Media personalities report on a visit to Israel

November 27, 2018 by J-Wire Newsdesk
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Prominent journalists Michael Bachelard and Robert Harris recently returned from the Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council (AIJAC) Rambam study program to Israel and addressed an AIJAC function in Melbourne recently to discuss their impressions from the trip.

Dr. Colin Rubenstein, Michael Bachelard, Rob Harris, Joel Burnie

Bachelard,  currently Fairfax’s foreign editor and investigations editor at The Age who has won multiple awards for journalism including the Gold Walkley in 2017, thanked AIJAC for organising the study visit, which provided him with opportunities to meet with Israelis and Palestinians and hear their “strong views”.  In particular, Bachelard said he was struck by the remark of Tal Becker, Principal Legal Advisor at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, who has been involved in peace negotiations with the Palestinians, that both sides believed they were victims in this long-running conflict.  He also recalled travelling to the West Bank and speaking with Palestinian Authority officials as well as locals and said that experience had left him sadly pessimistic about the possibility for peace.

Rob Harris, currently the Herald Sun’s national political reporter, also expressed appreciation for a program that enabled him to learn more about the Middle East.  He mentioned that while he was there, southern Israel came under rocket attack from the Gaza Strip, and so when visiting Sderot near the Gaza border he found it understandable but confronting to see playgrounds made into bomb shelters to protect children. Similarly, while visiting Israel’s northern border, looking out onto Syria and Lebanon, he said he came to understand that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict must also be seen as part of a changing regional conflict, given the threats Israel faces from Hezbollah in Lebanon, Syria’s civil war and Iran’s regional activities. He also appreciated the opportunity to visit the ANZAC memorial in Beer Sheva, which pays tribute to the role of Australian soldiers during the First World War.

Other participants in this Rambam media group,accompanied by AIJAC’s Joel Burnie, included Andrew Holman, Editor at the Sunday Mail(Adelaide), Peter Kurti, Senior Research Fellow at the Centre of Independent Studies, Mark Mallabone, Chief of Staff at the West Australian, Renee Viellaris, National Political Editor at Brisbane’s  Courier Mail, Mark Ludlow, the Brisbane Bureau Chief and Queensland Political correspondent for the Australian Financial Review and Professor John Blaxland, Director of the ANU Southeast Asia Institute & Head at the Strategic and Defence Studies Centre.

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