Tuesday, 17 October 2023
I rise to express my solidarity with the people of Israel, who, on the morning of 7 October, were targeted by Hamas in a horrific terrorist attack. This attack came without warning, deliberately targeting innocent civilians. The heinous terrorist attack carried out by Hamas against Israel is an appalling breach of peace. As the world is mourning the greatest loss of Jewish lives in a single day since the Holocaust, Hamas's evil cannot be overstated. The abhorrent acts of terrorism must universally be condemned without qualification. The government has been very clear that Israel has a right to defend itself.
The news of the loss of an Australian citizen, Galit Carbone, is particularly devastating. My thoughts and prayers are with not just her family and friends but all the family and friends who have lost loved ones at this time, because no-one wins from war.
The Australian government's priority has been providing passage out of the conflict for Australian citizens. As we heard from the Leader of the Government in the Senate and Minister for Foreign Affairs, we've had hundreds of Australians recently arrive back on our shores. More than 400 Australians have now been airlifted from Israel on government supported flights. These include the deployment of two RAAF aircraft and a government supported private charter flight. DFAT is in contact with Australians in Israel, Gaza and the West Bank who have registered through the crisis portal. I want to take this opportunity to thank our DFAT officials and countries including the United Kingdom and the United Arab Emirates for facilitating the passage of Australians to get home safely.
I also want to touch on some of the political commentary that I've read following this horrific terrorist attack. Instead of unequivocally condemning this blatant act of terrorism—the firing of rockets on civilians and the seizure of civilian hostages, including children, women and the elderly—some have sought to muddy the moral waters and make 'both sides' arguments about what has occurred since the morning of 7 October. These arguments ignore the facts. They are an insult to innocent people, both Arabs and Jews, who have been killed or injured by Hamas terrorists over the past 10 days. Hamas must be condemned for beginning this conflict while continuing its longstanding practice of hiding its military assets in densely populated residential areas and using innocent people as shields while it carries out its terrorism. Let me be very clear: since it was established in 1987 and since it gained power in Gaza 20 years later, Hamas's goal has been the destruction of the State of Israel and the murder of Jewish people. The Australian government rightly listed Hamas as a terrorist organisation in its entirety last year. There is no justification for this terrorism. There is no both sides, middle-of-the-road argument to be had here. Those trying to draw some false moral equivalents are providing cover for the most horrific expression of anti-Semitism.
Unfortunately, this is exactly what some in this place and in the other place have done. I guess actions speak louder than words—yesterday, we saw the Australian Greens, in particular, in the House of Representatives vote against a government motion condemning Hamas's terrorist attack on Israel, which has been described as simply despicable. There are no equivalents between the barbaric acts of these terrorists and Israel's efforts to remove a mortal threat to her people, which includes Arabs, Jews, Christians and people of no religious belief. Hamas has committed a grievous crime against humanity, and Israel has a right to defend itself and her people.
Like any decent person, I've been horrified by the footage from protests occurring that support the actions of Hamas and celebrate the murder of Jewish people for just simply believing in a faith. I will not repeat the chants from these protests here today, but I'm sure all of us would have at least seen the reports of videos online that show people talking about Hamas's attack as a cause for happiness and, even more horrifically, making reference to the murder of Jewish people by Nazis as something that should be celebrated and repeated.
Surely we have learnt the lessons from previous wars. There is no place for this rhetoric. There is no place for anti-Semitism. Just as there is no place for Islamophobia. There is no place to discriminate against people. As a proud multicultural liberal democracy, there is no place for any discrimination on the basis of one's faith, religious beliefs or race in Australia. Hamas's terrorism should draw universal condemnation, as should these anti-Semitic protests.
I want to express my particular solidarity with Australia's Jewish community. Last week, I had the opportunity to check in with Rabbi Kaltmann and friends at the ARK Centre in Melbourne and attended the Jewish community solidarity rally at Caulfield synagogue, along with the Deputy Prime Minister of Australia and the Deputy Premier of Victoria. As Rabbi Gabi said to me: 'Our people are not okay right now. Hamas's terrorism and the open expression of anti-Semitism in Australia are an enormous weight on our Jewish community. How is it so that simply being Jewish allows people to target you?'
But my message to Rabbi Gabi and the Jewish community is simple: Australia stands with you, the parliament stands with you and this government stands with you. Those people celebrating this attack do not represent the vast majority of Australians, who are horrified by Hamas's actions. And I know that the thoughts of many Australians are with those who have been lost and those family members and friends who have been kidnapped by Hamas, and we continue to pray for their safe return.
In closing, Australia stands in solidarity with the state of Israel and the Jewish community. I, unequivocally, along with my colleagues, condemn terrorism and anti-Semitism in all its forms.