Tuesday, 17 October 2023
Like so many Australians, my heart broke when I saw the reports and videos coming out Israel of the barbaric actions of Hamas. Let us be clear, this is a human tragedy caused by Hamas. ISIS and Hamas are no different, targeting innocent people and families—women, men, children, the elderly, the young and the old—with no regard for human life. The coalition utterly condemns the unprovoked and abhorrent attack by the militant Hamas on Israel. Too many innocent people have lost their lives, Israeli and Palestinian. It was a deliberate act of violence intended to inflict maximum harm on innocent civilians.
The attack is a provocation. Israel has every right to defend itself in response and to deter future attacks and other acts of aggression, coercion and interference. Hamas is a recognised terrorist organisation consistently showing a blatant disregard for life—just like al-Qaeda, just like ISIS, just like Hezbollah. The merciless killing of more than 1,300 Jews by Hamas was barbaric. These sick acts have no place in our world.
I try to imagine if I woke up to the news that 260 kids who had been to a music concert in Australia had been driven into the desert and had been murdered. I cannot imagine that. I try to imagine that 199 Australians have been taken hostage and threatened with execution on the internet. I cannot imagine that. But this is the unthinkable reality for Israel. The evil acts of Hamas have sent shock waves around the world. Hamas terrorists committed mass murder on an atrocious scale. At the moment there are many Australians of Jewish faith who are going through a very difficult time, not just because they might have a loved one, a family member or someone they knew in Israel who's been affected by this atrocious terrorist act but also because it has an impact on families and communities here in Australia.
Children at some Jewish schools have been told to not wear their school uniforms. Children are not being allowed to walk home from school, their parents fearing violence and abuse. Children at school in our own country are being heavily guarded with guns. Security at synagogues and Jewish community centres has increased significantly. Antisemites are driving around the streets of Melbourne looking for Jews to hurt. Living Holocaust survivors have to listen to chants of 'Gas the Jews' and 'Kill the Jews'—in 2023 in Australia. Where is your moral compass when your first reaction to these atrocities is to protest and to celebrate in the cities of our great country? But it is happening, and it has no place in this world.
Whenever there is conflict in Israel, our Jewish communities in Australia feel the impact deeply. The lack of care for people who are hurting is inexcusable. This kind of hatred has no place in our society. And now is no time for equivocation: Israel must defend its territory, its way of life. Global support for Israel—its right to exist, its right to self-defence—is crucial, and we must call out antisemitism in all its forms. We stand with people of Jewish faith, both in Australia and abroad, as they experience what is another difficult and traumatic period in their lives. We must stand firmly against these acts of terror perpetrated by Hamas and support Israel taking strong action to defend themselves. We must send the message that this can never happen again.
But we mustn't forget the Palestinians, and we must make clear that any condemning of this terrorist group is not a reflection on the world's view of the Palestinian people. Hamas aren't just the enemy of the Jewish people; they are the enemy of many good Palestinian people as well. We must be clear in our wording and in our conversations that Hamas is the enemy, not Palestine. And it is heartbreaking to hear reports of Hamas stopping innocent civilians from evacuating Gaza. Many Australians are in pain at the thought of their fellow human beings suffering, and this has occurred purely through the actions of Hamas. Recently I had the opportunity to speak to a Jewish member of my community, and his heart is breaking for the Jewish people, his friends and family at home, but his heart is also breaking for the Palestinian people, because he knows the struggle they are going through. He showed humanity in that conversation that many wouldn't. We must remember that this is not about the Palestinian people; it is about the actions of Hamas.
It is my wish that all Jewish Australians know that they are not alone. Australia mourns alongside you for what is the single biggest loss of Jewish life since the Holocaust. We stand side by side with you in what is a deeply traumatic time. The coalition proudly supports Israel's right to do what is necessary, within the rules of war, to protect its people, its sovereignty and its borders. Like many Australians, I stand with Israel. We, as a nation, have to stand with Israel and the Australian Jewish community at this time of need because, after the horrors of the Holocaust, the world said to the Jewish people, 'Never again.' As I stand here today, I assure those people that the coalition stands in complete unity with Israel. We stand in unity with the Jewish people and with Israel.
One thing we learn and know in this role with the opportunities that we have is that words are important and our actions are important. That's why it was so disappointing and heartbreaking to see yesterday that seven members of this House took the decision to move a motion in which they wanted to remove one part of this motion in particular, paragraph 2. It's quite simple and straightforward. It reads:
(2) stands with Israel and recognises its inherent right to defend itself …
Seven members of this House wanted to have that removed from this motion. It is a shame and a disgrace and I condemn them for that. Their names are recorded in history for wanting to remove that from this. We need to stand with Israel and recognise that, much like we would expect Australia to defend itself if these actions had occurred on our land, Israel has the right to defend itself. I hope those seven members take some time to reflect on the pain and hurt that their actions yesterday caused many people in this country and across the world.