Head of the General Delegation of Palestine to Australia visits Jewish centre

October 9, 2020 by J-Wire Newsdesk
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Izzat Abdulhadi, the head of the General Delegation of Palestine to Australia, has visited the ACT Jewish Community Centre on Friday, at the invitation of community rabbi Elhanan Miller.

Ambassador Abdulhadi and Rabbi Miller stand at the entrance to the new wing of the ACT Jewish Community Centre (credit: Robert Cussel/ACTJC)

Abdulhadi toured the community sukkah and the permanent display of Jewish artefacts and listened to an explanation on the traditions of Sukkot on Friday.

“Sukkot is a festival when special guests, known as ushpizin, are traditionally invited into our temporary homes,” rabbi Miller said. “During the time of the Temple, seventy bulls would be sacrificed during the seven days of sukkot, signifying the seventy nations of the world which are in need of our prayers and good wishes.”

Ambassador Abdulhadi accompanied by an embassy staffer examines the four species in the office of rabbi Miller at the ACTJC (photo credit: Elhanan Miller/ACTJC)

Born in Nablus in 1957, Abdulhadi has been serving in the Australian capital since 2006. Following the signing of the Oslo Peace Accords in 1993, he was among the founders of the Palestinian NGO Network and has been active in various civil society initiatives. He also serves as the General Secretary of the Council of Arab Ambassadors in Canberra, according to his embassy’s website.

ACTJC secretary Robert Cussel shows ambassador Abdulhadi the Passover Haggadah used by the Jewish community in Canberra (photo credit: Elhanan Miller/ACTJC)

Miller, a native of Jerusalem and former Arab affairs journalist for the Times of Israel, was appointed rabbi of the ACTJC at the beginning of this year. In recent months he has hosted ambassadors and heads of delegations at the Jewish Community Centre from countries such as Austria, India, Germany, Ireland and Italy.

“The only way forward for our peoples is through open dialogue,” Abdulhadi said, reflecting on the fact that he was the first Arab representative to visit the Centre in recent months. After touring the Centre, he noted that growing up he had no contact with Israeli Jews and little access to their cultural and religious heritage. Today, he added, he strives to build bridges with the Australian Jewish community, often briefing delegations from the Jewish Board of Deputies ahead of trips to Israel and the Palestinian Territories.

Robert Cussel, Honorary Secretary of the ACTJC Board and head of the local chapter of the Zionist Federation of Australia (ZFA), said he was pleased to have met with the Palestinian representative.

“The time we spent together provided a valuable opportunity to engage in conversation about our histories, hopes and dreams for a peaceful future,” Cussel said.

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