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    Battle of Beer-Sheva commemoration 2018

    Address by Rabbi Dr Raymond Apple AO RFD at the World War I Battle of Beer Sheva commemoration, Park of the Australian Soldier, Beer Sheva, Wednesday, 31 October, 2018.

    Rabbi Raymond & Mrs Apple with Wendy Hinton, the New Zealand Ambassador to Turkey, Israel, Jordan, and Azerbaijan, at the Battle of Beer Sheva commemoration.

    The Park of the Australian Soldier is a place of play and peace.

    What a dream that is – “play and peace” – in a world where no-one is safe!

    When I grew up in post-war Melbourne, the Jewish community had a cluster of Landsmannschaften, groups of Jews who came from the same town.

    Those chapters of history are now a long time ago, but there are new names that reflect Jewish suffering and sorrow. Wherever you look there are places with Jewish bloodstains. Their blood cries out but the world plays games and lets the Jews weep.

    The famous Four Freedoms boil down to one – the freedom to be yourself. Including the Jewish freedom to be Jews and to have an Israel.

    Look at the Internet in 2018. You read of “basic rights and freedoms to which humans are considered to be entitled, often held to include the rights to life, liberty, equality, and a fair trial, freedom from slavery and torture, and freedom of thought and expression”: upheld in theory but flouted in the very nations and world bodies that claim to defend it.

    Human life is violated every day. It seems that only one freedom is real – the freedom to bear a gun and slay decent people.

    We’re told, “It’s a free country. People have a right to have guns. They have a right to evil opinions.” It makes fools of governments and nations.

    Rabbi Jakobovits says that there are no intrinsic rights in the Bible, only obligations: “Everyone thinks of what society owes to him, not of what he owes to society.”

    So what if my neighbour has values and views different from mine? In a good society I would seek his wellbeing and he would seek mine. We would rejoice in one another. He would feel my pain and I would feel his. Our children would laugh with each other.

    There would be play and peace.


    O God:

    Grant us vision to aspire to the things that could be,

    Patience to bear with the things that take longer,

    Serenity to live with the things we cannot change,

    Courage to rise above doubt,

    And wisdom to know what is good for us and our world.

    May we not break faith with those who have gone before us

    Nor dim the torch which has come from their hands to ours.

    May we never falter in the pursuit of justice.

    May the God of all humanity give us His blessing –

    And let us say Amen.

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