Zionist Council of Victoria hosts “Under the Radar”





Zionist Council of Victoria hosts “Under the Radar”

28 August 2014

Beth Weizmann Community Centre tenants together with members of the Zionist Council of Victoria affiliated organisations were treated by the ZCV to a special presentation in the Lamm Jewish Library of Australia of “Under the Radar: The Israel that doesn’t make the headlines” by educator, dramatist and public speaking coach, Helen Gottstein.

Helen took her audience on a 60 minute thought-provoking, engaging journey that was an emotional rollercoaster. Her one-woman presentation which took place yesterday, was both engaging and confronting. She patiently, and at times emotionally, took the assembled group on an interactive timeline of Operation Protective Edge, reiterating that being a Jew who stands with Israel has been difficult and confusing, especially during these past few weeks of conflict.

“We are Jews, that is who we are in Australia and we stand with Israel, but while the rest of the world focuses on things that go wrong in Israel, there is plenty going on under the radar that doesn’t make news headlines.

“There are 200 plus peace organisations who provide aid and/or assistance to Palestinians and there are mainstream government institutions who send help to the Palestinians, despite the fact that there are rockets being fired across the border. There are 186 trucks taking food every single day to Gaza – these are daily events that don’t make the news.

“As Jews we see ourselves as standing with the people who need help but the savages who killed the young Arab boy is not me it is not us,”

she said referring to the murder of Mohammed Abu-Khdeir.

She quoted IDF head Benny Gantz when he said to his troops:

“Before you are a solider you have to be a human being.”

Helen spoke from the heart with some gut-wrenching, tear-jerking moments especially when she described what being an Israeli mother to a soldier was like.

She spoke of the phone call she received from her son to say he loved her and how she knew instinctively that he was being sent into a dangerous area. How parents react irrationally to everyday events and related the story of how her daughter left her keys at home and had to ring the doorbell. The sound of the doorbell filled her and her husband with fear and dread because their son had been deployed and how their reactions were totally over the top and made no sense at all. She also told the audience how soldiers have their mobile phones removed and the frustration of having no contact with her son.

Originally from Australia, Helen, delicately combines her personal story with the stories of real people whom she knows. As an active member of Jerusalem Centre for Jewish-Christian Relations (JCJCR), she is an advocate for dialogue and working to build understanding between individuals and communities as part of achieving peace.

She performs theatrical presentations in order to embody different perspectives on life in Israel. Her performance is an excellent spring-board for further discussions and spoke how hard it has been for Jews everywhere in the world.

When asked if she believed the current ceasefire would hold her response was:

“Israelis are desperate to hope.”

Jane Rapke, Executive Director of the Zionist Council of Victoria said: “I am delighted we were able to host Helen and provide this session to members of our communal organisations who work tirelessly for Israel.

“It has been a very intense six weeks and very emotional for all of us. Helen’s presentation, reflecting on Operation Protective Edge has provided new insights and perspective on the situation.”

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