Nothing compares with seeing Israel firsthand

August 1, 2019 by J-Wire Newsdesk
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Three of Australia’s leading journalists delivered informative and insightful presentations in Sydney on their recent return from Israel and the Palestinian Authority as part of the Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council’s Rambam study visit program.

John Lehmann, Jack Houghton, Leon Glotsman (Waverlycouncil), Claire Tedeschi, Jeremy Jones.

John Lehmann, Editor of The Australian, Annika Smethurst, National Political Editor of News Corp Australia’s Sunday titles, and Jack Houghton, formerly of the Daily Telegraph and now with Sky News – spoke at a luncheon Chaired by Dr Colin Rubenstein, AIJAC’s Executive Director. They all commented on the value of seeing Israel and the Palestinian Authority first hand.

Annika Smethurst

While they each commended AIJAC on exposing them to a wide, diverse range of opinions and opportunities to engage directly with prominent thinkers, political leaders and commentators, they shared personal reflections on what they saw and experienced.

John Lehmann said he had travelled with some appreciation of the complexity of geopolitical challenges faced by Israel and was very impressed at the fact that none of them prevented Israel from developing and thriving as a hub of innovation.

Annika Smethurst reported on how she encountered a vibrant civil society, saw a spirit of creativity and gained  encouragement from meeting young Palestinians and Israelis who were dedicated to building better societies and a future based on cooperation for the common good.

Jack Houghton led a discussion on the disconnect between the reality he witnessed and the debates which take place regarding Israel in Australia. The youngest member of the group, he outlined the ways social media is impacting on the understanding of complex issues and the difficulties in injecting original viewpoints into debates which are led by partisans and presented as simple dichotomies between good and evil.

Claire Tedeschi, Senior Writer and Communications Advisor at Arnold Bloch Leibler, and Joel Burnie, Associate Director of Public Affairs of AIJAC, who accompanied the group, added their reflections, while Jeremy Jones, AIJAC’s Director of International and of Community Affairs, closed the event with the vote of thanks.

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