Our Israel experience

October 8, 2015 by J-Wire News Service
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Members of the Australian parliament who recently participated in a Rambam study visit to Israel, have spoken of their experiences.

Jeremy Jones, Sharon Bird and

Terri Butler, Jeremy Jones, Sharon Bird and Russel Matheson

Sharon Bird, Shadow Minister for Vocational Education, Russell Matheson, the Member for Macarthur in Sydney’s Western suburbs and Labor’s Terri Butler, the Member for Griffith in South Brisbane provided their insights to AIJAC Rambam supporters in Sydney.

Sharon Bird represents the seat of Cunningham on the NSW South Coast. She spoke enthusiastically on Israel’s start-up culture and discussed in detail the participants’ encounters with everyday Israelis and understanding of the challenges they face.

“The uplifting and encouraging part was that people were profoundly determined to get on with their personal lives… I think that’s a testament to a people who have unfortunately had to do that too many times,” said Bird.

“The enormous creativity and innovation in Israel… the capacity to solve problems, the water issues, was astounding, to turn their ingenuity to supposedly insurmountable problems.”

“We’re trying to build innovation in Australia and you’ve got such a great model in Israel… I think you can learn a lot from the culture.”

Bird went on to speak about her interactions with Israeli culture, society and the overall impact of the visit.

“For me it was a very interesting opportunity… I really did want to go and experience the reality of Israel firsthand,” said Bird.

“To see a place you read about, seen movies made about, to actually be there was an astonishing experience.”

“It (Jerusalem) was an extraordinary experience and that’s why Tel Aviv was such a contrast, a very modern, thriving city… it spoke to me about the richness of the Israeli experience, its depth and breadth.”

“I left Australia a friend of Israel, I came back a stronger friend, Russell Matheson said. “I don’t understand why the world is leaving Israel hanging dry,” he added.​

Matheson said his visit to Beersheba was a highlight of the trip, commenting that the majority of the horses in the famous light horse infantry were trained at Menangle in the Macarthur area, which is in his electorate.

“We visited the ANZAC Park and the site of the charge of the Australian Light Horse. These were solemn moments to commemorate the sacrifices Australians made in Beersheba,” said Matheson.

He also noted that the small size of Israel and the proximity of its neighbours could only be truly appreciated following a visit to the country.

Terri Butler, who holds the seat formerly occupied by Kevin Rudd, stressed the emerging ties between the Asia Pacific and Israel, noting that the area “is seen as a market which has upsides for Israeli firms.”

“It was interesting as an Australian to see the economy in Israel, the start-ups… an assumed lack of natural resources has compelled Israel to seek to diversify its economy, both by encouraging innovation in agriculture, and in creating the conditions for a vibrant start-up ecosystem,” said Butler.

“These local challenges, grave as they are, form part of a much bigger picture. Israelis live with unrest in neighbouring and near states.  … we gained a greater understanding of the difficulty that Israel has trying to engage with the region while trying to protect Israelis,” she concluded.

The delegation visited Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Sderot and Beersheba in Israel’s south, Gush Etzion, Ramallah, Bethlehem and the border with Lebanon in Israel’s north. The government’s Hon Dr Peter Hendy MP and Labor’s Rob Mitchell MP and Senator Chris Ketter, accompanied by AIJAC’s Anthony Orkin also participated in the Rambam delegation to Israel, which took place from July 5th until July 9th.

Comments

One Response to “Our Israel experience”
  1. Leon Poddebsky says:

    Congratulations to the Rambam Project and AIJAC on their tireless dedication to the pursuit of means to achieve justice for Israel and the Jewish People, by enabling people to witness that the real Israel is very different from that which resides in the fevered minds of haters, political opportunists and ignoramuses.

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