Cross-posted from J-Wire.
Twenty people – mostly members of Sydney’s Jewish community, plus a number of West Australians and Americans – are currently participating in the inaugural NSW Jewish Board of Deputies-HonestReporting Advocacy Mission in Israel.
This unique, eight-day study mission is being led by Board of Deputies President Yair Miller and HonestReporting CEO Joe Hyams. The mission has evolved from the Board’s popular Talking About Israel course, with the majority of mission participants having graduated from the course. Reports will be filed daily by participants.
DAY 1: Report from Michael Jaku
Participants were treated to a packed first day with dynamic and knowledgeable speakers, often sprinkled with humour.
The opening address was by Australian-born Mark Regev, spokesman for the Israeli Prime Minister’s Office and a regular face in media across the world. He referred to the current news stories regarding the Arafat exhumation and the Palestinian application for recognition at the UN. He also answered questions on Israel’s lack of desire to have engaged in Operation Pillar of Defence. Regev confirmed that Israel had no desire to enter into a conflict and that the timing of the conflict, as well as the need for the Israeli response, was entirely as a result of Hamas’ actions. He foreshadowed that Iran would be the big issue in 2013.
At Yad Vashem, Ephraim Kaye, Director of International Seminars, spoke on Holocaust denial and its implications for advocacy. He took the group through advanced techniques used by Holocaust deniers and showed how proving the Holocaust occurred, based on any single element of proof, was almost impossible. He showed clearly, however, how the mass of individual pieces of evidence brought together prove beyond reasonable doubt that the murder of six million Jews did take place in a systematic and methodical manner.
In the evening, over dinner at a Moroccan restaurant, Darna, the group was addressed by Amotz Asa El, former executive editor of the Jerusalem Post, who spoke of Israel as a major domestic success story with particular reference to the spectacular renaissance of the Hebrew language, the thriving economy, absorption of migrants and the manner in which religious difference has been accommodated. Asa El posited that while today the mention of Israel to most people brings thoughts of wars and battles, these domestic issues will be those for which Israel’s amazing success is remembered in the centuries to come.
A tiring but very satisfying and informative day was had by all. Tomorrow we hear from Itamar Marcus of Palestinian Media Watch and Ambassador Yoram Ettinger and take a tour of the security barrier, followed by a closed door briefing by the IDF.
Michael Jaku is a participant of the tour, a TAI graduate and Chair of the NSW Jewish Board of Deputies Shoah Remembrance Committee.
See Day 1 here.
See Day 2 here.
See Day 3 here.
See Day 4 here.
See Day 5 here.
See Day 6 here.
See Day 7 here.
See Day 8 here.