Taglit-Birthright Israel 370.
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)
SYDNEY – The Zionist Federation of Australia blasted as “totally
uninformed and mischievous” several claims in the media that Israel
programs serve as recruitment camps for the Mossad.
statement Wednesday, Zionist Federation of Australia President Philip
Chester wrote: “Contrary to the assertions of these commentators, these
programs are aimed at educating Jewish youth about their heritage and
about contemporary Israel, and have nothing to do with recruiting people
for intelligence organizations."
“Much rumor, innuendo and
speculation surround the death in custody of Ben Zygier,” Chester
continued. “The ZFA respects the Zygier family’s privacy as should the
media. It can only be hoped that they will be left to contend with their
loss without continued intrusion fueled by intense media interest and
A spokesperson for the Zionist movement in
Australia said the statement was not referring to any individual
article; rather it was a response to the “tenor” of the debate in the
Australian media since last week's explosive broadcast on an Australian
Broadcasting Corp. news program linking Prisoner X to Ben Zygier, a
Melbourne-born Zionist who graduated from Hashomer Hatzair youth
movement, made aliyah, was reportedly a Mossad agent and apparently
committed suicide in a maximum-security prison cell in December 2010.
Wakim, a founder of the Australian Arabic Council, writing in an online
political website on Wednesday, pointed to the free Birthright Israel
program as an example of the “indoctrination of Australian dual citizens
into Israeli identity.”
“At what point does loyalty to Israel become disloyalty to Australia?” he wrote.