Complex, inspiring, resilient, diverse and unique were some of the ways Israel was described by the participants of the inaugural NSW Jewish Board of Deputies Berger Fellowship study tour of Israel.
The group of young-adult Labor Party officials recently returned to Sydney and shared their insights at a boardroom lunch hosted by the Board of Deputies.
They had undertaken a high-level, seven-day tour that included meetings with journalists, Middle East analysts, counterterrorism experts, young entrepreneurs, NGO representatives and Palestinian officials. They also visited the Knesset, Yad Vashem, Ziv Medical Centre, the Office of the Chief Scientist, the Anzac Memorial in Beer Sheva and the Syrian and Gaza borders, and enjoyed visits to the Old City in Jerusalem, the Temple Mount, Bethlehem, Masada and the Dead Sea.
The participants were: David Latham – State Organiser, NSW Labor; Erin Watt – National Secretary, Labor Environmental Action Network and organiser, United Voice Union; Darren Rodrigo – former adviser to Federal Opposition Leader Bill Shorten; and Edward McDougall – adviser to Steve Kamper MP and Immediate past president, Australian Young Labor. They were accompanied by Michael Zelas of the Board of Deputies Public Affairs Committee.
All were impressed with the breadth of the program and felt they better understood the perspectives of both Israelis and Palestinians and remarked on the lack of hope on both sides. They were grateful to have gained a better understanding of the regional situation, in particular the Syrian war and its global implications.
Board of Deputies CEO Vic Alhadeff commented: “Engaging with future political leaders is core business for the Board of Deputies, but the Berger Fellowship has provided a meaningful way to exchange ideas throughout the year and host the participants at numerous events.
We acknowledge the enormous generosity of Joshua and Lesli Berger, who co-sponsored the program with the JCA and had the foresight to initiate it.”