Bye Bye Bibi

February 26, 2017 by Henry Benjamin
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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife Sara have left Australia following a five-day visit to Sydney.


Bishop and Benjamin Netanyahu                              Photo: Bobby + Fiona Photography

His last official meeting took place this morning when he met Australia’s Foreign Minister Julie Bishop.

Julie Bishop told J-Wire: “I had an extensive and wide-ranging discussion this morning with Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu.

We discussed the strength of our bilateral relationship, as well as security challenges in the Middle East and global counter terrorism efforts.”

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu explained the substantial dangers of the nuclear agreement and in Iran’s aggressive conduct in the region as well as in its support for terrorism and the continued development of its ballistic missile program. The Prime Minister also explained the difference between the concept of two states and the content and substance of two states.

It was agreed to upgrade security, intelligence, economic, cyber and technology relations.

Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and his wife Lucy hosted the Netanyahus for a Friday night at the Opera House after the Israeli leader’s visit to Manly. When an Israeli journalist asked him if he wanted to dive with the sharks, his whispered to him which he repeated aloud that there were plenty of sharks above the water in Israel! The Israeli prime minister took time out to greet and meet members of his family who live in Sydney.

During his incessant meetings with political and business leaders, Benjamin Netanyahu attended three events at which he addressed the Jewish community. Many people flew into Sydney from Perth, Melbourne and Brisbane  to attend a lunch hosted by Malcolm Turnbull and the Australian government at the International Convention Centre. The same evening, he addressed 2,000 guests at Central Synagogue.

On Thursday, both prime ministers received pop start adulation when they visited Jewish dayschool Moriah College.

J-Wire asked community leaders of their impressions of the visit.

From: Anton Block, president The Executive Council of Australian Jewry and its executive director Peter Wertheim

Anton Block

“The historic visit to Australia by Benjamin Netanyahu, the first by an incumbent Israeli Prime Minister, was of tremendous positive significance to the Australian Jewish community and to Australia as a whole.

Australia’s Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull, made a point of attending and speaking at every official and non-official function that was addressed by his Israeli counterpart, and of aligning Australia with Israel at every opportunity.   A highlight was Prime Minister Turnbull’s declaration that Australia would have voted against UN Security Council resolution 2334, and Prime Minister Netanyahu’s response praising the “down-to-earth Australians” for “puncturing UN hypocrisy”.

Despite the inordinate focus of some sections of the media on the conflict with the Palestinians and the settlements issue, it quickly became clear that the priorities of the two leaders and their respective governments lay elsewhere.  They discussed issues of vital concern to the national interests of both nations – intelligence sharing, counter-terrorism, thwarting Iran’s aggression, cyber-security, science, agri-tech, energy and resources and the environment.

The events organised by the Jewish community at Central Synagogue and at Moriah College, and the speeches made there by both Prime Ministers, were unforgettably moving and uplifting.  These events further galvanised the already-strong support for Israel among Australian Jews, and left an indelible impression on everyone who attended them.  Surveying the capacity audience at Central Synagogue, crammed with political and communal leaders and other dignitaries, Prime Minister Netanyahu was moved to begin his speech with a simple exclamation: “Wow!”.”

This best sums up his entire visit to Australia.  It was an outstanding success, and a great morale booster for the Jewish community and Israel’s many other friends in Australia.

From: Dr Colin Rubenstein, executive director of The Australia/Israel and Jewish Affairs Council:

Dr Colin Rubenstein

“AIJAC could not be more pleased and gratified with this wonderful visit celebrating 100 years of friendship and providing the foundation for expanded collaboration  between  the two  democracies ,Australia and  Israel ,for the next 100 years not only politically but across the board , particularly in the areas of innovation,trade and security.

Most heartening has been the very warm Australian welcome showered on Prime Minister Netanyahu  and his delegation , the profound  understanding of Middle East realities and support for Israel repeatedly expressed by Prime Minister Turnbull and his unequivocal stance in  repudiating one-sided attacks on Israel,deploring the delegitimisation of Israel in all its manifestations and the emerging consensus that Iran does indeed continue to represent an ongoing , serious threat to Israel and the broader Middle East.”

From: Dr Danny Lamm, president of the Zionist Federation of Australia

“This historic visit was outstanding and clearly a once in a lifetime experience. The warmth of Prime Minister Turnbull and others towards Bibi was just spectacular and his response and his engagement was first-rate. The media  devoted a lot of space to the visit indicating just how significant they, and the community, felt about the visit.

Dr Danny Lamm

The Zionist Federation was honoured to having taken a part in the planning for the visit and I was personally was honoured to have been only one of two local speakers to address the prime ministers at the Central Synagogue.

The participation of the community in this historic visit was stellar with tremendous level of interest and excitement and the feedback I received has shown the sense of togetherness in the community for the visit and the appreciation of everything was done to make people to participate.

The reputed excitement at Moriah College and the local visits that were conducted and the seeming accomplishment of many goals bringing Israel and Australia can only leave one with a tremendous sense of satisfaction for this coming together of our two independent, democratic and freedom-loving nations.

From Giora Friede:  President of Moriah College

The visit of Prime Minister Turnbull and Prime Minister Netanyahu to Moriah College this week was a historic, monumental event for both the Moriah family, the Jewish students attending from other Jewish Day schools and those from public schools served by the Board of Jewish Education.

Giora Friede

From the moment the Prime Ministers’ motorcade arrived at the Moriah Campus I became fully aware of  how lucky we are  to be living in a country like Australia that embraces our Jewish community. How lucky we are to have a PM like Malcolm Turnbull, a true friend to our Community and to Israel.  How lucky are we to have a Jewish State.. The State of Israel. How lucky and privileged we are to have the Israeli PM come and visit Australia for the first time in the history of Israel and visit  Moriah College, whose community   Australian  PM Turnbull calls his Mishpacha.

The Prime Ministers’ visit to Moriah College highlights the values that Moriah stands for – to make Jewish children proud of who they are and what they can achieve.  Moriah College, with our Modern Orthodox ethos at its core, teaches our children the history of our people, the laws and lessons of our Torah and how we can participate and excel as Jewish Australians contributing to both the Australian way of life and advocating for our Jewish State, the State of Israel.

Thursday’s visit to Moriah was especially gratifying for me as our Moriah Year 12 leaders along with Kesser Torah, Masada, Emanuel and Killara High, led the College in officially opening the event, welcoming each PM and then the closing the event with the emotional singing our National Anthems, accompanied by the Moriah Touring band, in the presence of both our Prime Ministers.

For me the highlight of the event was to see the warmth that exists between PM Turnbull, PM Netanyahu and their wives Lucy and Sara and how together they embraced our young primary students as they walked into the Railea Moss Auditorium.  The PM’s ignited the passion in our students who shone demonstrating  their love for their school, Australia and the State of Israel.

This event will go down as one of the greatest Moriah moments in the history of our College.

In conclusion, I want to thank our Prime Ministers Malcolm Turnbull and Benjamin Netanyahu  for coming to Moriah College to engage in a meaningful way with our students.  Toda Raba.

From Rabbi Levi Wolff, spiritual leader of the Central Synagogue:

Rabbi Levi Wolff

Both Prime Ministers are clearly gifted orators and each received a well-deserved, heartfelt standing ovation. Mr Turnbull spoke passionately about Australia’s absolute solidarity with Israel and marvelled at Israel’s extraordinary innovation and technological developments.

Following this, Mr. Netanyahu spoke on the miraculous survival of the Jewish people and emphasised that for his country, “there is no better friend for the State of Israel then in Australia.”

I was humbled and privileged to follow and echoed the Rebbe’s blessing to both Prime Ministers, referring to each as a bright candle, illuminating the world with strength, truth and peace.

Richard Balkin, the [resident of the Zionist Council of NSW added:  “Bibi’s visit was a huge ‘shot in the arm’ for the Sydney community and I hope that the excitement, enthusiasm and pride in the State of Israel generated will translate into a strengthened Jewish identity for the younger members of our community in particular.”

As he was preparing to fly out of Australia Bibi told reporters how much he liked Sydney’s “beautiful beaches”. He said: “I’d stay longer if I could.”

Bye Bye Bibi

Bye Bye Bibi                       Photo: Ben Apfelbaum


Ben Apfelbaum


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