JUST days before drawing a line under her parliamentary career, the outgoing MP for Caulfield took on a new role — as Jewish National Fund of Australia’s (JNF) ambassador-at-large.
Helen Shardey assumed the mantel at JNF Victoria’s gala dinner last Wednesday, where she was hailed by the Israeli embassy’s deputy chief of mission, Eli Yerushalmi, as “a truly effective advocate for her community”.
Her credentials as “the ideal ambassador”, he said, were evident in “her love of Israel … and her high regard throughout the community and beyond”.
Outlining her vision for the role, Shardey told guests at the Palladium at Crown that she wanted “to spread the message of the work and achievements of the JNF to the broader community, who mostly hear about Israel in terms of war and conflict”.
“Australians do not hear the stories of the work of the JNF, a global, groundbreaking environmental organisation steeped in history and connecting Israel and Australia in very revolutionary ways.”
As well as Shardey, keynote speakers included Gal Lousky of Israeli Flying Aid, and the former commander of the British forces in Afghanistan, Colonel Richard Kemp.
Lousky recounted her experiences delivering humanitarian relief to disaster-stricken regions. Her missions are often covert, bringing relief to countries that refuse to recognise Israel. Her efforts have helped change grassroots’ attitudes to the Jewish State and, in the case of Sri Lanka, brought about the establishment of diplomatic relations.
Kemp, meanwhile, spoke of the crucial advice he received from the IDF before his posting in Afghanistan. That advice, he said, was “turned into the British army’s policy on suicide bombing and pretty much the NATO policy on suicide bombing and probably, therefore, the policy the Australian army uses”.
“I know for a fact that British soldiers’ lives are being saved by Israeli expertise in Afghanistan,” he added. “I have absolutely no doubt the same is true for the Australian army.”
Reflecting on his defence of Israel in the wake of the Goldstone report, Kemp said: “Seeing the injustices that are constantly shoved out by the venomous media and the venomous¬† international organisations trumpeting the horrors of Israel and the IDF ‚Ä¶ how could I stand by and not try and bring some kind of clarity and balance to that argument?”
PHOTO: Outgoing Caulfield MLA Helen Shardey.