I use this opportunity to express my unequivocal support for the State of Israel and particularly for its inherent right to defend itself. This was very clear in the bipartisan motion that we heard on Monday. I defend the right of Israel to defend itself after being savagely and barbarically attacked by Hamas.
Ms WARE (Hughes) (17:50): It has been said that the only thing necessary for evil to prevail is for good people to do nothing. Evil will prevail when good people say nothing. That was said long before the Holocaust, although it has often been used to attempt to explain, in some way, how, 80 years ago, the Nazis were able to murder six million Jewish people. Evil prevailed back then because many who should have done or said something remained silent. Evil is what occurred on 7 October this year in Israel. I stand here to call out that evil. I stand here as well in support of and to endorse the motion brought by the Prime Minister earlier this week and the contents of his motion, which has bipartisan support. I also support the comments made by the Leader of the Opposition in support of that motion.
It needs to be remembered that 7 October 2023 was the day on which more Jewish people were murdered in a single day than on any other day since the Holocaust. I first want to extend my deepest condolences to the people of Israel during this very difficult time and also to the many Jewish Australians who have family and friends in Israel. I use this opportunity to express my unequivocal support for the State of Israel and particularly for its inherent right to defend itself. This was very clear in the bipartisan motion that we heard on Monday. I defend the right of Israel to defend itself after being savagely and barbarically attacked by Hamas. Hamas is a recognised terrorist organisation. Hamas has committed a unilateral act of war against the people of Israel—against the State of Israel. When we have heard about and seen the atrocities that have been committed, I say that Hamas has committed and continues to commit acts of extreme inhumanity: the murder of innocent men, women and children; kidnapping of civilians; missiles raining down on cities; young people massacred at a music festival; widescale sexual assault of women and girls. Hamas exists with one intention: the destruction of the Jewish people; the destruction of the State of Israel.
Hamas has no interest in a peaceful two-state solution where people of different faiths live and work in peace, safety and harmony. Hamas is an enemy of Israel. By instigating this war, by its sheer brutality, it has also demonstrated that it cares nothing for the people of Palestine. It’s using innocent Palestinians as human shields. Its actions have led directly to the humanitarian crisis now unfolding in the Gaza. It is hard to come to any other conclusion, except to the most obvious of conclusions—that, when Hamas launched this attack on Israel, it knew that Israel was going to respond, as Israel has a right to do. The very people of Palestine that Hamas purports to represent it is now inflicting untold damage upon.
Evil prevails when good people do not act. When reflecting on that proposition and on the dreadful events that have unfolded and will continue to unfold, evil often has its roots in much smaller demonstrations of prejudice. Part of the motion that was brought forward on Monday said:
… an attack on any religion is an attack on all religions and that we all share a responsibility to unite, condemn and defeat such an attack on our common values and way of life;
That is certainly a value that is inherent to us here in Australia. So I also take this opportunity to condemn all forms of antisemitism. There is no place for that in our country. I similarly condemn Islamophobia. I condemn all forms of racial and religious vilification. That’s what we do in this country. That’s why Australia is the most successful multicultural country in the world.
Since its formation in 1948, Israel has had to continue to fight every day for its very existence. It is the internationally recognised home of the Jewish people. Australia and Israel enjoy a friendship based on many similar underlying principles. Israel is a multiparty democracy. It supports the rule of law and freedom of worship. As a nation we must continue to defend our friend. We must be united, strident and completely uncompromising when it comes to condemning what has happened.
In this place we often disagree across the chamber on policy, on politics, on the best way to deliver for the Australian people, but on this issue the coalition stands united with the government. I have seen during my 16 months in this place that the best is achieved in this place when we come together, and we come together when the occasion calls for it, when there is an issue that is of such import that it calls for a unified approach, for consoling words, for a compassionate tone. That is what I have seen this week from government MPs, coalition MPs and most of the crossbench MPs.
However, there is something I have to call out—the actions that we have seen from those in the Greens in this place. I must say that I did not think I could be surprised about any actions taken or words spoken by the Greens party. However, this was not the case on Monday. On Monday, the Leader of the Greens indicated that his party would not support the bipartisan motion. But then they went further. They sought amendments to erase the statement that Israel has a right to defend itself. This lack of moral code that exists within the Greens party was clear for Australia to see.
Similarly, the action by others in this place—the member for Clark and those from my home state, which did surprise me, the member for Mackellar and the member for North Sydney—in supporting the Greens proposed amendment was conduct that was equally reprehensible, grossly insulting to Jewish people, and, in my view, not worthy of this place. They were out of step with the sentiments expressed within this place and out of step with the feelings of most Australians.
I take this opportunity to conclude that, despite the most difficult times being faced by Israel, by the Israeli people, and by innocent people within Palestine, I am confident that the values that are embodied within the state of Israel, those of faith, of democracy, of religious freedom, of the rule of law, of tolerance, of perseverance and of compassion, will prevail.