Australian reporters report on their trip to Israel

December 11, 2015 by J-Wire News Service
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Three senior Australian journalists and a prominent academic who visited Israel in November as part of the Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council’s Rambam study program have discussed their experiences in luncheon meetings with AIJAC supporters in Australia.

Dr Colin ubenstein, Sharri markson and

Dr Colin Rubenstein, Sharri Markson and James Campbell

Participants Sharri Markson, special features reporter for The Australian; James Campbell, state politics editor of the Melbourne Herald Sun; Aaron Patrick, deputy editor of the Australian Financial Review and Alan Dupont, Professor of International Security at the University of NSW and regular contributor to The Australian were accompanied by AIJAC liaison Anthony Orkin.
In Melbourne event, Markson related her first-hand account of televised incitement the group inadvertently viewed on a screen when they stopped for lunch at a shwarma shop in Bethlehem. She said that she found Israel to be an eye-opening experience as a journalist, but also discovered a deep emotional awakening inside her as an Australian Jew while visiting the Western Wall for the first time.
Campbell told the gathering that he especially enjoyed the wide range of views he was exposed to on the trip. He reflected that meetings arranged between the group and Palestinian Authority officials in Ramallah helped him better understand the Israeli, as well as the Palestinian, positions 
The Melbourne gathering also heard from Victorian Liberal State MLA Tim Smith, who had recently visited Israel separately as part of Assistant Minister for Innovation Wyatt Roy’s fact-finding AICC mission to help Australia learn from Israeli innovation experience. Smith told the forum that while he came into his visit already supportive of Israel, he had returned even more so after spending time in the country. 
Meanwhile, Patrick, like Dupont addressing a Rambam luncheon in Sydney, spoke of his visit to Yad Vashem as a moving and meaningful part of the trip. Dupont noted the number of significant biblical and historical sites encountered in Israel, also emphasising his interactions with young people the group met and spoke to. He highlighted Israel’s lack of strategic depth but also the bonds developing with much of the Arab Sunni world based on common concerns, particularly Iran’s quest for regional hegemony.
The AIJAC invited participants were joined in Israel by a delegation sponsored by the New South Wales Jewish Board of Deputies, which included David Lipson of Sky News, Bevan Shields from the Sydney Morning Herald and The Age, Ben English from the Daily Telegraph and Alexander Hart from Channel 7, and joined by Vic Alhadeff, CEO of the NSWJBD.

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