Prominent Jews will have a chance to contribute to a major summit on Australia’s future, despite its clash with Passover. Following protests by the Executive Council of Australian Jewry, Prime Minister Kevin Rudd agreed to hold a pre-summit meeting for 50 eminent Jews so the community could be involved in the 2020 Summit being held to discuss the challenges facing Australia. The list of 1,000 Australians invited to the April 19-20 summit in Canberra, released Friday, included several high-profile Jews. The first seder night is April 19.
It is unclear whether the Jews chosen will attend the summit or participate in the Jewish talkfest on April 14.
Among the picks were Sandra Levy, the former director of television at the Australian Broadcasting Corporation; David Gonski, the chair of Coca-Cola-Amatil and chancellor of the University of New South Wales; Louise Adler, a publisher who has clashed with the Jewish establishment over numerous books she published that were hostile to Israel; and Barrie Kosky, a celebrated theater director.
In a letter to council President Robert Goot earlier this month, Rudd offered his apologies for the inadvertent clash and asked the group to forward its nominations for the pre-summit Jewish meeting. Goot said the compromise was a â€œvery positive result for the community.” Rudd has assuaged initial anger at the apparent snub in recent weeks by moving a historic bipartisan motion in parliament to congratulate Israel on its 60th anniversary and then addressing the annual United Israel Appeal fund-raiser last week.
Ehud Olmert convened his Cabinet in a Galilean nature reserve to show Israel’s concern for the environment.
The Israeli prime minister and his colleagues eschewed Jerusalem for their weekly meeting Sunday, holding it instead in a capacious cave in Beit Shearim, a nature reserve that also houses the tomb of the Talmudic sage Yehuda Hanassi.
Olmert said the event aimed “to tell all of the country’s citizens that we love the country and its natural resources, and that these must be safeguarded as a matter of routine.”
The Cabinet passed two resolutions earmarking funds for camping sites and bicycle tracks in Israel.
Environmental groups said the move was insufficient and called on the government to tackle more serious issues such as air pollution.