John Howard given a standing ovation at UIA function

March 26, 2017 by Toni Susskind
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Former prime minister was the keynote speaker at the Victorian UIA Gala dinner.

M.C. Esther Frenkiel  introduced the theme “Empowering OUR PEOPLE- Israel’s future!”

After introductions by Esther and Nathan Shafir, Mark Leibler introduced the key-note speaker John Howard.

John Howard addresses UIA

Giving the audience a brief overview of the ex-prime minister’s history, Leibler pointed out that not only did Howard serve in the House of Representatives for over 33 years, he was prime minister for 11 years making him the second longest-serving Prime Minister after Sir Robert Menzies.

He introduced Howard as “One of the best friends Israel has ever had in a National Leader” and a “Champion of the Jewish state.  Leibler told the 800 strong crowd that John Howard is held in such high regard in Israel, that the last time he visited in 2011, he was invited to meet with Prime Minister Netanyahu and other members of the Knesset, even though he was no longer a member of the Australian government.

Taking the stage to a standing ovation, the ex-Prime Minister discussed how the world political stage has altered dramatically in the last 12 months, pointing out Brexit and the US election of Donald Trump as two clear examples of a changing world. He then went on to say that although much has changed in the world, one thing has stayed the same and that is Israel’s “extraordinary tenacity and justified persistence, in defending her patch in the middle East and around the world.”

Mr Howard frequently mentioned his friendship with the Jewish Community in Australia and his admiration for Israel, focusing on how the state has been able to build an “identity,” and “persistently pursue a set of goals,” whilst “defending itself” against hostilities.

One example of hostile action against Israel was evidenced by the “quite shameful,” UN resolution 2334. Passed in December 2016, it concluded that Israeli settlements in “Palestinian territories since 1967, including East Jerusalem,” have “no legally validity” and that the “occupation,” is an “impediment” to the establishment of a Palestinian state.  Not only does he see the resolution by an international forum as having, “brought no credit to the United Nations,” Mr Howard believes that it was “a parting shot against the state of Israel by the outgoing Obama administration.”

“If the objectives are to get the Palestinians to the negotiating tables, then concessions should not be made without something given in return,” he explained. “Israel has a right to survive and defend itself” and that there needs to be “reciprocations” if “concessions are to be made to the Palestinians.”

Mr Howard also spoke about the Obama administrations negotiations with Iran, regarding its nuclear aspirations, as a “shameful deal and one that is a “existential threat to the state of Israel.”

Concluding on an optimistic note, Mr Howard believes that there can eventually be a successful peace process. However, he added as a caveat, there cannot be lasting peace, until there is an unconditional acceptance by “all of the Middle East” countries of “Israel and its boundaries.”

Eliezer (Moodi) Sandberg, the world chairman of Keren Hayesod-UIA,  talked about the legacy of UIA.

Israel is a country that “belongs to everybody,” and Keren Hayesod responds “to its needs.” A not for profit organisation, they constantly facilitate, assist and help assimilate new arrivals, particularly “Jews from places where their lives are in peril.” Between 1989-1999, over one million newcomers were absorbed into Israel, and none were left without jobs.

Believing that “we cannot make a successful legacy if you do not invest in the people,” Sandberg mentioned the UIA educational and supportive programs for children, “Youth Futures” and “Neta”.

Youth Futures is a program that provides children and youths at risk (ages 6-18) with comprehensive, tailored intervention and support, whilst Neta is an educational program that trains students in the use of modern technologies, such as computers and its applications. The Neta program is so well regarded, that a few years ago, the Israeli Intelligence division, the 8200, took an interest in the students in the year 11 and 12 program and now several of those graduates work there.

Speaking about the need to support UIA and create a stronger Israel, Sandberg finished with a story about his family surviving the Holocaust. The story served to highlight the need for a Jewish state and a place to Jews to be able to take refuge.

“We need to keep the gates of Jerusalem open, so the gates of Auschwitz can stay closed.”


2 Responses to “John Howard given a standing ovation at UIA function”
  1. Adrian Jackson says:

    If Iran use WMD’s on Israel they would destroy the Dome on the Rock were the prophet Mohammad ascended onto heaven according to Muslim tradition. I cant see that happening.

  2. Adrian Jackson says:

    Howard has a lot of luck when PM with huge taxes from the mining boom (not so much now).

    Howard was a war monger partly responsible for the invasion of Iraq based on fake intelligence and 14 years later millions of Iraqis have been killed, wounded or displaced. A bad dictatorship under Saddam, with good infrastructure and services, was better that the current chaos.

    Australia and Israel trade with the dictatorship in China without any problem.

    Also why would Iran use nuclear weapons, if they had them, against Israel when half the country and nearby peoples in other countries like Palestine, Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, Egypt or Turkey are Arab, Egyptian and Muslims?

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