JNF NSW Annual Dinner

September 11, 2017 by Roz Tarszisz
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High demand for tickets to JNF’s Annual Dinner meant a full house with over 850 guests gathered in Sydney in support of Sderot Park of Courage in Israel’s Negev.

Yoav Limor and Tamir Pardo         Photo: Giselle Haber

It was an evening to acknowledge heroes past and present including honouring the memory of the ANZAC forces in Israel as this year marks the centenary of the Australian Light Horse Battle of Beersheba.  A mounted light horseman in full uniform was on duty outside the venue.

Situated less than one kilometre from the Gaza Strip, Sderot has been a regular target of rocket and mortar attacks.  Residents continue to build for their future and the extensive park, with its walking trails and a lake, will provided a much needed haven for the inhabitants of the resilient border community.

Keynote Speaker, Tamir Pardo, Immediate Past Director of the Mossad, was interviewed by Israeli journalist Yoav Limor.  Naturally there were topics that could not be broached or disclosed.

During Pardo’s five year term he had to deal with many regional upheavals and received five Israel Security Wards for daring and ground breaking operations.  He surprised the audience by observing:

“Women are better warriors than men: they can multi-task at a high level” he said.

When asked if ISIS is over, the answer was an emphatic “no”.

Dave Sharma, Immediate Past Australian Ambassador to Israel introduced Guest Speaker Dan Shapiro was who US Ambassador to Israel from July 2011 until January this year.

Paying tribute to Australia’s involvement in Israel, he said the support from Australia will provide much needed green space for the citizens of Sderot. Touching on the similarities of the US and Australia’s commitment to support the State of Israel, he recalled living with his family for a semester in Jerusalem in 197 as a child. When the Yom Kippur war broke out his family stayed on and volunteered to help where they could and that childhood experience was transformative for him.

As an advisor to President Obama he was sent as to represent the US as Ambassador to Israel.  He is frequently asked about the relationship between his President and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and while admitting that like any relationship there were difficult times, their meetings were cordial, friendly and productive.  He emphasised that while there were disagreements there was always a core of mutual respect.

Netanyahu knew that he could call on the American President in a crisis and did so frequently. Even though the perspectives of each leader were different, the two men worked hard to reach common ground.

“The need for Israel to defend itself was never in question, and nor should it ever be in question”  he said.


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