Yom Ha’atzmaut 2019
Message from Jeremy Leibler, President of the Zionist Federation of Australia.
Each year, Yom Ha’atzmaut is an opportunity for our community to celebrate Israel’s Independence Day and what it represents to Jewish people around the world.
For Australian Jewry, our love for Israel is forged into the very DNA of our community.
We have celebrated Israel’s many achievements and have shown solidarity when it has come under threat or attack. So strong is our connection to the Jewish Homeland, it has permeated the Australian community more broadly, with Australia rightly recognised as one of Israel’s closest friends.
This was clearly evident in February, when both the Prime Minister of Australia and the Leader of the Opposition commemorated 70 years of diplomatic ties between Australia and Israel in our federal Parliament.
It was evident also last November, when Prime Minister Scott Morrison recognized West Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
The world’s only Jewish State continues to face challenges. After 71 years, Israel’s very right to exist is still questioned, and the threat of terrorism is real and constant.
But Israel has not allowed itself to be defined by the conflict.
It is a testament to Israel’s resilience, that the nation has become a world leader in innovation across medicine, the environment and the arts, an aspect of Israeli accomplishment that will be showcased at the upcoming Eurovision competition in Tel Aviv.
The Australian Jewish community can be proud of our contribution to Israel’s remarkable success.
We have one of the highest Aliya rates anywhere in the western world. We send over 500 young adults to Israel on programs every year and across business, education and cultural life, the ties between our two countries are growing every year.
Our Jewish community strongly identifies as Zionist, and Yom Ha’atzmaut is a valuable opportunity to reflect on the changing nature of what it means to be a proud Zionist in the diaspora.
Despite individual differences in perspective, there is clear consensus on many important issues, including our absolute commitment to Israel as a Jewish and democratic State, the need to advocate for and ensure religious equality in Israel, and to oppose discrimination against minorities.
The ZFA has been a leader of the Australian Jewish community for over nine decades, and I am inspired by the enthusiasm of the Federation and its affiliates to further strengthen our nation’s connections with Israel.
On this Yom Ha’atzmaut, I encourage Jewish Australians to reach out to family, friends and contacts in Israel to let them know we share in this day of celebration, and in seeking a peaceful and prosperous future for our Jewish Homeland.