STATE and Federal politicians came together last Friday to establish the Victorian Liberal Friends of Israel (LFI).
The unique arrangement will see State Member for Caulfield David Southwick, Federal Member for Goldstein Tim Wilson and Federal Senator James Paterson as patrons of the organisation.
“The establishment of the Victorian Liberal Friends of Israel continues the Liberal Party’s strong support of Israel and the Jewish community,” Southwick, who is also the co-convenor of the Victorian Parliamentary Friends of Israel, told The AJN.
“I am proud to be a member of a party that always stands up for Israel, even when others seek to demonise it.”
“Unlike Labor, who continue to be completely divided on Israel, the Liberal Party is focused on growing the relationship between our two great nations.”
The organisation, whose formation was announced in the presence of Foreign Minister Julie Bishop, will be open to all members of the Jewish and broader community who support the initiatives of the Liberal Party in advocating for Israel.
Paterson, who has been a strong supporter of Israel in Federal Parliaments, told The AJN that Israel’s enemies have been effectively demonising the Jewish State and that he is proud to be a co-patron to try and correct the record.
“It’s not common that State and Federal come together in this way, but we need to get organised given what is happening elsewhere in politics on this issue and we want to make sure we are active,” Patterson said.
He said that Labor’s changing policy is “very sad” because the party had been a strong supporter of Israel for many years.
“I think the reason is demographics of politics, in NSW in particular and the left has been very effective in demonising Israel.
“The Labor Party is increasingly becoming a party of the left, it’s not the moderate centralist party that it used to be.”
As well as launching the LFI last Friday, Paterson, Southwick, Wilson and Bishop also toured parts of Jewish Melbourne.
They spoke to communal leaders at Beth Weizmann and met with Jewish students at Leibler Yavneh College in Elsternwick.
While at Yavneh, Bishop met with the year 1 students and the year 11 leadership team, saw the school’s robotics department, watched a presentation about the stars and the moon in the school’s indoor planetarium and addressed secondary school students at an assembly.
During the assembly, she spoke about life as a foreign minister and was then given a presentation by students about General Sir John Monash, one of Australia’s most respected military commanders, who was hailed by the students as a proud Jew and an outstanding Australian.