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RSL criticises Phelps' Nazi comment -

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Reporter: David Mark

TONY EASTLEY: The National President of the RSL says sacking Dr Phelps would have to be a
consideration for the Special Minister of State.

The RSL's National President Major General Bill Crews says Dr Phelps has denigrated Colonel Mike
Kelly's service in Iraq, while the Jewish Board of Deputies has condemned the comments.

David Mark reports.

DAVID MARK: Dr Phelps' comments likening Mike Kelly's service in Iraq to the Nazi guards at the
Belsen Concentration Camp have drawn widespread criticism.

Major General Bill Crews is the National President of the RSL.

BILL CREWS: We object to anyone who in any way denigrates members who have served in the Australian
Defence Force, done what our government expects them to do and done it with honour and dignity. And
this was certainly the case with Mike Kelly and there is no, no reason at all that people should
question what his service involved.

I'm glad that Dr Phelps has seen fit to apologise for his remarks. They were certainly
unacceptable.

DAVID MARK: Is an apology good enough? Labor says it wants to know more about the circumstances of
his apology.

BILL CREWS: Well, what else can he reasonably do? I think he should have thought before he made the
remarks about the impact of his remarks, but having said that, an apology is about all he can
reasonably do at this stage.

DAVID MARK: Should he stand down? Should he be sacked?

BILL CREWS: Look, that's a judgement for others, not for us. Certainly that would have to be a
consideration for those for whom he works.

DAVID MARK: Ron Coxon is the National President of the Vietnam Veterans Association of Australia.

He says the comments by Dr Phelps were hurtful and absurd.

RON COXON: My immediate reaction was that it reminded me of the troops coming home from Vietnam and
the people of Australia that didn't want us up there sang out those sort of things from the
sidelines as the troops marched through cities when they came home.

And really I think Kelly's answer was exactly right. He was an Australian serviceman doing a job
that his government had sent him up there to do. And then for them to come back and be compared
with the other thing is just nonsense.

DAVID MARK: The Australian Jewish community has also been stung by Dr Phelps' comments.

Vic Alhadeff is the CEO of the New South Wales Jewish Board of Deputies.

VIC ALHADEFF: It was an unfortunate use of the terminology and we welcome the fact that he has
withdrawn his remarks.

DAVID MARK: Dr Phelps has apologised. Is that enough?

VIC ALHADEFF: We welcome the fact that he has withdrawn the remarks. Anything else is up to the
party.

TONY EASTLEY: Vic Alhadeff, the CEO of the New South Wales Jewish Board of Deputies, ending David
Mark's report.