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Press Release – 19 September 2012

Reviewing a challenging year for Israel and the local Zionist community

It has been a rollercoaster year of remarkable highs and frustrating lows for the local Zionist movement, driving home the fact that our world is a small, intensely connected network and the extensive range of issues concerning Israel’s supporters around the globe, impact our lives.

On Thursday October 18, 8pm at the Beth Weizmann Community Centre, the 74th Annual Assembly of the Zionist Council of Victoria will review the multitude of challenges local Zionist activity has faced in 2012 and look toward the future.

The Zionist Council of Victoria has been at the forefront of presenting some of the most talented and sought-after Israeli speakers to our community. Akiva Hamilton from Shurat HaDin, Rabbi Dr Benny Lau and Eliazar Stern were but a few amongst the fascinating speakers who graced our community with their presence this year.

We shared with our community the talent and basked in the achievements of our Israeli athletes at the Paralympic games. We wept with pride as we watched Noam Gershony, who we met earlier this year at the Australian Tennis Open, receive his Gold Medal and as the world listened to Hatikva and watched the raising of the Israeli Flag high above the Olympic stadium.

We led the state drive to join the international campaign “One Minute of Silence”, to pressure the International Olympic Committee to honour the slain Israeli athletes with one minute of silence at the opening ceremony. The world plea fell on deaf ears but we summoned, together with the JCCV, our community on this eventful occasion to a poignant ceremony that as the ZCV President aptly said “we will never forget, we will forever honour them and we will never allow history to repeat itself.”

Together with the Caulfield Hebrew Congregation and other communal organisations, we proudly presented the superb Israeli Opera singer Na’ama Goldman as part of the first ever exchange of opera students between Australia and Israel.

We recognise partnerships with our affiliates as the cornerstone of a strong Zionist movement and we are proud to recognise the amazing inroads that have been in this direction.

The Victorian ZCV leadership, together with the ZFA and other state leaders, gathered in June in Israel and the profound respect and deference with which we were received on the world Zionist stage is testament to our unique, strong, vibrant Zionist community.

In the words of the ZCV President, Sam Tatarka “we must never remain complacent or take for granted that we will always have a strong Zionist community. We must continue to strive to ensure that what we do and how we do it speaks to all sectors of our diverse community, especially the younger generations”.

A highlight of the evening will be keynote speaker, the Hon Mark Dreyfus QC MP, long-time friend to the Zionist movement and outstanding public supporter of Israel. Mr Dreyfus MP is the Federal Member for Isaacs and holds the highly demanding government portfolios of Cabinet Secretary, Parliamentary Secretary for Climate Change and Energy Efficiency and the Parliamentary Secretary for Industry and Innovation.

Mark Dreyfus has stood side-by-side with the ZCV campaigning for the release of our three kidnapped Israeli soldiers during their many years of captivity and was there with us on that sad day in 2008 when the bodies of Ehud Goldwasser z”l and Eldad Regev z”l were returned to Israel in coffins, revealing they had been killed by Hezbollah during the ambush on their jeep and subsequent kidnapping. On October 18, 2011, he closed the five long-year mission when he joined the community at Beth Weizmann Community Centre to watch Gilad’s release and safe return home to Israel.

The ZCV is delighted to announce that this year’s Assembly will see the presentation of the prestigious international Jerusalem Prize to Sam Lipski AM, Chief Executive of the Pratt Foundation, whose commitment to communal activity creates and enriches Jewish and Zionist life in Victoria and throughout Australia. The Jerusalem Prize is awarded by the ZCV, in conjunction with the Zionist Federation of Australia (ZFA) and the World Zionist Organisation (WZO).

My Lipski AM, joins past renowned Australian recipients who have included former Prime Minister John Howard, The Australian newspaper’s Foreign Editor Greg Sheridan and in 2011, federal member for Melbourne Ports Michael Danby MP.

ZCV president Sam Tatarka reflects, “The Zionist Council of Victoria represents the local Zionist movement at state level and engages our community on Israel and Zionist issues. With anti-Israel sentiment often muddied with anti-Semitism, our challenges multiply rapidly. This past year we have seen targeted hate for Israel intensify such as in ugly mob scenes outside the Windsor Hotel at our annual cocktail reception for Yom Ha’atzmaut (Israel’s Independence Day). Despite attempts to harass guests and prevent them from entering the venue, the event was crowded as never before with attendees representing Victoria’s diverse communal, political, religious and cultural life, turning what could have been a negative into a significant positive.”
“Our organisation is privileged to have led Victorian Jewry in their communal connection with Israel for more than seven decades, through major events, cultural activities and educational programs. Our strength lies in reaching out further to the community, growing our partnerships and base support, and particularly in today’s fast-paced world, highlighting the relevancy and vibrancy of Israel and Zionism. For example with the support of partners, sponsors, affiliates, technical and artistic specialists, we continue to be inspired to coordinate and lead Israel’s Yom Hazikaron commemoration and Yom Ha’atzmaut celebration at three events over three days, attended by thousands of people” Tatarka says.

“The ZCV is proud to host two outstanding guests at the culmination event of an entire year’s work. We welcome Mark Dreyfus MP to our community for an anticipated keynote address and we look forward to honouring Sam Lipski AM with the local Zionist movement’s highest accolade” Tatarka notes.
More than 250 people are expected to attend the Annual Assembly including representatives of the ZCV’s 52 affiliate organisations, local and state parliamentarians and key supporters of the roof body.

The community is invited to the ZCV’s 74th Annual Assembly to hear from keynote speaker The Hon Mark Dreyfus QC MP and pay tribute to Jerusalem Prize recipient Sam Lipski AM.              

Thursday October 18 at Beth Weizmann Community Centre – 306 Hawthorn Road Caulfield South. Registration begins at 7:30 pm and the Annual Assembly will begin at 8:00 pm (sharp).

The ZCV’s Annual Report will be available in limited printed copy at the Assembly and online at
For more information contact:
Jane Rapke – Executive Director, Zionist Council of Victoria 9272 5544
The Zionist Council of Victoria leads and encourages Jewish and Zionist activity and expression within Victoria, to represent the Jewish community, to promote and communicate Israel’s interests within the broader Victorian community and to promote Victoria’s relationship with Israel. For more information, visit the Zionist Council of Victoria website