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‘Mates for life’: Blinken thanks Australia for remaking stepfather after Holocaust

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Published: 18 February 2022

Last updated: 4 March 2024

On visit to Australia, the US Secretary of State paid tribute to Australian relatives who brought over his stepfather after the war and set him on path to public service

ANTONY BLINKEN, the US secretary of state, is on a mission in Australia to reassure the longtime ally that America has its back even as China flexes its muscles in the region.

And in a speech on February 10 at the University of Melbourne, he made his case with a personal story about how his beloved stepfather rebuilt his life in Melbourne after the Holocaust, a redemption Blinken said underscored shared values.

“The reason he was brought back into the world was ultimately because of Australia,” Blinken said of Samuel Pisar, the philosopher and legal scholar whom Blinken has often cited as being an inspiration for his own dedication to human rights and public service.

Relatives in Australia brought Polish-born Pisar over after the war. “He was 16 years old by the time he got to Australia,” Blinken said. “And as he put it, as he told us, as he told the family for years, Australia remade him. It remade him as a person, it remade him as someone who followed intellectual pursuits, it remade him into a human being.”

Pisar attended the University of Melbourne, where he was mentored by Zelman Cowen, the dean of the faculty of law who later made history when he served as Australia’s second Jewish governor-general. Cowen helped Pisar get a scholarship to Harvard Law School, and soon after Pisar launched his career, advising the Kennedy administration.

Blinken said he was “mates for life” with Pisar’s family and friends in Australia and extended that status to the US-Australia relationship.

FULL STORY: ‘Mates for life’: Blinken thanks Australia for remaking stepfather after Holocaust (Times of Israel)

Photo: US Secretary of State Antony Blinken in Melbourne on February 10 (Kevin Lamarque/Pool/AP)

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