Next term in Jerusalem

May 14, 2014 by Henry Benjamin
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More than 500 guests have celebrated Yom Ha’azmaut in Sydney…marking the 66th anniversary of the establishment of the State of Israel.

ZCNSW president Richard Balkin, Israeli ambassador Shmuel Ben-Shmuel, NSWJBD president Yail Miller and Premier Mike Baird    photo: Giselle Haber

ZCNSW president Richard Balkin, Israeli ambassador Shmuel Ben-Shmuel, NSWJBD president Yail Miller and Premier Mike Baird photo: Giselle Haber

Among those attending the function organised by the NSW Jewish Board of Deputies were consuls and representatives of 34 countries plus Israel’s ambassador to Australia Shmuel ben-Shmuel who addressed the event.

Others attending the event at the Four Seasons hotel included members of local government, the NSW police, trade union officials, members of the indigenous community, academics, representatives of other religions, members of the business, arts and cultural communities and rabbis and lay leaders of the Jewish community.

NSWJBD president Yair Miller told of the bond between Israel and Australia which had its roots in the 1917 charge of the Australian Light Horse in 1917 at Be’ersheva.

Miller called on the Palestinian leadership “to maintain direct negotiations with the Israeli government” as being the only way to achieve peace in the region.

He slammed the global BDS campaign against Israel calling it “a destructive and discriminatory movement”.

Speaking  for the first time at a community event was new premier Mike Baird.

The premier spoke of Australia being the first country to vote in favour of the 1947 UN partition which created the Jewish State. He spoke of the contribution the NSW Jewish community makes to the State “through its high level of social responsibility, citizenship and philanthropy”.

He highlighted the work done by the Yeshiva Centre’s Our Big Kitchen project in the field of supplying food to the homeless “and others in time of crisis”.

Making it clear the Australia supports a two state solution to the Israel-Palestine conflict, Premier Baird added “We know there are those who make it their task to whip up fear and hatred towards Israel…even here in multicultural Australia”.

Premier Mike Baird praised the work done by the Board of Deputies mentioning the Respect, Understanding, Acceptance program which links school students in inter-faith dialogue.

He pointed out that although two MP missions had visited Israel in he past 18 months under the auspices of the Board, no NSW Premier has visited Israel this century.

He announced that if is re-elected in March 2015, he will commit to personally leading a trade delegation to Israel during his second term in office saying “perhaps I cannot quite say ‘Next Year in Jerusalem” but I can certainly say “next term in Jerusalem”.

He wished the people of Israel “lasting peace and security”.


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