The Be’ersheva Dialogue

November 14, 2018 by Ahron Shapiro
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The Fourth Annual Be’ersheva Dialogue, held recently in Melbourne brought together defence officials, senior parliamentarians and analysts from the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI) and Begin-Sadat (BESA) Centre for Strategic Studies and elsewhere to discuss areas of common interest and potential collaboration.

Maj. Gen. Gershon Hacohen, Prof. Eytan Gilboa, , Dr Colin Rubenstein, Prof. Efraim Karsh, Uzi Rubin. Prof. Boaz Ganor, Philip Chester, ABL

The day-long events culminated in a dinner keynote address at Raheen by Australian Minister of Defence Christopher Pyne.

Australian Parliamentary participants included Assistant Minister for Defence Senator David Fawcett,  Assistant Minister for Home Affairs Senator Linda Reynolds CSC, Shadow Assistant Minister for Cyber Security and Defence Gai Brodtmann MP, Shadow Attorney General and Shadow Minister for National Security Mark Dreyfus QC MP and Shadow Assistant Minister for Defence Industry Dr Mike Kelly AM.

The sessions included regional perspectives, review of power plays in the Middle East and Asia, Australia-Israel defence cooperation and cybersecurity.

Prof Boaz Ganor, Founder & Executive Director, The International Institute for Counter-Terrorism (ICT) The Interdisciplinary Center (IDC) and his Australian colleague Dr Isaac Kfir, Head of the Counter-Terrorism Policy Centre (ASPI), briefed the Dialogue on counter-terrorism strategies, with a particular emphasis on the growing threat from “lone-wolf” attackers. The session proved to be especially timely and prescient given the Islamist terror stabbing and gas canister attack in Melbourne’s CBD eight days later.

ASPI’s delegation, led by Director of Defence and Strategy Michael Shoebridge, featured Senior Analyst Dr Anthony Bergin, and International Cyber Policy Centre head Fergus Hanson, while BESA participants included Director Professor Efraim Karsh, Senior Research Associate Professor Eytan Gilboa, Maj. Gen. (Res.) Gershon Hacohen, and defence engineer and analyst Uzi Rubin. The Israeli delegation also featured Brig. Gen. (Res.) Yossi Kuperwasser, Director of the Project on Regional Middle East Developments at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs.

The Israeli Embassy was represented by Ambassador Mark Sofer and Senior Representative of the Israeli MOD Col (Res.) Safi Amasha.

Meanwhile, Hugh Jeffrey, First Assistant Secretary International Policy Division appeared on behalf of Australia’s Department of Defence.

Dr Colin Rubenstein, Executive Director of the Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council which is one of the key facilitators of the event, who also participated in the Dialogue, said that closer ties between Australia and Israel in recent years has only increased the importance of the Dialogue. “Some of the topics discussed arise every year and others vary, but each conversation has been distinctively productive because the strategic landscape in the Middle East and Indo-Pacific regions is constantly changing and introduces new and challenging developments into the mix.”

The Beersheba Dialogue was supported by the Pratt Foundation, whose CEO Sam Lipski was MC at Raheen the dinner, where hosts Jeanne Pratt and Fiona Geminder also addressed the gathering.

The Beersheba Dialogue, named in honour of the historic ANZAC Light Horse victory at the Battle of Beersheba during the First World War, alternates its location between Australia and Israel each year. The strategic dialogue has led to many recommendations as outlined in last year’s joint ASPI-BESA policy report “The Wattle and the Olive”.

Recent recommendations implemented by the Australian government include Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s decision to post an Australian Defence Attache to Israel, and the establishment of a two-star defence dialogue between the ADF and IDF, the first of which was held earlier this year

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