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Peter Wertheim, President of the New South Wales Jewish Board of  Deputies and a Vice-President of the Executive Council of  Australian Jewry is scheduled to address the first meeting of the re- established Special Committee in the Matter of the Maccabiah Bridge Disaster, in the knesset, Jerusalem, Israel on Wednesday,  29 December 1999 at 11.00am.

Mr Wertheim has been invited by the Knesset Committee to address  matters concerning the aftermath of the Disaster from the Australian  perspective and will be available for interviews following his address.

For further information contact:

Roberta Fahn & Associates
Tel: 972 2 561 7258
Fax: 972 2 561 7437
Email: <>

Below is an Australian Perspective on the aftermath of the Disaster  in a letter dated December 23 1999 from  RON POLLAK - President Maccabi New South Wales - - An open letter to Mr Stuart Lustigman, Co-Chairman, Maccabi  International Sports Committee, and Vice President of Maccabi  Union GB (ex Chairman) in how to deal with the moral issues  regarding the Maccabi Bridge Disaster.

Dear Mr Lustigman

Thank you for responding to my article published recently in the  Australian Jewish News, entitled "We should not go to the next  Maccabiah." Let me take some excerpts from your letters - word for  word - to provide you with some insight into how to provide an  appropriate response when you feel in future the need to address  the issue of the Maccabiah Bridge Disaster.

When you feel like saying - "I have volumes of copy  correspondence, articles, minutes, reports and have watched hours  of video, in an endeavour to keep myself fully informed. I could not  possibly imagine how I would respond if it was Great Britain that was  on that bridge."

The correct response is - "I will definitely ask that the people  responsible step down from their roles until MWU's criminal, civil  and moral liability has been determined by the Courts and the  Knesset. I will seek justice. I will demand a meaningful act of  remorse. I will support the victims in any way possible. I certainly  will not celebrate a further joyous occasion with them until matters  have been cleared up. I will expect my friends in other countries to back me up."

When you feel like saying - "We need to move forward in the healing process."

The correct response is - "Healing can only begin once the source  of our problems has been eradicated."

When you feel like saying - "There are practical problems (in  delaying commitment to the Games) since the Games are barely 18  months away and for many Territorial (sic) Organisations the  Maccabiah is at the very core of their activities."

The correct response is - "I can appreciate first, that Maccabiah is  no less core to Australia. Second, delaying the commencement of  the Games by a year or two is not beyond the field of logic."

When you feel like saying - "(Holding the Games does) not show  disrespect to the Australian Community or those who have suffered."

The correct response is - "Who am I to judge how the victims feel?  If we have not taken the appropriate action we certainly cannot show  respect for the people who died, or for the feelings of their families,  or for the people who were injured. Who am I to judge, when I have  difficultly imagining how I would respond if it was Great Britain on  that bridge."

When you feel like saying - "Please do not think that the other  Maccabi Countries have not supported Australia. I know I am  speaking for many when I say how deeply we care about the  families of the victims as well as those who sustained injuries and  the great admiration we have for Sasha, a remarkable young lady.  How we would like to see her light the torch at the next Maccabiah."

The correct response is - "Our country will certainly back Maccabi  Australia as they put forward their resolutions to the Maccabi World  Union May Conference. We will call for the resignation of Ronnie  Bakalarz and Uzi Netanel so that the organization can be objectively  overhauled and reformed and for true moral responsibility to be  shown."

"Our deep care for the victims means we will not allow ourselves to  be accused of shallow words and shallower actions. We will not use  Sasha's name to back our case, as we do not know her and can  never sufficiently empathise with her pain. And while we picture her  returning to vigour we know "all will not be forgiven" merely by  having Sasha light the flame at the next Maccabiah."

When you feel like saying - "We too want maximum financial  compensation for those affected"

The correct response is - "The solution is not about money alone.  We care for justice, remorse and care for those injured.  Forgiveness cannot be bought!" 

When you feel like saying - "Whatever the reasons behind the call  for resignations....."

The correct response is - "We are listening. We understand the  reasons for the call for the resignations because if we didn't -  heaven help the Maccabi Organisation. We will show our moral  fibre and call for the resignations of Ronnie and Uzi. "No pain, no  gain.""

When you feel like saying - "No person(s) should ever be more  important than the Movement itself."

The correct response is - "We agree! Ronnie and Uzi must step  down until the end of all legal and Knesset proceedings. After all,  they are not more important than the Movement itself."

When you feel like saying - "The Games will take place, Australia  would be sorely missed if they decide to boycott them. We must do  what we can to prevent this situation and rather than by airing  opinions publicly we should endeavour to give peace a chance."

The correct response is - "Someone has to speak up for what is  right. Someone has got to point out what is fair. This is not a  problem, which some people believe it is, that is endemic in Israel  alone. This is an opportunity for Jewish athletes around the world to  show that sportsmanship extends beyond the playing field. If our  brothers and sisters in Australia feel the need for our help, we will  join them because we want to be judged according to "menchkite"."

"We will do all that's necessary to have Maccabi World Union  accept its responsibilities to the families and friends who entrusted  us with a duty of care."

Yours Sincerely,

Ron Pollak
President, Maccabi New South Wales

For further information contact:

Roberta Fahn & Associates
Tel: 972 2 561 7258
Fax: 972 2 561 7437
Email: <>


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