Bibi meets Aussie cousins

Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife Sara with their cousins (from left) Ethne Lurie, Shani Diamond, Shamara Lurie and Eddie Lurie.

AT 4.50pm last Friday afternoon, Dr Eddie Lurie received a call from an Israeli number on his mobile phone, but he was consulting at the time so he ignored it.

A minute later, his receptionist said the Prime Minister of Israel Benjamin Netanyahu was on the phone.

“I have a nephew that is always playing pranks, so I thought it was a prank at first,” Lurie told The AJN this week. “But then I heard his voice and I knew it was him.”

Lurie and Netanyahu are distant cousins, but the families have a long history together. Lurie’s mother was very good friends with some of Netanyahu’s aunts and uncles, and one of Netanyahu’s cousins was living with the Lurie family in South Africa when Bibi’s brother Yoni Netanyahu was tragically killed during Operation Entebbe in 1976.

“When he was in Australia in the 1980s we met, but I thought he would be too busy so I didn’t try and contact him this time,” Lurie said.

“I felt very humbled and honoured that he took time out of his busy schedule to call me at work on Friday. We had a really nice chat.”

But Netanyahu didn’t just want to talk on the phone. On Sunday morning after his meeting with Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop, he made time for the Lurie family at the InterContinental Hotel in Sydney.

“It wasn’t intimidating,” Lurie said. “It’s just like catching up with a long lost relative. He and his wife were very nice and it was a really good experience all round.”

Lurie’s sister Shani Diamond said the Prime Minister and his wife Sara were very warm and lovely. “I haven’t met him before so it was very exciting,” she said.

“He was down to earth and very nice.”

Full Bibi coverage in this week’s AJN.

JOSHUA LEVI