By Peter Manning
19 April 2013

The Friends of Bethlehem group in Marrickville last night contributed $300 of its funds to kick off a fund-raiser for Bethlehem University.

Tim Fischer AC, former Deputy Prime Minister and former Australian Ambassador to the Holy See. Guest speaker at the Beecroft Forum.

While the function was held at the Pennant Hills Golf Club as one of the regular meetings of the MIAT Beecroft Forum, Friends of Bethlehem booked a table in support of one of Palestine’s biggest universities.

Six of its members attended, including Management Committee members Marty Morrison, Stewart Mills and Peter Manning, and three others. The entrance fee and the money raised through the auction of items netted $6,000 for the university on the night.

Guest Speaker was former National Party Leader and Deputy Prime Minister Tim Fischer who has recently retired as the Gillard Government’s Ambassador to the Holy See in the Vatican.

One of the items auctioned was one of Tim Fischer’s old trademark Akubra hats. It went for over $800 and was won by a local girl’s high school as a piece of history.

A Bethlehem University speaker told the audience over dinner of the growth of the university, its multi-faith student base and its commitment to providing tertiary education opportunities to Palestinians. Some 18,000 students had now graduated from the university, run by the Marist Brothers.

The Vice-Chancellor of Bethlehem University, New Zealander Brother Peter Bray, stays in Marrickville when he is in Sydney near St. Brigid’s Catholic church and has often met Marrickville Councillors at dinner hosted by Friends of Bethlehem.

In his speech, Tim Fischer spoke of his commitment to peace and justice in Palestine. He condemned rockets fired on Israel from Gaza by Hamas but also condemned Israeli settlement activity in the West Bank, the Berlin-like separation wall and their recent campaign to stop Palestine getting a seat in the United Nations.

Tim Fischer also added that he thought the Australian Government and the Federal Opposition should have supported Palestine’s bid to join the United Nations.


Pictures from the night

(L-R) Philip Ruddock, Maria Pearson, Rev Jim Barr,Attendees at the MIAT Beecroft ForumTim Fischer’s Akubra – with dust from PalestineRev Jim BarrTim Fischer receiving a gift from Rev Jim Barr

Friends of Bethlehem members: Peter Manning, Marty Morrison, Mary O’Sullivan

Tim Fischer receiving a gift from Rev Jim BarrRev Jim BarrTim Fischer’s Akubra hat – with dust from PalestineAttendees at the MIAT Beecroft Forum

Tim Fischer’s Akubra hat – with dust from Palestine

Attendees at the MIAT Beecroft Forum


See also:

Ambassador Tim Fischer, Australian Representative to the Holy See Visits Bethlehem University, Bethelehm University, Palestine, 5 December 2011 

Ambassador Fischer: A sober speech for a sobering world, Vatican Radio, 9 January 2012
Tim Fischer’s commenting on the irony on the killings of Lebanese children on the day Schindler’s List dominates the Oscar coverage in 1994, American Jewish Year Book, Volume 96, 1996

Peter Wilson, ‘Tim Fischer signs off after final spell at Holy See’, The Australian, January 07, 2012

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