Senate debates

Tuesday, 17 October 2023



8:57 pm

Photo of Claire ChandlerClaire Chandler (Tasmania, Liberal Party, Shadow Assistant Minister for Foreign Affairs) Share this | Hansard source

On 7 October, Hamas terrorists perpetrated against Israel one of the most barbaric, horrific terrorist attacks the world has ever seen. Their targets were innocent civilians. They sought out children, the elderly, women and families and slaughtered them in cold blood. They raped women. They mutilated bodies. They burned innocent people alive. More than 1,300 Israelis and foreign nationals were murdered. They kidnapped and took hostage hundreds of others to be tortured and used as human shields. These are acts of pure evil. For the vast majority of Australians, no excuse and no justification are possible or acceptable. No nation and no people should ever have to bear the cold-blooded murder of innocent civilians.

After the horrors of the Holocaust, the world promised the Jewish people: never again. The difficult truth is that now we have to ask ourselves how seriously the world meant that promise. The reality is that, for many years, the world has known that, each and every day, Israel has faced the daily prospect of deranged, hateful terrorists who openly profess their desire to kill Jews. Day in and day out, Israel is forced to intercept terrorists and thwart terror attacks intended to murder innocent Jews. When the terrorists of Hamas succeed, innocent Israelis are killed and there are celebrations in Gaza and the West Bank.

It is, to me, and, I know, to many others in this parliament, unfathomable that some in our community cannot bring themselves to offer their undivided sympathy and support to Israeli families who are mourning the slaughter of their mothers, their daughters, their fathers and their sons. I am appalled to hear, on the street of our cities here in Australia, antisemitic chants that we thought we would never hear outside of Nazi Germany or the strongholds of Islamist terror. I am devastated that Jewish Australians are now afraid to walk our streets and that families are afraid to send their children to school. I fear for Western societies, including our own country, where the reaction by some to the mass murder of Jewish people is to hold rallies designed not to condemn Hamas but to condemn Israel.

Let us be very clear: it is Hamas that holds Gaza and innocent civilians in Gaza hostage. It is Hamas that uses civilians and hostages as human shields. It is Hamas that has taken hundreds of Israeli citizens into Gaza and refused to release them. How dare anybody say that this is not about Hamas. How dare anyone refuse to blame the terrorists who slaughtered 1,300 innocent civilians, but, instead, blame the victims.

The scale and the depravity of the 7 October terror attacks shocked the vast majority of the world. But we cannot ignore the fact that, while most of us mourned, there were some—including here in Australia—who celebrated. Really, we have no excuse for being shocked that antisemitism is once again reaching its tentacles into political parties, universities and dark corners of our society, because our Jewish community here has been warning us about this for years.

The world has also known for years that the Islamic Republic of Iran provides hundreds of millions of dollars to the terror groups Hamas, Hezbollah and Palestinian Islamic Jihad. The IRGC helps train and support their proxies to attack and kill Israelis. The purpose of this Iranian funding and support to Hamas is very clear. It is to enable Hamas to kill Jews. Over many years, the IRI regime has cultivated and resourced a network of terrorist proxies, which are bound together by their hatred of Jews and a willingness to take money and advice from Iran in order to achieve a shared goal of causing death, pain and suffering to Israeli citizens. Nobody gains from these terror attacks by Hamas more than the IRI regime.

A multitude of analysts and experts have, for many months, warned that the regime was building up the capacity of its terrorist proxies to mount attacks on Israel. Yet the regime—which murders its own people, funds terror against Israel and across the region, and intimidates and threatens its critics across the world, including here in Australia—has not been isolated by the world as it should have been and has instead gained influence. Let us not forget: in three weeks time, the regime's representative, having been appointed, will chair the United Nations Human Rights Council's Social Forum. Iran has collected to their side allies like Vladimir Putin, and they are now using anti-Israeli sentiment to convince more nations to side with them. The same anti-Israel sentiment we have sadly witnessed on our streets and on our airwaves is helping the largest state sponsor of terrorism to build its support and achieve its goal.

The IRI regime openly celebrated the murder of 1,300 innocent civilians in Israel. The Iranian ambassador in Australia has posted to social media, describing one of the most horrific terror attacks the world has ever witnessed as 'a Palestinian jailbreak out of an open-air prison called Gaza'. We've heard this exact talking point from others in Australia since 7 October, and it is nothing short of seeking to justify and celebrate terror. Dangerous rhetoric is being spread here in Australia by the Islamic Republic regime, openly blaming Israel for the barbaric actions of Hamas, a proscribed terrorist group which the IRI regime funds and coordinates with. Why has such an obviously dangerous and antisemitic regime been allowed to enjoy the status and perks of powerful government? To prevent terrorism, we must not turn a blind eye to the tactics and propaganda of those who fund and support it. To stand with the Jewish community, we cannot accept any form of support for Hamas or any form of intimidation or threat against the Jewish community in Australia.

In concluding my remarks here this evening, I want to reflect on my time in Israel in 2019. I have walked the streets of Sderot and seen rocket shelters built in playgrounds to protect children. Back when I was there, just four years ago, I hoped against hope that they would never be used. In 2023, sustained rocket fire is, tragically, far from the worst thing that the people of Sderot have had to endure. I visited the town of Metula, close to the border with Lebanon, nestled amongst the beautiful mountains, and I have seen and felt the trepidation in that community because of their proximity to the tentacles of Hezbollah. Again, that trepidation was clear in 2019. I cannot begin to imagine how the people of Metula are feeling tonight. I stand with Israel, as we all should in this place, and I stand with our Jewish community here in Australia. I say to them: you have many friends in this parliament, and I am so proud to be one of them.


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