Australian groups cancel Chazan appearances


SYDNEY, Australia (JTA) — Former Israeli lawmaker Naomi Chazan’s visit to Australia was canceled following allegations that the organization she heads helped provide information for the Goldstone report.

Chazan, president of the New Israel Fund, was invited by the Union for Progressive Judaism — the Australian equivalent of the Reform movement  — to address fund-raisers next week for the United Israel Appeal in Melbourne and Sydney .

But her invitation was withdrawn this week following a maelstrom over allegations by the student organization Im Tirzu that NIF had disbursed more than $7 million to 16 NGOs that had provided 92 percent of the negative information contained in the controversial United Nations report on last winter’s Gaza war.

Dr. Danny Lamm, president of the Zionist Council of Victoria, which withdrew its decision to co-host Chazan at a function in Melbourne this weekend, told The Age newspaper that “Organizations that they have funded have done damage to Israel, and as a consequence we don’t want to have anything to with the New Israel Fund.”

Steve Denenberg of the Union for Progressive Judaism said that  “As soon it had become obvious that the focus of her visit would be diverted from the original purpose of raising funds for Israel, we had no choice but to mutually cancel the visit.”

The New Israel Fund’s CEO, Daniel Sokatch, slammed the “baseless allegations” of Im Tirzu, telling The Jerusalem Post that they were “the worst kind of vicious hate speech.”

“I’m very disappointed that the [UPJ] has decided to bow to extreme and unfounded right-wing accusations," Chazan said. "They are capitulating to ideas that are antithetical to the essential worldview of their movements.”

Chazan was a member of Knesset with the left-wing Meretz Party between 1992 and 2003.

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