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September 16, 2015 2:15 pm

Jewish Leaders Down Under Fondly Welcome Australia’s New Prime Minister

avatar by Ruthie Blum

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Newly appointed Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull. PHoto: Facebook.

Newly appointed Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull. Photo: Facebook.

With a mere 10 months to go before the next general election in Australia, Prime Minister Tony Abbott was replaced by fellow Liberal Party member and Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull through an internal vote on Saturday.

This makes Turnbull Australia’s 29th prime minister, the fourth in the last five years.

The 54-44 vote that ousted Abbott and ushered in Turnbull took place just in time for Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, causing the media to bring up old statements made by the new leader about his self-proclaimed Jewish roots.

Indeed, in a 2013 interview with The Australian Jewish News, Turnbull had commented, “My mother always used to say that her mother’s family was Jewish.”

Though Turnbull admitted to the paper that he had “never researched” this, nor would “know where or how [he] would do that,” the mention that his possible Jewishness hails from his mother and maternal grandmother constitutes a kind of (likely unwitting) signal to and among members of the tribe – whose religion is based on matriarchal lineage – that if there is truth to the claim, Turnbull would be considered a Jew by Jewish law.

What he did stress at the time was his appreciation for the “strong traditions of family and the whole heimishe [Yiddish for homey] atmosphere of the Jewish community, which I’m sure some people don’t like, [but] for me – as someone who is a good friend, but not part of it – I find very admirable.”

According to the AJN, Turnbull often uses common Yiddishisms, such as “chutzpah;” attends weekly Jewish events in Sydney; is a donor to and supporter of Jewish organizations; and is considered a personal friend by many Jewish community leaders.

One such leader is Isi Leibler, who served four terms as president of the Executive Council of Australian Jewry, from 1978 t0 1995. Leibler, a Jerusalemite since 1999, also chaired the World Jewish Congress governing board.

Speaking to The Algemeiner on Wednesday, Leibler recalled fondly Turnbull’s visiting him in Israel some years ago.

“I found him to be a tremendous friend to and ally of Israel. I have no doubt that he will strengthen Australia’s relationship with Israel – which is already strong, like that of Canada,” said Leibler, who already sent Turnbull a congratulatory letter.

Leibler also put in a good word for Abbott, whom he called “deeply emotionally supportive of Jews and Israel,” claiming that “members of the Jewish community will be sorry to see him go.”

But Turnbull, said Leibler, “is the most intelligent parliamentarian in the Australian House of Representatives. His pro-Israel stance, too, is both intelligent and sophisticated. He has an extraordinary track record of good relations with the Australian Jewish community and Israel.

“He also represents a constituency in New South Wales that has more Jews than any other constituency.”

Where Turnbull’s potential Jewish heritage is concerned, Leibler is dismissive.

“I hadn’t heard that about him. Nor is it the least bit relevant,” Leibler said. “The man himself and everything he stands for is based on liking Jews and Israel. That’s what’s important, as is his outspoken opposition to the Iran deal and radical Islam. Not so, Foreign Minister Julie Bishop, if she stays in her position under Turnbull; she has done strange things. She is committed to Israel, but has come out in favor of the Iran deal, for example, possibly swayed by [U.S. Secretary of State] John Kerry.”

Leibler concluded by saying that though Abbott was “likable,” he probably would not have won the next election.

Furthermore, he added, “Turnbull has the makings of a real leader – another John Howard plus.”

A similar, albeit more official, sentiment was expressed by the Executive Council of Australian Jewry, whose president, Robert Goot, and executive director, Peter Wertheim, released the following statement today:

The Executive Council of Australian Jewry, the elected representative body of the Australian Jewish community, conveys its heartiest congratulations to the Honorable Malcolm Turnbull MP, on his election to the position of Leader of the Liberal Party of Australia, and on being sworn in as the 29th Prime Minister of Australia.

Throughout his public life, Malcolm Turnbull has been a consistent and outspoken supporter of the Jewish community and Israel. Having represented, since 2004, the electorate of Wentworth which has the largest Jewish community in New South Wales, Malcolm Turnbull has been a regular and welcome visitor and speaker at Jewish community functions, generous with his time and deeply supportive of all aspects of Jewish communal life. He has a thorough understanding of the Jewish community and of Israel, which he visited in 2005, and an excellent relationship with the ECAJ.

We also extend warm congratulations to the Hon. Julie Bishop MP on being re-elected as Deputy Leader of the Liberal Party and continuing as Foreign Minister. We wish the Prime Minister, the Deputy Leader and their team every success in guiding our nation. May they be blessed with the wisdom, vision and courage to discern and do what is right and in Australia’s national interests in the decisions they make on behalf of the country.

We also congratulate the outgoing Prime Minister, the Hon. Tony Abbott MP on his term of office as head of the government and leader of the Liberal Party. Tony Abbott did much to strengthen the security of all Australians, an issue of paramount concern to our community. We also commend him for his unerring support for the State of Israel, particularly in times of war and conflict when its duty to defend its citizens was fiercely challenged, and in the face of disgraceful prejudice and discrimination in international forums, not least the United Nations.

The State of Israel has been blessed with many friends among international leaders, none of them more sincere than Mr Abbott. We wish Mr Abbott, his wife Margie and their three daughters, Bridget, Frances and Louise, all the very best for the future.

In a statement following his weekend victory, Turnbull stressed his commitment to his party’s worldview.

“Our values of free enterprise, of individual initiative, of freedom, this is what you need to be a successful agile economy in 2015,” he said. “What we have not succeeded in doing is translating those values into the policies and the ideas that will excite the Australian people and encourage them to believe and understand that we have a vision for their future.”

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  • jeremy

    Whether they like us or not I like Australians more than Brits by infinity and always had.

    I mean these are a people who spread salty bear yeast on their bread and call it delicious!!!!!!!!

    Aussies are the best and the USs best allie in the world.

    If they are one of the rare ones who also like Jews, they are like the perfect people to me, and more intuitively intelligent than i gave them credit for. Go tour there instead of leftst jew hating Spain.

    • jeremy


  • Sherlock Holmes

    I used to wonder how voter fraud was possible [in London] — until I saw the abuse of postal votes. Large Muslim families would apply for postal votes, and when the ballots arrived the patriarch filled in everyone’s ballots and posted them with no one else being allowed even to see their ballots!!

  • If Mr Turnbull is against the Iran ‘deal’ & extreme islam, he sounds fine. Whee does he stand on muslim immigration to Australia?

  • Linda Rivera

    How depressing. Mr. Turnbull, like most Western leaders lies about Islam. Islam is NOT a great religion!

    The Quran calls for forced conversions, kidnappings, rapes, gang rapes, crucifixions, beheadings and barbaric mass murders of non-Muslim innocents and the capturing of slaves and sex slaves.

    Muslims have barbarically murdered hundreds of millions of non-Muslim innocents and captured many millions of non-Muslims for slaves and sex slaves.

    We are all responsible before Almighty God to NOT lie – to NOT Bear False Witness.

    Malcolm Turnbull talks Muslim schools

  • Julian Clovelley

    This does not give a very accurate picture.

    The outgoing PM was intensely unpopular. He in fact seized power in the Australian Liberal Party by promoting a policy of Climate Change Denial. Abbott was responsible for dismantling the policies promoted by the previous Government dealing with Climate Change. In this he became a wrecker on the International stage, out of tune with his own countrymen

    In power he broke one promise after another and was occasionally videoed with quite strange behaviour. You’ll find these on the internet

    Turnbull is the man he defeated by one vote in the leadership ballot held while the party was in opposition. This was the Climate Change denial vote for Turnbull himself had been well prepared to work with the then Government on the polices. The party divided then – as it is now fifty/fifty

    Abbott has been seen as a wrecker with an intense Roman Catholic influence in his background, that seems very close to Opus Dei and often almost medieval. This wrecked Conservative Party is the 50/50 disunited Party Turnbull now leads. His main advantage is that the Opposition Leader Bill Shorten is seen by many in is own Party as a Conservative plant. He is not popular either in the Party or in the electorate. Labor will soon elect a new leader, one thinks, and then everything will have changed and its anyone’s guess

    There is little doubt that the Australian political mess will continue. For Jewish communities it will be more of the same – but that is good news. We look after our minorities here as best we can. We almost all have Jewish friends that we treasure to the point that we don’t notice any cultural difference. Long may it remain so, whoever rules in Canberra. May our Jewish friends always feel loved and treasured here (even if we don’t always agree with them – mostly over a few friendly beers or a meal in one of Australia’s many clubs)

    One last point – It is extremely common for Australians to have Jewish ancestry that has been forgotten. Turnbull is very common as an example. In the nineteenth century and twentieth century many assimilated. As in my wife’s family we come across them when we research the family trees. She found a famous Rabbi and founders of a synagogue in hers – and relations who are still well known in the practising and secular Jewish communities. A high percentage of Australians could claim obvious Jewish descent adding to the conviction in many of us that there really is no difference between as all, apart from a decreasingly important religious cultural clash and the evil of political shenanigans

  • Linda Rivera

    Our evil leaders welcome vast armies of barbaric Muslim invaders instead of repelling them!

    We are in urgent need of guns to defend ourselves from the violent Muslim invaders!

    ATTEND PEGIDA RALLY! Millions are needed to attend!
    Pegida UK /Reclaim Britain/Save England Now
    Saturday 19th SEPTEMBER at 5pm.
    Downing Street

    Hosted by PEGIDA UK, London Infidels, Save England Now, Save Britain Now.

  • Linda Rivera

    I, and many others in the anti-jihad movement are very distressed over the Turnbull victory. This man is EXTREMELY pro-Islam.

    How did he win the election? Was there massive voter fraud? The UK suffered massive voter fraud by the Muslims.

    Abbott was a strong leader. He turned the Muslim invader boats back. Everyone is worried that Turnbull will now WELCOME Muslim invader boats.

    Australia has huge numbers of hostile Muslims who make life extremely unpleasant and horrible for Australians.

    • Andrew

      Well Linda, when Tony said he was only going to allow minorities in and with emphasis on persecuted Christians, that upset those responsible for the current invasion of Europe. He was a thorn in their collective sides. On top of that, the stupid humanists/socialists are so brainwashed into being “politically correct” and being soooo nice they are unable to view the world situation without emotion, so they welcomed the loss of “bad Tony”. “Morons” is too kind a word for them. I’m thinking “epsilon sub-moron” is a more apt moniker, in line with the famous author. Menachem, sorry Malcolm is just another pawn for our downfall I’m afraid…

    • Have you ever wondered if Tony Abbott was axed because as the Jewish Lobby said:’He said the sufferings in the Middle East are worse than those in the Holocaust’? No one can touch that religion. So out he went and in comes Turnbull with his background.

      • jeremy

        ” No one can touch that religion. ”

        The most scarred people to ever exist, youre a bright one.

        56 country OIC has laws not allowing to the Jewish people to become citizens.

        You would be right if the ISlamic countries hadnt just bpought out every western university.