Let me also take this moment to extend my deepest sympathies to the families of innocent Palestinians. I recognise your grief and I see your heartache. The humanity we share cannot be lost. We witnessed what happens when humanity is lost. It looks like the heinous acts of terror perpetrated by Hamas. These attacks were barbaric, abhorrent and totally unjustifiable. They were carried out by terrorists who have shown complete disregard for human life: the children, the women, the elderly people, just going about their day. I dream of seeing peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians. I dream of two peoples living side by side, and that dream feels further away than ever.
Mr BURNS (Macnamara) (12:48): On Simhath Torah, a Jewish festival of celebration on Saturday 7 October 2023, more Jewish lives were taken on that single day than any other since 1945. It was a day of disbelief, of devastation and of panic for loved ones. My community were frantically messaging their family and friends, writing messages like: ‘Are you safe? Are you okay?’ The bonds between Australia’s Jewish people and the people of Israel run deep. They are bonds of family and friendship. My community is feeling the devastation of seeing their brothers and sisters being terrorised in the most graphic and gruesome fashion. Yet, in all of the carnage, I witnessed humanity rise to surface. I witnessed people light up the darkness. The community came together in prayer, in solidarity and in immense sadness. We mourned with each other. We sought to comfort each other and to love one another, to help get through the collective grief that each and every single person is carrying.
In that spirit of humanity, I extend my deepest sympathies to the families of those who were brutally murdered just over one week ago: to the Israelis, the Americans, the Thais, the Australians, the Kiwis, the Germans, the French, the Italians, the Bedouins and many more families who lost loved ones on that day.
Let me also take this moment to extend my deepest sympathies to the families of innocent Palestinians. I recognise your grief and I see your heartache. The humanity we share cannot be lost. We witnessed what happens when humanity is lost. It looks like the heinous acts of terror perpetrated by Hamas. These attacks were barbaric, abhorrent and totally unjustifiable. They were carried out by terrorists who have shown complete disregard for human life: the children, the women, the elderly people, just going about their day. I dream of seeing peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians. I dream of two peoples living side by side, and that dream feels further away than ever. The true tragedy of Hamas’s terror is that it was specifically designed to further divide our two peoples and to fuel this conflict. Hamas sought to indiscriminately terrorise civilians, only then to cower behind them, putting innocent people in harm’s way. They are the instigator, and they continue to fire indiscriminate rockets towards civilians. Up to 150 innocent civilians have been kidnapped and taken into Gaza. The violence and terror continue. The extent of the death toll is hard to comprehend.
Many of us remember with horror the Bali bombings of 2002 when terrorists killed 202 people, of which 88 were Australians. Yet the rising death toll of this terror attack is more than 1,300 people. Australia has consistently stood against terrorism, and today we reaffirm our unwavering commitment to that cause. If these were Australians, what would we do? If Australian kids had been gunned down at a music festival, what would we do? If Australian babies and women and elderly people were brutally butchered in their own homes, what would we do? I know this conflict is complex—the deep history—but this week the world has seen the enormous threat to the Israeli people. Israel does not just have a right to exist; it has an obligation to protect its citizens, just as Australia does. If this attack had happened to Australia, Australians would be demanding this parliament act in a way that ensured this terror could not happen again.
The story of the Jewish people is one of extraordinary courage and resilience, but this week my community has faced a reality beyond our worst nightmares. We witnessed devastation in Israel only to be confronted with scenes at home in support of the perpetrators. Less than 24 hours after the attack, as the body count was rising, people gathered at our country’s most iconic landmark, the Sydney Opera House, and chanted antisemitic slurs echoing the worst of the Holocaust. We have seen flags burnt, Nazi salutes on Melbourne trains and a stream of online abuse with justifications of the murder of innocent Jewish lives. My community is heartbroken; my people are suffering. Trying to reconcile the atrocities overseas and the scenes at home, it makes the resolute support that I and the Jewish community have received from colleagues in this parliament so meaningful. On Wednesday the Minister for Foreign Affairs spoke at the Australia Israel Chamber of Commerce. She made a speech in support of Israel that was strong and heartfelt. On Thursday the Prime Minister came to my electorate, to the St Kilda synagogue, where he met with leaders and members of the Jewish community. He spoke movingly of his support for Israel and our community. I can tell the House that the Jewish community deeply appreciated his words, just as they’ve deeply appreciated the words of people right across the political aisle.
I want to thank the leaders of this place for their unwavering support and solidarity. I want to acknowledge people across the parliament who are hurting, including my friend the member for Berowra. I also acknowledge my state Liberal colleague David Southwick, who has stood united with me as we work to support our people in this time.
We gather today to stand in solidarity with the people of Israel from within the Australian parliament, just as we stood with them as we cast the first vote in 1947 to help establish the state of Israel after witnessing the darkest chapter in human history. We must stand against terrorism, against antisemitism and against hatred in all its forms. The people of Israel, the Palestinian people and indeed all humanity deserve nothing less.
I will finish with a prayer that is said by Jewish people during the daily prayers. Its underlying translation asks for one thing above all: that, for Israel, for the Jewish people and for the entire world, there should be peace. Oseh shalom bimromav, hu ya-aseh shalom aleinu, v-al kol Yisrael, v-imru amen.