SYDNEY, Australia (JTA) — Members of an Australian trade union that accused Israel of “ethnic cleansing” joined Jewish officials at a Chanukah celebration.
A candlelighting ceremony Thursday at union headquarters in New South Wales included members of the Maritime Union of Australia. In March, the union’s Sydney branch endorsed a controversial advertisement in The Australian newspaper that accused Israel of “racism and ethnic cleaning.”
The ad, published on the day federal parliament passed a bipartisan motion congratulating Israel on its 60th anniversary, sparked a bitter spat within the union.
Paddy Crumlin, the union’s national secretary, blasted his Sydney branch at the time for selecting “an appalling choice of words.”
At Thursday’s event, representatives from the Jewish community and the union movement lit eight candles. Crumlin lit the first candle.
Vic Alhadeff, the CEO of the New South Wales Jewish Board of Deputies, led the event. He recalled a 2006 Passover seder with the union that had 150 guests.
"This celebration of Chanukah reinforced the important relationships which we forged two years ago," Alhadeff told JTA. "In both cases we emphasized the values which the Jewish and union communities share — freedom, human rights and justice for all.”