PM says a secure Israel is vital

PM says a secure Israel is vital

PRIME Minister Julia Gillard reaffirmed Australia’s commitment to Israel at a NAB Yachad Scholarship Fund luncheon on Friday last week.

PRIME Minister Julia Gillard reaffirmed Australia’s commitment to Israel at a NAB Yachad Scholarship Fund luncheon on Friday last week.

“A just and secure Israel as a homeland for the Jewish people is an indispensable part of a just and secure world,” she said.

The scholarship fund was established in 2002 and award grants to Australians to undertake study in Israel in areas such as education, environment and technology.

Gillard addressed the capacity crowd, which included Australian Jewry’s top brass, at the Maia function centre at Docklands in Melbourne and spoke of the global importance of a secure and viable Israel.

“We are two countries separated by distance, but united by values. Liberal democracies that seek freedom and peace,” Gillard said.

Education was a recurring theme, with the Prime Minster stressing that the free exchange of ideas and cultures was key to changing attitudes towards Israel and a lasting peace in the region.

“Education has the transformative power to change lives and create opportunity, just as it has the power to build understanding and dispel hate. The role of education is well reflected in [Jewish] wisdom, the wisdom that says; ‘the instruction of children must not be interrupted, even for the rebuilding of the Temple.’”

With the recent Executive Council of Australian Jewry report into anti-Semitism finding an alarming spike in incidents, Gillard looked forward to a time of tolerance and peace for worldwide Jewry.

“In the common era there has never been a century where the Jewish people have known safety. May this century be the first. May this be the time when people of good will, Israelis and Palestinians alike, sit together at a table and find a lasting peace.”

Israeli Ambassador to Australia Yuval Rotem spoke of an Israel that transcended politics, depicting a trailblazing nation at the vanguard of technology, culture and education.

“Today we are reminded more strongly than ever that the story of Israel is defined by much more than mere politics. Our nation is painted with stories of innovation, creativity and discovery,” Rotem said.

Chairman of the Yachad Scholarship Fund and host Cameron Clyne spoke of his organisation’s proud 10-year association with the fund and other Jewish institutions.

“The fund is founded on the shared strengths, values and common concerns between Australia and Israel,” the National Australia Bank CEO said.

“The NAB Yachad Scholarship Fund draws on Israel’s wide range of expertise and innovation for the benefit of all Australians and I’m proud of our 10-year commitment to the program.”

Community leaders Mark Leibler and Ron Weiser also spoke, along with several of the fund’s scholars, who recounted their experiences in Israel. There was also a taped address from treasurer Wayne Swan.


Prime Minister Julia Gillard with Mark Leibler at the NAB Yachad Scholarship Fund luncheon last week. Photo: Michael Silver

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