A Jewish-born mayor of a suburb near here has been censured by his own council after the release of a letter from 1992 in which he said he “wouldn’t work for Jewish clients.”
Mayor Neville Gruzman, who is a member of the Church of England, was booed and heckled at a recent meeting of the Woollahra Council as a result of the letter.
Jeffrey Hilton, a Jewish lawyer in Sydney who received the letter, said Gruzman had originally agreed to work for him because he has a non-Jewish wife, which, in Gruzman’s eyes, makes him a “better” Jew.
The council eventually decided, after a long and bitter debate, to give Gruzman one week “to show cause why he should not resign.”
Gruzman said his comments “were not made for any racist reason” but because he had difficulty in dealing with the “different ways of practicing” business that Jews use. He also said dealing with Jews could result in “aggravation.”
During the debate, the only Jewish member of the council, Julian Leeser, said Gruzman had made another anti-Jewish remark in an interview with a national television journalist.
Some council members defended Gruzman, saying that he was being attacked for political reasons.
The New South Wales Jewish Board of Deputies, which represents the jewish community in the area, has publicly criticized the mayor.
The head of the Orthodox Rabbinical Council of New South Wales, Rabbi Selwyn Franklin, had written to all the council members, arguing that “one who has expressed such views should not be entitled to hold public office in Australia.”
The council represents an area where a number of Jews reside and several synagogues exist.