There is absolutely no justification for what Hamas did—no justification for the attacks on innocent Israelis that we have seen. Those who seek to justify what Hamas did in Israel do an incredible disservice not just to Israelis but to Palestinians alike. But the rules of war are there, and one of the greatest fears that I have—and I know that this fear extends to those in my community, in my faith community—is the escalation of violence in Palestine and Israel for people—innocent people in Israel; innocent people in Palestine—whose existence is defined by the absence of war.
Dr ALY (Cowan—Minister for Early Childhood Education and Minister for Youth) (17:18): In my first speech in this place I made reference to the fact that I was born in a region of the world where time is marked by war. My generation, we don’t call ourselves the children of 1967; we call ourselves the children of the Nakba because that is the cross that we bear being born in the year of that war.
I think it was Helmut Kohl who said that peace must be more than the absence of war, but certainly in Palestine and Israel peace is nothing but the absence of war. When I think about that, I think about that as being a very precarious way to live. It’s a very fragile peace that people live in, isn’t it? They live in a world and in a region of uncertainty.
But let me say this: peace will not be achieved by terrorism. Peace will not be achieved by bombs. Peace will not be achieved by war. Peace will not be achieved by violence. For peace to be achieved in the region, it requires significant political will—a political will that reflects the ambition and the aspirations of the people of Israel and the people of Palestine. I visited both Israel and Palestine on two occasions. Let me say, from talking to the people there: they hope for more. They hope for more than just an existence that is defined by the absence of war.
I want to turn to the attacks on Israel by Hamas, which, under every definition of terrorism—and there are many; there are international definitions as well as a number of definitions by different countries—that act, the violence that we saw perpetrated by Hamas, was terrorism and should be condemned in every possible way. So too should any actions and any demonstrations that seek to celebrate the death and destruction of Israelis be condemned, loudly and unequivocally. I want to say this to members of my faith community: celebrating the death and destruction of Israelis is un-Islamic. There is no other word for it. It is un-Islamic. I pay heed to Sheikh Shady and Dr Ibraham from the Australian National Imams Council for the statements that they’ve put out. I know that the minister Ed Husic behind me agrees with me on this—we’ve spoken about this at length—and I pay heed to him as well for the strong way in which he has also spoken alongside Sheikh Shady and the Imams Council in condemning the actions of those protesters who sought to celebrate the tragic and heinous attack on Israelis by Hamas.
Terrorists by definition do not follow the rules of warfare. While many of us—most of us; most decent people—abhor war and abhor violence, the fact is that war is at times an inevitable part of the human condition. That is the reason that we have a Geneva convention. That is the reason that we have rules of war, rules of warfare and rules that dictate what is expected of states and humane treatment, particularly of civilians, in times of war. As I said, terrorists do not abide by the rules of war. It’s one of the reasons that they are terrorists. It’s one of the reasons that acts of terrorism are defined as such, because they do not abide by those rules of war. For that, they should be condemned. Absolutely, with every breath, they should be condemned. There is absolutely no justification for what Hamas did—no justification for the attacks on innocent Israelis that we have seen. Those who seek to justify what Hamas did in Israel do an incredible disservice not just to Israelis but to Palestinians alike. But the rules of war are there, and one of the greatest fears that I have—and I know that this fear extends to those in my community, in my faith community—is the escalation of violence in Palestine and Israel for people—innocent people in Israel; innocent people in Palestine—whose existence is defined by the absence of war.
As I said, it’s a precarious existence. It’s not a way to live.
It is also appropriate that we should join with the US administration in urging that, as the violence escalates, the rules of war are adhered to, and that those international rules of war that have been agreed upon, particularly in terms of the humanitarian treatment of civilians and the humanitarian treatment of the casualties of war, should be abided by. It is right for us to stand and make the statement that we expect the rules of warfare to also be applied in the ongoing conflict.
There’s a part in the Koran and the Sunna that talks about humanity as if it were a body, and where any part of the body hurts the whole body feels pain. As Muslims, we’re urged to look at our brothers and our sisters in humanity in this way: what hurts you also hurts me; what pains you also pains me.
It’s difficult to stand here now and talk about this issue without feeling the pain of the Israeli people, without feeling the pain of the Jewish community in my electorate of Cowan—and I send my regards to the community in my electorate of Cowan, to Geoff Midalia and the community there—and without also feeling the pain of the Palestinian people, who are also innocent and who will also bear the brunt of war: women, children and men.
I don’t know the way out of this. I don’t know the way to peace, but I do know that violence only begets violence. I do know that political will is required on both sides to get through this impasse and see a way forward.
I end this by putting a callout to all members of the Australian Muslim community and to urge them, also: I know that you are hurting. I know that this is a deeply emotional issue for you, but as Muslims it is our responsibility to show compassion and empathy for all humanity. I urge people to remember that we live in a democratic and free country. I urge them to remember the hard times that we went through when Islamophobia was rife, and to hold back and remember that there is no place in this country for antisemitism and no place for Islamophobia.