From left: Lesli Berger, Premier Dominic Perrottet, JBD CEO Darren Bark. Photo: Giselle Haber

Shane Desiatnik
The Australian Jewish News
May 12, 2022

IN his first keynote address at the annual Sydney Yom Ha’atzmaut cocktail reception – hosted by Jewish communal organisations at the Shangri-La Hotel on Tuesday – NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet presented a Premier’s Award to NSW Jewish Board of Deputies (JBD) president Lesli Berger and announced a major new trade mission to Israel scheduled for July 8-14.

Berger, who will complete his four-year term in August, was recognised for his outstanding service to the JBD and to the broader community.

“Lesli took the reins at a very challenging time, and the success of JBOD, I believe, is on the basis of the work that he’s done over the last few years,” Perrottet said.

Greeting the audience of hundreds with a heartfelt “shalom”, Perrottet described Israel as providing a homeland “to be proud of – a home that shines on the world stage … a home of the most advanced innovation ecosystems in the world”.

“Israel plays to its strengths, and our state’s strong relationship with Israel means we’ve been able to work together to be a source of strength for one another.

“In fact, despite a global pandemic over the last two years, trade between NSW and Israel has only increased.

“And tonight, I’m pleased to announce that we can look forward to NSW Minister for Science, Innovation and Technology, Alistair Henskens, engaging with a Western Sydney trade mission to Israel later this year.”

NSW Labor leader Chris Minns noted, “It’s with great pride that I acknowledge that Australia was one of the 37 nations that formally voted in favour of Israel joining the UN in May 1949”, under prime minister of the time, Ben Chifley.

Fondly recalling his visit to Israel in 2001, Minns described Israel’s high-tech sector as “the envy of the world”, and the resurrection of the ancient Hebrew language as “a wonder of the world”.

“Unlike its founding, Israel is not alone in the world today, but that does not mean she does not need help from her friends.

“Bipartisan rejection of the BDS movement will continue under my leadership of the NSW Labor Party, and there is also bipartisan support for the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s working definition of antisemitism.”

Israeli ambassador Amir Maimon said, “The bipartisan and cross-sector support for Israel in Australia, proves the enduring strengths of the Israeli-Australia friendship.”

“It is heartwarming to see so many people here in NSW gathered to celebrate 74 strong years of Israeli independence.”

The event was co-hosted by the JBD, the Zionist Council of NSW, the Zionist Federation of Australia and the Executive Council of Australian Jewry.