Australian Zionist Leaders at the new Herzl Centre

June 29, 2012 by Ginette Searle
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The newly opened Herzl Education Centre in Jerusalem has hosted 20 Australian Zionist community leaders for an intensive and fascinating two day leadership conference.

Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon, Australia Ambassador Andrea Faulkner and ZFA President Philip Chester.

The Zionist Federation of Australia, together with the World Zionist Organisation, presented a smorgasbord of speakers on contemporary issues in Israel.

Highlights of the program included:


  • Exposition and exploration of issues of Religion and State.
  • Deputy Foreign Minister, Danny Ayalon discussing the strategic threats facing Israel.
  • A panel on Israel’s place in the media comprising Josef Federman  of the Associated Press and Gil Hoffman of the Jerusalem Post. The panelists and participants enjoyed a candid and refreshing discussion, “off the record” of course.
  • Mark Regev, PM Netanyahu’s spokesman and ex Australian, spoke on his perspective on media and government.
  • Talia Gorodess of the Reut Institute presented a fascinating analysis of the challenges and issues relating to Israeli communities in the diaspora.
  • An intimate forum with Rav Rafi Feuerstein was followed by a discussion on Zionist Leadership in our Generation presented by Academic and contemporary Zionist thinker Gil Troy.
  • Chair of Diaspora Activities of the WZO and conference host, Gusti Yehoshua Braverman, presented a challenge to Australian Zionist leadership in terms of engaging with Israelis in our community.


ZFA President Philip Chester, Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat and ZCV President Sam Tatarka.

Conference participants were joined on Monday evening by 150 Australian olim for a brilliant program which featured a panel of eminent Australian-Israelis – Isi Leibler, Tal Becker and DJ Schneeweiss – speaking on contemporary Israel issues as well as reflecting on their aliyah experience. Dinner on the balcony of the Herzl Centre was a vibrant and exciting series of reunions, as Aussies reconnected. The evening program included keynote addresses by Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat, and social protest organiser, Stav Shafir.

“The ZFA is committed to enhancing the Israel connection with Australia on every level” said ZFA President Philip Chester. “This seminar exposed our existing and emerging leaders to a brilliant program of speakers and engaged them in discussions on a range of contemporary issues facing Israel and Zionism today. The close cooperation and support from the Diaspora Activities Department of the World Zionist Organisation in the program underscores our strong relationship and further enhances our activities on the ground in Australia.”

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