Zionism Victoria was proud to host Foreign Minister Julie Bishop for a visit to Beth Weizmann Community Centre, Tuesday 31 May.
Ms Bishop was accompanied by Senator James Paterson, Tim Wilson (Liberal candidate for Goldstein), Owen Guest (Liberal candidate for Melbourne Ports) and David Southwick MP (Member for Caulfield).
The visit gave Minister Bishop the opportunity to explore the heart of Melbourne’s Jewish community, learn about the important work of Beth Weizmann tenants and hear from local leaders about significant issues that concern the community.
Minister Bishop began her tour in the Lamm Jewish Library of Australia and was impressed by the significant collection and the historical artefacts contained in the facility.
At a visit to KOGO (Knit One Give One) volunteers showed Ms Bishop some of the over 3000 items knitted by people from across Australia for distribution to children and families in need in Victoria, New South Wales and the Northern Territory.
Minister Bishop also had the opportunity to meet representatives of the United Israel Appeal (UIA) and Jewish National Fund (JNF). UIA Executive Director Idan Goldberger spoke about the organisation’s long history of refugee resettlement and its more recent work supporting programs to upgrade professional training for refugees to improve their job prospects, both areas in which Australia and Israel share an interest.
In her brief meeting with representatives of JNF Ms Bishop acknowledged the many issues Australia has in common with Israel in the use of scarce water resources in arid climates.
Community leaders, including Zionism Victoria Vice President Jeff Morrison and Executive Director Jane Rapke, Beth Weizmann Community Centre Chairman Sam Tatarka, Jewish Community Council of Victoria President Jennifer Huppert and Executive Director David Marlow, met with Minister Bishop to discuss key issues important to the Jewish community, such as security and Australia’s outstanding record of support for Israel.
Mr Morrison and Mr Tatarka “appreciated the opportunity to meet with a senior member of the Federal government at an important time for both Israel and Australia”. They commented that “Minister Bishop was able to observe and engage with the daily activities in the hub of our community and gain a deeper understanding of its importance and significance to Melbourne’s Jewish community”.
Ms Bishop has been to Israel several times, most recently in 2013. She is keen to return and looks forward to her next opportunity to visit.