THE new chair of the NSW Parliamentary Friends of Israel Bruce Notley-Smith wants to use his role to encourage “as many MPs as possible” to visit Israel and “see it first-hand”.
“They’ll find the reality of the situation and the position Israel finds itself in is quite an eye-opener,” the Member for Coogee told The AJN this week.
Notley-Smith, who has visited the Holy Land twice, succeeds Vaucluse MP and NSW Attorney-General Gabrielle Upton, who served as chair for the past four years. Labor MLC Walt Secord, meanwhile, was re-elected deputy chair.
Notley-Smith said he hopes to achieve “increased awareness of the reality of the security situation for the Jewish people and the State of Israel”.
“I think that the more MPs we can encourage to visit Israel the more that they can pass that understanding on to their constituents,” he said.
“Through the group I’d like to introduce them to key figures in the Jewish community but also any visiting Israeli dignitaries.”
Upton told The AJN it was an honour to serve as chair. “The contribution made by all members to promote awareness of issues impacting the State of Israel and engage the local Jewish community has been enormous,” she said.
“We achieved so much, including two study tours to Israel and regular briefings with Jewish community leaders. I am sure the group, under new leadership, will continue to strengthen their friendship with Israel and our local Jewish community. I look forward to being a part of those next steps.”
NSW Jewish Board of Deputies president Jeremy Spinak said, “It is special to see so many members of both major and minor parties offer their friendship to Israel and, by extension, to our community.
“I would like to welcome the new chair Bruce Notley-Smith, thank outgoing chair Gabrielle Upton for her tremendous work and acknowledge Walt Secord for his ongoing friendship by taking the deputy chair position again.”
Zionist Council of NSW president Richard Balkin added: “The NSW Parliamentary Friends of Israel is the largest friendship group in the NSW Parliament and our community is extremely fortunate to have the support and friendship of these members of Parliament.”
From left: Vic Alhadeff, Gabrielle Upton, Jeremy Spinak, Bruce Notley-Smith and Richard Balkin.