AUSTRALIA’S new ambassador to Israel presented his credentials to President Reuven Rivlin, in a jolly morning meeting that turned into something of a family affair.
Christopher Cannan arrived at the President’s residence with his twin sons Alex and Nicholas who were photographed with Rivlin before the adults chatted, and then became the centre of attention later in the meeting.
Rivlin said it was “such a pleasure and honour to have an ambassador from such a friendly state as Australia,” and then proceeded to give Cannan a short biblical lesson – in case he wasn’t aware of the significance of his name.
“I know that you will feel at home here,” he said. “Probably you don’t know why and I will tell you. When Abraham came for the first time to this country he came to the Land of Canaan.”
Rivlin spoke about Israel–Australia relations in general – noting that Israel doesn’t take Australia’s friendship “for granted”, and showing particular appreciation for Australia’s support at the United Nations and in other international contexts. Israel “would like to prove that we deserve that”, Rivlin said.
He spoke about the upcoming centenary of the Anzac achievement in the Negev. “The connection between Israel and Australia is not just today, but we will soon remember the Battle of Beersheva, when we remember the Australian soldiers who fought for the freedom of people all over the world,” Rivlin said.
Cannan took up Rivlin’s theme of this year’s special significance for Israel–Australia relations, saying that it represents “quite a peak”. He is “thrilled” with the reception he has received and enthused about the “wonderfully warm welcome from everyone I have met in Israel”.
He spoke about Australia’s “long historical defence and military connection to Israel and this part of the world,” and said: “The relationship now has a new dimension focusing on innovation, which is an exciting area for me as Israel is world renowned in so many areas of innovation.”
At the end of the meeting the focus turned back to Cannan’s children. The new ambassador noted that “everyone says Israel is a great country for kids”. Rivlin said that while the twins go to school in Brussels, he expects they will want to spend holidays in Israel. “It’s an order from the President now,” their father quipped. “Every vacation in Israel.”