AIJAC/Rambam Programs/2007

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<-Group.png AIJAC/Rambam Programs/2007Rdf-entity.pngRdf-icon.png->
Membership• Tim Blair
• Joel Labi
• Kirsty Needham
• Glen Wheeler
• Cory Bernardi
• Craig Emerson
• Helen Kroger
• Joe Ludwig
• Michael Ronaldson
• Glen Sterle
• Simon Berger
• Alan Anderson
• George Cash
• Nick Griffiths
• Ray Halligan
• Judith Halligan
• Bob Kucera
• Karen Newman
• Tim Holding
• Nathan Rees
• David Hawker
• Craig Wallace
A junket "fact-finding trip" to Israel for a large number of selected Australian journalists, politicians, political advisers, government officials, trade union officials, student leaders, and academics.

The Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council (AIJAC) arranges a large number of junkets "fact-finding trips" to Israel for selected journalists, politicians, political advisers, government officials, trade union officials, student leaders, and academics through its Rambam Israel Fellowship Program[1][2] There are a number of associated programs doing very similar things, not all of them arranged by AIJAC, for example the Australia Israel Leadership Forum, the NSW Jewish Board of Deputies Journalists Mission, Australia-Israel Chamber of Commerce and etc. For practical reasons, these programs are listed here under the heading Rambam Programs.


The participants are sent from several programs. The blog Middle East Reality Check found quotes from the particpants.[3]


NSW Jewish Board of Deputies Journalists Mission

  • Tim Blair, opinion editor, Daily Telegraph
  • Joel Labi, journalist, 2GB ("Jewish radio announcer Joel Labi had visited Israel previously, and said seeing the security fence up close 'hit home that Israel's enemies are a lot closer than people make it out to be'." (Journalists reassess Israel, AJN, 22/2/08)
  • Kirsty Needham, deputy foreign editor, SMH ("She said she was impressed by the vibrant multiculturalism, community spirit and vigorous media debate in the country, and added that her visit to the Lebanese border and the town of Sderot had allowed her to witness the fear Israelis are forced to live with daily." ibid)
  • Glen Wheeler, announcer, 2UE ("[Wheeler] said for the first 47 years of his life, he had only heard negative information about the country. [As] a Catholic, [he] was excited to be in Israel over Christmas but said he found the reality of Christ's birthplace different from what he had envisioned. Wheeler was struck by the close proximity in which Jews, Muslims and Christians live, particularly in Jerusalem." ibid)


Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council Rambam Fellowship Program

This lot travellled to Israel in March. "[Bernardi] said a meeting with Fatah representative Abu Ziyad opened his eyes to the difficulties confronting Israel, after the former Palestinian Legislative Council member refused to condemn suicide attacks. 'Sadly, my belief that this hateful behaviour was the exclusive preserve of the Hamas terrorist group proved very short-lived', Bernardi told parliament. 'Given my experience with the so-called 'moderates' on the Palestinian side, peace in Israel is a long way off. Abu Ziyad blamed the Israeli occupation for the lack of peace, but there was a persistent refusal to acknowledge or accept that his own people must refrain from terrorism and meaningfully recognise Israel'." (Senator returns from Israel with darker view of Fatah, AJN, 22/6/07)

A group of student leaders travelled to Israel in July, including Monash Student Association's Zoe Edwards (Socialist Left!), who said "visiting Yad Vashem... helped her better understand the importance of Israel." (ibid)

These politicians visited the ANZAC cemetery and the Blaustein Institute for Desert Research, toured Sderot, met Israeli leaders (Ephraim Sneh, Yochanan Plesner), and listened to Palestinian Media Watch director Itamar Marcus. (AIJAC sponsors state parliament visit to Israel, AJN, 25/1/08)

Australia-Israel Chamber of Commerce & the Israeli Trade Commission

  • Tim Holding, Victorian Water Minister
  • Nathan Rees, NSW Minister for Water Utilities ("[The Battleground at Be'er Sheva] is a site of extraordinary significance, to Australia and also to Israel - a place where the actions of our troops in a breathtaking feat of arms became part of a historical chain of events that played a part in the formation of the Israeli state many years later... We [also] visited Jerusalem, the Sea of Galilee, the Jordan Valley, the Dead Sea... Masada... Jerusalem Hospital... a Bedouin camp [and] Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum..." Poignant, pertinent, passionate, Nathan Rees, Rhapsody, Jan-Mar 2008)
  • Craig Wallace, Queensland Water Minister

Invitation by former speaker of the Knesset Reuven Rivlin to-

  • David Hawker, Speaker, Federal Parliament ("I think the important thing is that Israel is the only fully-fledged democracy in the Middle East." Parliamentary speaker in Israel, AJN, 2/2/07)
  • Trip to Israel of 11* Young Labor members funded by Mary (ex-MP for Lowe) & Michael (ALP senior vice-president) Easson. They met "dignitaries and political figures," and "donated blood to Magen David Adom at the Knesset." ("A series of visits at a younger age drew Mary Easson's attention to Middle Eastern politics... Despite their non-Jewish ancestry, [they] have longstanding links with the Australian Jewish community... 'A wall in principle sounds like a terrible thing, but you go and see it and you think, 'Oh well, yeah, I can see why you would need that'." Husband-&-wife team's Labor of love for Israel, AJN, 2/2/07)

[*Including Amanda Easson and Cale Johnson]

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  2. Reich, Chanan (2004). "Inside AIJAC - An Australian Jewish Lobby Group". In Levey, Geoffrey; Mendes, Philip (eds.). Jews and Australian Politics. Brighton: Sussex Academic Press. pp. 198–214. ISBN 1-903900-72-7.