Zionist Federation of Australia President Jeremy Leibler presented Prime Minister Scott Morrison with the Jerusalem Prize on Thursday.
The Jerusalem Prize was jointly awarded by the Zionist Federation of Australia, the Zionist Council of NSW and the World Zionist Organisation.
Before conferring the award, Mr Leibler said, “In just over a year as Prime Minister, Mr Morrison has made a strong contribution to the already excellent Australia–Israel relationship.”
Mr Leibler continued, “Since assuming office, the Prime Minister recognised West Jerusalem as capital of Israel and established a trade and defence office in the city. He also changed Australia’s voting pattern at the UN General Assembly, including now voting against the insulting resolution that declares as ‘null and void’ any Jewish claims to Jerusalem. Earlier this year, Mr Morrison called out the UN as ‘the place where Israel is bullied and where anti-Semitism is cloaked in language about human rights’.”
In his speech awarding the Prime Minister the award, Mr Leibler said, “the bond between Australia and Israel is strong and unshakeable.” These sentiments were later echoed by the Prime Minister.
Referring to the increase in anti-Semitism around the world and, in particular, the worrying prospect of a Jeremy Corbyn-led government in the United Kingdom, Mr Leibler told the Prime Minister on Thursday evening, “When Jews elsewhere in the diaspora are increasingly worried about their place in contemporary mainstream politics … true leadership shines bright. Yours is true leadership, Prime Minister. Yours is true friendship. And that is what this prestigious international award is all about.”
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said he was humbled to accept the award, and stressed the importance of defending Israel’s right to exist in the face of increasing threats. “We will say so for as long as we have breath.” “Israel is a beacon of democracy… Israel can always rely on Australia”, he said.
In his speech, the Prime Minister expressed pride that Australia accepted the largest number of Holocaust survivors per capita, with the exception of Israel.
The Prime Minister said he was looking forward to welcoming Israeli President Reuven Rivlin to Australia next year.
Israeli Ambassador Mark Sofer said to ZFA President Jeremy Leibler, “For being at the forefront of Israeli advocacy, thank you.”
The Jerusalem Prize is jointly awarded by the Zionist Federation of Australia (ZFA), the Zionist Council of NSW and the World Zionist Organisation.
The Prize is awarded annually to an individual who has been exceptional in strengthening Australia-Israel relations. Previous recipients include former Governor-General Sir Zelman Cowen, then-Prime Minister John Howard, former Prime Ministers Bob Hawke and Julia Gillard, and then-Foreign Minister Alexander Downer.