Errant ad turns Aussie farm into 'terrorist training base'

Farmer mistakenly listed on jobnik.co.il as offering jobs to Isaelis.

By
December 13, 2006 01:12
3 minute read.
Errant ad turns Aussie farm into 'terrorist training base'

Maccabi Australia 298.88. (photo credit: Courtesy)

 
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The past year has been tough for Jon Yaakov Gorr's farm. He hasn't gotten enough rain to nourish most of his crops, he has had to put animals down because he doesn't have enough feed, and his neighbors think he is running a terrorist training camp. More than a dozen strangers with Middle Eastern accents have shown up on the doorstep of Gorr's isolated home in Allenford on the southeastern coast of Australia. "We aren't really used to strangers here. It's what in America might be called a redneck area," said Gorr. "Then these people with funny clothes and barely any English show up and start asking around for 'the Jew.'" As Gorr is the only Jew in the county, the visitors are directed to his farm, where they promptly present themselves as Israelis, having traveled all this way for food, lodging and a bit of work. Gorr has discovered that his farm is being listed on the bulletin board of jobnik.co.il, a Web site that targets young Israelis looking for jobs overseas. Gorr's name and address, and even a colorful description of a job on his farm, are listed on the site. The problem is Gorr has never posted any such offerings. "I have no idea, really no idea, how they got my information or why they think I am looking for help on the farm," said Gorr. "These kids show up, having traveled thousands of miles, and having been told that I can offer them work. They get really angry and frustrated when I have to turn them away." The last time Gorr posted an advertisement looking for hired help was several years ago when he put up a handwritten sign on the door of a bakery in a Jewish neighborhood of Melbourne. "Some of the description of my place seems really similar to that ad," said Gorr. "But how would they get it? And that ad was years ago and specified that I only needed help for four weeks." Gorr said he had complained to the managers of the Jobnik Web site dozens of times, both by e-mail and by phone, requesting they remove the advertisement. At press time, it was still on the site. "Of course we update the Web site and take down jobs if they are no longer applicable," said a manager at the Jobnik site, who did not give his name. The manager appeared to remember Gorr's request that the advertisement be removed, but could not explain why it was still posted. He said the problem might be with a new server that the company was now using. "We are a free Web site and providing a service for people trying to find jobs abroad. We do our best to be accurate," the manager said. For Gorr, however, Jobnik has clearly not been accurate enough. Neighbors have grown suspicious of the steady stream of strangers to his farm and are starting to gossip about his "terrorist training camp." "It is a small town and mostly an uneducated area. In the summer when the [Hizbullah] war was going on they had no idea what side the Jews were on," said Gorr. "They didn't necessarily know that Jews were Israelis and Muslims were from Lebanon. They don't know much other than pubs or football." While Gorr said he doesn't try to hide the fact that he is a Jew, he doesn't advertise it about town, either. The constant stream of strangers, who have on occasion been rude to the locals, has created a rift between him and many of his neighbors. "What they [the Israelis] are doing is highly illegal. They show up here with no work papers and no English," said Gorr. "We are in the midst of a very serious drought out here... There is no water and therefore there is no work." Israelis can only work in Australia if they have an appropriate visa or are sponsored by a particular business. Farms cannot sponsor Israelis for work visas. Gorr said his problem was indicative of the larger issue of Israelis who show up in Australia looking for work. Many end up working illegally and are mistreated by employers, he said.

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