Israel-NSW ties endure

Israeli ambassador to Australia Mark Sofer with NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian and leaders of the Jewish community. Photo: Giselle Haber

ISRAELI ambassador to Australia Mark Sofer announced unequivocally at Israel’s 71st Independence Day celebration on Tuesday evening that the Jewish community of NSW is one of the best, if not the best, community he has worked with during his 39 years in the foreign ministry.

“[Israel’s] relationship with NSW would not have been possible without the deep and far-reaching support of the absolutely wonderful Jewish community of NSW, here in Sydney,” Sofer remarked in the presence of Jewish community leaders, politicians and representatives of various other faiths and multicultural groups.

Referring to Mike Baird’s visit to Israel when he served as the NSW premier, Sofer called on the current Premier Gladys Berejiklian to “quantify the relationship [between Israel and NSW] even further” by similarly organising a trip to Israel. 

As Berejiklian traced Israel’s evolution to its birth 71 years ago, she commented, “I share your pride that from such humble beginnings Israel today is a thriving, liberal democracy with nearly 9 million people – a nation that embodies the best of Jewish tradition, free space, debate, ingenuity and, of course, resilience.”

The latter two traits, in particular, were similarly highlighted by Sofer, who said, “Israel has become the world leader of innovation, vying for top spot with perhaps South Korea and one or two other countries who face nothing like the trials and tribulations that we are forced to endure.”

Berejiklian also noted key mutually beneficial initiatives established between Israel and NSW, emphasising technological innovation, high-tech, start-up facilitation and medical research.

“Our NSW–Israel Innovation agreement has helped our state’s entrepreneurs to access the world’s leading start-up market in Tel Aviv, and this program has significantly raised the profile of Israel in the NSW start-up community, but of course, of NSW in Israel,” remarked Berejiklian.

Although Judaism is deeply woven into Australia’s spiritual and multicultural fabric, said the Premier, it is of utmost importance to remain vigilant against the rising global tide of antisemitism and hate speech.

Also speaking at the event, NSW Jewish Board of Deputies (JBOD) president Lesli Berger announced the Board’s plans to run a politicians’ study tour, in conjunction with the NSW Parliamentary Friends of Israel, early next year.

The function was hosted by JBOD, the Executive Council of Australian Jewry, the Zionist Council of NSW and the Zionist Federation of Australia.

SOPHIE DEUTSCH