While 2015 has not been the easiest year for Israel and Israel supporters, there is a lot about which the vibrant Zionist community in Victoria can feel proud. A range of cultural, educational and social programs have connected people of all ages with Israel in a myriad of ways. Our youth movements are vibrant and poised to send over 130 bogrim from across Australia on movement gap year programs (this in addition to 115 participating in non-movement gap year programs), and AUJS has led the community in supporting Israel through its #speakout4israel campaign.
A highlight of the year was the visit of Australia’s ambassador to Israel, Dave Sharma. Ambassador Sharma shared insights gained from representing Australia and living in Israel for the last two years. He spoke about several sectors in which there was potential for increased cooperation and collaboration between Israel and Australia.
His remarks proved prescient as the past two months have seen a flurry of Israel/Australia interaction with visits to Israel by Australia’s Innovation M inister in November and Minister for Industry, Innovation and Science this week and the visit to Australia last month of Israel’s Chief Scientist. The Australian government has just announced an innovation package which includes setting up a “landing pad” for Australian business people and entrepreneurs in Tel Aviv. This optimistic story has generated a great deal of positive publicity for Israel including great pieces in the general press such as ABC’s 7:30 and the Financial Review.
In the coming year, we look forward to more exciting opportunities to connect Victorians with Israel. Watch this space for news about what’s on in 2016 such as a program in February, held in conjunction with the Israel Advocacy group, about how to challenge media bias and an exciting reimagined Erev Yom Ha’atzmaut celebration for adults.
Wishing you a peaceful and enjoyable holiday season.