Haifa Day centenary dinner in Melbourne 

October 8, 2018 by David Marlow
Read on for article

Eighty Jewish and Indian community leaders from across Victoria broke bread over dinner at the Jewish Community Council of Victoria (JCCV) Jewish – Indian Communities Dinner on Sunday night. 

David Marlow, Ambassador Mark Sofer and Sikh Interfaith Council Chair Jasbir Suropada Singh

The evening was held in honour of Haifa Day (actually 23 September), which commemorates the victory of three regiments of Indian cavalry over Ottoman Turkish troops in 1918.  This victory, following after the victory at Beersheba in late 2017, helped lay the foundation for the Balfour Declaration, the establishment of the British Mandate and the eventual foundation of the State of Israel.

Representatives at the event included Presidents and key leaders from the Bahaii community, the Sikh Interfaith Council of Victoria, Hindu community organisations, the Ethnic Communities Council of Victoria (ECCV), the Victorian Multicultural Commission (VMC), the Overseas Friends of BJP, Multicultural Arts Victoria and the Global Organisation of People of Indian Origin.

JCCV President Jennifer Huppert opened the evening and welcomed the representatives of many Indian community organisations, the VMC and Jewish community leaders, including representatives from Synagogues, Jewish Care, Jewish media, the Jewish Indian community and the JCCV.  Ms Huppert also welcomed the Shadow Minister for Multicultural Affairs Inga Peulich, and the various Liberal and Labor candidates for State parliament who attended.

VMC Commissioner and Deputy Chair of the ECCV, Dr Sundram Sivamalai spoke on behalf of the VMC and Victoria’s Indian communities.  Dr Sivamalai spoke about the importance and benefits of multiculturalism in Australia, and also highlighted the importance of Haifa Day to the Bahaii community.  At the time of the Battle of Haifa in 1918, the Ottoman Turkish leadership was threatening to behead the Bahaii leader in Haifa.

The keynote speaker for the evening was Israeli Ambassador to Australia Mark Sofer who spoke brilliantly about his four years as Israeli Ambassador to India, the wonderful relations that have been built up between Israel and India over the past 25 years and his understanding of Indian history and development. He described in fascinating detail, and with great wit, how the relationship had dramatically improved from a time where you could not even travel to Israel on an Indian passport in 1991, to the amazing relationship-cementing visit of Prime Minister Modi to Israel in 2017.  Mr Sofer stated that Israel had now become one of three most important countries to India, thanks to many common interests, common concerns over security & terrorism, and common values of family, community and education.  He said that the second biggest Israeli Embassy in the world after Washington was in India.  “All this started with Haifa.”

Ambassador Sofer explained the history of the Battle of Haifa and its importance in the eventual founding of Israel.  He thanked the Indian community for the enormous sacrifices made at the time, with 900 Indian troops of various faiths killed in the Battle of Haifa.

Speak Your Mind

Comments received without a full name will not be considered
Email addresses are NEVER published! All comments are moderated. J-Wire will publish considered comments by people who provide a real name and email address. Comments that are abusive, rude, defamatory or which contain offensive language will not be published

    Rules on posting comments