Marking 70 years since the United Nations Partition Resolution 181 was passed on 29 November 1947 a national event was held at Parliament House, Canberra on 29 November 2017. It was on this day in 1947 that the UN General Assembly voted on Resolution 181, the Partition Plan, calling for the establishment of a Jewish state alongside an Arab state in British Mandate Palestine, thus leading to the establishment of the State of Israel.
For the past 12 years NCJWA has held a Celebrating Israel event to mark the resolution and also to commemorate and acknowledge the part played by Australia and Dr Herbert Vere Evatt, then Australian Minister of External Affairs and chair of the Ad Hoc Committee on Palestine.
Celebrating Israel was initiated and has been coordinated since 2005 by Dalia Ayalon Sinclair OAM, a past NCJWA NSW president and national board member. At the commencement of Israel’s 70th Anniversary celebrations it was particularly significant that the event was held this year in Canberra.
The 2017 event was hosted by Senator David Fawcett, Chair of the Australia – Israel Parliamentary Friendship Group and Senator for South Australia, and co – sponsored by the National Council of Jewish Women of Australia, the Executive Council of Australian Jewry, the Zionist Federation of Australia, the Australia/Israel and Jewish Affairs Council and the Embassy of Israel.
Politicians, ambassadors and communal leaders attended including the recently arrived new Israeli ambassador to Australia, H.E. Mark Sofer. Deputy head of mission at the Israeli embassy Anat Sultan Dadon, delivered a special message for the occasion from the Prime Minister of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu who referred to Evatt’s “pivotal role in shaping the final plan voted upon by the United Nations that fateful day in November 1947”.
Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop also addressed the guests, noting that Australia was the first country to vote in favour of the creation of Israel as well as praising Israel as “a beacon of democracy in a very troubled neighbourhood”.
Guests viewed video presentations on the 1947 event and listened to Cantor Josh Weinberg recite prayers for Australia, the State of Israel, and sing the national anthems accompanied by Shirley Politzer OAM.
This memorable gala event further reinforced the strong bonds between Australia and Israel and the hope of all present of Israel’s right to live in peace and security.