Julia Gillard’s Jerusalem address

June 23, 2009 by J-Wire
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Deputy Prime Minister Julia Gillard has addressed the inaugural Australia Israel Leadership Forum…J-Wire publishes the full text of her speech….



Deputy Prime Minister Julia Gillard

Thank you for that warm and generous welcome.

Erev Tov Haverim (Good evening friends)

Shalom, Salaam, G’Day!

I am delighted to be here, among so many people of goodwill, in such magnificent surroundings.

I am thrilled to be joining you for the beginning of a new and exciting shared venture: the Australia Israel Leadership Forum.

Let me acknowledge and thank our hosts, the Australia Israeli Cultural Exchange.  In particular, I want to acknowledge my friends Albert and Debbie Dadon and to recognise the vision, entrepreneurship and dedication that has made our gathering possible.

I would like to acknowledge my parliamentary colleagues Peter Costello, Mark Dreyfus, Michael Danby, George Brandis, Guy Barnett and Christopher Pyne and thank them for making the journey to be here.

Our Forum is part of a wider celebration of Israeli and Australian culture.
Both are founded on the strong, deep friendship that runs between our two countries.

When a vote was called in 1947 on United Nations General Assembly Resolution 181, to establish separate Jewish and Arab States, the Australian delegate was the first to vote.  The first to vote in favour of Israel’s right to full independent nationhood and its right to live securely within defined borders.

Our support has continued as strongly ever since, as Prime Minister Kevin Rudd make clear when he introduced the Parliamentary motion to celebrate the state of Israel’s 60th anniversary.  That motion was supported on both sides of the House.

Our friendship has blossomed in so many different ways.  It has been enriched by a constant flow of people.  Australia is proud to have the highest proportion of Holocaust survivors as part of its population of any nation beyond Israel.  The Australian Jewish community enhances and enlivens Australian life in myriad ways.  In science, the arts, law, business, philanthropy and education, their contribution is outstanding and ongoing.

That is part of what we are here to do.  To embrace the opportunity, across all those fields and more, for our two nations to exchange and share perspectives and experiences that may benefit us all.

Yesterday the delegation visited the Park of the Australian soldier at Beersheva.  It is a wonderful reminder of our shared history and one more part of the legacy of the late Richard Pratt.  It will serve as a place of pilgrimage for Australians and a reminder that the freedoms we enjoy today were hard-won.

Every nation has its own experience of struggle.

But some peoples have experienced suffering of a kind that does not bear any comparison.  Instead, we can only bear witness to it.  That is why our delegation, with humility, will visit Yad Vashem to pay our respects and reflect on the horror of the holocaust.

Where there is suffering, there is also courage and empathy.  We need those human qualities now, as much as we have ever done.

Because, like our forebears, we also live in difficult and dangerous times.

The events taking place in Iran are a source of worry for us all and a symbol of wider uncertainty about the future of this region.

In recent weeks we have seen important speeches by Prime Minister Netanyahu and by President Obama.

In recent days I have had the opportunity to meet with my counterpart in the United States, Vice President Joe Biden and with Deputy Secretary of State James Steinberg.  Just today I have met President Peres, Prime Minister Netanyahu and Defence Minister Barak.

On Thursday I will travel to Ramallah to meet Prime Minister
and the Palestinian Authority.

We know that nobody has a complete solution to offer.  But I know that the possibility of a solution will be strengthened by commitment to fresh engagement and open exploration of the way forward.

Our two nations were founded in the modern world, but both have living links to ancient cultures.

Both have been established and built in difficult, sometimes hostile, physical conditions.

Both have been called upon to fight to ensure the integrity of our borders and the security of our people.

Both have built strategic relationships which ensure influence and representation in the highest councils of the international community.

And both now confront the compelling challenges of global interdependence and risk.

This a world where a bomber can strike instantly at the most innocuous of targets, like a café or nightclub.

Where the flow of workers and migrants, so essential for economic vitality and enterprise, brings with it fear and controversy over security and identity.

A world where carbon pollution threatens our viability as nations.

A world where exclusion and humiliation breed despair and hatred.

Perhaps it is inevitable that there are moments when politics, domestic and international, turn ugly.  But the current events in Iran serve as a reminder.  A reminder that we count our democratic methods and cultures as a privilege that has not been won by people everywhere.  A reminder that we belittle them at our own peril.

I believe that each generation has a chance, indeed a responsibility, to remake the rules that govern how we live together.

As the world changes around us, our opportunity is to pursue that goal with more determination and ingenuity than ever before.

We have learned from Iraq and Afghanistan that democracy cannot be imposed by force, however strongly its proponents believe in its ideals.

Instead, the rule of law and the rights of conscience and free participation must emerge, guided and shaped by leadership, by exchange in all its forms and by institutions built to be fit for purpose.

That is why, for me, the true root of democratic freedom is conversation.

Without readiness to exchange our beliefs and experiences freely and fiercely, we cannot build the understanding we need for collaboration and compromise.

And while I have been privileged in recent days to speak with individuals who play a global role, we know that the choices and options available to leaders actually depend on a different kind of conversation.

A conversation that is happening in cafes and at school gates.  In churches, mosques and synagogues.  Around dinner tables.  In front of television screens and behind closed doors.  Between teachers and students.  And across the internet.

If the root of democracy is conversation, then the true root of friendship is honesty.

We should be honest about the difficulty of achieving a just and lasting settlement to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.  We should be honest about where we all fail to live up to our ideals.  We should be honest about how, despite its importance, politics is only one small part of what shapes our lives and our actions. We should be honest about what each of our nations still has to learn. And we should use honesty to make our exchanges and our differences more valuable and better appreciated.

So let us enjoy, in our Forum, the privilege of honest conversation.  Let us use it to face openly those things that are truly difficult.  Let us share in the riches of culture. And let us celebrate and learn from all those things that make our lives fulfilling and unique.

My hope is that, if we can combine honesty and conversation in sufficient measure, then from their meeting new and deeper trust will flow.

Thank you very much

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