The Premier, the Ambassador and Israel’s 71st birthday

May 15, 2019 by Henry Benjamin
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Around 700 guests joined the Premier of NSW and Israel’s ambassador to Australia in toasting the State of Israel at a function to mark the country’s 71st birthday.

NSWJBD president Lesli Berger, NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian, Israel’s ambassador Mark Sofer, ECAJ vice-president Gillian Segal, ZCNSW president Richard Balkin and ZFA president Jeremy Leibler Photo: Giselle Haber

In a prime example of what goes on the behind the scenes in creating and nurturing relationships with other communities, politicians, religions and countries, the president of The New South Wales Jewish Board of Deputies Lesli Berger read out the names of the organisations represented by guests from the broader country…and it seemed unending.

Gladys Berejiklian Photo: Giselle Haber

The premier Gladys Berejeklian said Jewish Australians have contributed immensely to the fabric of Australia. She also pointed out the flourishing trade existing between NSW and Israel and plans to continue collaboration with the Israeli government. She said: “We must more than ever must maintain our vigilance against antisemitism and unfortunately hate speech.”

She added: “Please be rest assured my government’s strong support for the Jewish community today and for the future.”

Mark Sofer raised laughter from the audience stating that Israel has looked far and away including going to the moon, but “could not find a neighbourhood worse than ours”.

Mark Sofer

He said that in Israel each person contributes US$1800 per year on defence.

Nevertheless, he pointed out what Israel had achieved in these 71 years has been “a miracle”. He said that this a reflection on the relationships with her friends saying that “the relationship with Australia has long withstood the test of time”.

Working with the JNF, Israel is now about to sign a MOU with the government of NSW to on co-operation in water technology.

He praised the standard of the Australian community.

The president of the Zionist Council of NSW Richard Balkin told guests: “Today, with antisemitism and attacks on Israel disturbingly on the rise, often masquerading under the guise on Anti-Zionism Premier Berejiklian’s steadfast and unequivocal support of the Jewish community and the State of Israel is indeed deeply appreciated.”

He added: “David Ben-Gurion, Israel’s first Prime Minister, once said: “In Israel, in order to be a realist, you must believe in miracles.”

Premier Berejiklian toast Israel…with water

In a gesture marking the emergence of the collaboration with Israel on water and irrigation, the toasts were made…with water.

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