Rambam participants tell their story

December 10, 2018 by J-Wire Newsdesk
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Participants from two different groups of the Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council (AIJAC) Rambam study program to Israel and the Palestinian Territories have briefed an AIJAC luncheon in Sydney.

Monica Doumit

Monica Doumit, Deacon Namora Anderson and Father Sebastian Hew took part in the national clergy mission in May, while Jordon O’Reilly participated in the Student Leaders Mission in July.

At the meeting at the offices of K & L Gates, Doumit, the Director of Public Affairs and Engagement at the Catholic Archdiocese of Sydney and a writer for The Catholic Weekly, spoke about the spiritual nature of the land and her belief that the answer to the complexities bedevilling the region may lie in religion rather than politics. She was particularly struck by her visit to Ziv hospital in the North, where thousands of victims of the Syrian civil war have been treated by Israeli doctors.  

Deacon Anderson focused on the political aspects of the conflict, particularly after being exposed to Palestinian media incitement. He also reflected on the few moments residents of Sderot had to make it to their shelters when a rocket siren went off. He remarked on the size of Israel, noting it was smaller than his parish in regional NSW.

Father Hew also experienced surprise at the size of Israel, saying that being there had given him a greater understanding both of the reality of certain biblical passages as well as the powerful Jewish connection to the Holy Land. He spoke about his engagement with Judaism while he was completing his Doctorate in Physics at Cambridge University.

O’Reilly, the National Welfare Officer for the National Union of Students and a member of South Australia Young Labor, brought the perspective of a young person actually involved in Australian politics. He was surprised at the way his preconceptions were challenged, for example when meeting progressive members of Likud whose attitudes towards security had resulted in them being painted as “ultra right wing”.

AIJAC Executive Director Colin Rubenstein introduced the speakers, while AIJAC’s Director of International & Community Affairs Jeremy Jones closed the event by thanking all the participants and noting that their experiences and new insights would help make an important contribution to discussions over Israel-related issues in Australia.

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