Rabbi Raymond Apple, emeritus rabbi of the Great Synagogue, Sydney, today* made the following statement about the passing of former Australian Prime Minister Gough Whitlam:
“Living through the Whitlam era made Australians more politically conscious than most had ever been previously. Whether you loved Whitlam or abhorred him, you could never be indifferent to the man or his policies (and achievements).
“Though he upset many Jews by some critical and inappropriate remarks about Israel at the 25th anniversary celebration of the State of Israel, he was generally on good terms with Jewish and Israeli leaders and was mostly regarded as a friend of the Jewish community.
“In 1978 he almost stole the show outside the Great Synagogue when the crowd recognised him and cheered when he arrived for the centenary service of the historic Synagogue in Elizabeth Street. The arrival of John Howard, who was not yet prime minister, attracted far less attention.
“Of course Whitlam loved the acclaim!”
* 21 October, 2014.