Leibler, Isi Joseph

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LEIBLER, ISI JOSEPH (1934– ), Australian businessman and communal leader. Born in Antwerp, Belgium, Isi Leibler came to Melbourne, Australia, with his family in 1939. After managing his family's diamond business, in 1965 Leibler founded Jetset Tours, which he developed into the largest travel agency in Australia. It is credited with breaking the near-monopoly on overseas flights previously enjoyed by Qantas, Australia's state-owned airline. From the mid-1970s until he immigrated to Israel in 1998, Leibler was unquestionably the most important and dominant lay leader in the Australian Jewish community, serving as president of the Executive Council of Australian Jewry in 1978–80, 1982–85, 1987–89, and 1992–95. A highly articulate and charismatic figure, Leibler was especially influential during the premierships of Malcolm Fraser (1975–83) and Bob Hawke (1983–91), and was significant in maintaining Australia's strong pro-Israel stance at the UN and other bodies. Leibler was also well known for his work on behalf of Soviet Jewry, entailing many trips to the Soviet Union on behalf of the "refuseniks." Leibler officially opened the Solomon Mykhoels Center in Moscow in 1987, the first free Jewish institution in Russia since the 1920s. In 1998 he moved to Jerusalem, where, as chairman of the Governing Board of the *World Jewish Congress, he became involved in a number of high-profile disputes with Edgar *Bronfman, its president. In Australia, Leibler built up one of the largest private libraries of Judaica in the world, and was the author of many works on Jewish affairs, including Soviet Jewry and Human Rights (1963) and Jewish Religious Extremism: A Threat to the Futureof the Jewish People (1991). A leading member of the Mizrachi movement, Leibler was the son-in-law of Rabbi Israel *Porush. Leibler's brother mark leibler (1942– ), a prominent solicitor in Melbourne, was the leader of the Zionist movement in Australia in the 1980s and 1990s and was in part responsible for a resolution, passed by the Australian parliament, demanding the revocation of the un's "Zionism is racism" declaration of 1975, which was influential in the repeal of the resolution by the United Nations in 1991.


W.D. Rubinstein, Australia, i, index.

[William D. Rubinstein (2nd ed.)]