Tuesday, 17 October 2023
I also rise to contribute to the motion on the Hamas attacks on Israel and the ongoing conflict. Like so many, I condemn the unprovoked and abhorrent attack on Israel by Hamas. It is without a doubt difficult to comprehend the scale and savagery of what the world has witnessed unfold in Israel over the past week. What we have seen has been pure destruction and terror inflicted by Hamas on a level that Israel has never seen before. As Sukkoth—a week-long festival to commemorate the harvest and the period after the Israelites were freed from slavery in Egypt—was coming to an end, Hamas militants commenced a fully-fledged surprise attack on Israeli cities on the outskirts of Gaza. At least 1,400 Israelis have been killed so far. Hordes of Hamas militants infiltrated kibbutz after kibbutz after kibbutz, setting buildings alight, killing innocent Israeli citizens, taking women, children and the elderly back to Gaza to be held hostage. Young Israelis were enjoying a music festival in the desert—and I have to say, as someone who had the privilege of living in Israel for almost two years, I many times danced in the desert when I was living on a moshav in Ein Gedi; I know how beautiful it is and what we used to do as young people. They were terrorised by Hamas attackers who came from all angles, descending from the sky on paragliders and arriving in a convoy of cars, vans, trucks and motorcycles. At least 260 were killed by militants armed with AK-47s and rocket-propelled grenades. Civilians who were trying to flee were gunned down in their cars and on the streets by these jihadis, their bloodied bodies lying lifeless on the side of the road or, even worse, paraded around the streets in the back of utes. As if these attacks on babies, boys and girls, men and women and, as we saw reported yesterday, elderly Holocaust survivors could not get any more sickening, much of Hamas's unashamed sadism has been posted online for the whole world to see.
Innocent Palestinian civilians and Israeli hostages will continue to be deliberately used as human shields by Hamas. Why? Because Hamas does not care. This is their modus operandi. These innocent people will simply be collateral damage. Australia and many of our allies across the globe, including Canada, the United Kingdom, the United States, the European Union and Japan, recognise that Hamas is a terrorist organisation controlled by Islamic extremists. After Israel withdrew from Gaza in 2005, Hamas became the de facto authority. It has reigned supreme ever since. Palestinians in Gaza have not voted for a legislature since 2006, nor a president since 2008. Time and time again, Hamas has shown its blatant disregard for life by inflicting sheer terror on innocent civilians, most of whom are Jewish people, in an attempt to destroy Israel. Last week's attack was the most sickening and brutal example of this yet. We have all seen the shocking reports in the media and the videos that have been circulated online over the past week of hundreds of Hamas terrorists raiding and setting fire to homes, abducting and holding innocent people hostage, beheading helpless babies and massacring kibbutzniks on the kibbutz. Nothing can ever justify killing innocent people in this way.
Hamas has no desire for a peaceful two-state solution, something which both Israelis and Palestinians have been open to in the past. Hamas has always rejected Israel's right to exist. Putting it simply, this attack is an attempt to destroy Israel and inflict maximum harm on its people. Israel has every right to fight back against this terrorism and anti-Semitism. It has every right to deter future attacks in order to defend itself. It has every right to put an end to any further aggression, coercion and interference, to ensure the protection of its people. The coalition recognises and unequivocally supports Israel's right to do this.
In supporting Israel it must be stressed, though, that the coalition acknowledges the devastating loss of life and suffering that the Palestinian people are experiencing as a result of these attacks by Hamas. It is inevitable that Israel will retaliate in response to the attacks by Hamas. But for Israel this war is not about killing the terrorists who seek to obliterate it; it is about breaking the power of Hamas and upholding the foundation of nationhood and the rules and norms that Hamas so obviously seeks to destroy.
This morning the coalition party room had the honour and the privilege of being briefed by Israel's ambassador to Australia., His Excellency Mr Amir Maimon. To echo the comments of the Leader of the Opposition, the coalition wishes Israel swift success in a war it did not choose but which it is compelled to fight.
What has occurred in Israel has been deeply distressing for many in the Australian community. Many have family and friends who are caught up on both sides of this conflict. In the light of the Hamas attack on Israel, we have seen a number of pro-Palestine protests occur across Australia. While there is most certainly a place in Australia for peaceful protest—this is something that we all value—there is absolutely no place in this country for protesters who show such disdain and disregard for people who subscribe to a religion that isn't their own. Those chanting 'Gas the Jews, F the Jews and F Israel' and burning Israel's flag outside the Sydney Opera House are, quite frankly, a disgrace to our nation. They have a disregard for human decency. I condemn them and their behaviour in the strongest possible terms. It is extremely concerning that the sort of violence and hatred being pushed by Hamas has been replicated and directed at Australia's Jewish population, and it is disgusting and, quite frankly, extremely disturbing that language and behaviour of this sort is being used in our country. I support the Leader of the Opposition's statements in relation to considering the deportation of people on temporary visas who have broken the law, incited violence and spewed such vile, anti-Semitic hate speech at these protests.
Understandably, there is a heightened sense of anxiety amongst Jewish Australians at the moment. Our Jewish community was unable to gather at the Opera House, which was lit up in blue and white, like many landmarks across Australia and around the world, as a sign of support. They were told by the New South Wales police minister to stay at home. Jewish people are worried about their children wearing the Jewish school uniform out and about in public. Jewish people are worried about doing their food shopping at their local Jewish supermarket. Jewish people are worried about being targeted for practising their faith at a synagogue. We have also seen reports that Jewish students are avoiding university campuses out of fear and concern for their safety due to anti-Israel slogans and material being broadcasted and distributed at various campuses across the country. Freedom of speech on campuses should be in no way limited, but it is incredibly concerning and disheartening to hear that Jewish students feel threatened by other students celebrating these attacks.
Last Wednesday night, a number of my colleagues and I were honoured to attend a vigil service with Perth's Jewish community at the Perth Hebrew Congregation. There were over 1,000 people in attendance, but we joined with millions around the world—people of good faith, people who stand with Israel and people who speak out and push back against the unimaginable barbarity that we have witnessed in Israel in the recent days.
We are so fortunate to live in a country that has been built on the foundation of tolerance and mutual respect for one another. But there must be consequences for those who threaten our social cohesion and behave as some unfortunately have. Hateful prejudice has no place in Australia. What is occurring in Israel is beyond comprehension. The horror that innocent people are being subjected to is unjustifiable. Deliberate acts of terror being inflicted by Hamas are fundamentally abhorrent.
Like any sovereign democratic nation, Israel has a right to defend itself and protect its people from terrorism. Australia should support and help Israel in any way that it can, without question. Israel is doing its utmost to ensure that the conflict is contained, civilians are protected and casualties are minimised. Barbarity, however, cannot prevail. By standing with Israel, Australia is supporting it in one of its darkest times and is showing Jewish communities here in Australia that they have our unwavering support.
This place, Parliament House, was built on the stolen lands of Ngunnawal people, and I want to acknowledge them as the First People of these lands. I acknowledge all First Nations peoples across the country and their elders and I acknowledge that I'm a settler on these lands. Many First Nations people are hurting this week following the defeat of the Voice referendum. The consequences of invasion, ongoing dispossession and genocide are felt today, and I salute the resilience and strength of First Nations people, who have suffered so much for so long.
The parallels between the struggles of First Nations people and the continuing campaign for a just and lasting peace in Palestine are stark—invasion, occupation, resistance and catastrophe. I want to acknowledge the pain, the suffering, the mourning and the grief that are being experience by people in Palestine and Israel. This pain is also being felt across Australia and around the world. These are awful times. I send my love to the families, friends and communities of everyone who has been killed, injured, displaced, traumatised by the continuing war in Israel and Palestine—Palestinians and Israelis alike.
My colleague Senator Steele-John has moved to amend the motion we are debating today on Israel and Palestine to call for an end to the invasion and siege of Gaza and an end to the occupation of Palestine and to condemn the war crimes perpetrated by the state of Israel. We also have on the Notice Paper our own motion, which we think better reflects what we believe the position of the Senate and the government should be in order to be supporting an end to the violence in the Middle East and for a just and lasting peace. I want to be clear: the Greens and I condemn the attacks by Hamas on innocent civilians in Israel. My heart goes out to the families and friends of the people who have been killed and injured in these attacks.
Israel does have a right to defend itself, but it has no right to inflict the collective punishment and war crimes that the Israeli government is currently inflicting in Gaza. The civilian death toll continues to climb in Gaza. The constant bombardment of Gaza by the Israeli Defense Forces has killed thousands. The Israeli Air Force has dropped nearly 6,000 bombs in Gaza in just six days. This is almost the same number of bombs that the US dropped in Afghanistan in the whole of 2019. The denial of food, water and electricity is resulting in catastrophic losses of life. Authorities in Gaza have said that more than 2,300 people have been killed, a quarter of them children. Nearly 10,000 have been injured, and hundreds of thousands have been displaced. Gaza is one of the most densely populated places in the world, and it's estimated that 40 per cent of the population are under the age of 15.
A spokesperson for the UN agency working in Palestine, UNRWA, has said today: 'We are overwhelmed. Our supplies are dwindling and running out fast. Our staff are also very, very tired. They have been impacted themselves by the war. Many of them have lost loved ones. We have sadly at UNRWA lost 14 staff members, and these numbers continue to increase. No place is safe in the Gaza Strip at the moment as the bombardments continue. UNRWA teams are operated from an overcrowded warehouse in southern Gaza, with hundreds of people sharing one toilet.' The spokesperson added: 'Our own staff have had to ration drinking water to one litre.' She said: 'Most of Gaza—in fact, the vast majority of Gaza—does not have running water. We are fearful that waterborne diseases are going to start spreading and are going to start spreading soon.' She also said: 'UNRWA has not been able to bring any supplies, including fuel, into the Gaza Strip.' The World Health Organization has called the order to evacuate hospitals a death sentence for the thousands of sick and injured.
The Greens condemn all horrific attacks on civilians. There must be an end to the escalating violence and an end to the war crimes. The Israel-Palestine conflicts have been ongoing for over 70 years, since the beginning of the state of Israel—since the Nakba, when, between 1947 and 1949, at least 750,000 Palestinians from a 1.9-million-person population were made refugees beyond the borders of the state. The world has to act to stop the wars and the violence. We have to focus our efforts into achieving a just and lasting peace. For there to be peace, there must be an end to the state of Israel's illegal occupation of and siege of Palestinian lands.
That being said, the right to resist occupation must be in accordance with international law. The premeditated targeting of civilians by Hamas violates these laws, and, as I have said, the Greens condemn their actions. The bombing of civilians by the state of Israel in response violates these laws. All perpetrators must be held accountable for their actions, in accordance with international law. The Greens are calling for an immediate ceasefire and then, following that ceasefire, a redoubling of efforts to end the occupation and establish a just and lasting peace.
While the state of Israel is practising the crime of apartheid against Palestinians, as has been noted by prominent human rights organisations, there will be no peace. While the state of Israel continues to oppress, arrest, jail and kill Palestinians just for being Palestinian and speaking up and campaigning for their rights to their lands, there will be no peace—even with all the technology, all the deadly machines of war and all the security apparatus that the Israeli state can muster.
The only way that this could lead to peace would be if the plan was complete annihilation, genocide, ethnic cleansing of the Palestinian peoples in Palestine so that there is no-one left to resist. Surely this isn't what the state of Israel has in mind. Surely Australia and the rest of the world would not allow the state of Israel to do this. There is a way through these conflicts. It starts with people and governments listening to people's heartfelt desire for peace, a just and enduring peace, and committing to peace. And building this peace includes calling out hateful and violent racism and bigotry, including antisemitism and Islamophobia. There is no place for antisemitism or Islamophobia in the push to end the occupation of Palestine and to build a lasting peace.
As Adam Bandt has said:
This is a painful time for the Jewish and Palestinian communities in Australia, who must be able to grieve the loss of loved ones and publicly express solidarity for those trying to stay safe back home, and antisemitic and Islamophobic attacks on Australia's Jewish and Palestinian communities must stop.
The desire for peace was demonstrated in the last week, as thousands of people gathered around Australia to peacefully protest the brutal war that is bringing pain and grief to so many.
So what can be done? The Greens have recently revised our declaration on justice and human rights in Palestine and Israel. The principles we set out in it are all the more relevant as we grapple with the current horrific reality. In it we acknowledge:
The state of Israel continues to deny the right of self-determination to Palestinians and continues to dispossess them of their land. We aim to rectify this injustice in ways that will allow both Palestinians and Israelis to live in peace, security and equality, exercising self-determination as described by the United Nations Charter.
Call on all parties to comply with international law, relevant United Nations (UN) resolutions, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Geneva Conventions, the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights, and the International Convention on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and the Convention on the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid.
We call on governments to:
Reject and condemn all forms of violence, especially against civilians, whether perpetrated by a state, organisations or individuals, while recognising the right of the Palestinian people to resist Israeli occupation in accordance with international law.
… support the tactics of boycotts, divestments and targeted sanctions that are strategic and human rights aligned on:
a) Government representatives, institutions and state-affiliated entities of the state of Israel and the Israeli military and/or;
b) Corporations, entities and organisations that profit from or are complicit in the violation of Palestinian human rights.
Affirm that criticism of Israeli government policies and actions is not antisemitic, and therefore oppose the adoption and enforcement of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance definition of antisemitism which conflates criticism of the state of Israel with antisemitism.
Recognise the rise of hateful and violent racism and bigotry including antisemitism and Islamophobia in Australia and commit to the development of thorough anti-racism policies.
Recognise the Right of Return of Palestinian refugees and their descendants to their place of origin through a just and acceptable solution based on UN Resolution 194, or compensation for those who choose not to return. Additionally, support the establishment of international mechanisms guided by international law to facilitate this outcome.
Call upon the Australian and State governments to halt military and security trade and cooperation with the state of Israel.
Reiterate our call for the immediate freezing of all Israeli settlement activity in the Occupied Palestinian Territories.
Call for the removal of existing Israeli settlers and Israeli security and military forces from the Occupied Palestinian Territories.
The Greens stand for peace—peace for Palestinians, peace for Israelis. History will be on the side of those who condemn the violence, condemn the murders and condemn the occupation.
I rise to speak in support of the motion moved by the Leader of the Government in the Senate, condemning Hamas' attacks and expressing that we stand with Israel and recognising Israel's inherent right to defend itself. I do not support the amendment moved by the Australian Greens. There have been many contributions on this motion. I wish to particularly express my strong agreement with the contribution made by the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate. I also want to associate myself with the remarks of my friend and colleague in the other place Mr Julian Leeser.
I was in Israel earlier this year, and it is a vibrant and diverse society. The attack on it was barbarous. My thoughts are with the people of Israel, especially those who I met, who were so generous in welcoming me to their homeland. Like Mr Leeser, I am deeply concerned about the rise of antisemitism in this country. I recommit myself to do more to fight this terrible behaviour and to do all that I can to ensure that the Jewish community in my state remains safe.
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.
Like most Australians, I was horrified when I saw the reports of the terrorist attacks by Hamas criminals on the people of Israel. Israel has the right to defend and protect its citizens. It also has an obligation to. I have every confidence Israel and the international community will do everything they can to ensure those people who committed the crimes of last week are held to account. My heart goes out to Israeli families who are grieving and to Australians who are worrying about their families in Israel and Gaza. My thoughts are also with innocent Palestinians who have died or those who are desperately trying to get out of Gaza. Those people must be granted safe passage and they must be allowed aid. I am confident Israel will ensure they have it. Additionally, Egypt must open its border to refugees from Gaza. This must happen. It must happen.
I won't and don't pretend to be an expert on the Israel-Palestinian conflict but I know a criminal act when I see one; I have no problem in calling that out. Reasonable people out there know the same; they see what I see. Being a soldier, I can assure you, is an honourable profession. But soldiers don't murder babies or take whole families hostage. I would not call Hamas fighters. I wouldn't even call them militants. I wouldn't give them any credibility whatsoever, because basically they are brutal rapists and murderers. That is what Hamas is. They are criminals who murder young people at a music festival. They are criminals who murder mothers and fathers and they are criminals who murder children and babies.
A man holding a gun against a child or a baby is not fighting. He is not a fighter. He is nothing less than a thug. He is a thug. He is a coward. I would ask the media to listen to what I have to say. Call Hamas what they are. Call them out because they are terrorists, they are criminals and they are murderers. Do not call them 'freedom fighters'. They are not freedom and they are not fighters. Call them what they are. They are terrorists, criminals and murderers. That is what Hamas is. They are cowards that kidnap innocent, unarmed civilians and they need to release them now.
Australians should know that Hamas is also brutal to the Palestinian people. We Australians need to draw a very thick line between Hamas and the Palestinians. They are not the same. Hamas is a prescribed terrorist organisation. It is also a criminal organisation. In July and August, this year, there were reports of Palestinians protesting Hamas in Gaza. They marched under the slogan, 'We want to live', the same slogan used in the 2019 protests. They were protesting because Hamas is a brutal, criminal, murderous organisation that exploits innocent civilians for its own evil purposes. True to form, instead of listening to the protesters and seeking to understand their message, they acted with violence. What else would they do? They rounded up organisers and punished protesters. That's what they did. Palestinians were tortured and murdered for peacefully speaking out against a brutal regime.
Hamas does not support Palestinian people. When aid is sent to Gaza, it is taken by Hamas for its terrorists. When concrete and building materials are sent in to Gaza, Hamas takes them to build its tunnels. When water pipes are laid in Gaza, Hamas digs them up and turn them into missiles. They are not the friend of Palestinians. They are not your friend. When everyday Palestinians speak up against Hamas, they are imprisoned, tortured and murdered. That is what Hamas does. When there is a call for people in Gaza to take shelter, Hamas, through its criminal actions, has thrown the Palestinian people into chaos. Hamas is using Palestinians as human shields. It is cynically putting civilians, including children and babies, in harm's way while hiding in the shadows. Hamas are the gutless, faceless men. That's what they are. That's all they are.
Hamas doesn't want freedom for Palestinians. Hamas doesn't want peace. Hamas openly rejects negotiated peace in favour of jihad against all Jews. Hamas don't only say they want to wipe out the State of Israel; they say they want to kill all Jews. This is what they mean when they say 'from the river to the sea'. These are not words of freedom fighters. They are the words of a terrorist, a coward, a murderer—and the list could go on and on and on. But you're not getting any credibility from me. Hamas only wants war. Well, now you have it, and I say this to you, be careful what you wish for, because I feel it's not going to end well for you.
I would also like to acknowledge the efforts of US Secretary of State Antony Blinken to get humanitarian aid into Gaza and to get innocent Palestinians and foreign nationals out as quickly as possible. We thank you. I would also like to acknowledge and thank Minister Wong for her efforts to evacuate Australians and Pacific islanders from the region. Many Australians and Pacific islanders are now back home because of Minister Wong and the efforts of her office and her department. These Australians are working around the clock to get Australians and our Pacific family home, and this is what family does. I would also like to acknowledge the Republic of Fiji for getting some of our Australians out. Thank you.
Conflicts like this one have impacted on the Jewish and Palestinian communities in Australia. We are a multicultural nation, and it is our responsibility to care for these communities at a time like this. I am very disturbed about recent reports of increasing antisemitic attacks on Australian Jewish people. I was also absolutely disgusted by the racist and awful chants that came from a few of the protesters in the pro-Palestinian rallies held in Australia last week. It is very un-Australian, and that is not the way we do things in this country. We have laws against hate speech in this country, and we have them for a reason, and law enforcement, if needed, should use those laws to deal with hate speech. We gave you that power. Use it. There is no place for racist speech anywhere in this country, against Jews or anyone else. It's a democratic right of all Australians to protest, but that must be done peacefully, and we do that respectfully in this country.
Mike Burgess, the head of ASIO, has urged Australian leaders not to use language that might inflame the situation and fuel community tensions. For political leaders, or any leaders, to use the situation in Israel to score political points is just not on and it is not helpful. Australia has Jewish and Palestinian communities, and everything should be done to lower the temperature, not to dial it up. All leaders of all persuasions should do their best to comfort their people and do what they can to help Australians reach their loved ones.
A senior Hamas official was interviewed on Russian TV three days ago and admitted in this interview that this attack against Israel had been planned for years. This senior Hamas official said that, while Hamas were claiming to be a government for Palestinian people, they were in fact planning these brutal attacks. Putin is no doubt hoping that the war in Israel will draw attention away from the war in Ukraine. We can't let this happen. Right now we've got to keep our eye on the ball, so it's not just in Gaza we need to be watching; we need to make sure that we're keeping our eye on the ball at all times in relation to what is going on in Ukraine. These battles are the same. They are a fight for the rule of law. When Zelenskyy, the President of Ukraine, found out about the Hamas terrorist attack on Israel, he recorded a speech offering solidarity to Israel and making this point:
We are in different countries and in completely different conditions. But the threat is the same: for both us and you—the total destruction of the people, state, culture. And even of the names: Ukraine, Israel.
President Zelenskyy is a Ukrainian Jew and he lost many of his family members in the Holocaust when Nazis invaded eastern Europe in 1941. Rather than transporting Jews to concentration camps, Hitler sent Nazi death squads into the streets to kill Jewish men, women and children. More than one million Ukrainian Jews were killed during the Holocaust. President Zelenskyy's grandfather fought with the Russian army in World War II against the Nazis. His grandson is now fighting the corrupt Putin regime.
The leaders of Russia and Hamas have something in common—they have no moral compass, not one bit. They both are terrorists, war criminals and murderers. We must support Israel and the people of Israel and we must continue to support Ukraine and the people of Ukraine. We should do all we can to ensure that innocent Palestinians are given every chance to get to safety. Palestinians must be granted safe passage out. They must be allowed to escape harm's way.
For a moment let us focus on Ukraine. We must keep our support for Ukraine. We can't take our eye off the ball now. In the last few days US state department officials have described the current battle for the Ukrainian town of Avdiivka as a new Russian offensive. I quote: 'They are striking with everything they have. Bouts of shooting, artillery, multiple rocket launchers, mortars and a lot of aircraft.' Like Hamas, Putin's Russian army targets civilians, women and children. Once again, neither of them has a moral compass. This needs to be called out, and innocent civilians need to be protected. Racism and brutality need to be called out at every opportunity.
What is happening in Israel, in Gaza and in Ukraine is distressing for many Australians and their families. Once again, Australians must do everything that they can to support these communities and stand up for our beliefs, and one of those is the international rule of law.
I rise to contribute to this debate on Israel. From the outset I make it clear that I rise in this place as a member of the Australian government and a senator for Tasmania. I'm also looking at this issue through the prism of being a mother, a sister and a grandmother. I cannot possibly come to terms with what the people of Israel and Palestine are going through right now. We live in very uncertain times and the people of that region are going through exceptionally difficult and trying times. Their entire world as they know it is breaking down. My thoughts and prayers are with them.
We stand with you against the abhorrent terrorist attacks. Our hearts break for the loss of innocence, the young lives, the babies, the children, the grandparents and the parents. I unequivocally condemn the attacks on Israel by the terrorist group Hamas. The actions that took place that started this conflict last week were cowardice acts of terrorism. There are no other words for it. Murders at a concert, murders within the homes of families—all innocent lives perished—murdering civilians, including women, children and babies, and taking Israelis hostage and other acts of bloodshed and barbarianism are to be condemned in the strongest possible terms.
The attack by Hamas was brutal in its scale: 1,400 civilians murdered, 3,500 people injured and as many as 150 people taken from Israel and held hostage in Gaza. These are not just 150 people; these are women, children, men and grandparents. We don't know the full extent at this point in time.
Australia stands with Israel, and always will. Just as we will always remember the thousands of years of persecution and atrocities perpetrated against the Jewish people and the six million European Jews killed in the Holocaust, which led to the establishment of the State of Israel.
I stand with Israel and recognise its rights to defend itself. We must all call out this racism, this terrorist attack, for what it really is. We do need to be clear about what has taken place here. Hamas has carried out a terrorist attack against Israel and its people. There is no justification for this attack. And, in the face of this attack, we stand resolute.
I want to commend today, here in this place, the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Senator Penny Wong, for her leadership, and the Prime Minister, as I do those leaders within our communities who have been very considered in the language that they are using, to ensure that we are, as we should be, good international citizens. We should be doing everything we can to bring about peace. But we also must ensure that that peace and respect are foremost in our minds and the minds of those people who are protesting in our streets, and of those who are emotionally charged—which we can all understand, irrespective of whether you are pro-Palestinian or pro-Israeli. What we are really pro is human life and humanity.
Australia's principled position in all contexts is to call for peace, for the protection of civilian lives and for the observance of international humanitarian law. I concur with US President Biden—that rules of engagement must be upheld, and peace must not be just hopeful thought but rather humanitarian duty. If this conflict were to spread across the region, the risk to Israeli security would be increased, as it would be for the Israeli and Palestinian civilians and for civilian populations throughout the region. Averting regional escalation is crucial. It matters to the people of the region and it matters to the entire world.
The Jewish people do not deserve the prejudice they face every day. I reach out to the Jewish community in Australia, who are suffering right now—concerned for their family, their friends and their loved ones; seeing the pictures of war and of their homeland destroyed.
But I implore people to ensure that, with our sadness and with our concern, we are respectful of other people's views and we are very careful with our words, because the tone of what we say within this chamber and the other place sets the lead for the rest of the country to follow. I despair with the greatest sadness when I see protesters in Australia engaged in antisemitic behaviour. This has no place in Australia. It should be rightly condemned, and people should face the full brunt of the justice system for these types of insensitive and cruel actions. My family having been on the receiving end of racism in my home state of Tasmania, and knowing what my girls went through, I feel very deeply about racism. Whether we're talking about the conflict in the Middle East or about what has happened in this country in recent times, unfortunately, there is a very strong element of racism that can be tapped into when people are emotional and when people want to use it for their own political gain.
I have long been a supporter of the two-state solution, and I have a long-held view that coincides with the majority of Western countries. I had the great fortune of visiting Israel—and I have to say that, of the places that I've been in this country and around the world, the most moving place I have ever been on this planet was old Jerusalem—and sitting and sharing a meal with Palestinians and with Israelis.
The conflict has been going on for far too long. Unfortunately, there's only so much we can do. But, in times like this, we have huge responsibility as an international leader. People look to Australia. That's why it's so important that we use the right tone and that we express our concern for humanity and for all those innocent people that have been caught up in this conflict, and that we condemn the terrorism for what it really is.
We need peace in that region. Peace is the only currency that is going to serve Israelis and Palestinians. But what concerns me is how rapidly things can deteriorate. I haven't been abreast, over the last few hours, of any changes that are happening in Gaza, but I have had some news of people arriving back in this country and how grateful they were to the government and the department for the way that they have been treated. It makes me very proud to be an Australian when we show that hand of humanity and friendship. Dual citizens know that we are standing there with them, standing for humanity and standing against terrorism, wherever that is.
We need to ensure that civilians are protected and have safe passage if they need to leave the region. We know what the Israelis are asking people to do. Our responsibility as a government is to make sure that we provide financial support to the humanitarian not-for-profits that are there supporting those people to ensure that they have safe passage, food, water and other provisions. I'm so proud of the money that we've already given, including $3 million to the International Committee of the Red Cross to fund urgent needs like restoring essential services and providing medical support to victims of the conflict, and $7 million through UNICEF and UNOPS to deliver critical support, including emergency water, nutrition, sanitation and hygiene services as well as child protection.
As I've said in this place many times, I condemn in the strongest possible terms hate speech, violent extremism and antisemitic overtures. Tonight I want to reiterate that. Australia is a country of people who are very compassionate. We believe in humanity. We believe in the sanctity of life. As a mother, a sister and a grandmother, my heart goes out. I don't know how families are going to recover from these atrocities, but we as a country have a responsibility, as I said, to be a good international citizen. I just urge those people and the Israeli government to ensure that food supplies and water are available to Gaza, because we're talking about innocent families here. We're talking about civilians. These people are trying to survive.
Millions of people should not suffer because of the senseless acts of a few. We must be better. We must preserve life at all costs. I welcome the repatriation flights bringing Australians home to safety. I spoke to Senator O'Neill tonight, who was there and able to greet some of those citizens arriving back. What a great honour to be able to do that and to know that there were welcoming people there who were grateful to see them returning home. Those messages and that support, now that they have arrived home, are not the end of it. They have to deal with the consequences of what they've lived through.
Again, I urge people in this place and the other place and within the community to be respectful, to understand that we are responsible citizens of the globe and that we should be leading by example and doing everything we can to bring about peace, to bring about support for people, to make sure that they have the basic humanitarian needs that we all need. We should do everything we can to bring an end to this conflict as soon as possible but also to stand with Israel, to condemn this terrorist attack and to be strong international citizens ourselves.
Words are inadequate to respond to the atrocities, the horror and the acts of terrorism we've seen in recent days in Israel. I join with colleagues in condemning these attacks by Hamas. I join in condemning the callous disregard for life and the brutal, bloody murder of the elderly, of women, of children and of babies, all inflicted by Hamas.
As a father of three young men, nothing drove fear or anger, sadness and a sense of sickness into my heart more than the abominable treatment of the most innocent people in society—babies and children. Upon seeing the footage of the young boy encircled by Hamas terrorists being taunted while he cried out for his mother made it clear exactly what was going on here and who was perpetrating wrong.
At that moment, I wanted to rush to be with my boys, to hold them tight. The idea or the fear of anything happening to them was just incomprehensible to me. Anyone in our country—our country of peace, our country of safety and our country of democracy—who did not see that or anything like it and cry for the atrocities being perpetrated and condemn them defies humanity.
Similarly, our response as Australians and how we support the Jewish-Australian community is equally important. Standing in solidarity with the Jewish community is something I do proudly and without hesitation. Speaking today with the President of the Hobart Synagogue, Jeff Schneider, he expressed to me why that support is so critical and so necessary. In Tasmania, like so many other parts of the country and, indeed, the world, there's a fear in the community. Anything that could give rise to further tensions, particularly anti-Semitism, must be stamped out and, indeed, condemned immediately, which is why I despair at recent events in this parliament.
It was just yesterday, in the other place, we witnessed something that goes against everything I've just said and goes against the Australian spirit, in my view. The Leader of the Greens political party in this place, supported by teal Independents, and, indeed, Mr Andrew Wilkie, the member for Clark in Tasmania, moved to condemn Israel in the wake of acts of terror perpetrated by Hamas unto Israel. It defies logic and humanity. Israeli babies were beheaded, Israeli children were raped and tortured and some in this parliament seek to condemn Israel.
To seek to draw some equivalence between acts of terror by Hamas with the acts of defence of Israel is wrong. There is no comparison. This moral relativism to justify acts of terror is an insidious and dangerous way of thinking. I say those members responsible for and supportive of this stunt should explain to not only the Jewish community why their actions were justified but they need to speak to the rest of Australia as well. What we do here matters, and we're accountable for it. So I call on Mr Wilkie to front up in Hobart and explain to the Jewish community and to the Clark electorate why he did what he did and why he thought he was right to do so.
I know, as I said, having spoken to Mr Schneider from the Hobart Synagogue, he and his community will be seeking answers, and they deserve answers from their representative in this place. But I do say, for the majority in this place—and I stand alongside them—that we stand with Jewish Australians and supporters of Israel. We are with you in the need for justice to be done.
I'd like to start by acknowledging that, for many in Australia and around the world, the past week has been deeply traumatic and painful. Violence degrades and weakens the bonds that tie us all together, right when we most need to remember our common humanity. The appalling attack by Hamas last week should be unequivocally condemned, as should all attacks on civilians. The racism, xenophobia, antisemitism, anti-Arab sentiment and Islamophobia that has occurred in Australia over recent days has no place in our society. It's important now more than ever that our response to violence cannot be to fuel more harm and suffering. It cannot be used as a justification to inflict harm on other innocents, and we must not remain silent while this is happening in Gaza. It's in moments of collective pain that politicians need to be steadfast in upholding values of peace and be brave enough to lead. Those elected to this place can provide a path for a better world, especially at dark times like this.
I'd like to briefly read the words of Noy Katsman, whose brother Hayim was tragically and appallingly killed by Hamas:
I want us to support the people who call for calming down and for peace, and for saving lives, not the people who call for more hate and more violence, that's my request to everyone and I know that's exactly what my brother would want to do.
We should reflect on the fact that Noy, who is in pain and grieving a family member, has been able to provide a level of moral clarity that many in this chamber have failed to even reach for.
I want to say this very clearly: cutting off water and food, using phosphorus weapons and bombing schools and hospitals are all war crimes. An estimated 1,000 children in Gaza have already been killed by the Israeli military strikes. Israel has bombed civilians who were fleeing using the routes they said would be safe. Aid workers, paramedics trying to treat the wounded and journalists have lost their lives to indiscriminate fire from the Israeli military. There can be no excuses, justifications or rationalisations for the killing of innocents, and we must not remain silent when we see this violence. It's not defence. UN experts are loudly warning of the war crimes being carried out by the Israeli military in Gaza, with a death toll reaching towards 3,000 and hundreds and hundreds of thousands of Palestinians displaced. The World Health Organization has made it clear that Israel's demands to evacuate hospitals in Gaza amount to a death sentence for many patients. At this time the people of Gaza have nowhere to flee. For the Palestinian families who endured the first aggression from Israel 75 years ago during the Nakba, the catastrophe must feel never-ending.
No-one is asking this government to judge from afar. People are asking them to see what is occurring in front of our eyes—that is, collective punishment against a whole people, and an escalation of violence and aggression by a state that has a history of apartheid policies. Even before this motion was put forward by the government, Australia was complicit in these ongoing war crimes. Successive Australian governments have ignored the legitimate demands of the Palestinian people for decades, as the Israeli government flouted international law and continued to build illegal settlements and institute an effective apartheid against the Palestinian people. The Australian government has even willingly traded military equipment with Israel, including millions of dollars of Australian weapons exports—Australian weapons that could currently be in use in the crimes and violence in Gaza. Politicians cannot now hide behind platitudes and ignore this asymmetric violence. We have a responsibility to call for peace and an end to the occupation.
This government speaks of concern for regional spillover, but the Israeli military has already bombed domestic airports in Syria. A reporter, Isam Abdullah, was killed by Israeli artillery in Lebanon simply while doing his job. Many from the Iranian community have contacted my office, terrified they're about to enter a multi-country war. Surely, if we were concerned about regional spillover, we would be calling loudly for de-escalation, not providing political cover for war crimes.
This week I joined thousands calling for peace in Sydney. They came out despite threats and intimidation from the police. Thousands of people, including Palestinians and Jewish people, side by side, came out in solidarity with the families in Gaza. People in major cities across this country told this government very clearly that they want peace. It is a testament to its lack of moral compass that the Labor Party leadership in my home state of New South Wales vilified those people who simply wanted to exercise their right to peaceful protest, to show solidarity for those impacted by violence over recent days and to call for peace. Meanwhile, elements of the media in this country compounded the rhetoric and fanned the flames of division between the Jewish and Arab diaspora, leaving Jewish-Australians feeling unsafe and Arab-Australians abandoned.
I've been to Palestine and Israel. I've walked through Israeli military checkpoints, spoken with Palestinian families forced from their homes by illegal settlements and seen Palestinian children tried in Israeli military courts for the crime of being Palestinian. I've also seen the beauty and the strength of the Palestinian people and the courage and the moral strength of those Jewish-Israeli citizens who publicly resist the occupation. Hope and fear live side by side in those lands.
For two decades I have been attending rallies calling for an end to the occupation of the Palestinian territories and for a peace with justice. I do this side by side with my friends in the Palestinian diaspora and the Jewish community. At times like this, I remember the clarity and courage of my former New South Wales parliamentary colleague John Kaye, who so passionately campaigned for Palestinian rights while acknowledging his own proud Jewish heritage. At rally after rally I attended, speakers recounted: the most recent number of those killed in Palestine; the most recent instances of human rights being denied, of homes being bulldozed; the death of a child who could not get the medicine they needed because of a blockade; the death of a mother forced from her home, still holding the key to her front door; prisoners who were taken from their homes in the middle of the night by soldiered and trained attack dogs, held at gunpoint, blindfolded, held without charge for years. Water tanks are only necessary because the Israeli government regularly and without warning denies access to plumbed water to the Palestinian homes being used by target practice by bored Israeli soldiers.
Amidst decades of this grinding, perpetual violence with far too many examples of human rights abuses and war crimes, people have continued to join together and reach across the divide and call for peace, freedom and equality. For too long their calls have been ignored. Let's listen now and act. A commitment to peace and non-violence means meeting the appalling tragedy of a Jewish child killed in Israel with empathy and an unwavering resolve to end the violence. Equally, it means meeting the appalling tragedy of a Palestinian child killed in Gaza with empathy and an unwavering resolve to end the violence. This shared humanity and equal commitment to peace and non-violence are what's missing from this motion. It is what has been missing from the global response for decades, and it is what is needed to finally bring peace with justice and an end to the occupation.
or PATERSON () (): I want to take the opportunity tonight to perhaps unexpectedly address the Palestinian people and their supporters in Australia. I do so because I have had the opportunity to already express my solidarity with the Jewish community and the people of Israel at two events in Melbourne in the last week. No decent person denies the suffering of Palestinians, especially those in Gaza. No decent person opposes the legitimate aspirations of Palestinians to live in peace, security and prosperity. No decent person questions the understandable anxieties from Australian family and friends for the safety and wellbeing of civilians in Gaza. Every decent person hopes for the peaceful resolution of the long-term conflict between Israel and the Palestinians. Where we may differ is who bears the primary responsibility for the conflict that we see today and the desperate circumstances of the people in Gaza. It is often said that Gaza is the world's largest open-air prison. If that is true, then Hamas are the prison wardens keeping innocent civilians incarcerated. And it is not just the 199 citizens of Israel who Hamas is keeping hostage in its war; it's two million Gazans, too. While Israel uses the IDF to defend the citizens of Israel, Hamas uses the people of Gaza to defend itself.
Right now, innocent Gazans are being used as human shields by Hamas for two reasons. Like it has in previous conflicts, Hamas knows that storing its weapons and hiding its fighters among civilian populations in apartment buildings and even in schools and hospitals makes the IDF more cautious in targeting it. Hamas also knows that, if civilians are killed by the IDF when targeting its weapons and fighters, civilian casualties are a powerful propaganda weapon to be wielded against Israel in the debate for global popular opinion. Is it any wonder that, after Israel warned Gazans to move south in advance of a likely ground invasion, Hamas told them to stay put? Hamas told them to stay in harm's way. They know what the consequences of this will be for Palestinian civilians, just as they knew the consequence of their horrific attack last weekend and their decision to not just shoot Jews in the streets and in their homes but to kidnap them back into Gaza as hostages. No democracy could stand by and let that happen. No democracy could spare any effort in trying to recover their citizens. No democracy could accept the ongoing risk of another attack like this happening again. That is why Israel must act. That is why Israel must strike back. That is why Israel must eliminate Hamas. Sadly we know that, when they do, despite the precautions they will take, innocent Gazans will die.
The responsibility for those deaths will lie with Hamas. No-one who has any concern for the humanity of the people of Gaza should defend Hamas. It is, rightly, a listed terrorist organisation here in Australia. Since March 2022, following a recommendation of the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security inquiry, which I chaired, it has been listed in its entirety. What the government recognised and the parliament endorsed on a bipartisan basis is that Hamas is a single entity engaged in terror against civilians. Its actions on 7 October demonstrate the wisdom of that decision.
Regrettably, we have seen some Australians seek to defend Hamas and its actions last week. On Sunday 8 October, while Hamas terrorists were still on the loose in Israel, hunting Jews, Sheikh Ibrahim Dadoun spoke at a rally in Lakemba. Among other things, he said to a cheering crowd:
I'm smiling and I'm happy … I'm elated, it's a day of courage, it's a day of resistance, it's a day of pride, it's a day of victory. This is the day we've been waiting for. Seventy-five years of occupation. Fifteen years of blockade. What happened yesterday was the first time our brothers and sisters broke through the largest prison on Earth. This brings pride to the heart …
It cannot be said that this was a rally to condemn an Israeli response which had not even started yet. It was a celebration of the death of innocent men, women, children and the elderly for the crime of being Jewish. If that wasn't bad enough, the following night a rally organised by the Palestine Action Group ended with a group of young men shouting a series of distressing chants, including, 'Gas the Jews!' In Melbourne, one protester carried the portrait of Hassan Nasrallah, the leader of the prescribed terrorist organisation Hezbollah. Others at that rally chanted, 'From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free,' a call for the eradication of the entire modern state of Israel and its people. I acknowledge some Palestinian Australian leaders have condemned some of this behaviour. At subsequent rallies, protesters were told that behaviour like this was not welcome and would not be tolerated. It is to their credit that they have done so, and they do have an absolute right to peaceful protest, but the incitement to violence that we have seen on our streets in the last fortnight is utterly unacceptable.
Unfortunately, some have tried to defend or excuse it. I was very troubled to read a joint statement purportedly on behalf of Australian Muslims and signed by a number of organisations, including the National Imams Council. Included in that statement is ahistorical nonsense, like the claim that Jewish people were foreign colonisers in Israel. That is despite the fact that Jews have continuously lived in Israel for more than 3,000 years. It pretends that the Jewish people's connection to Israel started in 1947 and it offensively compares the creation of the modern state of Israel to Russia's invasion of Ukraine. It also questions Israel's right to exist and its right to defend itself.
In a free society they are entitled to have views on these issues which others find offensive or wrong. What is more disturbing is the attempted defence of Sheikh Dadoun's inflammatory speech in Western Sydney. The statement seeks to excuse his obvious delight at the murder of innocent Jews by saying that the media's reports of his comments lacked context. In particular, they suggested that the media failed to report his comment 'because this is the first time that Palestinians have broken free from the largest open-air prison on earth'. Many media reports did in fact include this comment, and it in no way minimises the other things that he said, because these Hamas terrorists didn't break free from Gaza to go for a walk. They didn't break free to go to the shops. They didn't break free to go to a restaurant. They broke free to engage in the worst massacre of Jews in a single day since the end of the Holocaust—a slaughter, an atrocity, a pogrom. It was every bit as despicable as anything that ISIS or al-Qaeda have ever done.
Not just are Hamas responsible for the 1,400 Jews and Israelis of other faiths they have already killed; they are responsible for the thousands of Palestinians who've already died and the deaths that we all fear are to come. Whatever your views on the best path forward for peace or the exact future borders between a Palestinian state and Israel, we should be united in this. We should all hope for a day when the people of Gaza are free from Hamas, because there can be no peace with Hamas.
In the weeks ahead, as this conflict sadly continues, let's remember three things: Hamas initiated this attack, Hamas knew what would happen next, and Hamas bears the responsibility for what is happening now. The only responsible and respectable thing to do is to unequivocally condemn Hamas. I hope that all Australians and all senators can do that.
One Nation condemns the atrocities inflicted by the Iran-backed Hamas and Hezbollah terrorist groups on the people of Israel. The aim of these psychotic cowards is not Palestinian statehood. They could not care less about the people living in Gaza or the West Bank. It's been reported that they even use their own wives and children as cannon fodder and human shields. They only care about the destruction of Israel and the murder of every Jew and Christian in the world. It's the stated aim of Hamas. Their attacks last week, which included the deliberate mutilation of innocent children, serve as a reminder that we are never safe from the scourge of Islamic terror. This includes Australia, where Hamas and Hezbollah sympathisers have been demonstrating their support for these atrocities. They have actually celebrated the mutilation and murder of children and the kidnapping and execution of civilians.
You can't say you weren't warned about these disgusting creatures. I told you not to allow these extremists to come to Australia and import their ideology of hate. But Labor let them come anyway. As a result, the world has now been treated to the appalling spectacle of these extremists demonstrating, on the steps of the Sydney Opera House, explicit support of terrorism and murder and calling for the gassing of Jews. These terrorist sympathisers do not belong in Australia. They belong in Gaza, standing side by side with the cowardly killers they cheered for, to reap the whirlwind that is about to come crashing down on them. As I have said many times, we are too quick to hand out citizenship. People must prove they are worthy to be Australian citizens and not bring the hate, civil wars and ideologies that have no place here.
Israel has no choice but to respond to these atrocities with all the power and force it can muster. There can be no lasting peace with Islamic terrorists. Israel has repeatedly offered the hand of peace in the Middle East, including the offer of an independent Palestinian state. The only response has been terrorism, so Israel must eliminate the scourge of terrorism that threatens its very existence. We can leave that to the Israelis, I think. They have been fighting for survival against enormous odds for 75 years, and I expect they will prevail. The priority for Australian leaders is to offer our fellow democracy all possible material and moral support to ensure the safety of Australian citizens in the conflict area and to eliminate the support for Islamic terrorism and antisemitism which has so embarrassed Australia on the world stage.
Australia must also re-examine its relationship with the regime in Iran, the financier and supplier of Islamic terror across the world. At the very least, our diplomatic presence in Tehran must be withdrawn and any Iranian diplomats should be expelled from our country. There is already strong evidence that Iranians who have escaped that country's terrorist regime are being stalked and threatened in Australia by the regime. There is no place for that in our nation, just as there is no place in Australia for sick minds calling for the gassing of Jews. There is no place in this parliament for those who have also expressed support for this terror. You know who you are—Minister Tony Burke, Minister Chris Bowen, Senator Thorpe and the Greens. One Nation will be reminding Australian voters when the time comes.
Yes, Acting Deputy President. One Nation supports the government's motion on these terrorist attacks in principle, but we note it doesn't go far enough and doesn't address the central role Iran has played in this terrorism. One Nation stands against any form of terrorism. Taking sides is not the answer. Working towards a peaceful solution is.
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.
As a servant to the many different people who make up our one Queensland community, I speak to the motion that Senator Wong moved yesterday on Hamas attacks on Israel and the ongoing conflict. Firstly, though, I briefly mention the minister's answer to my first supplementary question in question time yesterday. I asked about remarks the minister had made to the media in a press conference where the minister restated and amplified remarks that were made earlier in the day to the children of Cheng Lei, an Australian and Chinese citizen who is back in Australia following a period of incarceration in China, having concluded her sentence in prison. I am, of course, very pleased to see Cheng Lei free and reunited with her family, yet the minister chose to spin my question in a way that contradicted the events of the press conference, apparently to avoid actually answering my question. The minister's comments were widely reported after her press conference. Responding to me yesterday, as the minister did, by invoking a motion was an inappropriate and false reflection.
Turning to this motion on Hamas, I fully support Senator Wong's motion and her speech on the matter yesterday. Her speech was balanced, reasoned and befitting of an Australian foreign minister. It's true that the actions of radicals have caused untold death and suffering on both sides of the conflict. The minister said what needs to be said, and I refer everyone to her speech. The content, clarity and quality of her speech means I only have one point to add. There's a chance this conflict could escalate to a catastrophic war, and the need to avoid that happening must be paramount in the minds of all involved. We have seen many such conflicts over the years, and there's one truth from them all: the sooner a ceasefire is declared, hostages are released and both sides sit down and talk to each other, the faster the suffering can be brought to an end. May peace be with us all soon.
Hamas has started the first pogrom of the 21st century. Unless Hamas is wiped from the face of the earth, it won't be the last pogrom. With terror not seen since the Holocaust, Hamas, modern day nazi savages, have unleashed a wall of violence against the free people of Israel. As I speak, Israel is fighting for her existence. Israelis are fighting for their lives. Hundreds are held hostage, but in a way we—Palestinians, Israelis, Australians—are all hostages of Hamas. Unless Hamas is destroyed, the eye we turn towards Israel will close upon our own morality.
To the people of Israel, Australia stands for you and Australia stands with you. Democracy, freedom and liberty must always be defended. Australia condemns the hate of Hamas. We condemn the beheading of babies, we condemn the murder of families, we condemn the massacre of young people dancing in the desert and we condemn the murder of all who died.
Yet what is louder than the anguished cries of Australians shouting our anger at the pogrom of Jews? It is silence—the silence of those who do not condemn and the silence of those who offer weak, meaningless, grey words. The Greens and teals bring shame upon parliament, shame upon their political platform and shame upon Australia. The former foreign minister, Bob Carr, brings shame while chairing the Crescent Foundation—a charity—when he fails to condemn the murder of children. He brings shame by calling the Hamas pogrom 'a tactical success'. Even louder were the chants of the bigots on the steps of the Sydney Opera House—'Gas the Jews;' 'Eff the Jews.' Let me repeat those words that should not be said: 'Gas the Jews;' 'Eff the Jews.' These words, which do not belong in Australia, were shouted in glee by those who do not belong in Australia.
Israel, Australia stands with you and Australia stands for you. Hamas did their worst. Israel, do your best.
I would like to acknowledge Senator McGrath's outstanding contribution. I, too, rise tonight in support of the government's motion and to speak on the ongoing conflict in Gaza and the heinous Hamas attacks that have been perpetrated on Israeli civilians. Save for a few individuals consumed by their own hatred and lost to the narrative of perpetual victimhood, it has largely been encouraging to see bipartisan support, in keeping with the longstanding tradition of standing with Israel during the many periods of adversity that she has faced in her short existence.
I don't pretend that I'm an expert on the complexities of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Like all of us here, we don't like witnessing the needless loss of life of women and children and of civilians and we don't like witnessing families torn apart and communities destroyed—both Palestinian and Israeli. It is a tragedy when conflicts such as these occur anywhere in the world.
But what we have seen has, frankly, been sickening, with the lightning speed with which some members of the Australian public, and even some members in this place and the other place, have jumped at the opportunity to criticise Israel for its response and—strangely—even more quickly to defend and, in some truly disgusting cases, to celebrate the plight of terrorists.
Hamas is officially a terror organisation. Hamas has deliberately inflicted death and savagery of the worst kind not on the IDF but on civilians, on their sworn enemies, on people who couldn't defend themselves, on families, on young people at a music festival and on babies. That's something I genuinely cannot get my head around. It is absolute monstrous barbarity at its worst. The chants of, 'Gas the Jews,' 'Eff the Jews,' and, 'Eff Israel,' at a Sydney rally at the Opera House are incomprehensible. This blatant antisemitic hate speech should never be heard.
To anyone who is resorting to whataboutism, I strongly suggest you reflect on what you're implying by rushing to that position without carefully considering the nuance of the situation. This is not a question of whether there are questions to be asked of Palestinian treatment or plight. This is not a moment in which to examine socioeconomic inequalities. This was simply about calling out a terrorist act perpetrated by terrorists for their express goal of bringing death, destruction and fear to a longstanding enemy. It was most likely designed to goad this very type of retaliatory response from Israel, with the implicit desire to demonise Israel when civilians inevitably die on both sides. It is Hamas that should be condemned, unilaterally and universally. It is Hezbollah. It is Iran. It is the sympathisers that we should be calling out with steeled resolve. This actually is a moment for intolerance—intolerance of this vile position and support for terrorism.
If we were so quick to shut off Russia's access to finance and engagement in global community, if we were so quick to condemn their war with Ukraine, how can anyone be sympathetic to Hamas? They are terrorists. These people are not simple. They're not stupid. They knew exactly what they were doing.
They've actually been educated by the UN. I know many of you would be surprised to learn that, in the UNRWA that is embedded within Palestine, there are anti-Semitic-at-heart educators who educate kids on the dislike, mistrust, hatred of and desire to eradicate the Jews. It's actually ingrained in their syllabus. An insane part, just one part, is that the UN is aware of it and defends it by saying that many of their teachers were refugees themselves and therefore still carry the trauma of their hatred, which they pass down to the next generation. So the conflict never ceases. Why? How? How can the UN be complicit in this? How do they support a curriculum that teaches Palestine is in fact the land of Israel? This can only be seen as supporting the erasure of Israel, a member state of the UN.
For those who don't believe this is possible, I thought I would include a couple of examples of the integration of anti-Semitism and radicalisation in the Palestinian education system. The indoctrination of Palestinian kids for Israeli hatred has been so totally kneaded into the fabric of the curriculum that even learning grammar and punctuation has some form of propaganda included.
One of the schools examined in a report into the UNRWA was the Asma Middle School for Girls, where the schoolgirls were taught to liberate their homeland by sacrificing 'their blood' and pursuing jihad. This is an example from one of their workbooks: 'Read the following sentences and explain why the hamza'—which is an orthographic sign in Arabic—'is written on the words,' and option 3 is, 'I will commit jihad to liberate the homeland.' The school also had students examine a text called 'My land'. This was question 11: 'What are the obligations of the people of the homeland towards it?' The answer is: 'That they would defend it and sacrifice for it their blood, their possessions and the most precious thing they have.'
In February 2022, Tel Al-Hawa Middle School 7th grade boys were taught a poem from a Palestinian textbook: 'The enemy is despicable, Palestine is ours. The departure of the occupier from our land is inevitable. We shall oppose the enemy's tanks with blood and flesh.' This United Nations Relief and Works Agency Islamic education exam asked students to mark true or false that 'Liberating the Al-Aqsa Mosque and making sacrifices for it is an obligation of all Muslims,' with the correct answer being true.
Even in their studies on literary techniques and devices can you find this sort of pervasive propaganda. For example, 'Let's explain the beauty of the metaphor in the following: The Zionist gangs their fangs of hatred into her pure body.' This is a United Nations approved examination! But it is not hard to believe that they do that, because there are also scores of teachers and educators that belong to and are employed by the UNRWA that have been found to be supporting terror acts, anti-Semitism and even Hitler on their social media.
I have a number of examples of that, but I will just run through some very quick ones. Riad Nimer, who is a teacher with UNRWA, liked to post praising the gruesome Jerusalem synagogue axe and shooting attack in which two Palestinian terrorists murdered five Jewish worshippers and a responding Jewish police officer with axes, knives and a gun. The translation of the post that he liked was 'When they ram us, they will be rammed. When they stab us, they will be stabbed. When they hang us, they will be hanged. The axe is extra. This is Jerusalem. These are fortresses of the revolutionaries. This is the fortress of the suicide attackers and the heroes. A unique and heroic act of self-sacrifice—suicide attack—in occupied Jerusalem. The initial harvest: seven bodies and 17 wounded.'
Zaher Fanous, another teacher with the UNRWA shared a video praising a teenage Palestinian boy who attacks Israeli soldiers with stones as 'righteous a hero'. By deeming the Palestinian teenager a hero, the post encourages children to engage in violence.
Labibeh Iskandarani, another UNRWA employee, in October 2017 posted a photo of Hitler with a caption calling on him to wake up because 'there are still people you need to burn'. In the Facebook post she apologises to Hitler. Notably, three UNRWA employees liked the post. Iskandarani also liked two comments by the employees endorsing the post. The UNRWA routinely minimises its staff neutrality violations on social media and in the classroom. While the UNRWA insists it has a zero-tolerance policy for hatred and antisemetism, the agency has refused to acknowledge the more serious issue of hiring antisemetic and terror-supporting staff in the first place.
To come back to the issue at hand, when Israel is surrounded by enemies on every side, when there is such deep hatred for its very existence, is it any wonder that they're able to stand proudly at all? And yet it holds on, yet it continues. I will, like many of my colleagues, stand here every day voicing my support for one of the few Middle Eastern nations that respects the rules based order, that's incredibly progressive. Tel Aviv is very modern, progressive city. The IDF has serving women. Do you think Palestine or Hamas has a very welcome rainbow policy for the LGBT community? Tel Aviv does.
Yesterday, in a most disgraceful action, we saw the teal MP, Sophie Scamps, the member for Mackellar, and Kylie Tink, the member for North Sydney, join forces with the Greens to amend a bipartisan motion condemning Hamas's actions in an attempt to accuse Israel of war crimeless. After all their moral posturing during the Voice referendum claiming to be on the right side of history and doing the right thing, who purport to be the moral superiors of the majority of the population, they have now shown us how morally bankrupt they are. To believe there's an equivalence between the action of a terrorist organisation who brutally slaughtered 1,400 innocent Israeli citizens and the actions of the Israeli state in response to this terror, to suggest Israel must use restraint when it is Hamas hiding behind its own civilians has exposed the true moral insanity of the Teals. This is just another example, showing how disconnected the Teals truly are in their privileged bubbles in the beachside and inner-city suburbs of Sydney and Melbourne. I think perhaps it's time for some of them to visit Israel. Perhaps, when they do, they may get to understand that the Palestinians maintain a pay-for-slay policy, where the families of martyrs who kill Jewish civilians are paid an ongoing allowance for the murders that they commit. Within Palestine, in Ramallah in the West Bank, there are monuments erected to acknowledge and pay tribute to martyrs who have killed Jewish civilians. To listen to anyone who says that Palestine and the Palestinians are committed to a peace process while maintaining a pay-for-slay policy is simply ludicrous
But we must remember it was Hamas whose actions have instigated this recent tension. It's Hamas that has no qualms about its people dying if it stirs up further hatred and mobilises the community against Israel. It is Hamas that entrenches itself in the hearts of civilian populations to goad Israel into attacks on the innocent. It is Hamas that denies opportunities for a ceasefire and peace. I really, in some ways, feel it's disgraceful that we need to be having this conversation instead of standing united against a terror organisation, regardless of the very nuanced positions and perspectives on the conflict itself, which we could have discussed and dealt with at a later date, when appropriate. But instead the closeted antisemitism masquerading as concern for Palestinian civilians has reared its ugly head. Tonight I was absolutely appalled to see that the 7.30 program, just a couple of hours ago, hosted an interview with the head of international relations for Hamas. A recognised terror organisation, and our national broadcaster gave them validity and legitimacy by hosting an interview with the head of international relations. It is extraordinary that Hamas has a head of international relations, but this is the world we live in. But the fact that the ABC gave them airtime tonight is just beyond comprehension. But, when it comes to antisemitism, I will call it out every time I see it. I am pro-Israel and I am a Zionist and I won't be cowering to any of these leftie nut jobs, and the Australian people shouldn't either. We should call it out every time we see it. I know I will.
I rise tonight to make a contribution on this motion and to associate myself particularly with the comments of all my colleagues who have spoken this evening. I have learnt things tonight. I have learnt things from the contribution that Senator Hughes just made. I think it is important at times like this that we do try to listen to the contributions that our colleagues make, particularly on matters like these, where many of us are not experts and do not claim to be experts.
I remember, when I was a young fella, my parents talking about something that had happened a long way away. I had no idea where it was, but a plane had been hijacked—I probably didn't even really understand what that meant—and flown to another country. I understood later that it was hijacked by the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. It was an Air France plane. It had 90 Israelis on board and around 150 people from other nations. It was flown to the airport at Entebbe, and subsequently Israeli commandos launched a successful rescue mission. There were deaths involved, but it was a highly successful rescue mission. But I remember thinking, as a young fella, 'Why would people do this?' It was inexplicable to me. I think the saddest thing is that, 40-something years later, terrorism remains inexplicably evil. Terrorism is violence to instil fear to supposedly achieve a political aim. Violence, fear, politics—they are words that should never appear together.
Terrorism should always be condemned unequivocally—no weasel words, no false equivalencies. Hamas's attack on Israel was an inhumane attack upon innocent civilians. Hamas's attack on Israel was a terrorist attack. It was bloody. It was brutal. It was the murder of unarmed men, women, children, babies, the old and the young, the strong and the weak. It was indiscriminate and brutal. Of course Israel has every right to defend itself against this attack and any future attacks and should be supported by other Western nations, other Western democracies, like Australia.
We've seen antisemitism on display outside the Sydney Opera House, something that we should also condemn, and we do. But I want to say to the Jewish community and the Israeli community in Australia that the vast, vast majority of Australians reject that antisemitism and the violence it represents. Today I rise to join with my colleagues and say that we stand with Israel and we stand with Australia's Jewish community.
I rise to unequivocally support this motion before the Senate. The terrorist attacks on the people of Israel by the terrorist group Hamas are murderous, abhorrent and the embodiment of evil. I condemn Hamas in the strongest possible terms. There is no justification, no excuse, nothing to justify this slaughter which began on 7 October and continues. This could be a long war. Let us hope and pray that good triumphs over evil as soon as possible.
Israel not only has a right to defend itself and protect its people, innocent men, women, grandparents, children and babies; it has an obligation. Hamas is a genocidal terrorist organisation. It poses a threat to the entire world. The coalition supports Israel's right to do what is necessary with every asset available to safeguard its sovereignty, bolster its borders, protect its people and thwart threats it now faces.
The words which describe the worst crimes imaginable committed by Hamas terrorists are difficult to read, let alone speak: the cold-blooded murder of young Israelis attending a music festival; the beheading of babies; the kidnapping and torture of families; the slaughter of a young girl in front of her parents and younger brother and sister. The video of the sobbing Israeli father who said the death of his daughter Emily was a blessing compared with the inhumane and depraved torture and brutality she faced at the hands of Hamas if she had remained alive is just heartbreaking. I also condemn Hamas' acts of inhumanity which have prevented the people of Gaza from fleeing to safety. These innocent Palestinians have been used as nothing more than human shields. Hamas is responsible for all deaths in what is becoming a full-blown war.
At this most difficult time, words matter. This motion sends the strongest of messages to the world that we stand shoulder to shoulder with the people of Israel and with the Jewish community here in Australia. This motion is in contrast to attempts by the Greens, along with the members for Mackellar and North Sydney in the other place, to amend the motion in the other place so as to condemn Israel for committing war crimes. There is no moral equivalence between the evil acts of Hamas and the right of Israel to defend itself in accordance with international law.
In Lakemba and at the Sydney Opera House, Australians witnessed scenes of protesters celebrating Hamas—vile antisemitic behaviour, celebrations of evil and cold-blooded murder. As the Leader of the Opposition, Mr Dutton, has so powerfully argued, people who are non-citizens on visas and who are engaged in vile antisemitic behaviour, who are inciting violence or who choose violence, should have their visas cancelled and be promptly deported from our country. There must be the most serious consequences for this hateful criminal speech, which includes sickening, vile chants of 'gas the Jews'. As the shadow minister for education, I place on record my deep concern for the safety and security of Jewish students and their families, Jewish students who attend schools and universities, and for the safety and security of the families of children who attend Jewish childcare centres.
The recent Australian Jewish university experience survey found that 64 per cent of Jewish students have experienced at least one incident of antisemitism during their time at university, with 88 per cent of those students experiencing antisemitism in the past 12 months. According to the survey, more than half of Jewish students have hidden their identity on campus to avoid antisemitism, with many students avoiding campus altogether. We already have an entrenched dire situation on Australian university campuses, and that is now much worse.
Last week a group of students gathered at Sydney university displaying signs claiming that Palestinians are right to resist and that Australia and the United States were backers of Israeli terror. I'm advised that Jewish students complained to the university campus security office and were told no action would be taken. This is completely unacceptable.
There have been other incidents that have given rise to Australian Jewish families not feeling that it's safe for their children to attend a Jewish school, to wear the uniform of their school or to wear dress that indicates their religion. This is completely unacceptable. Every Australian has a right to feel safe in their own country.
I have written a number of letters to the Minister for Education raising my concerns about the protection of Jewish students. I am very pleased with the minister's response, including the measures the government is taking. I do appreciate that the government has provided additional money for the Securing Faith-Based Places program. The delivery of this program is being fast-tracked. I trust that funding for security measures for Jewish educational institutions, along with university campuses facing particular safety challenges, can be prioritised as a matter of urgency. I join with all senators in this place in saying that we stand shoulder to shoulder with the people of Israel and with the Jewish Australian community.
I rise tonight to make a brief contribution in support of the motion regarding the Hamas attacks on Israel and the ongoing conflict that is affecting thousands of people, noting also that I do not support the amendment moved by the Australian Greens. I thank so many of my colleagues in this place for their heartfelt and significant contributions to this debate. The widespread condemnation expressed within the Australian parliament must provide comfort to the Israeli families living here in Australia who are worried about their family and friends living through the dreadful atrocities in their homeland.
We have all watched in horror as this conflict unfolds, seeing the disturbing death toll rising each day and knowing that this is a chilling act of terrorism perpetuated by an evil organisation. The shocking images I have seen on television and the abhorrent acts I've read about in the past 10 days are incredibly distressing. However, this situation also has personal meaning for me. I have friends who have been working tirelessly in Israel to help those impacted by these Hamas attacks. On the one hand I am proud to see them providing support to those in need at this terrible time but on the other hand I just want to know that they're safe and that no harm will come to them—that they too will be able to return safely to their families here in Australia in the future. This sad dichotomy has arisen due to these inhumane acts that no-one should endure.
Let me be clear: I do not support terrorism in any form, which is exactly what these attacks are. There is no justification for the brutality that Hamas has committed against innocent people, including Australians. Forcing people to live in fear like this is reprehensible. I do support Israel's right to defend itself against such an act of terrorism. As a citizen of a country where we enjoy democratic freedoms not permitted by the likes of Hamas, I stand with the coalition and the Australian government in supporting Israel's efforts to protect its population against such acts. Israel, our parliament stands with you against this atrocity.
In acknowledging Israel has the right to defend itself against such terrorism, the coalition recognises it is fitting that Israel should act against the direct and violent threat to its people. Hamas presents such a threat to Israel's people, but it also presents a threat to democracy as we know and understand it. Hamas should not hold a position of power or influence. If this region is to know peace, Hamas must be disabled from any ability to continue its acts of terrorism. The former coalition government, of which I was part, recognised Hamas as a terrorist organisation, which its members have only confirmed by perpetuating these attacks on innocent people. Other countries have recognised this too, and we stand with Israel against Hamas.
We know Israel's battle against Hamas's evil power will be a very hard road. We know these latest attacks are part of a long history of terrorism. We want all Israelis to know that they do not walk this road alone and that Australia continues to support Israel in its battles against these evil acts. My heart goes out to all affected by this extreme act of terrorism. So many innocent people have lost their lives, lost loved ones or been injured and uprooted from their homes during these attacks. I cannot imagine the horror and fear they have felt and are still experiencing as this war continues.
In closing, I repeat the following from Senator Birmingham's contribution in this place yesterday:
We as nations, Australia and Israel, are more inclusive, compassionate and successful societies than any governed by Hamas or its supporters such as Iran. That is why, at this historical turning point of Hamas's evil acts of war against Israel, we stand with our Israeli and Jewish friends, together and resolute in defence of Israel.
I rise to give my wholehearted support to the motion before the Senate. In doing so, I would like to commence this contribution by quoting from the powerful words of the president of the Executive Council of Australian Jewry. On 12 October 2023, President Jillian Segal addressed the crowd of approximately 10,000 members of the Australian Jewish community and the broader community who gathered to show solidarity with Israel:
Last Shabbat, October 7, 2023—another date that will live in infamy—Israel was suddenly and deliberately attacked by Hamas terrorists, by land, sea and air.
The butchery and savagery that has unfolded in Israel beggars description. Jews were hunted down and murdered in their homes and on the streets. Infants were beheaded in their beds. . Women were raped. The dead were desecrated. Hostages were degraded in public. Whole communities were decimated and buildings burnt to the ground
Not since the Holocaust have so many Jewish lives been taken in a single day.
We are totally shattered as we stand together this evening, mourning the 900 or more innocent lives lost, and praying for the speedy recovery of the injured and the safe release of all of the hostages.
If we had thought that the barbarity of the Holocaust would not happen again, the events of the weekend have demonstrated to the whole world that when Hamas proclaims that it intends to obliterate Israel and its Jewish population, it means what it says.
Hamas, and its backers in Tehran, like ISIS, have once again proved that they are utterly lacking in any concept of the sanctity of human life. There can be no compromise or accommodation with these psychopaths. They must be crushed, and we must brace ourselves for further tragedy.
But we are also filled with a new resolve and a hardened determination. We are fortified by the outpouring of sympathy and support for Israel and our Jewish community from our political leaders, other ethnic and faith communities and hundreds and hundreds of good people from all across Australia, unprecedented since the Six Day War in 1967. Thank you all from the bottom of our hearts.
I would say to our Australian Jewish community and to the president of the Executive Council of Australian Jewry: I was there with you in spirit when you gave that speech on 12 October 2023.
Now I'm proud to rise in this place to associate myself with the contributions that have been made both by the Leader of the Government in the Senate, Penny Wong, and by the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate, Simon Birmingham, in relation to the bipartisan support which has been provided in relation to this resolution. This resolution:
… unequivocally condemns the attacks on Israel by Hamas, which are the heinous acts of terrorists, and have encompassed the targeting and murder of civilians, including women and children, the taking of hostages and indiscriminate rocket fire;
Clause (b) of this resolution says the Senate:
… stands with Israel and recognises its inherent right to defend itself;
I want to pause for a moment in relation to that second clause, paragraph (b), under which it's proposed that the Senate stands with Israel and recognises its inherent right to defend itself. It is that clause which the Australian Greens in this place seek to omit and to replace with a clause which seeks to condemn Israel at this of all times. It is a disgraceful amendment being put forward by the Australian Greens, and it follows the actions in the House of Representatives by members of the Australian Greens supported by Ms Tink MP, Dr Scamps MP and Mr Wilkie MP. There were seven members of the House of Representatives who supported that amendment. That's seven members of the House of Representatives who wanted to remove that clause in this resolution saying that Australia stands with Israel and recognises its inherent right to defend itself. Out of those seven, three were Queensland representatives. I make this commitment here and now to remind the electors of the seats of those three Australian Greens every day between now and the election of the position those members took at this point in time. I will remind the electors of Ryan of the position of Ms Elizabeth Watson-Brown MP, who sought to deny in this resolution paragraph (b), which provides recognition of the inherent right of Israel to defend itself. I will remind the electors of the federal seat of Brisbane that Mr Bates MP sought to deny paragraph (b), regarding Israel's inherent right to defend itself. And I will remind the electors in the seat of Griffith that Mr Chandler-Mather sought to deny Israel's inherent right to defend itself.
That inherent right is not just a legal right; it is a moral imperative that was born in the aftermath of the gas chambers and ovens of Auschwitz, where one million Jews lost their lives. It is a moral imperative born in the ravine of Babi Yar near modern day Kyiv, where Einsatzgruppe C butchered 33,771 Jews between 29 and 30 September 1941. It is a moral imperative arising from the banks of the Danube, where Jews were murdered by the fascists of the Arrow Cross movement in Hungary. The Greens amendment sought to obliterate that moral right of the modern state of Israel to defend itself. Their amendment is an absolute abomination. The Greens senators in this place should reflect very, very carefully before they proceed with the amendment in this place. They should reconsider their amendment. Israel of course has the right to defend itself.
In an opinion piece in the Washington Post, a famous human rights activist, Russian refusenik and former political prisoner of the Soviet Union, Mr Natan Sharansky, who is chairman of advisory boards of the Combat Antisemitism Movement and the Institute for the Study of Global Antisemitism and Policy, wrote about Israel's right to defend itself. This is what he said, and how right he is:
It is only a matter of weeks, or days, or even hours until articles will appear in major publications depicting the Israeli government as indiscriminately targeting innocent Palestinians. Human Rights Watch will yet again vilify Israel as an international outlaw, and the United Nations will pass resolutions demanding that we cease our war of self-defense.
I was a member of Israel's security cabinet when we made crucial decisions about how to fight terror during the second intifada in the early 2000s, at a time when hundreds of Israeli civilians were targeted and killed simply for living in the Jewish state. At that time, I also had regular conversations with my colleagues in the U.S. government about how they handled such asymmetric warfare.
In light of these experiences, I know with certainty that Israel expends more effort than any other country during wartime in trying to minimize harm to innocent civilians on the enemy side. These tools include special warning missiles and even text messages and phone calls, in addition to thorough pilot training and other measures, designed to warn Palestinian civilians of pending attacks and to give them time to get to safety.
Hamas terrorists, by contrast, position themselves and their weaponry in heavily populated areas, including in mosques, hospitals and schools, confident that every innocent person killed is another propaganda victory.
The only way to help neutralize this despicable unconventional weapon in the coming days would be for leaders of Western democracies and responsible Arab rulers to make this message absolutely clear: Every innocent Palestinian killed in this conflagration is the victim of Hamas.
The horrific events of this past Saturday can have no silver lining, but the world would benefit immeasurably if the attack were to prompt free nations, together with leading human rights organizations, to finally unite completely in the fight against terrorism—and in the belief that every state, Jewish or not, has the right to defend itself against the indiscriminate murder of its citizens.
That's Mr Natan Sharansky, the famous Russian refusenik, in relation to Israel's right to defend itself.
I am honoured to have the opportunity in the Senate this evening to stand by Israel at this time of need, and Australia stands by Israel. The vast majority of Australians stand by Israel, just as we stood by Israel at the time of its creation and just as we stood by Israel when we voted against UN resolution 3379 in 1975, which equated Zionism with racism. We were one of 35 countries around the world who voted against that vile resolution. We stand by Israel today as it exercises its legal right to defend itself against the evil terrorist attacks launched by Hamas on 7 October 2023. Again, I call upon the Australian Greens to reconsider their amendment in this chamber to this resolution. I ask them to reconsider that amendment—to withdraw that amendment—so that this chamber can give a unanimous response of support to Israel at the time of its greatest need.
I should also say that I have been contacted by members of the Muslim community. People who know me well know that I consider myself a friend of both the Jewish community and the Muslim community in Queensland. Perhaps the best way to summarise my thinking in this regard is to tell a story, in concluding this contribution. It is a story of one of the members of Yad Vashem, the Righteous Among Nations—a Muslim man, by the name of Ali Sheqer Pashkaj. This is the story, as told by his son, of how Mr Ali Sheqer Pashkaj, a Muslim, saved a Jew during World War II during the Holocaust:
Our traditional home is in Puke. My father owned a general store with food provisions … One day a German transport rolled by with nineteen Albanian prisoners on their way to hard labor, and one Jew who was to be shot.
My father spoke excellent German and invited the Nazis into his store and offered them food and wine. He plied them with wine until they became drunk.
Meanwhile he hid a note in a piece of melon and gave it to the young Jew. It instructed him to jump out and flee into the woods to a designated place. The Nazis were furious over the escape, but my father claimed innocence. They brought my father into the village and lined him up against a wall to extract information about where the Jew was hiding.
Four times they put a gun to his head. They came back and threatened to burn down the village if my father didn't confess. My father held out, and finally they left. My father retrieved the man from the forest and hid him for two years in his home until the war was over. His name was Yeoshua Baruchowic. There were thirty families in the village, but no one knew that my father was sheltering a Jew. Yeoshua is still alive. He is a dentist and lives in Mexico.
Why did my father save a stranger at the risk of his life and the entire village? My father was a devout Muslim. He believed that to save one life is to enter paradise.
That is the story of Ali Sheqer Pashkaj as told by his son, Enver alia Sheqer. On 18 March 2002, Yad Vashem recognised Ali Sheqer Pashkaj as 'Righteous Among the Nations'.
I rise to support this motion and, in doing so, express my deep condolences to the Jewish community of Australia and the people of Israel, who have suffered perhaps the most barbaric attacks that we have seen this century. So many innocent lives have been lost and a deep wound for our Jewish community has been opened by pure evil over the past couple of weeks.
I recognise that for the Jewish community these are very painful times. This has shocked people around the world, but it has most impacted those who have a long history of suffering as a people and have striven so hard to find themselves and create a peaceful and democratic homeland. It is a homeland that was created in response to the evil pogroms of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, but it has now not provided the peace that they have so long striven for into the 21st century.
I want to associate myself with the condemnation of the unfortunate minority in this country who have sought to salt those wounds of the Jewish people by gravest bigotry and prejudice. That has no place in this country. People who want to treat others and other countries like that should not be in this nation, fundamentally. Certainly anyone who is acting this way and who is not an Australian citizen should, in my view, be deported immediately and charged with crimes for their incitement of violence and hateful conduct.
I also want to support, as others have done, the fundamental right of Israel—and any nation—to defend itself after such attacks. I want to support the contribution that Senator Scarr has just made. I would hope that the Greens reconsider their amendment to the motion, especially the deletion of the paragraph on the right of Israel to defend itself. If Israel does not have a right to defend itself, do we have a right to defend ourselves? The Greens and others in this place sometimes express the view that we're a colonial construct and in some way invaders of this land. Is it their position that any nation has the right to defend itself from these kinds of attacks? What happens if something like this happens in this country one day? Do we have the right to respond? I think we fundamentally do and therefore should support any other nation that seeks to defend itself from such barbarity.
I have also been deeply affected by the loss of civilian life in Gaza. This is a terrible consequence of these actions. The principal guilty party for these deaths of civilians, of Palestinian deaths, is Hamas. They deserve the world's condemnation for not just the direct actions they have caused but now the indirect suffering they are causing for the people of the Gaza Strip and the broader Palestinian community.
We should keep in mind that there are millions of people in the Gaza Strip—all members of our broad human race that should be protected and defended. The innocent lives there should be protected and defended, as this motion expresses. I've heard some say, 'Well, people in Gaza voted for Hamas,' but that election occurred 2006, and, in fact, while Hamas received 44 per cent of the vote, that leaves more than half the people of Gaza, and of other places in Israel that voted at those elections, who didn't support Hamas, and, of course, there are millions of children that have been born since those elections that are completely innocent and are now suffering because of the actions of this evil and barbaric organisation called Hamas. We should seek to protect those lives as much as possible—although, of course, given the way that Hamas has waged war against Israel, it is impossible, or almost impossible, to protect all innocent lives now, in the justifiable pursuit and destruction of the Hamas organisation.
I support Israel. I'm a friend of Israel, because it is, I believe, a civilised, democratic country. The burden of civilisation always is, of course, to seek to not descend to the evil of your opponents. Part of that burden of civilisation is to seek to protect innocent lives, even when you are seeking to destroy those that have done so much damage to you.
So I support the sentiments in this motion and the efforts in recent days to provide humanitarian aid to the people of the Gaza Strip, and also to seek the safe passage of civilians away—including, may I add, the Australians who are stuck in the Gaza Strip. So I hope and pray that those Australians remain safe and can find an exit from this terrible enclave right now.
I want to stress also my support for the part of this motion which seeks to have Australia contribute to efforts for the containment of this conflict. We seem to have been passing through months and months of more and more depravity and barbarity over the past couple of years, and I hope I am wrong but I have this dulling sensation that, in years to come, we may see these years as simply the preface to another world war. That's something I very much hope we can avoid and will seek to do everything we can to minimise the risk of.
There obviously has to be a military response to these barbaric attacks. There are now two carrier battle groups from the US Navy in the eastern Mediterranean. There are of course the states surrounding Israel that would like to, and probably want to, encourage a broader conflict. We must, I think, encourage our friends in Israel and our allies around the world to act now in cool-hearted prudence in response to these attacks.
I have noticed, in speaking to members of the Jewish community—and I completely understand it—the anger that has sprung in response to these attacks. But I do think we should keep in mind the old saying about how much the consequences of anger are worse than the causes of it. We shouldn't seek to let that anger dictate our response, because then we may simply fall into a trap that has been set by Hamas to overreact.
As Australians, we should reflect on our own experience in fighting terror over the past couple of decades. In the light of hindsight, I believe that we, with our allies, at times overreacted to the September 11 attacks and ultimately cost more lives than were necessary and caused more disruption around the world than was justified. And we still live with the consequences of that overreaction today.
So I want to finish by fully supporting the efforts of Israel to bring Hamas to justice and ultimately destroy this evil organisation, but I'd also like us to play our part, as peaceful actors in the world, to minimise the risk of a broader conflict and war such that we do not see this week's barbarity repeated on a much greater scale over a much greater region.
I rise to make my contribution to this extremely important debate and add my voice to the condemnation of the horrific and barbaric acts of Hamas that we saw in Israel only a few days ago. So many of our colleagues across the chamber have quite graphically put on the record the details of the horrific events, and I can only support their entreaties that the efforts to deal with the barbarism that we have seen are supported, as well as the right of Israel, as so many of our colleagues have said, to defend itself in a situation, as the ambassador said to some of us this morning, that they didn't seek, didn't want and didn't expect but are determined to defend and to win. We must protect and uphold that right as a peaceful nation and as a nation who seeks peace.
I can only reflect on the comments of Senator Canavan a moment ago, where he said that we are seeing, unfortunately, a rise of these barbaric acts by nations led by a barbaric—I think it's the only way you can describe it—authoritarian type of rule that impacts on their own peaceful peoples often against the will of those people. It's imposed on those people as well. I think Senator Canavan so ably made the point a moment ago that the impact of the retaliation on the Palestinians—in fact, retaliation is probably the wrong word. The response to the defence of the Israeli people that's currently being undertaken is to be regretted by us all.
When it all comes down to it, I think the thing that most of us want is to be able to lead a peaceful lifestyle with our families and to be able to do the things that allow us all to live that good and peaceful lifestyle and prosper with our families. But the brutal acts of Hamas in attacking families in their communities and people enjoying a music festival that was being held in the name of peace on the Jewish Sabbath are devastating, outrageous and must be condemned.
All of us, I think, would like to see a peaceful resolution to all these matters in and around Israel and the Middle East. But that isn't possible when you have a terrorist organisation such as Hamas whose objective is the obliteration of the Israeli people and the Israeli state. If the Palestinian people want to live in peace with their neighbours in Israel, the one thing they could do is to cast Hamas out from their midst. While Hamas is there they can't live in peace; it won't be possible for the Palestinians or the Israelis to live in peace. The Jews living in Israel, the Arabs living in Israel in those communities, the Palestinians who live in those communities in Israel—none of them can live in peace while you have a terrorist organisation who has the objective of obliterating the Jewish people.
It's important that we defend not only Israel's right to exist but its right to defend itself, and that we do whatever we can to support the creation of peace in that part of the world, to support the provision of humanitarian aid, to support the repatriation of those who are trying to escape what's there and now occurring, and to support the creation of corridors for people to move. As a peace-loving nation, we would really like to see an end to these types of atrocious events and hostilities. But, as the motion says, it's important for us to express our support for the state and the people of Israel, their right to live in peace and, importantly, their right to defend themselves, and we should all do that with all our force—but while remembering the others who have been impacted and drawn into this horrific situation by the vile and brutal acts of Hamas.
I would urge the Palestinian people to purge themselves of this vile organisation. We don't want to see a repeat of the scenes we saw here in Australia at the Sydney Opera House; those have been, should be and are appropriately condemned. There's no place for that sort of language and behaviour in this country. We're a country who welcomes people from around the world but we don't welcome that kind of behaviour, that kind of hatred and that expression. We are a country that supports peaceful existence and is prepared to do what it can to promote that and support that, and we should continue to do that.
I add my condolences to all those in Israel and around the world whose families have been impacted by these terrible events. I add my condemnation of Hamas for these terrible, brutal, atrocious, unspeakable events they've perpetrated. And I add my voice to the many that have proposed hope that we can resolve this matter as quickly as we possibly can, and my support to those who put in efforts to return these communities to a peaceful existence so that they can rebuild and get on with their lives and existence in the way they should be able to. I add my voice of support to the motion.
I rise to make just a few brief remarks in support of the motion. I will be brief, having issued a written statement very early after 7 October, along with my colleague Senator O'Neill, as co-chair of the Parliamentary Friends of Israel. In doing this, I also want to associate myself with the remarks of Senator Wong, Senator Birmingham and, particularly, Senator Paterson, who made remarks tonight. I think they summarised the majority of issues that are particularly important for Australians and people of goodwill around the world to contemplate.
I do just want to add a few additional remarks. Firstly, to the Palestinian community here in Australia: I understand the distress and hurt and concern that are felt by people in that community, but I don't think that we can shy away from the condemnation of Hamas and their actions. I think it is telling when we look at intent and actions. Reports of wounded people in Israel being dragged from their cars and beaten and shot repeatedly versus wounded Hamas fighters being taken from the battlefield to Israeli hospitals to be treated alongside the Israeli wounded, to my mind, speak volumes about how those two different entities value life.
There has been a lot of narrative about a prison. A prison has walls on all sides, to punish people. Gaza does not have a wall on its southern border, because Israel withdrew unilaterally in 1982, and that border is controlled by Hamas and Egypt. There are barricades and walls on other parts of the border, between Gaza and Israel, as defensive measures, because Israel have sought to defend their people from suicide attacks, terrorist attacks, simple attacks by people with knives, because they value life.
On the narrative of occupation, as I said, Israel withdrew from Gaza in 1982, unilaterally. But the rhetoric of 75 years would imply that the Jewish people had no right to be in that location at all, whereas there have been Jews living continuously in the region for over 3,000 years. The Ottoman Empire was the governing body for that area for many years. After its defeat in World War I, there was a Jewish population there, and more came to join them and legitimately bought land, to become landholders in the area. One of the first really large waves of immigration was Jews from Arab states who were either expelled or, essentially, forced to leave through economic and other measures after the war of 1948, when Arab nations sought to destroy the new state of Israel.
It's a conflicted and complicated history—I understand that—but the narrative that has been put forward by some is simplistic and doesn't recognise the reality that there have been Jews living there for centuries, millennia, that the state of Israel exists and has been recognised by the world community. They have a right to defend their civilians. The fact that Hamas choose to deliberately target civilians and the fact that Israel, in seeking to target Hamas, has caused the death of civilians because of where Hamas have launched their attacks from and how they use civilians as a shield cannot be held as equal ills. The travesty, the trauma, for the Palestinian people I do not deny. It doesn't matter where destruction or death comes from; it is a tragedy. But the intent of Hamas and Israel cannot be compared.
So I join with many others in willing that there will be peace for both the Palestinians and the Israelis, in secure borders, with prosperous communities. I note that many Arabs and Israelis, or Arabs who are Israelis, live peaceably alongside other Jews, as has been the case in that region for many, many centuries. But the Palestinian people are betrayed by the leadership of people like Hamas, with their stated intent to destroy the state of Israel and Jews; by the sponsorship of regimes such as Iran; and by a leadership such as the Palestinian authority, who teach and inculcate in their children hatred and a love of violence as opposed to looking for the opportunities to build peace and relationship and a future for themselves and for their people.
Australia is a country with people from many faiths and backgrounds, and we have found a way to seek the common good. I would seek for all people in Australia to continue that, but part of seeking good is calling out evil, and the actions of Hamas are evil. So tonight I join in supporting this motion. I reject the amendment of the Greens, and I say again that I support Israel's right to exist and their right to defend their nation. I would ask that all Australians recognise that war and violence of any kind are not good, but, as the mayor of Hamburg said 40 years ago, after the Allied bombing of his city which had caused so many civilian deaths, 'If the Allies had not been prepared to meet Nazi violence with violence, Germany would not know democracy, peace and freedom today,' which was a powerful statement for a leader of a city that had seen so much loss of life during the war. I support the motion.
Senate adjourned at 22:22