Christopher Pyne opens new learning centre

June 12, 2015 by Henry Benjamin
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Federal Education Minister Christopher Pyne has opened the new Education Resource Centre at Sydney’s Jewish Museum which now has the capacity to increase the numbers participating in its courses by over 75%.

Professor Gus Lehrer, Christopher Pyne, Norman Seligman, Peter Coad and Peter Loewy      Photo: Henry Benjamin/J-Wire

Professor Gus Lehrer, Christopher Pyne, Norman Seligman, Peter Coad and Peter Loewy Photo: Henry Benjamin/J-Wire

Christopher Pyne, a member of the Australia-Israel Leadership Dialogue, told those attending that he had visited Israel five times and that on each occasion he had visited Yad Vashem in Jerusalem.

He said that he was aware of “the smallness of Israel” adding “any Australian who goes to Israel rather than reads about it is completely shocked about how small Israel is. It’s one thing to know it’s 14km  from side to the other at its narrowest part it’s quite another thing to see how small it is.”

Christopher Pyne and Gus Lehrer  Photo: Henry Benjamin/J-Wire

Christopher Pyne and Gus Lehrer Photo: Henry Benjamin/J-Wire

Pyne said: “Australians see a lot of themselves in the Israeli people – very resilient, very resourceful.” He made reference to “White Australia” in particular talking about “the small number of people who came here 200 years ago.” He said they created the nation which is now Australia and “they had had to look after each other”

Pyne continued: “When you are in Israel you can’t help but feel that everyone in the Jewish community in Israel looks after every other Jewish person in Israel. It is a remarkable achievement and reminds Australians of the kind of country we would like to be.”

Pyne said Australia’s foreign policy was “based on values”. He compared the policy with that of the USA, New Zealand, Canada, the UK and India. “They are democracies, they support freedom of the Press and the right to vote and Israel is a country like that in a sea of non-democratic countries that don’t have freedom of the Press or freedom of religion.”

Holocaust survivors   Photo: Henry Benjamin/J-Wire

Holocaust survivors Photo: Henry Benjamin/J-Wire

Christopher Pyne confessed: “I would rather be a woman in Israel than in almost any other country in the Middle East. I would rather be a gay person in Israel than in almost any other country in the Middle East…and yet Israel cops so much criticism. I think Australians see Israel as a country that has a values-based foreign policy and defence posture. And as a Western country we all have a responsibility to support each other.”

He said that “Israel has been described as being the canary in the calming of the West versus those who would seek to overthrow the West.”

 

Christopher Pyne   Photo: Henry Benjamin/J-Wire

Christopher Pyne Photo: Henry Benjamin/J-Wire

Speaking on the tragedy of the Shoah, Pyne said: “The Holocaust is the most graphic demonstration of Man’s hatefulness and inhumanity to Man in Western history. The longer history separates us from the Holocaust the more people will analyse and we can start to forget how vitally important it is not to forget.

We now have the Boycotts, Divestment and Sanctions. We’ve always have had the Holocaust deniers.

Soon we will we have people who will say the Jewish community has survived the Holocaust pretty well and start to belittle the incredible historical importance of  the Holocaust and for the Western world. Putting aside what we don’t know about other genocidal attempts in world history,  this was the most appalling display of an attempt at genocide in our history as a culture.  It is critically important that ministers and governments politicians,  journalists and others continue to go to Israel and to Yad Vashem to learn about the Holocaust and to remind ourselves what we’re fighting for in the struggles that we have against those who would seek to overthrow our way of life”

He concluded by saying that The Sydney Jewish Museum plays a critical role in educating everyone about the Holocaust, about history and how not to repeat it.

Peter Loewy   Photo: Henry Benjamin/J-Wire

Peter Loewy Photo: Henry Benjamin/J-Wire

He said: “This Education Resource Centre provides the opportunity for more people and all students to know about the Holocaust not necessarily Jewish students, the evils of the Holocaust  and the evil that Man can do to Man…and how vitally important it is for us to remember the words of Eli Wiesel “Never again”.

Norman Seligman  Photo: Henry Benjamin/J-Wire

Norman Seligman
Photo: Henry Benjamin/J-Wire

Others who spoke included the president of the SJM Gus Lehrer and Peter Loewy president of the NSW branch of Yad Vashem.

Gus Lehrer said that the museum has educated almost 20,000 school students and that “a similar number of adults had also visited the museum.” We focus and mutual understanding and personal responsibility. We teach the consequences of demonising the other, of persecuting scapegoats, of harbouring ancient grudges. We teach where the slippery slopes of bullying and victimisation can lead.”

Unveiling the plaque - Aviva Wolff, Christopher Pyne and Norman Seligman   Photo: Henry Benjamin/J-Wire

Unveiling the plaque – Aviva Wolff, Christopher Pyne and Norman Seligman Photo: Henry Benjamin/J-Wire

 

He said that Holocaust denial had become a particularly powerful weapon “in the arsenal of today’s anti-Semites” and is official policy within the Islamic Republic of Iran adding that one of the roles of the museum is to counter Holocaust-denial.

Lehrer thanked the National Bank of Australia, represented by Peter Coad, for their support in the development of the Centre.

He said that it was planned to expand the program from 20,000 students per year to 35,000.

Loewy announced that the SJM is the first museum in the world to receive the specially prepared learning software from Yad Vashem which had been available up to now only in Jerusalem and at Auschwitz. He said that it emphasises the importance that Yad Vashem places on its relationship with the Sydney Jewish Museum. He said that Yad Vashem call on all educators “from every corner of the world  to persevere in the constant battle for morality”. He said we must educate the next generation of leaders.

Museum CEO Norman Seligman chaired the event and told J-Wire: “The new centre has been designed to provide multi-functional facilities and can accommodate a small class of 40 in interchanging rooms with a maximum of 320 in the open function area.”

 

Comments

One Response to “Christopher Pyne opens new learning centre”
  1. Lynne Newington says:

    Politics is a dirty business, I would never make a good politician.

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