A CLOUD of controversy hangs over the Jewish Community Council of Victoria (JCCV) after the roof body issued, then hastily withdrew, comments relating to the short-lived presidency of Dr Andre Oboler, who resigned as president last month after only five weeks in the post.
The JCCV’s comments were issued in a media release on December 24, responding to coverage of Oboler’s sudden resignation by The AJN, but were withdrawn several days later.
Amid these latest developments, Oboler – who became president at the JCCV AGM on November 16, succeeding Jennifer Huppert – brought forward his planned departure date from January 29 to December 28.
The JCCV initially announced Oboler’s resignation in a statement on December 22, stating he will take up a senior social policy role with the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) Computer Society to combat racism and antisemitism.
As reported on December 24 (in the December 25 edition), Oboler had told The AJN, “I’m aware that CSG [Community Security Group] were not very happy with my presidency … I’ve come in as a new broom … Part of the issues we’ve had I think is that perhaps not everyone’s ready for the change and maybe it’s going to take longer … And on behalf of the community, it’s critical that we get the governance on these things right.”
On December 24, the JCCV issued a statement in response to The AJN coverage, but in an email from the JCCV on December 27, The AJN and other recipients were advised the December 24 JCCV statement “was sent in error … Please ignore and disregard”.
The AJN understands Oboler had threatened to sue the JCCV for defamation.
On December 29, a follow-up media release announced that the JCCV “wishes to withdraw that [December 24] media release in full”, citing “some factual inaccuracies” and that it “unreservedly apologises” to Oboler for “any unintended hurt or distress”. It also retrospectively announced Oboler’s new earlier departure date of December 28.
Acting JCCV president Frank Greenstein stated, “We have met a number of times over recent weeks and the JCCV is now ready for this transition ahead of schedule so we were happy to accept Andre’s offer to bring it forward.”
Contacted by The AJN this week, Oboler confirmed he had begun his work at IEEE, and said, “The reason for the plan of me stepping down [as JCCV president] at the end of January was to enable a handover and we had a number of meetings, emails, etc., in the period since that first announcement and I’ve decided it was best to step back early, but we’ve done what handover we could and Frank is ready to take it forward.”