A senior Israeli government minister has expressed concern over the views of the new Independent Australian Jewish Voices group on the same day that the group started to create headlines in Israel.
The group was profiled in a lengthy article in the Jerusalem Post on Thursday, the same day that incoming Diaspora Affairs Minister Itzhak Herzog spoke of his disappointment at the charter and public comments of the group.
“We definitely feel it’s unfair,” Herzog told a briefing with visiting Jewish journalists in Tel Aviv on Thursday. “We’re aware of the group, as we are of all activities in Australia that relate to Israel.”
The minister, who will shortly assume responsibility for all Diaspora affairs, said Israel was suffering at the hands of what he termed a “disturbing coalition of radicals, righteous liberals and sections of the media.
“These people try to hurt Israel in every way,” he said.
Israelis are particularly disappointed with the results of a recent BBC poll that placed the country alongside Iran and the United States as countries with the most negative images in the world, with Herzog admitting that Israel faces a “major challenge” to explain its case to the world.
Nevertheless, he spoke in glowing terms of the close bond between Israel and Australia.
“We have an incredible relationship with Australia in many areas, particularly trade and commerce,” he said.
“I am very pleased with the relationship with its government leaders, and I was also saw and was very pleased with the recent remarks made by [Federal Opposition Leader] Kevin Rudd about Israel.”
Last month, in his first appearance at a Jewish function since taking over as leader of the ALP, Rudd described himself as an “unapologetic and lifelong friend of Israel”.
Perhaps it would be advisable if Herzog focused on the reasons why Israel has become so internationally isolated (and anti-Semitism has virtually nothing to do with it.)