March 29, 2016 Agencies
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THE Australia-Israel relationship and Israel’s growing ties with Asia were among the topics addressed by Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council (AIJAC) Executive Director Dr Colin Rubenstein at the AIPAC conference in Washington, DC last week.

Dr Colin Rubenstein

Dr Colin Rubenstein

With 18,000 attendees, predominately from the United States, the conference held from March 20 to 22 was “organisationally a tour de force, with the themes emphasised throughout – the catastrophic possibilities of the much-criticised Iran nuclear deal, the need for resumed bilateral negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians rather than the wrong-headed efforts to impose a UN resolution, and the need for an adequate military aid package for Israel – exactly the right ones to stress”, Dr Rubenstein said.

“Having all the presidential candidates address those themes was also supremely important,” Rubenstein, who addressed three sessions, emphasised.

Among the sessions Rubenstein spoke at was a well-attended panel with Australia’s new Ambassador to the US, Joe Hockey, who spoke warmly of the relationship between Australia and Israel and of the Australian Jewish community’s important contribution to social harmony and cohesion.

Rubenstein also spoke on a panel focussing on “Israel and Asia”, together with Israel’s Deputy Director-General of Foreign Affairs Mark Sofer – who is responsible for Israel’s relations with Asia – and former Advisor on Asia to President George W Bush, Mike Green.

The wide-ranging discussion at the very popular session canvassed Israel’s strong presence throughout the region and the possibilities of growing political and diplomatic support from a dynamic and increasingly central region in global affairs.

Rubenstein said he was “very impressed that AIPAC is developing an Asian agenda, and was pleased to speak on the panel with my AIPAC colleagues to help promote their activities throughout that region”.

“The audience’s enthusiasm and thirst for understanding of the issues at stake was very encouraging,” he added.

It is the third successive year that an AIJAC representative has been invited to address the conference, with AIJAC’s Director of International and Community affairs, Jeremy Jones, having spoken in 2014 and 2015.

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