible change in the political climate. Australian trade unions, traditionally bastions of support for Israel, now even endorse anti-Israeli boycotts. The churches, many of which were previously hostile, have intensified their anti-Israeli approach. Anti-Israeli activity at universities is escalating and encouraged by a number of Jewish academics. Anti-Zionist Jewish splinter groups have emerged although in contrast to the US, they are totally marginalized from the mainstream.