Breakfast with Julie Bishop

Julie Bishop addresses the UIA NSW Women’s Division. Photo: Zohar Izenberg

AUSTRALIA is one of a small handful of countries prepared to stand up and vote against one-sided antisemitic resolutions at the UN General Assembly, former foreign minister Julie Bishop said.

Bishop, who announced her retirement from politics earlier this year, addressed 1200 women at UIA Women’s Division events in Sydney and Melbourne late last month.

Highlighting common ground between Israel and Australia, she cited the countries’ shared military history, values, communities, defence and intelligence ties and trading relationship, which underpin an enduring relationship.

Referring to Israel with the sentiment “small country, big ideas” – which is written on Israeli spacecraft Beresheet, currently on its way towards the moon – Bishop commented: “Since its establishment as the State of Israel 71 years ago, this small country has had many big ideas, including the creation of a robust and vibrant democracy in a very tough neighbourhood where individual freedom is in very short supply, creating a productive agricultural sector out of an arid environment, an innovative technology and start-up industry.”

Australia looks to Israel for inspiration, remarked Bishop, before noting that the first innovation landing pad for Australian entrepreneurs seeking ideas overseas was established in Tel Aviv.

Citing former Israeli prime minister Golda Meir as a shining example of a strong female leader, Bishop – a passionate advocate for gender equality and female representation in upper echelons – highlighted the need for equal representation in decision-making forums, since men’s and women’s differing leadership styles work to complement each other.

Emphasising the value of mentorship and sharing some words of advice with the audience, Bishop commented, “Don’t ever let others tell you what you can and can’t do, for you know what you are capable of achieving so always set your own standards.”

Also addressing the NSW event was acting director of aliyah and absorption at the Jewish Agency, Arielle Di Porto, who spoke about her life-saving work to rescue at-risk Jews in countries including Iran, France, Venezuela and Yemen, and the ongoing efforts to integrate them into Israeli society.

Victoria, meanwhile, heard from Tzameret Fuerst, an Israeli-American social entrepreneur who helped pioneer the world’s only non-surgical male circumcision procedure to combat HIV in Africa.

Full coverage in this week’s AJN.