March 22, 2018 — Melbourne, Australia
An AJC leadership delegation has just concluded a three-day mission to Australia. The visit included stops in Canberra, the nation’s capital, and Melbourne.
The program in Australia was led by AJC CEO David Harris and coordinated with AJC's longstanding partner organization, AIJAC, led by its executive director, Dr. Colin Rubenstein, and chairman, Mark Leibler.
The delegation met with, among others, Senator Mathias Cormann, Minister for Finance and Government Leader in the Senate; Alan Tudge, Minister for Citizenship and Multicultural Affairs and Member of Parliament; Bill Shorten, Leader of the Labor Party and Leader of the Opposition; Justin Bassi, National Security Advisor to Prime Minister Turnbull; Senator Jim Molan; Senator Kristina Keneally; Lloyd Brodick of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and seven of his colleagues; Mark Dreyfus, Member of Parliament and former Attorney-General of Australia; Matthew Guy, Leader of the Opposition in the state of Victoria; U.S. Chargé d’Affaires James Caruso; and Israeli Ambassador Mark Sofer.
A highlight of the visit was a reception hosted by Ambassador Sofer, a longtime friend of AJC, in honor of David Harris and the AJC delegation. In attendance were parliamentarians, diplomats from the United States, Israel, Japan, Egypt, Greece, and Cyprus, and Jewish community leaders.
Additionally, the group met with several top journalists and political thinkers, had a luncheon in Parliament with ten senators from the Parliamentary Friends of Israel, one of the largest such groups in Parliament, and met with 70 leaders of the Jewish community in Melbourne.
The principal topics discussed during the mission were: (i) Australian-U.S. and Australian-Israeli relations; (ii) the Iranian nuclear threat and the JCPOA; (iii) Asia-Pacific regional developments; and (iv) Australia's approach to immigration and integration.
"We came to Australia to express our gratitude and admiration for the country's indispensable alliance with the United States and steadfast support for the State of Israel," said Harris, who has visited the country many times. "This is truly an exceptional nation, one that has stood with us shoulder-to-shoulder time and again. In today’s turbulent world, the links only become still more important. And the Australian Jewish community is among the most impressive, vibrant, and dedicated in the world."
AJC maintains close ties with Australian diplomats in the U.S. through its Asia Pacific Institute, led by Shira Loewenberg and chaired by Jeff Stone. The institute, the first of its kind, was founded to address the growing importance of the region to the U.S. and the Jewish people.