Politicians visit Israel

October 11, 2018 by J-Wire Newsdesk
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Senator Jonathon Duniam (Liberal, Tasmania) and Dimitry Palmer, Vice-President of the NSW Young Liberal Movement, spoke about their experiences in Israel and the Palestinian Authority at an Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council event in Sydney as part of AIJAC’s Rambam program.

Jeremy Jones, Senator Duniam, Colin Rubenstein, Dimitry Palmer, Glen Falkenstein

The start-up culture and innovation in Israeli society was especially striking to Senator Duniam. Israel, he said, is a country where “adversity is faced every day, yet in the face of that they can come up with these great ideas and search for and do wonderful things.” It’s a shining beacon of hope, and we have to do what we can to protect and support that.” Duniam also commented on the complexity of the issues he encountered and emphasized that the insights he gained from the trip will enable him to be a part of the discussion in the future.

Palmer brought his unique perspective as a young university student to the discussion and said the trip gave him a much deeper understanding of issues, including the ancient connection of the Jews to the land. He remarked that the trip “reminded me as well that Jewish people have lived in Israel for a millenia. They’re not a recent import.” He was struck by the openness to debate and religious pluralism of the “wonderful, vibrant, and flourishing” Israeli society. “I think the Israeli state has been a very good custodian for the shared religious sites, the holy sites, for all three Abrahamic religions,” he said. Australia, he added, could also learn a lot from Israel when it came to dealing with its drought-related issues.

Both discussed the incredible resilience of Israeli culture and the tendency there to consider life in terms of moments rather than years and were very appreciative for the opportunity AIJAC gave them to delve into these subjects first-hand.

AIJAC’s Glen Falkenstein, who was on the study group that included Palmer, spoke of the vigorous debates that took place at each session and between the participants. Colin Rubenstein noted the importance of current and future policymakers seeing the country and examining the issues for themselves and Jeremy Jones concluded the event by observing the way the knowledge acquired by Rambam alumni about Middle East realities was invaluable for informed Australian political debate about pressing Middle East concerns.

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