The Australian Jewish community is caught in the middle of a political tug of war.
The president of the Executive Council of Australian Jewry, Grahame Leonard, will travel to Canberra this week in a bid to mollify senior Labor Party officials who sources said went “absolutely ballistic” after a leak from a Jewish community leader enabled the ruling Liberal Party to trump its political rival with a funding pledge on Jewish security.
Executive Council President-elect Robert Goot tipped off the Liberal Party last month about Labor’s planned Jewish security pledge, enabling Environment Minister Malcolm Turnbull, whose seat in Sydney’s east has the largest Jewish electorate in the country, to unveil a government pledge to allow donations for Jewish security to become tax deductible. Hours later Labor pledged $16.8 million over four years for Jewish security.
This latest skirmish comes on the heels of an allegation by Labor Party officials that the Jewish community has been actively bidding for the Liberal Party.
The controversy is exacerbated by the likelihood of a federal election in November, which has yet to be called by Prime Minister John Howard, whose support for Israel has led most Jewish leaders to describe his 11-year reign as a “golden age” for the Jews.