SYDNEY (May. 8)
A storm of protest roiled New Zealand’s normally placid political waters last week, after a government agency invoked the U.N. General Assembly’s 1975 resolution equating Zionism with racism in connection with a grant to a local Zionist youth group.
Paradoxically, New Zealand voted against the U.N. resolution and is involved in efforts to get it rescinded.
But the Youth Committee of the Lottery Grants Board claims it was unaware of the government’s policy on the issue.
The Youth Committee granted $800 to Habonim-Dror, a Socialist Zionist youth group that had applied for help to purchase equipment for its summer camp.
But it wrote to the local Habonim leader, Tina Rose, that the committee “noted with concern your group’s association with the Zionist Federation.”
The letter quoted the 1975 resolution, which it said “determined that Zionism is a form of racism and racial discrimination.”
The committee warned that “future applications will be considered very carefully by the committee in light of the U.N. resolution.”
Blanche Weinstein, president of the New Zealand Zionist Federation, said Monday that she and her colleagues in the New Zealand Jewish Council have protested to Internal Affairs Minister Margaret Austin.
They asked for a retraction of the Youth Committee’s letter and an apology.
Weinstein called the letter “an affront, insulting and racist toward Jewish citizens of New Zealand because of their natural interest and commitment to the State of Israel.”
There are 4,000 Jews in New Zealand out of a population of over 3.2 million.
Austin, declaring publicly that the letter in no way reflects the policy of the Lottery Grants Board, has asked for a report on the incident.