I express my strong support for Israel’s acts of self defence. Israel is a vigorous multiparty democracy, a beacon of freedom around the world, and it is the homeland of the Jewish people. I call on the Australian government to provide strong and clear support for the government of Israel as it works to restore order and defend its citizens. I call for continued work towards a lasting two-state solution, with the peaceful coexistence of two independent nations.
Mr FLETCHER (Bradfield—Manager of Opposition Business) (16:51): I join with other members of the House in offering my deepest condolences to the people of Israel during this unimaginably difficult period, and I condemn the unconscionable violence carried out by the brutal terrorists of Hamas.
As the member for Bradfield, I am proud to represent the federal electorate with the second largest Jewish community in New South Wales. I am proud to represent a community that is home to four synagogues and a Jewish school. That community, of course, is devastated by what is taking place. Last Monday, I attended a prayer evening at one of our local synagogues, Kehillat Masada. It was profoundly moving. The service was organised by four synagogues coming together—Kehillat Masada, Chabad North Shore, North Shore Synagogue and Cremorne Synagogue—and we were joined as well by worshippers from other local synagogues and synagogues across Sydney, including North Shore Temple Emanuel. Over recent days I have been told by a number of Jewish constituents of friends, family members or others known to them directly or indirectly who have been killed, injured or abducted in Israel. What is happening is very direct and immediate in its impact on Australia’s Jewish community.
The attacks by Hamas in Israel were shocking, they were violent and they deserve absolute condemnation. To kill, injure and take hostage innocent and unarmed men, women and children is a violation of every principle of morality, of decency and of respect for human dignity. It is reported that more than 1,300 people have been killed in Israel so far. Some of those who were abducted are presently hostages, experiencing unimaginable terror. The victims of these attacks have also included citizens of other countries, including Australia. The depraved and horrific nature of much of this violence, including sexual violence and deliberate harm to young children, is sickening. Actions like this are pure barbarism. They have been carried out by terrorists whose creed is defined by evil and hatred. Their mission is to destroy vibrant communities and to cause misery. These attacks are an attack on civilisation. They’re an attack on fundamental human values.
Of course, that such violence should be visited among Jewish people is a chilling reminder of the evils of the Holocaust. Once again, Jewish people have been killed and injured specifically because of hatred for their religion. To see equivocation on these issues by some Australian politicians over the past week and a half has been inexplicable. Regardless of one’s political affiliations, violence of this nature must be condemned. It’s unjustifiable. It’s inexcusable. To see a small minority of Australians actively celebrating these violent and dehumanising attacks has been disgusting. The actions of protesters in Sydney last Monday evening were disgusting.
Australia is one of the world’s most successful multicultural, multiracial and multi-ethnic societies. That success has been achieved through hard work over many decades with the strong support of both major political parties and the goodwill and efforts of millions of Australians. Our success, our continued success, depends on all Australians being committed to mutual respect, to mutual tolerance and to mutual understanding. My electorate is a microcosm of Australia in this regard. As I mentioned, it has four synagogues; I have visited all of them on multiple occasions. Of course there are multiple churches in my electorate. And there is a Sikh temple, or gurdwara, and at least one Buddhist temple. Recently, I was pleased to visit the Hornsby Dawah Community Service—the Hornsby Masjid—a centre for people of Islamic faith in my electorate and surrounding areas. I know that the good people who worship at the synagogues in my electorate are concerned about the safety of innocent Palestinian people in Gaza. I know that, equally, the people who worship at the Hornsby Masjid want to see peace, safety and security for all. And I know that, despite the actions of a small number of people last Monday night, the overwhelming majority of Australians want to see Israeli people safe and people in Gaza safe.
I express my strong support for the state of Israel, the people of Israel, the Jewish people and Jewish Australians, including, of course, my Jewish constituents in Bradfield, and all who are suffering at the hands of Hamas. I express my strong support for Israel’s acts of self defence. Israel is a vigorous multiparty democracy, a beacon of freedom around the world, and it is the homeland of the Jewish people. I call on the Australian government to provide strong and clear support for the government of Israel as it works to restore order and defend its citizens. I call for continued work towards a lasting two-state solution, with the peaceful coexistence of two independent nations. Amongst the many reasons to be appalled by these violent terrorist attacks by Hamas is that they have grievously set back progress towards that lasting peace.
I take this opportunity to acknowledge the courage and leadership of the representative bodies of the Australian Jewish community, including the Executive Council of Australian Jewry, the New South Wales Jewish Board of Deputies and the many other bodies. I close by saying that I am confident that despite the extraordinary challenges and the very difficult times ahead, the values embodied in the state of Israel—of civilisation, of education, of faith, of tolerance and of democracy—will prevail.