ON the same day she was elected chair of the NSW Parliamentary Friends of Israel, Upper House Liberal MP Natalie Ward made a stirring speech in Parliament denouncing antisemitism.
Ward officially took over from former Coogee MP Bruce Notley-Smith at the helm of the group, which promotes awareness among MPs about issues affecting Israel and the NSW Jewish community, last Wednesday.
Labor MLC Walt Secord retains the role of deputy chair that he was first elected to in 2011, while Shooters, Fishers and Farmers MLC Robert Borsak becomes treasurer for the first time.
Secord and Borsak visited Israel together in 2012 on a NSW Jewish Board of Deputies study mission to Israel.
“I have always been a strong supporter of the State of Israel and it is an honour to have been elected chair,” Ward told The AJN.
“Israel continues to be a thriving democracy and our biggest ally in the Middle East. It is important that NSW maintains its strong relationship with Israel.”
Thanking Notley-Smith for his hard work as the previous chair, she added, “I look forward to continuing this important responsibility, together with my parliamentary colleagues.”
Later on Wednesday, Ward spoke of attending the NSW Jewish community’s north shore Holocaust commemoration on April 29, where “the words ‘Never again’ were reiterated as more than just a phrase”.
“One month later … during the very heart of our Federal election, the hate we promised to never forget, the crimes we vowed to never look past and the suffering we prayed was relegated to the realm of ‘Never again’ was showcased on an unprecedented scale,” she lamented.
Outlining graffiti attacks on Treasurer Josh Frydenberg, Berowra MP Julian Leeser and Mackellar MP Jason Falinski and the antisemitic email campaign against former Wentworth MP Kerryn Phelps, Ward said, “Irrespective of religion, race or gender, all Australians living in this country have the right to walk our streets with security.
“Unfortunately, for the Jewish community this has not been the case.”
She continued, “And so I repeat, ‘Never again’ is not just a phrase. ‘Never again’ is bringing awareness here in this Chamber to the growing antisemitism in our state and calling it out.
“We do not just say ‘Never again’, here in the Parliament it is our obligation to bring ‘Never again’ to life.”