Jerusalem Prize awarded to Victorian MPs

November 21, 2016 by Sarah Bendetsky
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The highly prestigious Jerusalem Prize has been awarded to MPs David Southwick and Marsha Thomson co-conveners of the Victorian Parliamentary Friends of Israel.

David Southwick MP and Marsha Thomson MP receiving the Jerusalem Prize in the presence of His Excellency, Israeli Ambassador, Shmuel Ben-Shmuel, ZFA’s President, Dr Danny Lamm, and Zionism Victoria’s President, Sharene Hambur. Photo: Peter Haskin

David Southwick MP and Marsha Thomson MP receiving the Jerusalem Prize in the presence of His Excellency, Israeli Ambassador, Shmuel Ben-Shmuel, ZFA’s President, Dr Danny Lamm, and Zionism Victoria’s President, Sharene Hambur. Photo: Peter Haskin

Over 300 people watched the presentation at Zionism Victoria’s Annual Assembly last week.

Held at Beth Weizmann Community Centre, the event brought together organisational members, supporters, politicians and friends.

The audience enjoyed a vibrant presentation of Zionism Victoria’s major achievements of the year and future developments in the area of educational, cultural and social activities connecting the Victorian Jewish and wider community with Israel including flagship events, celebrations and memorials, engagement with youth, Aliyah support and Israeli advocacy on community and political arena.

Sharene Hambur, Zionism Victoria’s President said, “In the 78 years that Zionism Victoria has existed, our primary goal of linking our community to Israel and sharing its story loudly and proudly has remained paramount.“

His Excellency, Israeli Ambassador, Shmuel Ben-Shmuel, congratulated the organisation on another successful year of operation and said, “The important work of Zionist Victoria and its partners results in creating strong ties between Australia and Israel. I believe that calling the Australian Jewish community a diaspora would be an understatement because of its profound support of Israel.”

During the presentation of the Jerusalem Prize, mention was made of Southwick and Thomson’s enduring dedication to Israel is outstanding. In 2006, they established the largest friendship group in the Victorian Parliament aiming to build bridges between Israel and the state of Victoria. Together with AIJAC Rambam Study Tours, they have taken State MPs on educational trips to Israel and organised numerous programs in Victoria ensuring that the voice of Israel continues to be heard.

Marsha Thomson thanked Zionism Victoria, the Zionist Federation of Australia and the World Zionist Organization for the award and reminded the audience of the importance of supporting Israel:

“We are living through times of unpredictability with the rise of anti-Semitism and extremism.  Today, when unfortunately, so many people affected by propaganda perceive Israel as a geological problem, it is the Parliamentary Friends of Israel’s goal to showcase Israel as a vibrant democracy.”

David Southwick echoed Marsha Thomson’s words and added “It is crucial that we continue to engage with the global community in showcasing Israel as the innovation and multicultural capital that it is, and have every one of us has advocate on behalf of Israel and our community to support Israel’s bright future, which is exactly what organisations like Zionism Victoria are known for.”

The Executive Director of Zionism Victoria, Jane Rapke, and Director of the Lamm Jewish Library of Australia (LJLA), Leonie Fleiszig, were farewelled after many years of excellence and genuine commitment. Under their inspirational leadership, the Beth Weizmann Community Centre and the LJLA, underwent significant changes and developed into a thriving community hub.

Jane Rapke thanked the audience and said, “I feel honoured and privileged for the opportunity to work for such an exceptional organisation and wish Zionism Victoria ongoing success in its vital role of supporting Israel. As a community, we will continue to embrace challenges and celebrate Israeli victories to deepen the connection between Israel and Australia.”

 

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