Benjamin Netanyahu arrived in Sydney, Australia, on Wednesday to begin a four-day visit to the country, a historic first for a sitting Israeli prime minister. Among his initial stops on day one of the trip was Sydney’s Central Synagogue, led by Chabad-Lubavitch Rabbi Levi Wolff, where he and Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull were greeted by an overflow crowd of 2,000 members of the local Jewish community.
“I want to bring all of you greetings from Jerusalem, our eternal capital,” Netanyahu told the cheering audience, “never to be divided again!”
Along with Turnbull, former Australian prime ministers John Howard and Tony Abbott were in attendance, as was New South Wales premier Gladys Berejiklian, and various other Australian and Israeli dignitaries.
Netanyahu urged members of the Jewish community, and Turnbull himself, to visit Israel, telling them: “I want you to walk the streets of the Old City and hike the Golan,” before adding that “the Golan will never go back to Syria.”
“Thank you for this warm welcome, and this year in Jerusalem—with Prime Minister Turnbull.”
Towards the end of the visit, Wolff and Central Synagogue president Danny Taibel presented Netanyahu with a framed photo of the prime minister receiving a dollar bill from the Rebbe—Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson, of righteous memory—taken during Netanyahu’s tenure as ambassador to the United Nations in the 1980s.
Turnbull has proven a forceful advocate for Israel, blasting the U.N. Security Council’s recent Resolution 2334 condemning Israel. Just yesterday, he commented in The Australian: “My government will not support one-sided resolutions criticising Israel of the kind recently adopted by the Security Council, and we deplore the boycott campaigns designed to delegitimize the Jewish state.”
Thanking Wolff for the rare original photo, Netanyahu walked over to Turnbull and explained its particular resonance.
“This is the Lubavitcher Rebbe,” said Netanyahu, “a great rabbi. ... When I came to the U.N. 30 years ago, he called me in and told me: ‘You are going into a house of darkness, but even in such a dark place, if you bring in a light, even a little light dispels much darkness.”
An overflow crowd of 2,000 members of the local Jewish community filled the Central Synagogue in Sydney.
Netanyahu and Turnbull addressing the audience.