We also have a duty to defend the state of Israel, the world’s only Jewish state and our friend and ally. The people of Australia and Israel have a long and enduring relationship which was forged in moments throughout the Second World War… We are democratic partners and egalitarian people, and we owe much of our way of life to founders of great faith.
Mr WALLACE (Fisher) (17:41): Do you remember reading a book in high school that had a specific impact on you? I do. It was in year 12. It was called Schindler’s Ark. It is the story of Oskar Schindler, who was a German industrialist, and how he saved hundreds, if not thousands, of Jews from concentration camps. I would have been 17 when I read that book. Then the book was made into a movie. I think I would have been in my late 20s when it came out as Schindler’s List. It starred Liam Neeson as Oskar Schindler. I remember sitting in the cinema watching that movie, having read the book. I’ll never forget that I sat in the cinema crying like a baby. To this day it still has an impact on me when I think about the horrible things that we humans do to other human beings.
On several occasions in this job I have had the fortune of going to Israel. I visited the Yad Vashem Holocaust museum in Jerusalem. That was a very emotional time for me as well. I’m not Jewish; I’m Catholic. I think people of the Judaeo-Christian faith all share the horror of what happened to the Jews in World War II.
On a brighter note, only a few months ago I joined the Jewish community on the Sunshine Coast for a fantastic celebration in Mooloolaba. Families from across the world converged on the wharf to celebrate the completion and consecration of the Sunshine Coast’s very own torah.
The Judaeo-Christian ethic of community mindedness, of service above self and of truth in love is one which is deeply ingrained in Australia’s culture and our institutions. That’s why the idea of antisemitism is so repugnant to our Australian egalitarian way of life. It is an assault on who we are as Australian people, and yet antisemitism is rife within our community. I’ve been shocked by some of the reports from even within my own electorate and from schools across the country that students are being recruited and radicalised by Neo-Nazi and white supremacist groups through social media, where they’re often disguised as recreational clubs. I reported one such group in 2021, and, at the time, I said that there’s no place in Australia for hate groups, whether they be ideologically or religiously based.
Reporting matters, and our words matter. In reaffirming our commitment to the IHRA working definition of ‘antisemitism’, we reiterate that antisemitism has no place in Australia or in the global rules based order. But we must do more than define and delineate. We must act to counter antisemitism. In September last year, I was proud to join with my PJCIS colleagues from across the aisle in listing Hamas and the National Socialist Order as terrorist groups. Just last week, I was pleased to see the New South Wales Liberal-National government announce that it will take steps to eradicate hate and antisemitism from schools, as part of a landmark 10-year partnership between faith communities, government agencies and schools. We all have a role to play in calling out and uprooting antisemitism.
We also have a duty to defend the state of Israel, the world’s only Jewish state and our friend and ally. The people of Australia and Israel have a long and enduring relationship which was forged in moments throughout the Second World War, like the liberation of Be’er Sheva. Our nations are innovators. Together, we’re pioneers, researchers and entrepreneurs. We are democratic partners and egalitarian people, and we owe much of our way of life to founders of great faith. Every hour of every day, there are nations and non-state actors intent on destroying the Jewish people and their homeland, often with worldwide reach on social media and at UN lecterns.
We can’t tolerate antisemitism in our schools or our community, nor can we tolerate antisemitism in our parliaments and UN agencies. As Henry Kissinger once said, ‘The security of Israel is a moral imperative for all free peoples.’