FROM a rockstar reception at Melbourne’s Mount Scopus Memorial College to standing ovations at United Israel Appeal (UIA) centenary gala events, to talks with state and federal leaders and more, Israeli President Reuven Rivlin’s visit to Australia was a success.
Meeting with Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Wednesday, Rivlin conveyed “from the bottom of our hearts” Israel’s appreciation for Australia’s staunch support of its right and duty to defend itself, including in international forums such as the International Criminal Court.
Morrison told the President, “Australia will always be there to support the Jewish people and the State of Israel.”
Then during a subsequent discussion with senior Labor figures, Rivlin made a commitment to Macnamara MP Josh Burns that if there is no progress this week in alleged child abuser Malka Leifer’s extradition hearings, he will meet with Israel’s Chief Justice next week to ask how things can be expedited.
Rivlin touched down in Sydney last Friday before meeting NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian to express his “deep appreciation” for her support in fighting antisemitism and for her warm relations with the Jewish community.
On Monday Rivlin met with Victorian Governor Linda Dessau and Premier Daniel Andrews in Melbourne, where he praised the strong friendship between Israel and Australia, citing direct flights between Tel Aviv and Melbourne that are scheduled to start next month as one of many key areas of cooperation.
Addressing the Jewish community at the UIA centenary gala events, Rivlin described Australian Jewry as “a model of Jewish communities around the world”.
“In a few generations, you have made far-reaching contributions to Australian society, while passing on your love for Israel,” he said.
Other engagements saw the President deliver an empowering anti-bullying message to adoring Melbourne school students at Scopus, meet with management and staff at Taronga Zoo’s wildlife hospital in Sydney and open trading at the Australian Securities Exchange, declaring, “I would like to ring the bell for partnership, for true friendship … that overcomes enormous distance, lands and oceans, time zones, cultures and differences in traditions.”
He declared, “Together we could form a bilateral community of innovation and creativity,” at an Australia–Israel Chamber of Commerce lunch in Sydney while during a visit to the Garden Island Naval Base in Sydney, he said of the navy’s actions in rescuing people and animals during the bushfires, “How you acted says a lot about the Australian spirit and is an inspiration for us all.”
Rivlin also addressed a Magen David Adom (MDA) function in Sydney where he said, “The work of MDA would have been almost impossible without the support of our friends here in Australia.”
On Wednesday, the President met with Governor-General David Hurley and laid a wreath at the Australian War Memorial.
Full coverage in this week’s AJN.