No worries? Not for the Australian olah

Rachel Risby-Raz once said that ‘anyone who’s worked for Olmert would die for him.’

September 8, 2010 04:44
1 minute read.

It doesn’t happen too often that immigrants to Israel from Templestowe, Australia, end up embroiled in controversy.

In fact, under normal circumstances 35- year-old Jerusalem mother-of-three Rachel Risby-Raz might be the last person you would expect to see on the front page of a newspaper.

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But Risby-Raz won a public tender to become foreign relations coordinator for Jerusalem mayor Ehud Olmert in 2001, and then she followed him, first to the Prime Minister’s Office and now to the court rooms.

“When I started working for Olmert, I had no idea who he was,” Risby-Raz told The Jerusalem Post’s Ruthie Blum in a 2007 interview.

“I had recently made aliya and gotten married. In fact, it was three days after my wedding that I started working for Ehud, which turned out to be a very good decision in retrospect.”

Risby-Raz has a BA and master’s degree in Jewish history from the University of Melbourne, a BA in theology in Hebrew Bible studies from Whitney College (also in Melbourne) and a master’s in religious affairs and politics from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem.

She had an interest in Judaism since she was a young teenager and later underwent Orthodox conversion in Israel. As Olmert’s foreign relations adviser, she was his liaison to Diaspora Jewish communities when he was Jerusalem mayor, vice premier and then prime minister.

Her responsibilities in planning Olmert’s trips abroad got Risby-Raz in the hot water she is in today. Now perhaps she would not say so, but in the 2007 interview, she gave the impression she was willing to endure anything for Olmert.

“I see Ehud Olmert as a father figure,” she said. “He’s such a wonderful person, anyone who’s ever worked for him would die for the man. He’s the warmest, most intelligent, most caring person one could meet. He’s brilliant. He loves this country.

And when they attack him, it hurts.”

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