AUSTRALIA will believe in Israel’s right to exist in peace “for as long as we have breath”, Prime Minister Scott Morrison declared last Thursday as he accepted the Jerusalem Prize for his staunch support of the Jewish State.
Addressing a cocktail reception in Sydney, an emotional Morrison recalled how his father John, a former mayor of Waverley, was honoured by the Jewish community “many, many years ago” for his involvement in the establishment of Moriah College.
“For you to honour me tonight is very special,” Morrison said.
“It means a lot to me and it meant a lot to my father who is under the care of the wonderful staff at the Wolper Hospital not far from here at this moment.
“He hasn’t been well for some time and he’s getting such wonderful care, and when I learned from my brother that’s where he was going to be looked after I smiled, because I know how much he’s loved within the Jewish community here in Sydney and he’s in great, great hands.”
Morrison joins an esteemed roll call of Jerusalem Prize recipients, including former prime ministers John Howard, Bob Hawke and Julia Gillard, a sign of the “unshakeable nature” of the relationship between Australia and Israel, he said.
“Friendships have ebbs and flows, but the friendship between Australia and Israel has not had ebbs and flows; it’s been a steady course of endearment,” Morrison enthused.
“Israel can always depend on Australia. We believe in the nation of Israel. We believe in its right to exist in peace, within secure internationally recognised borders, and we will say so for as long as we have breath. And we continue to advocate for a peaceful future for the region which is what Israel so desperately desires.”
Morrison reiterated his government was “taking a strong stand against the targeting of Israel” at the United Nations, which he has previously called out for its “bullying” of the Jewish State.
“The UN was born out of the horrors of World War II, born out of an ethos of ‘never again’,” Morrison said.
“But all too often an institution born in the same way, that’s supposed to do so much good has allowed antisemitism to seep into its deliberations, all under the language of human rights; and we’re not buying that, my government is not going to buy that.
“And this is why, because we know the character of our friend Israel and we will defend it. We stand with our friends and under this government, that is what will occur.”
Morrison also condemned “a new round of the age-old scourge of antisemitism” that has reared its ugly head in Australia and abroad.
“Sadly, we see and hear of antisemitic instances occurring in our communities. We can’t pretend it’s not happening here. It is,” Morrison lamented.
“We’ve seen swastikas daubed across political material, antisemitic graffiti scrawled on a Jewish-owned cafe and reports of children being harassed because they are Jewish.
“It is shameful, absolutely shameful. These incidents, they just have no place in Australia.”
Stating, “Israel has a place in my heart,” Morrison said he was “very pleased” that Israeli President Reuven Rivlin has agreed to visit Australia next year, and committed to visiting Israel “as soon as I possibly can”.
Thanking Morrison for his “unfailing” support and noting his decision to recognise West Jerusalem as the capital of Israel last year, Zionist Federation of Australia (ZFA) president Jeremy Leibler said, “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.”
The prize was jointly awarded by the ZFA, the Zionist Council of NSW and the World Zionist Organisation.