The Zionist Federation of Australia held its inaugural Political Seminar in Canberra on Monday.
Executive Director Ginette Searle said, “we wanted to take advantage of the fact that we were celebrating the 90th anniversary of the ZFA in Canberra to offer a seminar that was jam-packed with interesting speakers for our participants right at the heart of Australia’s democracy – at Parliament House.”
Over seventy leaders from affiliated Zionist organisations around Australia attended and had the opportunity to hear from politicians from all sides of the political spectrum including FM Julie Bishop, leader of the Greens Senator Richard Di Natale, Senator David Fawcett, Stuart Robert, Mike Kelly, Peter Khalil, Michael Danby, Mark Dreyfus and Josh Frydenberg. They also heard from multiple award winning journalist from Sky News, David Speers.
“It was a fantastic day full of great opportunities to not only hear from the politicians about their party and the connection to Israel, but to dig a little deeper and for participants to be able to ask questions and voice any concerns they may have,” President Dr. Danny Lamm said. “We were of course, not surprised by the calibre of the presentations from each of our speakers, but what we were not expecting was just how robust the discussions were that took place afterwards.”
It was a productive and positive day for Israel in Parliament House with many productive meetings taking place with visiting Israeli MK Merav Michaeli. Separately, MP Stuart Robert raised a motion on Israel during Private Members Business which supported Israel’s right to defend itself, calls on the PA to live up to past agreements, recognises Israel’s historical connection to religious sites and condemns BDS. Participants were thrilled later to meet Stuart Robert and to hear about the way it was presented in Parliament.
Dr. Danny Lamm also had the opportunity for a private meeting with PM Malcolm Turnbull, who was extremely generous with his time. Dr Lamm addressed a number of concerns for the community and the PM agreed to follow up on them. They also discussed the wonderful opportunities for the PM to engage in upcoming community milestones and functions.
Following the meeting, Dr Lamm said, “it is always lovely to catch up with the PM but it was of particular significance that we had the chance to meet in the capital city of our wonderful country during this year of milestones for Israel and Israeli-Australian relations.” He continued, “I thanked the PM for opening his office to us and also for the welcoming and warm reception PM Netanyahu received earlier this year. We look forward to reciprocating the hospitality when the PM visits Israel in late October”.
The seminar consisted of members of the community from all ends of the political and religious spectrum, as well as youth representatives from AZYC and AUJS. The feedback was fantastic with Searle concluding, “it was great to see what seemed initially like a wild idea to bring as many people as possible to the capital city, come to fruition and for it to have been such a success.”