Melbourne’s UIA Gala Dinner 2018

March 27, 2018 by Toni Susskind
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The 2018 Victorian UIA Gala dinner was this year held at the Crown Casino Paladium and M.C.’d by President Haley Southwick.

Dennis Prager

After her brief overview about UIA and all the positive work it has done for the Jewish community, she introduced Mark Sofer, the Israeli Ambassador to Australia. Sofer gave a speech about the importance of solidarity and the fact that Australia is a community that not only supports Israel, it is a community that frequently shows its love of Israel. He finished on a positive note, mentioning the importance of supporting Israel and reminding the full auditorium that next week is Pesach, when we remember how our enemies tried to destroy us, but we have and will always triumph. Other civilizations have come and gone, but we persevere due to our unity of strength and purpose.

Following the speech was sand and light stories from Sheli Ben-Nun and a short video about UIA. The video highlighted how the organisation has rescued more than 3 million people, bringing them to Israel to start a new life. It also mentioned Youth Futures, a UIA initiative program that provides children and youths at risk (ages 6-18) with comprehensive, tailored intervention and support

After the main course, the audience was addressed by the key note speaker Dennis Prager. A best selling author, columnist and nationally syndicated radio talk show host based in Los Angeles. Praeger discussed “why?” Why “is Israel so isolated amongst the nations of the world.” Why is Israel the only country in the world that is targeted for annihilation. People may hate their neighbours, but no-one is targeted for annihilation. Equating this to a “type of bigotry,” Prager said that Anti-Zionism is the same as Anti Semitism. Using the oxymoron that you may claim to love Italians, but do not believe they have a right to exist, he explained that you cannot be both. You cannot love a people who you do not believe should exist. Using another example, he explained that Pakistan was created around the time Israel was established. It was founded on extreme violence and bloodshed, yet no-one asks whether Pakistan has a right to exist. In a similar manner, Israel is the only Jewish country that exists, so targeting Israel is targeting the Jewish people. “If you think Israel is the only country that does not have a right to exist and it is the only Jewish state, then we need to put two and two together.”

Mark Sofer

The world, American Universities and the United Nations have spent more time on condemning Israel than any other country in the world. It is smaller than El Salvador and made up of 6 -7 million people as opposed to a world wide population of approximately 7 billion, yet it is still perceived as the biggest issue. Only recently Oxford University ran a debate on whether Hamas or Israel is the biggest obstacle to peace. Regardless of facts that Israel is a free state whose hospitals heal people of any nationality and sends them back to their country, whilst the Hamas are a police state who do not care about building hospitals or schools, but rather building tunnels with the sole purpose of destruction, the voting was against Israel 150 – 250.

Prager explained that he debated against the head of Jewish studies, an Israeli who was unable to understand the “moral distinction between Israelis and Palestinians.”

Prager also pondered the question, “why is it that in every generation someone rises up and attempts to exterminate us, like in the Haggadah?” How do you explain this? The author and talk show host believes that the Jewish people are like the Canaries in the mine. When there are noxious fumes, the Canary is the first to die, but never the last. Noxious fumes may begin with the Jews, but never stops with them.” Hilter wanted to exterminate all the Jews, but he also killed 50 million non-Jews. Prager believes that the “only possible explanation” for this behaviour is due to God and his relationship with the Jewish people. The Jews represent “something transcendent in the world, something that the world would like to extinguish.”

In the Torah god said to Abraham, “I will bless those who bless you and I will curse those who curse you.”  The “Germans suffered for cursing the Jews” and Spain was thriving until it expelled all its Jews, going into decline for over 500 years.  On the other side, America and Australia have welcomed the Jewish people and they are both thriving countries.

Prager implored the full auditorium to support the Jewish state, stating “if we do not support Israel, our enemies are emboldened” against Israel. After all, “we are the people who help each other.”

Photos: Peter Haskin and Jeremy Blode

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