Danby slams Hadassah, denies boycott call

Michael Danby. Photo: Peter Haskin

PEOPLE have told Hadassah they will not be attending its oration with Tim Costello next week in response to federal MP Michael Danby’s attack on the organisation for hosting the World Vision Australia CEO as a guest speaker.

Firing a volley of shots over the past month, Danby last week took out an advertisement in The AJN in which he noted the current charges against World Vision’s Gaza director Mohammed El Halabi for being “a secret member of Hamas and for diverting Australian foreign aid”.

“While this Hamas/World Vision trial is in process, it is disturbing that a local meeting is taking place to promote the contentious Hadassah/World Vision relationship,” he said.

Danby continued his attack in a 
two-page letter sent to his Melbourne Ports constituents.

“At a time when one of its senior managers stands accused of engineering and concealing – for years – a massive diversion of funds to the Hamas terror organisation that has cost Israeli lives, this is not the right moment for a local communal organisation to promote the interests of World Vision.

“Nor is it a time for public apologia concerning what World Vision has been doing in Gaza.”

And when speaking to The AJN this week, Danby personally attacked Costello. “I have called on the Reverend Tim Costello to stop whinging to Labor leaders about people who are critics of World Vision’s role,” he said. “Rather, he should address the issue of World Vision’s anti-Israel culture, as outlined by Rabbi  [James] Kennard last month”.

Writing in The AJN, Rabbi Kennard noted that while Costello is often critical of the Israeli government and the IDF, he is silent when it comes to terror attacks on Israelis.

“Again, I remind all Australians that the issue is of their [World Vision’s] unwitting involvement with Hamas, an organisation which is officially classified by the Australian Parliament as a terrorist organisation,” Danby said.

Hadassah board member Michael Krape told The AJN this week that people have interpreted Danby’s attacks as a call for a boycott of Wednesday’s function and that a number have now said they won’t be attending. “In almost every case it’s the result of what Michael has been saying,” Krape said.

Writing in this week’s AJN, Krape noted that Hadassah Australia invited Costello to deliver the oration in February, well before news of the Gaza accusations became public.

Amid claims he is encouraging members of the community to boycott the event, Danby told The AJN,  “I don’t support boycotts. I don’t support a boycott of World Vision’s meeting in Caulfield. As I said, ‘they are entitled in a free country like Australia to meet, whenever, and wherever they like’.

“It is also my responsibility representing a consensus of citizens concerned about the misuse of Australian taxpayers’ money, and I question the wisdom of holding such a meeting, and it’s unwise timing, just before the World Vision director in Gaza … faces his day in open court.”

JOSHUA LEVI