"A young political leaders mission to Israel brought a group of politically inclined young people face to face with the conflicts of the region when it took place in January. The Israel/Palestine Political Study Tour comprised 15 participants, representing both the Liberal and Labor parties, and who, for the most part, were not Jewish. As well as seeing some of the sites of the country, over 9 days the group met with high-level officials via visits to the Australian Embassy, the Knesset and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs... This is the fourth time this mission has run. It was launched in 2013 by Joshua Koonin, a Sydney-based lawyer and former political adviser who sought to bring politically minded people to Israel to gain a better understanding of the political issue that Israel* faces. From 6 liberal delegates on the inaugural mission, it has grown to encompass both sides of politics, as well as growing in numbers." (Young pollies visit Israel, Australian Jewish News, 19/2/16)
The AJN features testimonials from 2 of the rambammed in its report: Daniel Weil, Lib, Caulfield branch vice-chair, and Adrian Wong, Lab, adviser to Chris Hayes MP for Fowler**and Chief Opposition Whip. After reading these, all I can say is, thankyou, Joshua Koonin, for getting the show on the road, because without it the following profundities from Daniel and Adrian would never - perish the thought! - have seen the light of day:
Weil: "Standing at the Syrian border we could clearly see and hear the civil war going on... Seeing that really emphasised the instability of the whole region... Everybody who participated came away thinking that this is a much more complex conflict than they otherwise would have thought. Without having been in Israel, you can't be an armchair expert."
So anything you want to know about Israel, Danny Boy's your
Hey@Ostrov_A -where is the best place for good authentic hummus in Tel Aviv? (2/1/16)
And that building in Jerusalem with the golden dome you've often wondered about? Well, that's not the Dome of the Rock but Al Aqsa Mosque:
#jerusalem, the Holy City. Western Wall with the Al Aqsa mosque behind (31/12/15)
Wong: "Many of us have read about the Israeli and Palestinian conflict in the Middle East, however, to be able to meet everyday people on the ground and hear their personal experiences was very insightful and informative in this debate. I found Israel to be a very hardworking and technologically successful country. After the visit, I remain committed to two states for Israelis and the Palestinian people to live in peace."
Thanks Adrian, if you hadn't told me, I would never have guessed that the Israeli and Palestinian conflict was in the Middle East. Or that the MKs and Israeli Foreign Ministry officials are everyday people on the ground. Or that Israel was so hardworking.
But Adrian has saved his most penetrating insight for a tweet:
Travelling around #Israel and inside the #Palestine territories has been an interesting experience (9/1/16)
So these are our future MPs. Good to know the ship of state will be in such good hands going forward.
[*So much for the Palestine part of the 'Israel/Palestine Political Study Tour equation'; **Julia Irwin's old seat!]