Jewish delegation meets Dalai Lama


SYDNEY, Australia (JTA) – The Dalai Lama received a special Hebrew blessing during a private reception in northern India with a Jewish delegation from Australia.

The hourlong meeting in Dharamsala, the seat of the Tibetan government in exile, was organized by Jewish lawmaker Michael Danby, the chair of the Australian Parliamentary Friends of Tibet, who led the high-profile delegation.

“I said to him that we are all very happy with the re-establishment of the Jewish commonwealth after 2,000 years and we hope our Tibetan friends don’t have to wait that long,” Danby, a member of the Labor government, told JTA.

One of the highlights, he said, was when Lee Liberman, a major supporter of the Jewish center at Monash University in Melbourne, said the Hebrew blessing on meeting a monarch or head of state.

“He loved that,” Danby said of the Dalai Lama, adding that "His Holiness acknowledged to our delegation that his moderate third way, which sought Tibetan authority within a Chinese Federation, had not been successful.”

Danby, who represents Melbourne’s largest Jewish electorate in federal parliament, said he conceived the idea for the tour after he traveled from Ramallah to Dharamsala last year.

“You see UNRWA, the U.N., the EU and five BMW dealerships between Ramallah and Kalandria crossing,” he said. “And then you see Tibetans who have no international support and they don’t blow anyone up. I thought it’s simply unfair and wrong.”

Danby, Israel’s staunchest supporter in Australia’s federal parliament for more than a decade, has clashed with Chinese officials over his support for Tibet.

He led the first-ever delegation of Australian lawmakers and senators to Dharamsala to meet the Dalai Lama in 2009.

Recommended from JTA