Scott Morrison awarded the Jerusalem Prize

November 22, 2019 by J-Wire Newsdesk
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The Zionist Federation of Australia President Jeremy Leibler has presented Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison with the Jerusalem Prize.

ZFA president Jeremy Leibler presents the Jerusalem Prize to Scott Morrison Photo: Henry Benjamin/J-Wire

The Jerusalem Prize was jointly awarded by the Zionist Federation of Australia, the Zionist Council of NSW and the World Zionist Organisation.

Before conferring the award at Double Bay’s Intercontinental Hotel, Mr Leibler said, “In just over a year as Prime Minister, Mr Morrison has made a strong contribution to the already excellent Australia–Israel relationship.”

Mr Leibler continued, “Since assuming office, the Prime Minister recognised West Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and established a trade and defence office in the city. He also changed Australia’s voting pattern at the UN General Assembly, including now voting against the insulting resolution that declares as ‘null and void’ any Jewish claims to Jerusalem. Earlier this year, Mr Morrison called out the UN as ‘the place where Israel is bullied and where anti-Semitism is cloaked in language about human rights’.”

In his speech awarding the Prime Minister the award, Mr Leibler said, “the bond between Australia and Israel is strong and unshakeable.” These sentiments were later echoed by the Prime Minister.

Referring to the increase in anti-Semitism around the world and, in particular, the worrying prospect of a Jeremy Corbyn-led government in the United Kingdom, Mr Leibler told the Prime Minister on Thursday evening, “When Jews elsewhere in the diaspora are increasingly worried about their place in contemporary mainstream politics … true leadership shines bright. Yours is true leadership, Prime Minister. Yours is true friendship. And that is what this prestigious international award is all about.”


ZFA president Jeremy Leibler, Prime Minister Scott Morrison, Gusti Yehoshua Braverman, World Zionist Organisation Chair for Diaspora Relations, President of the ZCNSW Richard Balkin and Israel’s ambassador to Australia Mark Sofer. Photo: Henry Benjamin/J-Wire

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said he was humbled to accept the award stating “the rollcall of recipients points to an unshakeable nature of the relationship that exists between Australia and Israel. and stressed the importance of defending Israel’s right to exist in the face of increasing threats.

“We will say so for as long as we have breath – Israel is a beacon of democracy… Israel can always rely on Australia”, he said adding “we stood up when it mattered then and now. Israel can always depend on Australia. We believe in the nation of Israel. We believe in its right to exist in peace, within secure internationally recognised borders, and we will say so for as long as we have breath. And we continue to advocate for a peaceful future for the region which is what Israel so desperately desires.”

He added:  “Israel is the polaris star above the cut and thrust of the things that we deal with on a daily basis. It’s a beacon of democracy. A country governed by the rule of law with a free press infused with a multicultural character and aligned with our great ally, the United States.

He continued: “We’re also taking a strong stand against the targeting of Israel and the UN General Assembly, as we were saying before. The UN was born out of the horrors of World War II, born out of an ethos of ‘never again’, but all too often an institution born in the same way, that’s supposed to do so much good has allowed anti-Semitism to seep into its deliberations, all under the language of human rights; and we’re not buying that, my government is not going to buy that.

And this is why, because we know the character of our friend Israel and we will defend it.”

A delighted Scott Morrison Photo: Henry Benjamin/J-Wire

Turning to antisemitism, Scott Morrison said: “Sadly, we see and hear of anti-Semitic instances occurring in our communities. We can’t pretend it’s not happening here. It is. You know better than I do.

We’ve seen swastikas daubed across political material, anti-Semitic graffiti scrawled on a Jewish-owned cafe and reports of children being harassed because they are Jewish.

I know what my Jewish colleagues faced in the last election and on a daily basis, it would, seem now.

I regularly get messages from Josh when he shares with me the things that are happening in the community, in the Jewish community and in many cases directly to him and colleagues like Julian Leeser here in NSW.

It is shameful, absolutely shameful. These incidents, they just have no place in Australia. They are so foreign.

It’s like the country just wants to eject it out of its system, but yet it persists; and that’s why we must remain so vigilant about these things.”

He added: “My relationship with Israel began, with my Jewish mates who I went to school with, who I played footy with, who I spent time with and enjoyed very, very much. It has long underpinned the partnership and it will continue to

So I’m very pleased that the Israeli president Reuven Rivlin has also said he will visit Australia next year and we look forward to welcoming him and this will be the first visit by an Israeli head of state in 15 years, and we’re very much looking forward to welcoming him and I am very much looking forward to take the many invitations I’ve had to return to Israel, and I look forward to doing that as soon as I possibly can and once things are in a position where someone can issue me that invitation.”

Ambassador Mark Sofer

Israeli Ambassador Mark Sofer said to ZFA President Jeremy Leibler: “For being at the forefront of Israeli advocacy, thank you.”  In addressing his remarks to Prie Minister Scott Morrison, Ambassador Sofer said: “On behalf of the State of Israel, first and foremost for your steadfast strong ongoing support for the State of Israel you can not begin to understand our appreciation.”

Richard Balkin, president of SZCNSW thanked the Prime Minister saying: “As you would know, there is perhaps no term more quintessentially Australian, which goes to the very ethos of this incredible country, than ‘mateship’.

It goes beyond mere friends but refers also to loyalty, courage, respect. Mr Prime Minister, the State of Israel and the Jewish community of Australia, truly could not ask for a better mate than you!

The event was community leaders from both Sydney and Melbourne, local both federal and state politicians Dave Sharma and Gabrielle Upton. Among the dignitaries attending were Mark Leibler [AIJAC], Steven Lowy [UIA], Lance Rosenberg [UIA], John Gandel [Gandel Philanthropy], businessman Solomon Lew and Russell Kogan.

The Jerusalem Prize is jointly awarded by the Zionist Federation of Australia (ZFA), the Zionist Council of NSW and the World Zionist Organisation.

The Prize is awarded annually to an individual who has been exceptional in strengthening Australia-Israel relations. Previous recipients include former Governor-General Sir Zelman Cowen, then-Prime Minister John Howard, former Prime Ministers Bob Hawke and Julia Gillard, and then-Foreign Minister Alexander Downer.

Sol and Roza Lew, Rosanna and Mark Leibler, John Gandal and Steven Lowy

Last month, the ZFA took a bipartisan delegation of senior political alumni, including Mr Howard and Mr Downer, to Israel. Other participants were ALP National President (and former Deputy Prime Minister and Treasurer) Wayne Swan, former Opposition Leader and Defence Minister (and current Australian War Memorial head) Brendan Nelson and former Minister for Communications, Senator Stephen Conroy.

In October this year, the Australian Government announced over $9.7 million to be provided to a range of Jewish organisations in Sydney and Melbourne, to improve security infrastructure, under the Safer Communities initiative. This was in addition to the $2.2 million announced in October 2018, to be spent on similar projects in the electorate of Wentworth, in Sydney.

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