Rambam returnees address AIJAC in Sydney

March 28, 2017 by J-Wire Staff
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Federal Labor MPs Meryl Swanson, Milton Dick and Liberal MP Tony Pasin addressed an Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council (AIJAC) luncheon in Sydney on their return from Rambam study visit delegations to Israel.

Dr Colin Rubenstein, Milton Dick MP, Tony Pasin MP, Meryl Swanson MP, and Jeremy Jones


“The thought of being able to visit Jerusalem, the Holy City; I never thought I’d ever make it,” said Swanson, noting the significance for a person with a Christian background visiting Jerusalem, Bethlehem and other sites.

She said she valued meeting the Roots Israel-Palestinian project, where “the young Palestinian and Israeli fellows sat with us and poured out their souls to us… They have come together and are doing some incredible work… a grassroots story of people getting together and getting to know each other. That is where the hope lies.”

“Peace won’t come through politics – it will come from people learning from each other and having respect,” she added.

Noting that she had rejected calls for her not to go, she said her decision to go and see the region for herself allowed her to “come home with a greater perspective… I feel very indebted for the experience.”

Milton Dick spoke of places and people who inspired him, including the delegation’s visits to Yad Vashem, Israel’s northern border, Bethlehem and Israel’s south, adding that he felt it was crucial when it came to Australia’s role in the region “to support constructive policies in the community, the Parliament and the country.”

“I received a better understanding of the decisions we make and the impact that has on Israel,” said Dick. “The trip has allowed me to have a deeper understanding… of both sides of the argument.”

Tony Pasin noted his delegation’s meetings with Israel’s economic leaders and start-up sector, adding that the trip “was an amazing experience.”

“I was blown away by the economy of Israel,” said Pasin. “To put it in context Israel is a fraction of the size of my electorate but it’s so highly productive… I really do enjoy understanding how a small nation facing all the challenges it does can do so well across such broad spectrums.”

“What is done around water, not just around recycling, is just remarkable… to see what can be achieved in a nation bereft of water resources is just amazing,” he said, noting how relevant so much of this was for his electorate.

Addressing the security situation facing Israel, Pasin commented, “I’m pleased to say as a result of this trip I can now consider these matters through a much more informed prism which I’m very grateful for, and understand how important these issues are not just to the global community but to Australia specifically.”

Pasin was joined by Liberal MPs Nicole Flint (SA), Andrew Hastie (WA), Andrew Wallace (QLD) and South Australian State Shadow Minister Corey Wingard. Joining Swanson and Dick in their group were Federal Labor MPs Steve Georganas (SA), Anne Aly (WA) and Julian Hill (Vic), in addition to South Australian Labor Senator Alex Gallacher.

The two Rambam delegations were accompanied by AIJAC’s Jamie Hyams (Liberal group) and Ahron Shapiro (Labor group) respectively.

AIJAC Executive Director Dr Colin Rubenstein conveyed appreciation to the politicians for accepting the invitation and obviously enhancing their knowledge of the broader Middle East and implications for Australia’s national interests, and making it clear this would be very helpful in discharging their Parliamentary responsibilities.

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