No matter what view one takes about the recent tensions in Jerusalem, nothing can justify Hamas terrorists initiating another armed conflict by firing rockets at Israeli cities while shielding themselves behind Palestinian civilians, including children, in Gaza. Hamas’s armed escalation caused the death and suffering on both sides.
Mr LEESER (Berowra) (19:45): I welcome the ceasefire between Israel and Hamas and I mourn the loss of innocent lives, both Israeli and Palestinian. Israelis and Palestinians need to be able to live in peace and security and fulfil the words of the prophet Micah: ‘Every man shall sit under his own vine, under his own fig tree, and no-one shall make them afraid.’
In recent years Israel has normalised its relations with an increasing number of its Arab neighbours: the UAE, Bahrain, Morocco and Sudan. The events of the last 10 days indicate how much further there is to go. Sadly, thousands of kilometres away a private property dispute that is before the independent Israeli judicial system was weaponised both in Jerusalem and by Hamas in Gaza. Hamas is a terrorist organisation listed here in Australia, known for indiscriminate rocket attacks, suicide bombings and kidnappings, with the ultimate objective of the destruction of Israel. Given the thousands of rockets which rained down on Israel, democratic Israel has every right to defend its citizens, prevent attacks and destroy the source of such violence. If this situation occurred here, we would expect our government to protect our citizens in this way too. Unfortunately much of the commentary has painted Israel as the villain, because it had fewer casualties. Many of the Palestinian casualties were, tragically, human shields used in a Hamas propaganda war. The only reason why there weren’t more Israeli casualties was the Iron Dome which protects Israeli civilians, both Jewish and Arab, from rocket attacks.
No matter what view one takes about the recent tensions in Jerusalem, nothing can justify Hamas terrorists initiating another armed conflict by firing rockets at Israeli cities while shielding themselves behind Palestinian civilians, including children, in Gaza. Hamas’s armed escalation caused the death and suffering on both sides. Unfortunately the press coverage and one-sided debate has provoked a series of anti-Semitic attacks all around the world. In New York, pro-Palestinian protesters threw an explosive device into a crowd of Jews. In California, a group of men wearing keffiyehs bashed Jewish diners in a restaurant. Synagogues were vandalised in three American cities. In the UK, a rabbi was hospitalised after being attacked by two teenagers outside a synagogue. Cars draped with Palestinian flags drove through Jewish neighbourhoods in North London, with people shouting: ‘F… the Jews. Rape their daughters.’ In Germany, Jewish communal facilities and synagogues were attacked in four cities, and Israeli flags were burned. In Vienna, demonstrators shouted: ‘Shove your Holocaust up your a…’ In Turkey, President Erdogan echoed the blood libels, accusing Israelis of sucking the blood of non-Jewish children.
The World Jewish Congress also found a surge of virulently anti-Semitic hate speech across social media. Here in Australia, a comment by Latifa Ayshan, an employee of the New South Wales Department of Education, appeared on the Australasian Union of Jewish Students Facebook page, under a photo of Hitler. It said: ‘It’s a shame he didn’t finish the job.’ This sort of person has no place transmitting her hate to the next generation, and I call on the New South Wales minister for education to sack her.
The late Rabbi Jonathan Sacks wrote about the new anti-Semitism in 2016. Anti-Semitism means denying the right of Jews to exist collectively as Jews with the same rights as everyone else. In the Middle Ages, Jews were hated because of their religion. In the 19th and early 20th century, they were hated because of their race. Today, they’re hated because of their nation-state, the state of Israel. Sacks writes:
The ultimate weapon of the new antisemitism is dazzling in its simplicity. It goes like this. The Holocaust must never happen again. But Israelis are the new Nazis; the Palestinians are the new Jews; all Jews are Zionists. Therefore the real anti-Semites of our time are none other than the Jews themselves. And these are not marginal views. They are … slowly infecting the far left, the far right, academic circles, unions, and even some churches.
Sadly, we’re now seeing the new anti-Semitism in political circles here. I was disturbed to see the member for Cooper campaigning with members of the University of Melbourne Labor Club, which called for Palestine’s boundaries to be ‘from the river to the sea’. This is effectively calling for the destruction of the state of Israel. I was also disturbed to see the member for Moreton calling Israel a ‘semi-apartheid state’ in this chamber last night. But it indicates a trajectory of thought on the political Left, the product of which is increasingly one-sided resolutions being moved by increasingly senior members of the opposition at ALP national conferences. The latest resolution, moved by the alternative foreign minister, Senator Wong, without debate and without conditions, says that a Labor government would recognise a Palestinian state. The more countries that recognise a Palestinian state without Palestinian recognition of Israel and a cessation of terror, the less pressure there is on organisations like Hamas to lay down their arms and come to the table to make peace. Such a posture ultimately is no recipe for a lasting peace in the Middle East.