Sydney Jewish leader resigns government post over Gaza conflict

Marcy Oster

SYDNEY, Australia (JTA) – A senior Jewish leader in Sydney resigned from a high-profile government post amid a furor over the Gaza conflict.

Vic Alhadeff, the chief executive of the New South Wales Jewish Board of Deputies, stood down on Sunday as the part-time chair of the NSW Community Relations Commission just two weeks after an email he sent accusing Hamas of “war crimes” triggered outrage among Arab and Muslim organizations.

Beth Shalom Cemetery ad

“It is with considerable regret that I have decided to resign from my position as chair of the NSW Community Relations Commission,” Alhadeff said in a statement issued Sunday. “I have chosen to do so in the interests of the CRC and its important work in fostering social harmony within our society.”

Alhadeff, a former Sydney editor of the Australian Jewish News, was backed with “full confidence” by NSW Premier Mike Baird.

But some Arab groups boycotted an iftar celebration marking Ramadan at Parliament House in Sydney last Thursday night over the email controversy.

Titled “Israel under fire” and sent in his capacity as chief executive of the NSW Jewish Board of Deputies, Alhadeff’s email earlier this month claimed Israel was operating with “care to avoid civilian casualties” but made no reference to Palestinian fatalities.

“Israel has made it clear that it is not interested in further escalation, but will do whatever is needed to defend its citizens,” Alhadeff wrote to members of the Jewish community. “All options are on the table.”

In resigning on Sunday, Alhadeff conceded his email “inadvertently caused offense to some.”

“This is greatly regretted,” he added. “While this was unintended, and despite the backing of numerous community leaders who acknowledged my record of goodwill, the reaction from some has become a distraction to the work of the CRC and the role of the chair.”

Click here to sign up for breaking news alerts on the Gaza crisis and other Jewish news from around the globe.